Moving to SharePoint (My Way)

Let’s start with my Business Tuesday series where I introduce my business and how we work. Moving to SharePoint can be done many ways but most of them guarantee you any success on it. SharePoint is technically complex platform and those sad businesses and techies who start fighting with it will usually loose the battle. But how to move to SharePoint the way you get results instead of bad headaches? This is how I do it.

Over years I have been technical advisor and implementor for many companies who start using SharePoint. I have had different experiences up to point where working as a subcontractor I gave up the contract because of completely incompetent analysts and project managers who first made promises to customers and then validated if something is possible or not. They chose to fight with SharePoint and, of course, they under estimated their “enemy”.

TIP Before doing anything on SharePoint make sure you have real problem to solve and then find out if and how it is possible to solve it on SharePoint without making any negative changes to SharePoint environment. Start hacking and hell awaits you.

How to move to SharePoint?

At first you must have real business problems to solve. I don’t mean any fatal problems but everyday’s problems. You see that something can be done better or more easily and you have ideas what is the ideal solution for you. But you have to have problem.

TIP Over years I have found out that moving to SharePoint is easy when business have clearly defined problems to solve. These businesses doesn’t make too big predictions to future but tend to live in real world and move on with SharePoint step by step. Most unsuccessful with SharePoint are businesses who first have SharePoint, then they have developments and after that maybe somebody thinks about problems.

When problem is there then find out solution and validate if SharePoint is good choice for you to solve this problem. If SharePoint is good fit then go with it. Otherwise look also for other solutions.

TIP Although SharePoint is very popular platform it is not silver bullet to every problem that business may have. It’s usual that businesses have more than one major system in use. The idea is not to have this or another system but to get job done.

How I can help you?

The process I usually use with new SharePoint customers is as follows:

  1. Find out what business problems they have.
  2. Find out ideal solution to those problems.
  3. Find out minimal solution to those problems.
  4. Find out if SharePoint has something to offer between minimal and ideal solution.
  5. Work out solution and validate it with customer.
  6. Estimate implementation.
  7. Sign the contract :)

If customer has no technical knowhow about SharePoint I always try to keep the discussion away from bits and bytes and strange implementation terms that techies use in their communication. It’s easy to confuse people with things they don’t know but about what they feel like they should take position right now.

Keeping all discussion focused on problem domain makes things easier for customers and they are really able to provide you the information you really need.Of course, it is important to inform customer about technical limitations and if they share with you the longer road map they have it helps you come up with better ideas.

Let’s share ideas!

If possible I like always to share my own ideas with customers because it is always possible that I have implemented something like they need before and there are things they had no idea before. Sharing information with customer is important – it leads to better solution and sometimes it helps customers to better define their needs.

Yes, I talk my ideas even when the problem domain is something new for me. There are patterns that go through most of problem domains, there are many things that different processes have in common and so on. Sharing also ideas that are related to problem domain loosely may help customers. Been there, seen that!

Most important tip If SharePoint is not solution, say it out loud!

Gunnar Peipman

Gunnar Peipman is ASP.NET, Azure and SharePoint fan, Estonian Microsoft user group leader, blogger, conference speaker, teacher, and tech maniac. Since 2008 he is Microsoft MVP specialized on ASP.NET.

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