Every large scale project like a SharePoint implementation isn't something to tackle lightly! Sure, there are many approaches to take, but these ten majors points listed by MVP Geoff Evelyn in his article Ten Steps to a Successful SharePoint Implementation should all be carefully considered. In fact, he guarantees a successful project if these points are strictly followed! Let's not waste any more time and dive right in!
1- Get Executive Sponsorship
Implementing a solution like SharePoint is meant to improve the overall productivity of the organization. At the end of the day, the success of your SharePoint implementation will depend on its adoption by the concerned parties, aka the teams that will have to work with it. So, in order to be able to justify this project, better expose it to the executives beforehand and get them on board. This will drive adoption up, and help meet the set objectives.
2- Define the Goals
Giving the gift of SharePoint to your company is great! But what are you looking to accomplish exactly? Simplifying data management processes? Reducing Costs of Ownership? Improving/defining standards? Something else all together?
No matter what your objectives might be, it's crucial you define clear goals! Otherwise, how will you be able to consider your project as accomplished? And while you're at it, this is a great time to set your SharePoint Governance plan. It will include what SharePoint is used for or not in your organization and how it should be used. Believe us, you'll be sorry if you don't write these rules down!
3- Get a Skilled Team
Remember the A Team, right? They weren't called the B, the F or the U Team, and for a good reason! They're the crème de la crème at what they do! Such an endeavor will require your top dogs on the job!
Nowadays, everyone gets over specialized in their field. So when you need to implement SharePoint in your organization, sole developers won't suffice. They'll need help from business process analysts, administrators, architects, project manager, etc. So it's time to give HR a call!
4- Set Up a Training Strategy
Another point with crucial impact on adoption: Training! You need to quickly form and train a solid SharePoint team, this is the technical training part.
But not everyone in the company will be using the entire SharePoint platform you're setting in place! So if you give them a complete training course on everything to everyone, you'll:
bore them out of their mind;
be kissing any hope you had of people using SharePoint goodbye.
You'll have Administrators, Power Users, Information and Knowledge Users among the employees. So identify who will fit what profile and train them accordingly.
5- Define Service Operations
To guarantee that your SharePoint implementation will be ultimately fruitful, you'll want to keep everything running smoothly. Service Operations for SharePoint is multi-faceted. It includes planning for a self adapting SharePoint (templates, permission models, etc.), creating monitoring rules for your environments and documenting them, knowing your service offering and model, etc.
Writing all this down now will definitely prove useful on countless occasions and help you get a clear overview of how SharePoint is going to be answering your project's goals.
6- Determine your Information Architecture
We've established that you'll need an architect on your team earlier. Well, step aside! It's their time to shine! Your information architecture is the foundations of your SharePoint platform, so you want it rock solid and thought through. It starts with an in-depth analysis and will cover the complete structure of your project. Imagine building a house, you want the blueprints to be perfect!
7- Define Standards and Policies
SharePoint is a sandbox filled with possibilities, but it shouldn't be a playground. This one sets the ground rules of how everything SharePoint related will work, from how a new site request should be presented to permissions setting. Standards and Policies are a cornerstone of SharePoint Governance planning, so it's definitely not something you take lightly.
8- Follow Implementation's Best Practices
Like any IT, or any technology project really, a SharePoint implementation sees every new completed bit go through many stages before going into production. After the concept intent is set, it will be developed and debugged in a development environment, then will hit the Quality Assurance phase in a dedicated environment (that's as similar as the production one as possible). Once it meets every standard and requirement, it's finally time to go live in the production environment.
These several phases in your SharePoint Deployment are here for a good reason, so don't rush into anything and follow them to the letter!
9- Foster Culture and Adoption
Above everything, your project success will come with wide spread adoption. To ensure that your SharePoint implementation is well received by your users, you need to communicate to them the benefits they'll get by using it. Promoting the collaborative aspect of the platform, and offering training to your users will go a long way. And remember, listening to feedback and concerns is key!
10- Keep it Simple
This point you should keep in mind through the whole project. It's often said that simple is better, or that less is more. Keep your Goals and vision in mind, and make sure to provide a service seen as good by your users! It's crucial that on-boarding be easy for them to see value they'll get out of SharePoint.