To say that SharePoint is an enormous application is an understatement. I’ve never bought into the “silver bullet” theory, but I have to say that SharePoint comes pretty close. I have yet to run across an organization that couldn’t make a business case for its use.
With that said, it’s easy to get caught up in the plethora of bells and whistles and forget that at the end of the day your SharePoint solution must deliver actual business value. Let’s face it, if it doesn’t, you’ve just spent a lot of time and money building the next Microsoft Bob.
Here are a few tips based on my experience in building SharePoint solutions. It may interest you that none of these are technical in nature. My experience has been that most major mishaps in SharePoint deployments are a direct result of improper planning. Although these may seem pretty obvious, you’d be surprised how often they are forgotten.
Fewer Features. More Often. Dropping a large number of features to your user community at one time rarely works. You’ll not only find that you overwhelm them with content, but their opinion on how the application should work will change as they gain more experience. You’re better off producing smaller feature sets on a more frequent basis to uncover the “true” requirements. This is really known as an iterative or agile approach. For more information start here…
Add Users Over Time. If possible, build the number of users who access the site over time. Use those early adopters to learn. Then plan resolution deployments prior to any mass deployment.
Drive Traffic. The best SharePoint solution in the world is meaningless without end users. Before you build anything, determine how you’ll attract your users. If you have features that don’t have an obvious driver, you should probably take it off the list.
Governance. SharePoint can be used an infinite number of ways. Give serious thought to how each feature will not only be used, but managed. Deploying features without having a plan on how they will be governed, leaves you open for disaster.
Vision. Know where you’re going then figure out the best way to get there based on need. Don’t just expose a feature like RSS, for example, just because you can. If it’s not consistent with the vision, leave it out.