What are you deploying? If you think it is SharePoint, you got it wrong!

I have had many discussions with clients that tell me “I am implementing SharePoint” and ask my advice on how to best deploy SharePoint in their organization. I am going to argue they are not deploying SharePoint and I bet they don’t appreciate what they are really deploying. If they did, I think they would deploy it differently and questions about how to deploy would be easier to answer.

What is SharePoint, you ask? Look around and you will hear, “it’s a communication and collaboration platform”. Okay, but what does that really mean? Let’s break down the majority of the features included in SharePoint for “communication and collaboration” and see what that really means.

Document Libraries: Storage for documents, replacements for LAN drives includes document management features such as version control, check in / out, and content approval. Sounds like Enterprise Content Management?

Lists: Storage for lists of items, ability to create views to show only the data relevant, set security, set alerts to keep track of changes in the lists. Lists easily integrate with Microsoft Office and can be published to SharePoint web sites. Sounds like a project management solution: to-do lists, task lists, calendar lists?

Wiki pages: Collaborative content creation, similar to the Wikipedia web site, which allows teams in your organization to build documents together. This allows modification and editing of documents to combine the group’s knowledge into the document. Sounds like a good way to collaboratively create user guides, or other company documentation?

Blogs: An informal publishing of articles and thoughts where readers can comments on articles, Sounds like a good way to communicate with staff without sending global emails and a good way to publish information on a corporate web site?

Discussion boards: A discussion web site where users can post questions, comments, concerns,etc. for discussion. Sounds like a good way to create offline discussions without emailing groups of users?

Site Creation: Ability to easily build and modify fully functional web sites without any code. Site templates provide layouts for particular purposes that can be easily modified to meet your specific site requirements. Sounds like web site application development; when do we need to create web sites, does your IT department always have to create sites?

Security: A fully integrated security model that can integrate with Active Directory or other security providers. SharePoint security allows users to manage security on their own sites and contents. Sounds like downloading typical IT desk functionality?

So what feature(s) are you deploying? If you break down the features of SharePoint and then look at the impact each feature will have in your organization, you will have a better idea how to implement each feature.

Gord Maric

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