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Common pitfalls in SharePoint projects

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Proper project planning and process management is essential for successful projects, but after working on SharePoint projects for over 4 years now, I have discovered some common pitfalls, some unique to SharePoint projects while others are general issues that seem to pop up more frequently in SharePoint projects.



The following are some common pitfalls and some tips to help make the project more successful (please note that some of these pitfalls has been mentioned in previous posts, and this posts aims to summarize my findings).




Pitfall #1: You are NOT using SharePoint correctly


One of the first things people must understand about SharePoint is that Microsoft did not create SharePoint as a replacement of their existing offering. Microsoft created SharePoint for fulfill an organizational need, and they were clever enough to create in is such a manner that it complements (NOT replaces) there other offerings.


Lets look at an example and focus on Intranets, before SharePoint, we had two extre…

Outsourcing, how to make it work

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I have been studying project management in the last few months; the course is very interesting but works on the assumption that you are a project manager working on projects for your organisation. In my case, that is not true. I work for a consultant (outsourcing) company, meaning that the “projects” I work on is really for the benefit of my client’s organisation and this small distinction makes a big difference in how the project manager handles the project.

Firstly, let’s look at the purpose of a project. For an organisation to finally decide to invest into a project the organisation must see that the success in the project will lead to the success of the organisation; the project also needs to fit strategically within the organisation, the following considerations needs to take place:
Does the project fit with the organisation’s technology architecture?
Does the project follow corporate standards, policies and methods?
Can the project last with the organisation’s business and IT s…

Demonstrations with VHD files

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My current role involves more than just department and project management. it also involves pre-sales demonstrations.


Prepping for a demonstration is very time consuming and very difficuly, especially since its not my primary job function. Over time, I managed to define an approach that produces great demonstrations with minimal prep time. I am going to share this approach with you.

This approach is constantly improving and I value any feedback and recommendations you may have that can help me improve this approach.




1. Do not re-invent the wheel.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, focused on SharePoint and ASP.NET solutions.  My demonstrations are focused on showing off Microsoft products. If my pre-sale demonstration leads to a sale, my Company and Microsoft wins. Microsoft is aware of this and they want my demonstrations to Rock! If fact, it’s in there best interest to build detailed demonstrations for me, and that’s exactly what they did.

Go to the following site, http://mssalesdemos.com/, l…

The “All in One” SharePoint Guru does not exist – so stop looking and focus on plan B (Part 3 of 3)

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This article is a continuation of Part 2 - Please read that article first.


Phase 3: Development In the development phase, the solution is built according to the specifications defined by the architect (As defined in Part 2). 
 The development phase requires 2 key players, the SharePoint Administrator and the SharePoint Developer.  Yes - this is two different roles with two different skill sets. 
You may want to add SharePoint data-capturer to the list so basic tasks like deploying a taxonomy and site population can be completed by a cheaper resource, allowing the higher skilled resources to spend time on more complex requirements.
The SharePoint Administrator
The SharePoint Administrator focus is on the setting up, configuration and management of services running on SharePoint.  Anything available "out of the box" from SharePoint can be deployed by the SharePoint Administrator, which should be at least 80% of the entire solution.  (If anything less than 80% of the requirements i…

The “All in One” SharePoint Guru does not exist – so stop looking and focus on plan B (Part 2 of 3)

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This article is a continuation of Part 1 - Please read that article first.



Phase 2: Planning

After the Envision Phase is completed, the Planning Phase starts, that requires a different set of skills.

If the Envision Phase is all about "What the Organisation wants", then the Planning Phase is about  "How are we going to give them what they want".

Successful projects (SharePoint or otherwise) places a lot of time into planning, on average, 20% of your entire project should be placed in the planning phase, if you get that right, the future phases is just about applying the plan. The experts needed for this phase are as follows: Project ManagerBusiness Analyst SharePoint ArchitectInfrastructure/network administratorDatabase administratorSharePoint DesignerSteering Committee From the last phase, the Business Analyst would have defined the scope and document what the organisation wants.  
In this phase, the SharePoint Architect is the key player.  The SharePoi…

The “All in One” SharePoint Guru does not exist – so stop looking and focus on plan B (Part 1 of 3)

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I published my “Shortage of SharePoint skills” blog post on numerous sites, many readers were in agreement with the points made in the article but the comments surrounding the blog post indicate that the shortage exists because companies are looking for ONE person to handle the entire SharePoint delivery.




