Sunday, August 22, 2010

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

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 Automation, Records Management just to name a few. This high volume offering makes SharePoint a rather complex platform.

To add to the complexity, SharePoint is a platform designed to empower the business users to update their website and add features and functionality to satisfy their business need (in a well controlled and governed environment). This was a role previously fulfilled by the IT department, so a successful deployment would ultimately mean a shift in control and a process changes which can be a challenge to implement in large organisations.

This level of flexibility and complexity means that a lot of information, planning and input from many different types of experts (technology and business related) is needed for a successful SharePoint deployment.

I have been working with SharePoint projects since 2007, from then till now I have defined a list of essential skill sets needed for a successful SharePoint deployment. This is my findings (grouped by typical phases you would find in a SDLC).

Phase 1: Envision

In this phase, you need to determine what the business wants. A Project Manager and a SharePoint Business Analyst is needed to hold meetings with Stakeholders and define the requirements.

Lets focus on the SharePoint Business Analyst, the BA is expected to have a good understanding on what SharePoint is all about, this means a strong SharePoint overview (not necessary technical) skill set. The BA will need to know what SharePoint can offer and how it is offered. With that knowledge, the BA can determine the following...

  • Is SharePoint the right solution for the business requirements? The truth is, it may not be, rather figure that out now, before investing more money.
  • Can SharePoint provide the features requested “out of the box”? Must custom development satisfy the business requirements or can an alternative “out of the box” solution be provided.
  • What is the business expecting? Are these expectations unrealistic or not in line with SharePoint’s offering? Assist in managing the expectation.
  • Determine a phased approach, as mentioned before, SharePoint offers a lot, determine the immediate success factors and focus on that
  • Determine “who will need what access to what”. For all the business requirements requested, determine the owners of that feature, the administrator, the approver, the contributor and also the viewer
  • Compile a Governance Plan to determine rules, standards, processes and what SharePoint features should be made available
  • Determine how the business would like their content structured
  • Determine how the business would like to search for content (taxonomy)
  • Gather information that affects capacity planning such as expected number of concurrent users or expected amount of content that requires indexing.
  • Determine what SharePoint License is required. Can SharePoint provide all features requested via the Standard License or is the Enterprise License required?
The Project Manager need not have a strong skill set of the SharePoint offering, but having it will be advantageous. His focus will be on the management component of the project which is not the focus of this article.

I do want to add that the PM needs to initiate the forming of a Steering Committee, that will provide direction to the SharePoint Solution as well as support to the governance plan

For the BA to gather the information mentioned above, he will have to engage the following people:


  • Project Sponsor - to determine his requirements and objectives
  • Business IT Manager – to determine hardware and software availability, details on existing systems that may require SharePoint integration (or SharePoint is replacing) and other IT specific or technical information
  • All Business Unit Managers – to define their unique business requirements (it is recommended to meet them via a phased approach if the organisation is large)
  • The Steering Committee – for proper decision making and governance support

Phase 2: Planning

Article continues here

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