Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Implementing SharePoint? Have you developed your Strategic Plan first?

In discussing the shortage of tools and guidance on SharePoint development, a situation that remains a challenge for developers looking to develop custom applications for Microsoft's increasingly popular collaboration and portal software, the recent article in Visual Studio magazine makes a compelling case for developing a strategic plan for rolling out your SharePoint solution whether this is your initial implementation, or a follow-on phase.

"Even as general IT and development budgets turn south," Michael Desmond says in his article, "industry watchers say the amount of activity around SharePoint applications and features continue to rise... Organizations are looking to leverage [their] investments [in SharePoint] by adding custom functionality and applications to their SharePoint infrastructure."

As many organizations have learned the hard way, installing SharePoint and having a .NET developer or two on staff does not guarantee you an effective SharePoint implementation that transforms your business.

Desmond goes on to say that "SharePoint projects tend to be client-facing, involving frequent and intense interaction with business stakeholders. There's a good deal of expectation setting that must be addressed, in part because these users are often familiar enough with SharePoint to expect quick results."

Before you begin your SharePoint implementation or major follow-on phase, a wise course of action is to enlist the aid of a seasoned consultant or consulting team with well-rounded knowledge of SharePoint's many nuances. In this way, you'll be able to strategically plan your effort to ensure that your goals are met, and that the project is a tightly run, cost-effective endeavor, rather than an endless pilot project or runaway development nightmare.

Quoting Anne Thomas Manes, VP and Research Director at Burton Group, Desmond notes that "SharePoint presupposes a bunch of design patterns and you kind of have to build your application around those design patterns. And if you want your own design pattern, it's probably not worth the time and effort. Don't attempt to force fit other design patterns into it, because it will just be a very frustrating experience." Desmond goes on to quote Spencer Harbar, a U.K.-based independent SharePoint developer as saying, "Easily the most common mistake is not having a core understanding of the product architecture and therefore choosing the wrong approach to meet specific business requirements. SharePoint is such a huge platform that it's incredibly easy to start implementing custom code for a task that SharePoint [already] does."

By developing a sound strategic plan with a qualified consulting team, you'll be able to maximize the built in or "out of the box" features that SharePoint offers, thereby reducing custom development costs that may not even be necessary, and ensuring that future upgrades are simplified, because your solution will stick to the best practices espoused by Microsoft and the partner community.

Many great companies are now offering such planning workshops. If you're looking to roll out SharePoint in your organization, you would do well to avail yourselves of such a service. Your IT budget will thank you later.

This post originally appeared at http://becraftsblog.blogspot.com. You comments and feedback are welcome!

[Updated 3/18, removed reference to specific company's workshop]

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think?