BPC 2011: Final Day – Ask the Experts Panel Business Track

The Ask the Experts session at the Best Practices Conference began with a question related to finding the logical starting point for planning a move to SharePoint for a 5 million user Army Medicine Web Site for MedCom.  The panel agreed that there may be too many unknowns to provide a qualified answer and that a step back to getting clearer requirements was needed.  A site that needed frequent updates and complex Content Management may need another solution as SharePoint cannot compete with CMS vendors; however, SharePoint may come into play if a collaboration was needed in the back end for content creation.

The next couple of questions were related to best practices for moving from MOSS to SP 2010.  The recommendations from the panel were:

  • Fix any bad habits and pain points in 2007 as these will just transfer and make the migration painful.
  • Examine your true reasons for moving to 2010. Is there a real business need or is it the result of an executive getting excited about the concept of 2010?
  • If your original driver to move to 2007 was collaboration, is that enough for a full move to 2010?
  • If growth in 2007 was organic, use the upgrade to 2010 as a catalyst for planning.
  • Upgrade to 2010 requires careful planning as the features are many and complex. Just the metadata itself requires some matching up with requirements and governance before it can implemented.
  • Good opportunity to get a steering committee in place from Senior management.
  • But remember that Sr. Management is focused on results and not the tool.
  • Do not think of SharePoint as an applications or a monolith but as a suite of applications.


The next question was related to a topic that seemed to be appear in almost all sessions here – what is best way to implement, plan or get buy-in for social computing?  The panel had the following suggestions:

  • Deliver the social features that fit in your business model – like doc rating, tagging; other features may not be necessary
  • Do not assume that employees want to connect socially.
  • A good place to begin is to make it a part of the knowledge management, both formal and informal.
  • Social computing on My Sites opens up other questions on archiving and maintaining or turning features off that you may not need, etc.
  • Targeting overall knowledge strategy is a good starting point.
  • Find a bunch of documents that are optimal for sharing, turn ratings and comments on, and expose them.
  • Documents with Help desk type scenarios are a good area to get employee interaction.
  • Find a simple example to start with where people are contributing content.
  • Investigate how many Facebook groups or Twitter feeds are out there for the company and see if they need to be inside rather than outside.
  • Confirm the business drivers which might be narrow, and My Sites may give you too many.


A few more questions resulted in similar thoughtful responses from the panel and in some cases contributions from the participants.

In conclusion the panel was asked to provide one Best Practice from each member. Here is the wealth of advice in bullet form from our expert panel:

  1. You set yourself up for failure when you try to fix the problem without knowing the domain of the tools.
  2. If users don’t know what and how they are using the tool, then technology cannot solve the issue. Know one’s requirements.
  3. Never ever use folders … except when it makes sense to do so.
  4. Organizations look at SharePoint as a tool, it’s a service that you are providing and points to a need for governance.
  5. Constant and good communication between business and IT cannot be overlooked.
  6. Don’t ever talk about SP to C level or stakeholders, as you are there to solve the business problems. Remember that SharePoint is a tool that delivers to business requirements.
  7. Break things down and do it in smaller chunks, dangerous to deliver overnight.
  8. Read Harvard Business Review  if you really want to learn about SharePoint.

This was an informative session as it gave all of us a perspective on the different issues we all face in our organizations and that some of these were common to most of our organizations.


Read our complete coverage of the SharePoint Best Practices Conference 2011: