6 Steps to a Successful SharePoint Implementation

Microsoft SharePoint is a web application platform that integrates intranet and knowledge management to allow companies to engage with their employees, share ideas, and increase efficiency in working together. As a platform, SharePoint is designed to be easy to use and easy to set up. However, implementation still requires careful planning – if you don’t know what you’re doing, it can be easy to make some serious SharePoint mistakes. Because configuration mistakes can occur easily, creating a plan for implementation is almost as important as the implementation itself.

Throughout the many SharePoint projects we’ve undertaken, we have not only provided clients with assistance in implementing the platform from the start, but we’ve also helped clients who failed to implement the platform properly due to a lack of planning. Taking the time to plan for implementation before you start will save you time – and frustration – down the road. To help get you started, we’ve devised 6 steps that will put you on the path to successful SharePoint implementation.

1. Define Goals

Ask yourself the following questions:

 

  • Why are you implementing SharePoint in the first place?
  • What is the new system going to accomplish for your company?
  • What will it be used for?
  • What processes will SharePoint improve?
  • Most importantly, how do you want your employees to actually use and interact with the system?

Defining your end goals at the onset of implementation will help you stay on track and avoid hiccups. Furthermore, it will help executives understand and champion the initiative.

2. Identify a Team

We suggest identifying a diverse project team for implementation, composed of members of each department that will use the system. By assembling a multi-departmental team, you can collaboratively strategize to ensure buy-in from each department and improve productivity across the board. This will keep everyone in the loop, and will also provide a few people to help test out each department’s site. Additionally, this will guarantee that you take into account different business processes in each department, so that you can then configure the platform with everyone in mind.

3. Define Policies & Procedures

Work with your team to define policies and procedures for how users will interact with the system, set standards, and define IT governance. There will be a variety of IT standards, network infrastructure guidelines, and business security policies and procedures that will come into play during these discussions. This step is when the bulk of the work will be done, so you should bring in key stakeholders from each department to confirm that you are addressing policies across the board. This may include discussions with the following teams:

 

  • Marketing – How will the site be branded?
  • Network Infrastructure – How will you scale your SharePoint infrastructure to enable a richer user experience?
  • IT – How will the system be set up? What is the plan for ongoing maintenance and disaster recovery?
  • Security – How will security policies be defined, both from a physical security standpoint and an information security standpoint?
  • Compliance – How will you ensure that your users are compliant with any regulations when uploading content?

We know this may sound overwhelming, but please note that these are just a few examples of requirements that may come into play when defining your SharePoint policies. Your organization may not have all of these requirements, but the basic idea remains the same: you need to invite key stakeholders from every part of your organization and enable them to have a say in the process.

4. Configure the SharePoint Farm

Once you’ve completed Step 3, the actual installation and configuration of the SharePoint farm is much simpler. That being said, it is not as simple as putting in a CD and double clicking the setup file, so you want to make sure that you plan the installation infrastructure and configure the farm appropriately.

 

At this point, you are ready to create sites and add users. SharePoint comes with many built-in site templates and various types of web parts that you can use right out of the box which will make this process simpler. You can set up different sites to allow your users to collaborate on and manage webpages, documents, lists, calendars, and data. If you find that you have more complex configuration or customization requirements, see Step 5.

5. Assess Further Customization Needs

After completing an out-of-the-box implementation of your SharePoint farm, you may find that you would like to implement further customization to elevate your SharePoint platform. If this is the case, we highly recommend contacting a professional for help. Altering SharePoint beyond its out-of-the-box capabilities when you are not an expert can easily lead to serious mistakes that will impede functionality and are difficult to undo! There are many SharePoint professionals out there who can help customize your SharePoint farm. Reach out to an expert (like us!) and they can help you develop a plan for further customization work.

6. Create a Training Plan

Since you’ve already defined how the system will be used in Step 1, the training plan will be your roll-out strategy to introduce your employees to the new system and get them comfortable with it. This may be as easy as creating a document that informs users about the transition to SharePoint, or as involved as scheduling times where you can walk each department through how they would use the system for their day-to-day activities. At the end of the day, it comes down to how simple your infrastructure is and the needs of your specific users. By having a transition plan in place and thinking through the training scenarios beforehand, you and your users will experience fewer headaches when they begin to use the system daily.

SharePoint was created as a user-friendly platform, but that does not mean that planning for implementation is a waste of time! In fact, improper strategy planning can lead to serious setup errors, confusion, and unnecessary headaches. Avoid these mistakes by taking the time to put an implementation plan in place, and you can start enjoying your new SharePoint system much sooner. To help you devise your plan, try using our SharePoint Implementation Planning worksheet!

Looking for assistance with your SharePoint implementation?

Our team of expert consultants can help you develop a customized implementation plan.

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search

Pros and Cons of Custom SoftwareStartup Consulting