[CIO] 7 Common SharePoint Roll-out Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

[CIO] 7 Common SharePoint Roll-out Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)

Every day I speak with CIOs, and the feedback is always the same: “Carl, we have spent so much time and resources on SharePoint, and we still don’t have a product we can use.”

Here are:  7 Common SharePoint Roll-out Mistakes

Mistake # 1 Lack of Planning and Goals

You can’t build a bridge without a plan and goal in mind. The same is true for SharePoint. You can’t roll out SharePoint without first factoring pros and cons into your decision.

SharePoint requires an extensive amount of planning before, during and after its deployment. The first part of planning starts with understanding how SharePoint will be used and what problems it will solve in the short term and long term.  For example: Human Resources is always looking for solutions to help them improve onboarding and offboarding.

If you’re not sure how you are going to use SharePoint, you will fail. Your goals should be small and easy to obtain in a short time. Too often, organizations have long multiple-year plans for SharePoint without proving its return of investment in the short term.

Mistake # 2 No Documented Governance

No one likes to spend hours on documentation no one will read, but the purpose of documenting your governance plan is to have something to fall back on as users start to use SharePoint. Governance will cover who had access to what, how your sites are played out and who is responsible for documents and content. Without a governance plan, your site will come out looking like the Wild Wild West.

Mistake # 3 You Didn’t Ask Your Users What They Want

Often only one or two people are pulling the strings with SharePoint, leaving the rest of the organization out of the decision-making process. This will ultimately have a bad impact on your rollout. Ask users what would help them be more productive. You will be amazed at the answers you would receive from them. You don’t have to promise them everything on their wish list, but they will appreciate you listening to their concerns.

Mistake # 4 No Internal Marketing and Insufficient Training

If you wait until the end of the rollout to inform and teach your users about SharePoint you have already failed. It’s best to send out weekly updates to department managers and have your SharePoint team create a duplicate SharePoint site ahead of the rollout so users can start training.

Mistake # 5 Lack of Leadership/Sponsorship

In order for you to have a successful SharePoint rollout, someone’s got to own up to it. Ideally, senior management should play a large role in pre-rollout meetings and its direction for the company. IT should not be the only one in charge of SharePoint’s direction for the company. One of the very first steps is to establish steering committees that will focus on SharePoint’s role and progress. The steering committee should meet regularly even after SharePoint has been rolled out.

Mistake # 6 Underestimating SharePoint’s Cost and Power

SharePoint is sometimes confused with its counterpart, Microsoft Office. So many times I hear, “Users don’t need directions because it’s just Microsoft Office. It’s easy.” SharePoint works extremely well with Microsoft Office, but it is not Microsoft Office. SharePoint should be treated for what it is: an ECM system. SharePoint is also like an octopus with many tentacles to your enterprise resources like Active Directory, Exchange, network drives and Domain Controllers. Care and planning should take place to ensure all of your resources work together smoothly.

If you have not budgeted to have at least one dedicated SharePoint (size of SharePoint team depends on size and scope of organization, goals, etc.) resource to manage your SharePoint farm, just forget it. Stop now. SharePoint requires a resource that is skilled in its administration, security and development. A big mistake organizations make is asking the Windows server administrator, who is already overtasked, to be their SharePoint resource too. If your organization is new to SharePoint, your first step should be to hire a SharePoint architect to lay the groundwork and provide the proper guidance.

Mistake # 7 Creating an Unrealistic Project Plan

A few years ago there were loads of SharePoint consulting firms pushing aggressive 60- or 90-day SharePoint rollouts. The only people that benefited from these rollouts were the consultants who sold unsuspecting organizations on thinking they would be able to rollout SharePoint in under 90 days (size of organization, goals and deployment schedule will be a large factor). Technically you can configure, setup and integrate SharePoint in 90 days, but that’s only 20% of what’s involved. A significant amount of time and resources should go into planning, topology and metadata mapping, training, auditing your current environment and working with departments to insure the organization’s needs are met. Depending on how fast your organization works, that process alone will take 60 days. When creating your SharePoint plan, layout dependencies, add buffers for meetings, quality assurance, configuration management and training.

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