In successful MOSS implementations, IT and business owners carefully frame the MOSS project with clearly defined business goals and objectives that are used to guide the decisions that need to be made during the solution design and ongoing operations. More often than not, the key issues influencing the success of a MOSS solution are organizational and political. Technical issues rarely derail a MOSS project. As a result, it's particularly important to document why you are building the MOSS solution in the first place and to ensure that all key stakeholders agree on the objectives.
The first business objectives that should be considered as part of your MOSS strategy are the overall business objectives for your organization, such as improving profit margins, increasing revenues, cutting costs, improving customer or partner relationships, and so on. Your goal should be to tie the specific objectives for the MOSS rollout to one or more strategic objectives of the corporation. Doing so enables you to ensure that your MOSS project stays front and center in the organizational agenda and minimizes the risk of becoming "number 11" on the organizational Top 10 priority list. In other words, you want to avoid becoming the project that gets done "in our spare time," pretty much ensuring that the MOSS project is not a career-making experience for the people working on it.
In addition to these organization-specific business objectives, another set of common business drivers cause companies to implement MOSS. Some or all of the following business objectives will probably resonate for your organization. If you can tie these specific objectives to your overall enterprise strategic objectives, you will be in even better shape to ensure that the right amount of attention and focus are directed to your project.
- Provide easier and timelier access to the information employees need to get their work done
- Provide easier and more effective mechanisms to move work between business entities, such as self-service for customers or partners, enabling outsourcing by providing business partners with access to a collaboration environment or business data on an extranet
- Provide an organized "one-stop shop" for information by making it easier to find authoritative information
- Improve the ability to share and exchange information across the organization by providing an electronic publishing method that is easy for users to leverage
- Improve the "time to talent," the speed with which new employees become productive
- Maximize the reuse of best practices across the enterprise, enabling the organization to replicate successful business practices in all geographies
- Reduce training costs for enterprise applications by providing a consistent user interface to all applications
- Improve time to market for proposals and contracts by providing easier access to reusable assets
- Improve organizational learning by providing easier access to critical information and organizational memory
- Improve customer service by providing direct access to the information customers need
- Improve project execution by providing an opportunity for work teams to collaborate and to electronically store project information in fully searchable, organized team sites
It is critically important to document business objectives at the start of your MOSS initiative and to keep these objectives top of mind as you design and build your solution. Use the business objectives to help guide your decisions about which features should go in each release. Ask portal owners/stakeholders to prioritize their business objectives so that you optimally understand how to make trade-offs between alternative design approaches. Users often have a difficult time articulating requirements for MOSS solutions. This is because it is virtually impossible to envision how the solution will help solve business problems until users see the solution with "real" data. When users do express requirements, they may express them in a specific way, which may require a significant amount of custom coding. However, if you understand the objectives or outcomes they are trying to achieve, you may be able to accomplish the objective using "out of the box" functionality. You really can't gather user requirements for MOSS solutions like you do for a traditional software development project. Instead, you should solicit and try to understand business objectives. You can then, as an IT design team, derive requirements based on the business objectives and outcomes. When a user learns that a requirement will cost $250K to implement, the requirement is often no longer "required." Therefore, it's important to ensure that you understand the strategic objectives for the company, the business objectives for MOSS in general, and the specific outcome objectives for each aspect of the implementation.