SPTechCon 2014: Eric Riz Makes SharePoint Strategic

This afternoon started off with a PACKED house (as in standing room only packed) for Eric Riz’s session, Making SharePoint Strategic. In his presentation, Eric explored what SharePoint really can be on an
enterprise level and how to make SharePoint the platform Microsoft intended it to be. Specifically, he examined how you can make SharePoint better, faster, and stronger so that it isn’t simply a document management system but rather, a means for organizations to get work done more efficiently.

One of the keys to having a SharePoint environment that is both effective and strategic is to have some sort of roadmap for your journey.  Without a clear route, according to Eric, you’re simply NOT going to be able to reach your destination.  So what should your journey look like?  First and foremost, to achieve success, it is crucial to have Executive Buy-In. This is key because if there isn’t support from the top-down, be it the C-Suite or your key directors, you are inevitably setting yourself up for the f-word – FAILURE.

In addition to executive buy-in, Eric notes that you need to drive Portal Adoption. One tip he had to make your SharePoint implementation successful is to consider calling it something other than SharePoint.  Whether it’s Bamboo Nation or CSC-Net, the key is to give your intranet its own identity and brand. Eric also suggests that when implementing your portal, you strive to keep your SharePoint environment as simple as possible. We’ve all been there – one person in the organization creates and owns all of the customizations and then one day they decide to leave.

What happens then?  It is important to make sure that your portal is assessable from both the user end AND the back end.

Another key factor to making SharePoint strategic is to make sure that establishing it as an Information Hub. SharePoint should be a place where users go not only to obtain critical enterprise knowledge but also
a place where they can go to get work done. Specifically, as an information hub, SharePoint acts as a foundation upon which we can start building processes. As Eric pointed out, without the information in place and available, we wouldn’t have any dashboards, as there would be no information to put into them.

So knowing all these factors that are needed to make our journey successful, how do we go about starting on the road to success? First and foremost, we need to know what our business goals are. Without having goals and a complementary strategy, there’s no way that we are going to be able to successfully implement SharePoint within our organizations. Once goals have been established, what’s next?

One thing you can do is take proactive steps to ensure that your SharePoint environment is both meaningful AND manageable. Since employees all too often focus on WIIFM – what’s in it for me – it is important to structure SharePoint such that it is easy to use and makes life easier. Specifically, it is important to understand what your employees are doing, how they use SharePoint, and how this information can be properly applied to your overall SharePoint implementation and strategy.

Once you have gotten a firm grasp on what your employees are doing, how do we, as SharePoint administrators, go about defining and creating value? Eric identified four key things you can do in his presentation:

  • Determine principles and goals;
  • Classify your business information;
  • Develop an education strategy; and
  • Develop an ongoing plan.

After we’ve clearly defined and created values, it’s time to start setting expectations. There are a number of ways in which you can do this including identifying the pain points in your organization and how to build a strategy around combating these pain points. SharePoint is definitely an important part of building your strategy, according to Eric, as it can be leveraged to reduce your heavy lifting.

To close, Eric focused on what seems to be a recurring theme at this year’s SPTechCon Boston: How can we best serve our end users? As he notes in a tongue-in-cheek way, while there’s no “I” in team, there’s definitely an “I” in raise. One of our key goals in making SharePoint strategic should be to increase employee productivity and, as aforementioned, get work done better, faster, and stronger. When employees are properly driven and incentivized to adopt SharePoint and utilize it to its fullest, organizations can extract the optimal value from SharePoint.

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