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Applying a Phased Approach to Ensure Better SharePoint Business Solution Deployment

chrispeters Applications, Blog

Following the first article in this series, we’ll now dive deeper in to the DEFINE phase and then cover each of the other phases in separate articles in this six-part SharePoint series.  Below is a brief description of each solution deployment phase.

1. DEFINE – The Define phase helps to set the stage for successful solution delivery by outlining the steps necessary to better understand customer requirements, demonstrate and select potential SharePoint capabilities for use in solution, and to lay the foundation for effective communications and project management during the overall solution delivery effort.  Other activities and deliverables associated with the Define phase include:

  • Conducting the initial customer consultation

  • Presenting a SharePoint demo 

  • Officially launching the solution development project

  • Collecting additional business and process artifacts from the customer

  • Outlining the current state process through facilitated sessions with the customer

  • Documenting and clarifying solution requirements 

  • Analyzing the official solution requirements

  • Determining potential gaps between the solution requirements and SharePoint

    capabilities

  • Creating and reviewing the Requirements / Solution Capability Alignment document

    with the customer

  • Exploring, clarifying and agreeing on alternative feature/function approaches if

    necessary

  • Presenting initial design concepts and ideas to the Customer

2. DESIGN – The initial design of the SharePoint solution can be created once the project has been properly kicked off and the customer has gained a basic understanding of the SharePoint features that can be applied to their business requirements.  During the design phase, the solution team will continue to review documented user requirements, content and other information artifacts from the customer.  Other activities and deliverables associated with the Design phase include:

  •  Creating the initial solution design wireframe diagrams 
  • Sharing sample solution prototypes with internal solution team 
  • Completing the design checklist review template
  • Preparing for and conducting the design checklist review to test the solution design 
  • Sharing design review input and updates with the customer and incorporating it into the solution design
  • Presenting solution prototypes to the customer and soliciting customer feedback.

3. DEVELOP – The development of the new business solution can begin once the solution design has been reviewed and approved by both the internal solution team and the customer.   Depending on the customer’s guidelines for SharePoint solution development,the solution may either be built in a formal SharePoint testing environment or directly in thecustomer’s production site collection.  The Develop phase also includes the creation of a“change management” list and supporting workflows to track internal and customer relatedfeedback and action items related to the business solution being developed.  Other activities and deliverables associated with the Define phase include:

  • Applying inputs and updates received during the design checklist review
  • Provisioning and configuring a new SharePoint site collection for the customer if necessary
  • Building the new business solution and migrating test content as necessary
  • Adding additional test content and sample customer data
  • Adding and configuring the Change Management module in the new solution
  • Applying support and training tools to the new solution

4. DEPLOY – Once the new business solution has been developed it enters the Deploy phase.In this phase, the new solution undergoes QA testing against documented customerrequirements by both the internal solution team and the customer to ensure proper forusability and functionality.  In addition, QC testing is conducted to ensure that other components of the solution such as page/font colors, font text and sizing, hyperlinks, and page layouts and displays are being presented properly.  Support pages with training andsupport related links, best practices and materials are added to the new solution and thecustomer participates in a pilot rollout prior to the formal solution rollout to the greater enduser community.  Other activities and deliverables associated with the Define phase include:

  • Applying support and training tools, information and materials to the new solution
  • Planning, documenting and conducting quality assurance testing
  • Planning, documenting and conducting quality control testing
  • Conducting a pre-launch pilot of the solution with customer stakeholders
  • Rolling out the business solution
  • Ongoing management of the new solution

5. SUPPORT – Once the new business solution is deployed to the greater end user community,variety of support and training related mechanisms and activities that can be applied to ensure effective usage and adoption.  In addition to the solution and support and training materials included in the solution for the end users it’s also a good practice to provide solution support teams with troubleshooting guides, support scripts and quick tips for use when supporting end users.  Other activities and deliverables associated with the Definephase include:

