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Defining the Goals for the Implementation

A SharePoint 2003 implementation is as much about process as it is about technology. It is possible that a SharePoint 2003 implementation will fall short of meeting the organization’s goals if time and effort are not put into the discovery and design process.

To ensure that a relatively complete set of goals, or scope of work, is in place prior to the start of the project, the stakeholders should be assembled, and the project manager should identify the technology and business goals of the assembled group. Consulting help can be advantageous at this point if no one in the organization is familiar with the features offered by the SharePoint product line.

Compiling an updated list of the data sources that exist on the network facilitates discussions with departmental managers and key decision makers who need to decide whether and how data is to be moved to the SharePoint 2003 infrastructure. There may be plans to grow the company through acquisition, which will result in a prodigious growth of the data to be managed.

Based on observations and assistance with dozens of real-life implementations of SharePoint 2003, the reasons that organizations implement it are many and varied. Justifications range from generic goals such as

  • Improving end user productivity

  • Implementing document management procedures and tools

  • Providing an intranet for the organization to better share information

  • Replacing the existing intranet that doesn’t meet the company’s needs

  • Replacing the existing portal solution that is difficult to manage, difficult to use, and expensive to maintain

  • Providing an extranet for clients and partners to use

  • Providing a secure means of allowing access to company intellectual property remotely

  • Providing robust indexing and searching tools to aid users in finding and utilizing company intellectual property

  • Leveraging employees’ Microsoft Office skills while providing state-of-the-art document management and collaboration tools

Or the goals may be more specific, for example:

  • Creating personal sites for all the partners in the company to make them more efficient

  • Providing a community site for vision-impaired employees to use for collaboration

  • Implementing a project management solution for departments and teams that include external partners, and to provide a central portfolio management solution

  • Creating a portal environment that captures and provides information from other software applications in use through Web Parts

  • Replacing the file servers on the network completely

  • Creating a companywide calendar that rolls up each department’s calendar

  • Providing forms to the employees in a centralized location

  • Providing answers to Frequently Asked Questions to reduce the workload of the help desk

  • Providing an employee directory that is up-to-date and customizable

Be sure to document the decisions made during this process and then share the results with the stakeholders to minimize issues during and after the implementation. Requirements often change during the process of testing and implementing SharePoint simply because of the range and variety of new tools available. As an analogy, someone used to riding a bike may not realize that he really needs XFM radio in his car until he has driven around in it for a while.

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