Learning to Crawl, Walk and Run with SharePoint

One of the questions that customers new to SharePoint regularly ask me is: “since SharePoint can do so much, where do we get started?” As the father of 2 young girls, I usually use an analogy related to how they learned to crawl, walk and then run and how you might take a similar approach to the deployment and adoption of SharePoint. The suggestions below are based on my own experience as a former customer, and working with SharePoint since 2001, and discussions around best practices and lessons learned that I’ve seen with other Microsoft SharePoint customers and partners. As with anything, your own plan should be based on your business and technical requirements …

Phase 1 - Crawl – Go after the low hanging fruit

  • Start with out of the box SharePoint features & minimum customization
    • Team sites, templates, collaboration, documents, workflow, web parts, content types, metadata, social features (tagging, rating, wikis, blogs, etc.)
    • Consider the "fantastic 40" templates offered by Microsoft as well
  • Tackle governance, migration planning & information architecture – lay the foundation for future phases
  • Basic search – searching within SharePoint and simple crawling of content outside SharePoint (e.g. file shares)
  • Light up My Sites - including people & expertise search
  • Enable the Office Web Applications for SharePoint 2010 to provide read and write access via the browser for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote files
  • Celebrate quick wins, success stories and build momentum

Phase 2 - Walk – Line Of Business (LOB) Applications & Project 10+ (aka those smaller application requests from the business that didn’t get funded this year)

  • Internally – SharePoint portal & “surround” strategy where SharePoint starts to become the central hub for all collaboration and finding information
    • Having a “killer application” only available on SharePoint helps drive adoption and traffic to the platform
  • Enterprise search, including FAST – searching of more complex sources including federated search of other document management systems, business systems (e.g. ERP, CRM) and internet based search integration
  • Records Management – especially as part of SharePoint 2010 – where SharePoint is utilized for declaring and managing records – beyond just basic document collaboration scenarios
  • SharePoint Composite Applications, Custom Workflows & Business Intelligence (BI)
    • 2007 – SharePoint Designer, Forms Services, Excel Services, Business Data Catalog
    • 2010 – Those above, plus: Word Services, Access Services, Visio Services, PerformancePoint Services, Business Connectivity Services
    • User solutions, process automation/standardization, going green, human workflow
  • Extranet Collaboration Sites – Using SharePoint to securely work and collaborate with your customers, partners and boards as well as in merger and acquisition scenarios
  • Web Content Management – Internal Sites – get familiar and experience with using these capabilities behind the firewall

Phase 3 - Run – Enterprise Applications

  • Web Content Management & FAST for SharePoint – Internet Sites – take what you’ve learned internally and apply it to your public facing .com sites
  • Custom SharePoint .NET & Open XML applications - SharePoint & Visual Studio 2010 preferred
  • Advanced system integration utilizing native SharePoint technologies (e.g. Web Services, REST, etc.) and other tools such as BizTalk for more complex scenarios and needs
  • External commerce site integration (e.g. Commerce Server)

Getting Started and Moving Forward

Here are some of my suggestions for getting started and moving forward to make the plan above actionable:

  1. Review the SharePoint 2010 getting started blog post I previously published for information, videos and whitepapers to get your arms around all that SharePoint can do and how you can extend it
  2. Read a book on SharePoint. For example, I am a contributing author on the Essential SharePoint 2010 book that is being released soon
  3. Check out David Chappell’s blog post for his thoughts on when to consider SharePoint 2010 as a development platform versus building applications solely on ASP.NET
Comments (1)

  1. Greg Dale says:

    Thank you for all the great SharePoint information and positive energy at the Enterprise 2.0 event in Boston last week!

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