For most organizations, SharePoint’s value proposition cannot be fully understood until the product is in place and delivering value to the business. It’s a “chicken and egg” situation: How do you prove the value until you recognize the value? In the case of many organizations, SharePoint is implemented in a pilot or ‘sandbox’ environment by an IT organization curious or even bullish about the value of the product, but unwilling or unable to definitively make a case for strategic deployment of the platform in its initial instantiation. By the time these “organic” implementations have proven their value to the business – as they almost always do – IT finds itself with a SharePoint deployment unsuited for its rapid adoption and growth.
It is at this nexus that the organization must take a step backwards and implement their SharePoint Portal Deployment Plan.
The primary components of a deployment plan include:
- Strategic Vision for SharePoint deployment
- Infrastructure Framework
- Application Framework
- Administration Framework
By the time the initial, sandbox deployment has taken hold, it is likely that an organization has tasted the fruit and can envision how the SharePoint platform factors as a strategic platform for the organization. The first part of the deployment planning then is to document this vision. This includes identifying the core capabilities of SharePoint that will be leveraged and the primary business initiatives or classes of solutions the platform will address. For example, some organizations may see SharePoint primarily as a workgroup collaboration platform. Others might decide that SharePoint is their future enterprise content management (ECM) platform destined to replace the file servers and shared folders and other disparate sources of an organization’s institutional knowledge and content. Still others might see all future line of business processes not addressed by third party solutions as being candidates for SharePoint. Of course many companies will leverage not one but many of SharePoint’s core capabilities that go beyond just those examples described above.
Infrastructure framework planning addresses the SharePoint architecture as well as hardware and software requirements, taking into account scalability, availability, performance, and security considerations. In planning for the infrastructure, it is important to determine how the deployment vision breaks out over time so that all the various infrastructure considerations can result in a platform that meets the needs of the first year while allowing for an expansion path over time.
Where infrastructure planning concerns itself with everything “behind the scenes”, application framework planning addresses overall application architecture of the portal environment. This includes
- Definition of site map, hierarchy and navigation.
- Taxonomy definition for key sites within the portal (i.e., departments and or lines of business) including document libraries, content types and metadata.
- Identification of security roles and permissions within each site.
- Enterprise search planning including definition of search scopes beyond the SharePoint portal where applicable.
A solid framework or container for the portal’s content will allow for a portal deployment that includes the initial content and solutions while providing the navigation and taxonomy that can scale effortlessly as the portal evolves.
Finally, administration framework planning addresses the governance of the portal. This planning effort includes definition of the rules and processes associated with creation of new sites, creation of site templates, hierarchy of sites (changes to navigation structure), archiving, and overall administrative roles and responsibilities. SharePoint governance can cover a lot of ground. The following Microsoft web site does a very good job presenting SharePoint governance information and resources in one place. http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/office/sharepointserver/bb507202.aspx
All of the above described planning services should be compiled into a SharePoint deployment Plan. With such a plan in place, IT can be comfortable that it is ready to move the SharePoint deployment forward, providing sustainable value to the business.