SharePoint in the past year
Since SharePoint 2010 was released I have been working on various projects and will start to share some of my experiences and suggestions over the coming months. During this time Learning Tree produced a number of new courses ranging from basic usage to Enterprise Application development in addition to the SharePoint 2007 courses which are still very popular. Why so many courses ?
Both Business and Technical SharePoint Skills Are Needed
The skills taught on these courses are required because of the complexity of both versions of SharePoint. They are powerful products but without proper planning a poor implementation can result in less than desired results. The starting point is to decide why you want to use SharePoint. Concentrate on the business value and work forward from there. There are so many features that it can be difficult to know where to start so good requirements definitions will be essential.
Preferably start with a simple project. Maybe a training planning site complete with a calendar for dates when you are attending our courses. J
The suggestions I posted here still make sense and hopefully will help you get started.
Use a Guide
Guidance from someone who has been through this process of planning and designing SharePoint sites may be another good way to start – for example, someone like an experienced Learning Tree Instructor. SharePoint is a large and complex product. Any advice that helps reduce your project’s delivery time is worth considering.
Flexibility is the Key
In the light of your own experience if you find that the early sites you create aren’t quite what you want then you can easily make changes and move things around until you arrive at a better solution. SharePoint is great in this regard, as it’s flexible, and when you are ready you can easily save your site as a re-usable template. If you need more guidance, Learning Tree offers a variety of SharePoint courses to choose from.
Review and Learn
As you make changes it’s worth documenting what you have done and why so that you can review these later and assess what has worked and what hasn’t over time. An iterative process will normally result in a better solution than trying to plan everything up front. As your experience grows these documents will also help you move in to tackle the bigger projects such as public facing web portals, Enterprise search environments, and Business intelligence dashboards.
Use WIKI’s, Surveys, and discussion forums to get real-world feedback from your users and then implement the changes that make sense.
Give It a Go
In reality it’s unlikely that you will have all the possible skills you need before you need to use them and certainly with the increasing responsibilities I.T. departments face, time will also be lacking. The important thing is to make a start. So carry out as much planning as you can but don’t get stuck in endless requirements sessions and re-designs without making a start.
Create a simple test server within a virtual machine and experiment. As your confidence grows start planning for a more serious production installation.
For now making use of tools found within in SharePoint and using basic governance will allow you to build SharePoint outwards and reap business rewards rather than letting it spiral out of control.