I recently had the opportunity to attend the first ever Best Practices Conference for SharePoint. Microsoft’s own Tom Rizzo was the keynote speaker. His talk provided insight into the role that SharePoint plays within the Microsoft organization and some possible directions for SharePoint in the future. SharePoint MVPs, Microsoft product team members, and industry experts provided thought-provoking ideas and valuable insights to help the audience take their own SharePoint environments to the next level. The audience was a good mix of large and small organizations, demonstrating that SharePoint really does fit into all sizes and types of environments.
There was so much information that it really is hard to choose my top 10 points, but the common theme running throughout many of the sessions was to focus on end user experience for a successful implementation, so here are 10 key points to help you do that:
1. If you have My Sites available, seriously consider looking into this feature. My Sites is an often overlooked and underutilized feature, but it can do a lot to speed end user adoption within your SharePoint environment. In particular, look into using Personalization Site Links to help make My Sites a user’s one stop shop for doing their job.
2. When implementing document libraries, remember that SharePoint is a collaboration tool. Plan document libraries around groups who need to share and collaborate on documents.
3. Capacity planning is not a suggestion. Go BIG on your SQL Server box to avoid poor response times for your users.
4. Life Cycle Management isn’t a suggestion either. Visit sites like http://www.microsoft.com/ and http://www.codeplex.com/ to check out tools that you can use to manage the growth and direction of your SharePoint environment.
5. SharePoint is a “disruptive” technology. Many SharePoint implementations fail due to people problems, so plan for the changes that need to occur in your processes, and make sure the end users have plenty of training. Train early and train often.
6. Above all, SharePoint is an end user product. Business areas must be involved in governance and taxonomy discussions in order to insure that the SharePoint environment will work for everyone.
7. Know what’s available out of the box before you write code. Nuff said!
8. Know when it’s time to write code. Remember – this is all about user experience. Out of the box functionality that doesn’t really meet the user’s needs makes for a poor user experience, and poor user adoption.
9. Long term success is a series of quick wins that solve problems. Use SharePoint to transform the way your end users do business, and give your end users a voice in what matters to them.
10. Attend the next Best Practices Conference! Sign up to receive emails with details on the next conference at http://www.sharepointbestpractices.com/ and plan to attend.