Tactical Advice

5 Tips for Improving Collaboration with SharePoint

The secret is better governance.
5 Tips for Improving Collaboration with SharePoint

Many organizations use Microsoft SharePoint 2010 as an “out of the box” solution to promote information sharing and collaboration, but even the savviest IT pros can fail to maximize the utility of this popular software. However, the tools and the opportunity are right at users’ fingertips — and making the most of them requires good governance.

The definition of governance varies depending on who is asking the question and what they are trying to accomplish. According to Peter Weill and Jeanne W. Ross of the Center for Information Systems Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management, IT governance means “specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable behavior in the use of IT.”

By looking at governance as a way to encourage people to utilize the framework designed for the efficiency of the organization, it becomes easier to foster quick adoption and improved methods. Effective governance is built around an organization’s needs for a specific technological application or platform. Designing governance to encompass end-user input, guidelines and specific business needs, and to incorporate the strength of a specific technology such as SharePoint 2010, will make deployments more effective and manageable.

When starting a SharePoint 2010 migration or adoption, consider the following:

1. Begin Your Governance Plan Before Anything Else

The governance discussion will walk a business and its IT department through phases, including the granular steps within each phase, and deliver a viable framework. Start with a high-level framework and break each area down into smaller, granular pieces. The goal is to have management and governance aligned. This is also an important way to build relationships between staff and management and will help ensure that the project stays on track.

2. Start Small, but Think Big

Instead of looking to migrate to or adopt SharePoint 2010 across the entire organization, begin with a pilot. By starting with one department, there is a chance for a quick win and an opportunity to increase staff learning and refine IT processes. After experiencing some success, determine what data within the organization is mission-critical and used on a regular basis. Then migrate the business unit onto the SharePoint 2010 platform while updating that critical data.

More than 125 million licenses of SharePoint have been sold worldwide.

SOURCE: Microsoft

3. Be Brutal with Old Data

Not everything is valuable and needs to be kept. Whether migrating from a previous version of SharePoint or adopting SharePoint for the first time, do not automatically bring over all the old data, processes, workflows and configurations. Think “fresh start,” and look at everything through a clean lens. You can pull mission-critical data into SharePoint through the use of Web Parts or directly into SharePoint libraries, directories and folders. 

4. Understand the Importance of Metadata

Design governance around the use of metadata instead of entirely around folders. SharePoint 2010 incorporates a strong use of descriptive and managed metadata for a more robust enterprise content management environment and search. Talk to end users and administrators about the key words and terms they search for on a regular basis. Discuss the value of tagging new and imported documents with certain metadata and how that will drive business efficiencies.

5. Don’t Overlook Training

SharePoint 2010 has too many features and capabilities for any one person to know, let alone use on a daily basis. During your governance planning, meet with representatives who will be using SharePoint — not only management, but also everyday end users. Take note of how they do their daily work and what is important to them. Incorporate Microsoft’s Productivity Hub into your SharePoint 2010 design. Productivity Hub offers training materials that can be geared toward various levels of users.

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About the Author

Keith Galumbeck

Keith Galumbeck is director of the Microsoft practice at ARRAY Information Technology, an IT products and services firms.

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