BPC 2011: Wes Preston Presents ‘SharePoint: When to Crawl, Walk or Run’

Wow! Hard to believe it's Wednesday already, the last day of SharePoint Best Practices in San Diego. We've had a great time at the conference. It's been exciting to see the enthusiasm of the attendees as they've taken advantage of the really impressive variety of informative sessions available at this well-organized event.

This morning in his session, SharePoint: When to Crawl, Walk or Run, Wes Preston (MVP) discussed approaches to determining what  SharePoint features should be deployed and when, in a multitude of areas including Collaboration, Business Intelligence, Customization and Social Networking.

Wes emphasized that determining the pace a SharePoint implementation will take (crawl, walk, run), like all things, requires planning.  Organizations should take the time to develop a road map or platform strategy where they will determine the features that will be implemented over a defined time period.  With a project timeline in place, accurately forecasting required resources and availability will help ensure timely delivery.  Defining the roadmap will also help set expectations for users as to what SharePoint features will be available, reducing requests for functionality and allowing organizations to identify training requirements.  IT also benefits from this upfront planning, being able to develop hardware growth plans, integration plans and governance plans.

Since Collaboration is one of SharePoint's sweet spots Wes discussed the different ways organizations can work towards this goal.

Crawl:

  • Only use out-of-the-box site templates and branding
  • Centralize site administration
  • Manage site growth using smaller quotas
  • Integrations with MS Office Suite, Exchange, etc.

Walk:

  • Add site and list templates, organizational branding
  • Add third-party Web Parts
  • Train site administrators and decentralize site administration (loosen the reigns for trained individuals)
  • Automate site lifecycle (request, creation, archival)
  • More complex list views (filter, sorting, grouping)

Run: since collaboration is a sweet spot, you don't have to be advanced to take advantage, but you can continually advance based on requirements

  • Add more robust site and list templates
  • Advanced workflows

 

Before leaping into making Customizations, Wes recommended that organizations use OOTB functionality for a waiting period. This will allow organizations to determine what is really required by users and how much of that can be accomplished natively.

Crawl:

  • Use OOTB building blocks
  • Simple SPD tools – custom list forms/actions, data views, workflows
  • Use Content Editors, java script etc.

Walk:

  • Install third-party solutions and templates/Web Parts
    • Fab 40 in 2007
    • Bamboo Solutions (WOOT!!)
  • Advance SharePoint Designer
  • Visual Studio Solutions

Run:

  • Install third-party applications
  • Advanced Visual Studio solutions
  • Integrate custom applications into SharePoint

 

In the Social Networking section, Wes alluded to the fact that this is still something of a grey area in SharePoint, with many organizations still on the fence about the operational benefits.  SharePoint 2010, however, has some great features for organizations that want to take the leap.

Crawl:

  • Enable profile information from AD to be exposed in order to view people search and profile pages – requires information (i.e., manager) to be available in AD
  • Use Wiki site and list templates as part of OOTB functionality

Walk:

  • Enable My Sites – needs governance and training in place which is why Wes put this in the walk section
  • Allow blog template usage as part of my site
  • Add customer user profile properties and modify privacy/display policies
  • Expand user profile content sources to include data stores other than AD (LOB/HR application, other directories)

Run:

  • Enable and train users on Notes, Ratings, and data Tagging throughout the environment
  • Customize My Site and User Profile experience to include external sources (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr)
  • Expand functionality with third-party applications (Newsgator, custom)

 

Best Practices

  • Think big and act small – identify building blocks
  • Continue to communicate and offer training opportunities
  • Identify if you have business needs that align well with "Crawl" and 'Walk" capabilities
  • Measure and demonstrate business value recognizing this will differ between organizations

 

Worst Practices

  • Don't try to do everything at once – you will fail
  • Don't try to fully automate every step of the every business process
  • Do not roll out My Sites without governance, extensive user training and communication (Don't get the wrong idea, Wes is a fan of My Sites, when properly implemented)
  • Not providing ongoing training, user support, or resources for users

 

As a side note, thanks to those who came and attended our session yesterday looking at Why Projects Fail – How to Leverage SharePoint and Bamboo PM Central for Project ManagementBamboo's own BambooPMGirl shared her practical knowledge as a PMP examining common reasons projects flounder such as: inefficient communication, poor document management practices, and a lack of project definition and executive buy-in.  She then discussed the benefits of leveraging SharePoint as a PMIS and, of course, since we are Bamboo, we have our own easy to implement project management application, PM Central. To learn more, you can attend one of our regularly scheduled webinars or contact us to schedule a demo.

 

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

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