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SharePoint|The Reality Series 8
Implementing SharePoint 2010—An ECM manager’s view

In this final part of our SharePoint Reality Series, we  conclude with some early blueprints, drafted at KMWorld’s SharePoint Symposium in Washington, D.C., in November, for transitioning those architectures to SharePoint 2010.

Just because we all agree that buy-in is a good thing and that governance is key, that doesn’t mean the hard-won lessons forged over three prior versions are now embedded in all future SharePoint shipments. It doesn’t mean we can flick on the lights and all the right boxes are checked in the order we need to check them in. That’s because those checklists, stress tests and migration guidelines are written to SharePoint’s inherited IT guardians—not to the folks who do the daily caretaking.

We have liftoff

When you google recommendations and best practices for SharePoint 2010 deployments, here’s what you get: All the checklists are system-related—more about safety checks of a rocket prior to liftoff than anything about why the crew is along for the ride, or even what they’ll be up to during the flight.

We base our ECM flight plan on three phases: pre, in-process and post-migration stages of an enterprisewide migration from MOSS 2007 to SP2010. Here are some potential game changers if you get out ahead of them or just plain head-scratchers if they confront you first:

  • What’s entirely new and worth taking advantage of, rather than simply turning on a feature just because it’s covered in your license?
  • What’s new but requires that your old house is in order before the new one’s built?
  • What competencies do you want to propagate in a wider group of SharePoint caretakers and how do you build and sustain that community? Or as Geoff Evelyn puts it in his new primer Managing and Implementing SharePoint 2010 Project: “Train users on how to administrate sites before they need to manage them.”

Teaching to the converted

It’s important to remember that getting associates up to speed as project leads, site owners or power users has intrinsic payoffs for updating skills and advancing career goals beyond the scope of any rollout.

That’s because SharePoint is not only a platform but also a magnet for skill building in its own right. In our case, it’s not because the KM grunt holds all the training cards, but because our clients do—and many project roadmaps are running through SharePoint. Many of those projects involve the implementation of workflow automation tools that can thread the operational processes we’ve been tasked to build or improve. That makes knowledge of SharePoint a major plus, even though we don’t have any formalized practices around it.

One other incentive: If your IT crew is anything like mine, your Active Directory SharePoint accounts are at least two economic recoveries removed from the actual titles, locations and credentials of your users. In that humbling spirit, one great way to lead the propagation is to ask forgiveness ahead of permission and let your users keep track of their own My Site details. The best advertising for that is not explicit carrots and sticks but indexing those details on a community search page that reveals all the concealed common interests, advanced degrees and alma maters that would otherwise go undiscovered. Goodbye network.

Hitting the reset button

Many of the ECM managers I spoke with during the SharePoint Symposium were excited about their pending migrations. Partly that’s based on the promise of improvements to the platform. But some of that optimism is based on the refresh a migration provides to redeploy our assets in more enterprising and productive ways. In the case of global management consulting firm PRTM (prtm.com), that meant breaking free of some old habits from file server days:

  • excessive site builds—creating a new site with its own standalone library for every account we open;
  • maintenance nightmare—manually inputting metadata values better populated automatically through an external list or source table; and
  • caps in reporting—measuring the value of our IP based on hard metrics instead of anecdotal evidence.

The reporting black hole was a vexing problem for the firm’s directors and domain experts looking for insight on what kind of organic pull the firm’s IP held for newer hires, from both a training and process know-how perspective. That is not an idle curiosity lost on ECM managers who need to justify investments as well as support communities of practice.

The migration phase of an adoption cycle is a built-in excuse to ask: How are we doing? That check-in is not driven by vanity but usage— a missing piece buried in botched adoptions that exceed over half of all CMS implementations, according to Shannon Ryan, CEO of Non-Linear Creations.

Usage reporting is not about permissions structures from an auditing or regulatory perspective or about performing full farm backups. It’s about user experience in terms of traffic patterns, downloads, previews and soon to include the activity streams in the social media capabilities of SharePoint 2010. All of those touch points indicate new inroads into ROI. In the more immediate term, usage reporting sets a new and vital expectation. The post-adoption reality means:

  • listening to users through usage metrics,
  • analyzing aggregated responses drawn from browsing and search logs, and
  • responding with the right tweaks and adjustments.

Unpacking day

Given that more unified, top-down approach to information management administration, an ECM manager might be lulled into a wait-and-see game before scrutinizing the existing MOSS content inventory. Not a smart move, according to Nicholas Nylund, a senior analyst with Project Performance Corporation.

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