People come to this blog for SharePoint migration articles: How to migrate this or that feature, how to plan your SharePoint server migration. Benjamin is just finishing up a great series presenting scenarios and guidance to carry out with success your SharePoint migration to version 2013. But we were discussing an interesting philosophical point the other day: how do you transition your SharePoint team itself?
Unfortunately there's no Copy Developer tool in Sharegate yet, if only it were that easy! So how do you go about ramping up your SharePoint team and your skills for this new exciting version?
Behind this question there are more general ones such as “How do you shift from one technology to another” or “How do you keep up with Technology”. That’s a broad topic, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers to that. Let’s focus on SharePoint and see how intimidating the task is.
SharePoint 2013 represents a significant milestone in the product’s history. Yet, it’s a major release version, but also if you’ve been following up from the start you will notice something that started with version 2010 and is really coming together in 2013: SharePoint is at the crossroads of most (if not all) of Microsoft’s products and technologies, and it is pushing even further into use of mainstream standards.
That makes a whole lot to learn, especially if you are moving from non-Microsoft space (Java, Lotus Notes). We can debate whether or not .Net and SharePoint are what’s hot today in IT, but while some years ago I used to read up about how people wanted to move to SharePoint to narrow down their focus and specialize more, with 2013 there is one unavoidable truth: You need to broaden your horizons, kiddo.
There is some relief though, as some facets are being phased out. For various reasons, either it didn’t get the expected momentum or just by virtue of a dwindling number of active contributors. Or something better has come up that makes more sense. Whatever the reason here are a few names you can expect to find soon in the obituary pages of The SharePoint Times:
Still, you might be tempted to specialize in only one or two of the surviving areas, and that could indeed be a smart move, especially if you picked your target wisely and you are part of a complementary team. Even not learning any of the new buzzwords of 2013 and sticking to what you know in 2010 will be a viable option for a few years still. As long as you learn something new. In today’s IT if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards.
Play with it
If your company can afford it, a good way to let your team members play with any new technology is to allot time to be used to build demonstrations and proof of concepts, and have them present the results to colleagues. Some outcomes can be quite interesting and useful.
Hands on experience is still the best way to learn a product, and if you can toy with something that is not on a production farm that would be even better.
But with the higher resources requirement of SharePoint 2013 for both servers and developer workstations, setting up multiple farms just to toy with might well be a roadblock for many teams. Can’t really learn the technology if you can’t get your hands on it, right? Fortunately there are very easy, inexpensive options that are within reach of even independent consultants:
- Get yourself a free Office 365 developer site account
- Sign up for on-demand, cloud-based virtual machines. Cloudshare is the best example of this
Both of these offerings are perfectly well suited for even enterprise settings, I use them on a regular basis.
Work with it
Another option, assuming your team is up to the challenge, is to introduce SharePoint 2013 projects as soon as possible and start honing your skills in real project scenarios:
- Integrate support for the new version into your products as soon as possible
- Migrate to SharePoint 2013 your existing intranet
- Build a public showcase site, turning a learning opportunity into bold marketing
If you have a skilled team and/or you are just lucky, you will quickly have customers coming to you requesting their solutions be done with the new version, as various polls suggest that the migration to SharePoint 2013 will occur faster than what was seen with SharePoint 2010.
Will you be ready when the time comes? A lot of different factors will come into play in that equation. From the size and enthusiasm of your team, to your corporate culture and agility, to the depth of your enterprise pockets and even your location and market. It’s well past time to act for getting your team ready for SharePoint 2013. They say preparedness is half the battle.