I have a few theories why this is happening. Bottom line, the business does not know what SharePoint is; they see it as a product similar to Word and Excel, so they get there IT administrator to install this product, and expect everyone to use it.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Unlike Word and Excel, SharePoint is a platform, not really a product, and this platform is very flexible. It’s designed that way so it can be adjusted to fit within your organisation, be it a small business or a multinational company.

SharePoint also offers a lot. It’s described as a collaboration platform, but this platform offers Content Management, Intranet Portals, Business Intelligence, Workflow Autom…

Why there is a shortage of SharePoint experts

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Microsoft has been very successful to promoting their SharePoint product, even though SharePoint has been around for a while, there 2007 and now 2010 version is something every organisation wants.


With Microsoft practically giving away SharePoint licenses to organisations via EA agreements – we are reaching a very unique and rather unexpected situation where the demand for SharePoint developers is surpassing the demand for Web developers.

This shift in demand are forcing IT departments and Web Development companies to reduce the size of the web development teams and increase the size of their SharePoint team, in other words, take staff originally hired for web development and get them into SharePoint development.

This is currently the "normal" approach in getting SharePoint experts, many IT Recruitment companies still don’t understand this shift in demand, and are not yet focusing in the SharePoint space, some recruiting companies haven’t even heard of SharePoint and see it as…

Training Users after deploying SharePoint 2007/2010

When deploying a SharePoint solution, the business often place most of their budget and allocated time to SharePoint Features, configuration and that strong look and feel and forget about end user training.


They understand that the assigned administrators require training to help manage and update the features available, and that type of training is usually included in the project planning – but they forget that the general, every day users may also require training, and they usually try to throw in a quick fix just before launch.

I planned to talk about the “SharePoint Learning Kit”, available from CodePlex, it’s a SharePoint e-learning site with tracking created by Microsoft that you install in your existing SharePoint farm, but there were a few things I didn’t like about this solution, mainly:

It’s not open source, meaning that I cannot edit this solution

Its uses a separate database, so I don’t see it as a true sharepoint sub-site anyways, and installation was difficult.

It…

Minimum requirements for a good on site working environment

In the past, when a software solution needs to be developed, my team build the solution in the office, tested it in the office and only when everything is built and ready, we would go to the clients offices to install and configure the final solution.



These days, it’s more common to deploy the entire team onsite (clients’ offices) right from the start of the project, and while on site they do all the development, testing and configuring directly on the clients servers.


This results in easy accessibility of the team, better focus, commitment and dedication from the team which ultimately means faster more accurate delivery of the solution.


But the team is moving away from an environment they are comfortable with to the clients’ environment which may not be designed for this purpose, and if a few basic requirements are not in place, delivery of the solution is compromised.


So if you are looking at getting an outsourced team to work in your office to deliver a solution, make sure these minim…

Auto Provisioning, the next step in SharePoint

The thing that makes SharePoint great is the way it was built (yes – that narrows it down!). It was built for the business users (not developers), to have sufficient control and power to create their own web space, that will assist them in achieving their business goal.



Before SharePoint, we had two extremes when providing a business user with an application or web space to achieve their business goals.


On one side we have business users requesting an application from the IT department, resources were eventually allocation and the SDLC begins, a solution is provided about a month or so later.  This application had its own database, little to no integration with other systems, its own security component, meaning another set of usernames and passwords the business users need to remember, and its own unique look and feel.


On the other side, the business user will create an application themselves via Excel or Microsoft Access.  The solution will be available quickly but the solution will be …

Please don’t pimp your SharePoint site

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Look at this picture, someone spent allot of money on a Benz, but decided that they wanted to make the car look like a sports car instead, so with a little extra time and money, they added design elements that made the car look different, the new look gets a great deal of attention and everyone wants to drive it, but later people notice that the car cannot drive faster than 30km/h or drive up an incline without breaking something, the lights didn’t work as well as they use to, you can only enter the car a certain way, sharp turns has not been tested but is not recommended and only people with special training or knowledge on how this new look was implemented will be able to wash, repair, drive or fuel up the car.

Sounds crazy doesn’t it, well, that’s what you are asking us to do when you ask for a SharePoint site that does not look like a SharePoint site.

Sticking with my Benz example, the Benz comes from the factory in silver, black, white and red, and a special colour can even be c…