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SharePoint|The Reality Series 5
The SharePoint maturity model

Even from a purely internal perspective those processes are designed with the capabilities of SharePoint in mind. One telltale sign: business units that require SharePoint delivery to honor helpdesk tickets, expense reports and custom reporting for outside members. We saw another winning example of this in the third article in this series, in which accounting giant Grant Thornton now ties site creation to its backend time and billing system—key to instilling discipline around the collaboration of its account teams.

Stage 4—development platform

Most of the costs associated with SharePoint trials and errors subside by the end of Stage 3. Now enterprises can cycle through upgrades and build on that know-how in the form of best practices and coding libraries across the full enterprise. Reed says, “The time required by these companies to set up a new SharePoint project is minimal and the quality of their deployment scripts is high.” It’s based on tested and proven code.

We saw an inspired example of such centers of excellence in the service bureau and chargeback model crafted by Dutch-based Rabobank in the third article of this series, so business units can factor SharePoint into business plans and budgets. Showcasing best practices, or what O’Connor calls “the gallery model,” allows the breathing room to circle “all of the above” when it comes to roadmapping future directions. But it also means taking the necessary time and deliberation to build out those capabilities and address competencies that may be in short supply.

From the practical matter of maintaining SharePoint, the gallery model steps up to the post-deployment question all project teams face: Aren’t we on the hook for support if we do this? Code sharing makes it feasible.

Assets under (knowledge) management

The vast cultural differences from the beginning to advanced stages of the maturity model cannot be overstated. From the tentative first steps away from the file server to SharePoint as the authoritative gateway to enterprise knowledge assets, it’s a long road indeed.

Knowledge assets no longer revert to individual owners but as an interactive set of team-based contributions—a vision based more on top-down control than on “feel good” collaboration. “Why do I need hard drives,” reasons O’Connor, “if I can store everything on SharePoint? A company that “owns its data” does not wish for it to reside in human silos.

The value that SharePoint provides is understood by the majority of the user community, and its use is spearheaded by business users. Non-techie staff isn’t intimidated by the interfaces, functionality or their newfound roles as power users in customizing their own applications free of IT roadblocks or even programmers.

Additionally, investments are being made to increase SharePoint’s capabilities, such as third-party Web parts and the creation of solution-focused SharePoint templates. When has one reached Stage 4 mastery? The technology of SharePoint is fading into the background. The company is focused on corporate information as an asset for addressing the post-Stage 4 business issues that are sure to follow.    

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