Evolution Conference Roadshow: An Unstructured Approach to Collaboration

In his session titled An Unstructured Approach to Collaboration, Paul Turner presented a case study about an organization that was overcomplicating its SharePoint migration. They were moving to SharePoint from a different collaboration platform and seemed to act before they thought. This client incorporated an enormous network of people to make their migration happen. This meant having a different person for each
segment of their farm who all communicated through a liaison rather than with each other. What’s more, they had different companies for each of their outsourced tasks: virtual machines were one company, hosting another, physical servers another, and so on.

By the time Paul was called in, the flow chart of people involved was dizzying. It was such a tangled mess that the turnaround for a simple emailed question was 3-7 days. Since the organization did not supply
Microsoft with any hard numbers, Microsoft was only able to compile a vague high-level design for the farm.  As a result, they underestimated the organization’s data center usage needs. When they ended up needing much more, no one knew what anyone else was doing. Eventually, the consultants broke the communication cycle: everyone started talking to each other, and in time, the process was sorted out and the farm deployed.

One of Paul’s key takeaways from this experience was to focus on your planning. Doing an honest analysis of your user base, setting realistic timeframes, making sure everyone knows what they are doing, and
having a functional communication plan are all vital to any major project, including a SharePoint migration. Additionally, make sure you build in time for problems. Technology in general isn’t perfect and it doesn’t always just work, so be prepared for gaffs. Launching/migrating/updating SharePoint is a major IT project, but it can’t solely involve IT. There needs to be training, defined goals, milestones, measures and reports, and most importantly, communication. SharePoint is a tool that can help your entire company, so your entire company needs to help SharePoint. Think about ways you can make your environment simpler. In-house development isn’t always necessary; there are plenty of really good third-party programs that will do what you need.  Take advantage of what’s out there and consider using them instead of spending the time and money to do it yourself. I’m not saying that it’s going to be easy, but with a little effort upfront, it can be easier.

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