How to deploy SharePoint successfully the first time

Let’s take a look at what history has taught us in the IT world. We build or buy an application, we install that application and then we roll the application out to the users. Our job is now done and we move on to the next application. If we are rolling out SharePoint we follow the same pattern and this is why SharePoint deployments fail!

First of all SharePoint is not a common single purpose application, it is an application for developing web site based applications. So here is the kicker: the web applications are not intended to be developed by the IT departments but rather by information workers and this is why the historical deployment model does not work. IT is not deploying an application; they are deploying a platform to create application and that is why you can’t just roll out SharePoint.

So if we follow IT’s traditional deployment model, they just deployed an application that allows users to create other applications (web sites) as easily as creating a new file folder. What issues will this cause?

  • Users will figure this out and create web sites. There will be no management of how many web sites are created and soon we will have the same mess in SharePoint as we had in the LAN drive. I thought SP was going to solve these issues?
  • Most users will see SharePoint as only the team site (the most commonly deployed template) and wonder, “This is SharePoint? What the big deal? My LAN drive and email work better.”

So how do fix this?

  • First of all DON’T let your IT department deploy SharePoint as if it is a traditional application. Have them build the server infrastructure and create a solid platform where users can build web sites.
  • Create a SharePoint deployment team that will come up with usage scenarios, information architecture and governance (guidance and enforcement) for how to use the SharePoint infrastructure IT has deployed.
  • Roll out SharePoint slowly to various departments, showing them how various sites (templates) can be created and customized to solve their business problems. Users who are used to working with email and LAN drives build procedures around the limitations of email and LAN drives, and don’t at first see the solutions that are available in SharePoint that are superior.
  • Identify power users that you can further train on other SharePoint features, so they sites they build can solve more departmental issues.

If you deploy SharePoint this way instead of following the traditional method you will find greater adoption, reduction of information silos and increased efficiently in the organization.

Gord Maric

SharePoint and Business Intelligence Consultant

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