  • Launching user groups and regularly scheduled special interest groups events
  • Improving and updating training materials and courses on a regular basis
  • Consistently mentoring power users and solution maintenance resources
  • Promoting and refreshing online support pages on a regular basis
  • Training and supporting help desk resources

6. EVOLVE – In order to ensure that your new SharePoint business solution gets used by end users and continues to provide value to the organization you should focus on evolving and improving the technical solution as well as the people based processes and policies used to manage, support and improve the solution.  Activities related to the ongoing evolution ofyour new business solution across the organization include:

  • Connecting external solution Interfaces to enhance your business solution
  • Soliciting and planning future solution enhancements
  • Exploring additional Microsoft solution Interfaces
  • Pursuing ongoing network, computing environment and platform improvements
  • Promoting and implementing ongoing governance and change management improvements

DEFINE PHASE – The Define phase helps to set the stage for successful solution delivery by outlining the steps necessary to better understand customer requirements, demonstrate and select potential SharePoint capabilities for use in solution, and to lay the foundation for effective communications and project management during the overall solution delivery effort.  Specificactivities and steps associated with the Define phase include: 

  • Organizational
    • Stakeholders / Leadership Team
    • ChallengesOrganization Size
    • SharePoint Skill Levels
    • Customers, Industries, Sectors
  • Functional
    • Primary Functions
      • Finance
      • HR
      • OPS
      • IT
      • Sales
      • Marketing
      • Security
      • Supply Chain
      • Manufacturing
      • Quality
      • Project Management
    • Workflow
    • Policies
    • Procedures
    • Measurement Methods
    • Challenges
    • Performance Dashboards
    • Sample Data
    • File Shares/Directory Listings
    • Communications
      • Newsletters
      • Emails
  • Understand Customer
    • Organization
    • Functional Areas
    • Technology 
  • Discuss high level challenges
  • Determine potential SharePoint Value Add
    • Collaboration
    • Task Tracking
    • Reporting
    • Communications
  • Operating Environment
    • Technical Outline
    • Organizational Outline
  • Support Outline
    • During Solution Deployment
    • Post Solution Deployment
  • Solution Example
    • Task Tracking
    • Collaboration
    • Communication
    • Document Management
  • Team
  • Scope
  • Narrative
  • Schedule
  • Existing Site Pages
  • Shared Folder Structure/Files Listing
  • Metrics/Dashboard Examples
  • Sample Customer Requests/questions
  • Organizational Structure
  • Functional Processes
    • High Level
    • Procedural Level
  • Designer Questions
  • Organizational
  • Functional
  • Technical
  • Organizational
  • Functional
  • Solution Capability Alignment
  • Increment 1 Capabilities
  • Potential Future Increment Capabilities
  • Approved Requirements/Solution Capability Alignment
  • Share Design Thoughts
  • One Site or Many Sites?
  • Solution Maintenance & Management
  • Managed path, site structure
  • Major Lists & Libraries
  • Use of Metadata
  • Workflows
  • Interrelation of Lists & Libraries
  • Use of SP OOTB Components & Features
Now that we have walked through the activities and steps involved in the DEFINE phase of SharePoint solution deployment:
  • We should have a very good sense for the customers organizational and functional requirements
  • The customer should now have a better understanding of how SharePoint’s out of the box capabilities can benefit the organization
  • We are effectively matching SharePoint’s features and capabilities with the requirements communicated by the customer.
In addition, we have also set the stage for rigorous project management and process analysis processes that will help to ensure the success of all solution deployment phases throughout the project.
In Our Next Article we will dive deeper into the DESIGN phase of solution deployment.  While you’re waiting for the next article in this series, feel free to check out Symon Garfield’s article outlining the 10 Reasons Why SharePoint Projects Fail.  I think you’ll find that many of these challenges can be addressed by pursuing robust and properly structured solution approaches like those presented in this series.