Over the years I have seen a lot of SharePoint deployments from many customers going back to 2003. This has allowed me to develop a unique perspective and observation on how to deploy this product best. Here is what I have learned are the top ten things you need to do to make your deployment the success that will provide you with the best ROI and take full advantage of the product. MOSS and the surrounding products such as Office, Exchange, PerformancePoint, Office Communication Server, Project Server, Excel Server, Forms Server, SQL Analysis and Reporting Server have the potential to provide the same productivity increases seen when email was deployed universally in the 90’s. Make full use of these technologies AND make Your Company succeed. That being said, it is important to remember that MOSS is about people and collaboration not products.
1. “MOSS is not your father’s corporate web!” When you deploy MOSS you need to think future. You need to be thinking about not only deploying a portal but also a collaborative integration solution that will dramatically increase your companies productivity potential. MOSS is not just about document management and lists. Collaboration/portals has to be about people. If you don’t plan on training your end users about new ways to think and new ways to share information, then the value of the tools will be minimized.
2. Train your Employees on how they can use MOSS functionality and provide them with the insight they need to see how they can increase their productivity and use all the features of the product. Don’t allow this opportunity to become a means of using this new technology the same way you would in the past. Think beyond document libraries and lists. Think communication, business intelligence such as Dashboards, forms , workflow and collaboration to the fullest potential. Develop Power Users that allows for your portal to be driven by the users. They know what they need and if you provide the opportunity and knowledge to allow their ingenuity to drive the process it will allow for greater success and allow your IT staff to focus on IT and not driving the collaboration. Everyone is equal when collaborating online and senior management of a company needs to buy in to the freedom and flexibility that will come from allowing people to work like this. Consider spending 25% of your budget on training the power users and 75 percent on training all users. The Power Users should be those stakeholders in the business and should be instructed upon the possibilities of the technology so they can chose which to implement effectively for their teams. This is the key to success.
3. Plan your overall design, Taxonomy, site structure and navigation, Search, Document Management, Records Management, Security, Server Farms, logical design with great care, knowing that your deployment will grow far beyond what your initial intentions were. Think about how you deployed AD and Organizational Units so that they would sustain your deployment lifetime and future upgrades. Use the Planning Worksheets provided. Adopt a SharePoint Governance model. Here is a sample Governance plan. By implementing a distributed governance model which involves creating power users in the various lines of business for day to day governance tasks like site creation and security you not only mold champions to drive awareness of the capabilities of the platform, you offload a significant portion of the non-strategic IT tasks to end users. This frees up your IT folks to do the activities that really interest them. Those power users now represent a great foundation for a portal-steering committee that can determine standards, branding, navigation, etc.
4. Plan for performance by knowing sizing constraints, SQL Performance and how each functionality will influence your environments stability. Design and deploy an effective policy with regards to the site creation and maintenance, recycle bin, retention, and archival. Do not allow your data to become stale and out of date.
5. Go to KB Alertz and register for MOSS and WSS KBs as well as view and register an RSS feed to SharePoint Team Blog before you plan and deploy.
6. Actually, take the time to build a test, QA and production environment that are exactly the same as far as general design. Then use content management to deploy between environments.
7. Define your growth strategy before you even install the product.
8. Have a documented and tested DR plan with SLAs with each top level organization that will be involved in your project before even installing. This should contribute greatly to your design especially with regards to Content Databases and Site Collections. With SP1 you can move site collections between content databases and webs.
9. Most environment can accommodate 80-90 percent of their needs without writing a single line of code. When defining how you will meet business needs ask if a built in component will suffice and evaluate the delta between the exact business needs and the cost of designing, developing, deploying and maintaining custom code. While it’s fun to write WebParts, it is not fun to manage and debug them when something happens. That being said, if you do use the built in WP make sure they are consistent with Microsoft best practices so they will upgrade to the next version or not break on a Service Pack.
10. Think, plan and put in place your Operations Guide before you deploy. What will you monitor in MOSS and what tools will you use to do this? What are the daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly tasks that you need to accomplish to keep your master piece running at optimum levels as defined by your SLAs.
PS: Start using those mail enabled lists types to replace your public folders now. The best choice is the email enabled discussion lists as well as email enabled calendars.