When Implementing SharePoint: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail – Pt.2

plan-to-fail1Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
I’ve seen this scenario – the failure to plan – play out at many companies, especially when implementing or upgrading SharePoint environments.
Implementing or upgrading a product like SharePoint, that is designed to empower information workers to do things for themselves, requires detailed planning.
Why?
Because empowerment​ does not come from a “one size fits all” product or solution.
SharePoint can be used to tailor a solution and deliver business value to an organizations’ technical environment. But that kind of tailoring requires careful planning. Otherwise, an organization will end up with a product that is implemented well, but does not fulfill the strategic goals they’ve set for the business.
In my first post of this series, we evaluated the reasons why organizations do not spend enough time planning before implementing SharePoint. (Read part 1)  In part two of this series, we’ll identify at some of the planning tasks that are overlooked when planning a new SharePoint implementation.

Governance

Governance helps you determine how SharePoint will be used to make your organization better. There must be a shared vision and the appropriate controls in place to make that happen.

Goals

  1. Develop a shared strategic vision ​
  2. ​​Reach a consensus on how SharePoint will be used

Key Questions

  • Is our corporate culture comfortable with a self-service model?
  • What will we control using Policies versus customization of SharePoint?
  • What business needs will SharePoint address?
  • How will policy decisions be communicated, updated, and enforced?

Security

How SharePoint security is implemented must be done in accordance with corporate culture. If not, content won’t be available to the people that need it or won’t it be secured.

Goal

  1. Decide whether or not security administration will be centralized or delegated

​​Key Questions

  • Do business users just manage the content or actually own the content they produce?
  • ​Which is more important: timely access to content or guaranteed security?
  • Will training be provided for users who need to manage their own content?

Taxonomy/Folksonomy

If information architecture isn’t planned, content will go in, but it won’t be efficiently used after it is first stored. A good organizational methodology is critical to your success.

Goal

  1. Plan how content will be organized in order to make it easy to find

Key Question​

  • How will we implement a structure for organizing content?
  • How can users surface content that is important to them?

Architecture

Upfront planning will result in a physical system that maximizes performance while minimizing costs. It must also be flexible and grow as usage increases.

Goal

  1. A​chieve a balance between cost and performance

Key Questions

  • What services will we use and where will they be located?
  • How important is search in our environment?

High Availability (“HA”)/Disaster Recovery (“DR”)

In most organizations, SharePoint becomes a mission critical application when it is implemented well. A service that can’t be depended upon can be worse than one that is poorly implemented.

Goal

  1. Build an environment that can be depended upon as a critical application.

Key Questions

  • How much downtime can we tolerate?
  • How much data can we afford to lose?
  • How much will HA and DR cost?

Staffing

SharePoint focuses on providing a self-service environment. But, having the right staff in place to maintain the system is still a critical factor to your success.

Goal

  1. Plan adequate staffing to support implementation of the other planning decisions.

Key Questions

  • Centralized security will require more staff for versus delegated security
  • How will our information architecture be maintained and enhanced over time?
  • What level of patches and fixes will be applied? All Cumulative Updates or just Service Packs?

Training/Communications

Even if you build the perfect system, people won’t be able to effectively use it without the appropriate training. You must develop a communications and training plan.

Goal

  1. Increase user adoption and satisfaction

Key Questions

  • Develop and leverage local champions to increase knowledge and acceptance.
  • What is the right level of training and communications for your organization?

Spending some time planning will lead to a successful implementation that can transform the way your company collaborates and shares information. And that’s what you started your project for in the first place, right?

Managing External Sharing in Office 365 – Part 1

Office365I presented a talk at a conference recently on how to use an existing Office 365 tenant to create an extranet without additional licensing fees.  A good part of the presentation was background on how external sharing works and the part played by access requests in the external sharing process flow.  After the talk I had several people who asked if I had ever blogged about the details that I covered in my talk or if I knew of anywhere else that this information was documented.  This post is the first in a series of posts that will document those details.  Here’s a brief overview of the posts in the series:

  • Part 1 – (This Post) A high level walk-through of how to configure external sharing starting with your O365 tenant and going down to an individual site collection.
  • Part 2 – How the process flow of sharing differs between sharing a site versus sharing a document and how Office 365 adjusts this experience
  • Part 3 – How external sharing depends on the site collection access request list to manage permissions for an external sharing invitation
  • Part 4 – How to use PowerShell to manage external users

Tenant Level Settings

The Office 365 admin center has a specific tab for managing external sharing settings for you tenant.  This post will focus on settings related to sharing SharePoint sites, but you can also control external sharing of Exchange calendars Lync, and the use of third party apps.  The Sharing Overview page provides On/Off toggles for whether external sharing is available in your tenant or not.  The default settings are shown in the following screenshot.

External Sharing Tenant

Selecting the Sites tab (or clicking on Go to detailed settings for sites)  will take you to a screen where you can set tenant level defaults for external sharing and view the site collections where external sharing has been enabled.

The tenant level default controls whether anonymous guest links can be used anywhere in the tenant or not.  If Anonymous guest links are enabled in a site collection, users can send email invitations that contain links to individual documents which can then be accessed WITHOUT LOGGING IN to SharePoint.  These links can be very dangerous if the original recipient shares the link since anyone can use the link to access the document.

This page also displays a list of all the site collections in your tenant and the current level of external sharing enabled for that site collection.  By default new site collections are created with external sharing disabled.  The External Sharing Sites page is displayed in the screenshot below:

External Sharing Sites page

SharePoint Admin Settings

The SharePoint admin center also provides settings that can be used to control the default External Sharing levels allowed in individual site collections.  These settings are not directly affected by the Tenant level settings described above.  Instead they provide an additional layer of configuration for External Sharing.  So even if External Sharing is disabled at the tenant level you will be able to adjust the site collection defaults available in the SharePoint Admin settings.  But when configuring External Sharing for individual site collections the level of sharing possible will respect both defaults.  For example, if guest links are disabled at the tenant level, but enabled in the SharePoint settings you still won’t be able to configure a site collection to allow the use of guest links.  The SharePoint Admin External Sharing settings are highlighted in the screenshot below:

External Sharing SharePoint defaults

Configuring a Site Collection

Once you’ve set all the defaults you can configure external sharing for individual site collections.  When a new site collection is created External Sharing is disabled by default.  Selecting a site collection and clicking on the Sharing button in the ribbon brings up a dialog where you can configure External Sharing for sites in that site collection.  There are three possible settings.  Don’t allow sharing will disable External Sharing for that site collection.  Allow external users… will allow sharing with authenticated external users.  And Allow both external users and…anonymous guest links will allow sharing with both authenticated and anonymous external users.  The tenant defaults and SharePoint defaults discussed earlier will limit which of these three options can be selected.  The sharing dialog is displayed in the screenshot below:

External Sharing Site Collection setting

 

Now that External is configured your users can begin extending sharing invitations to external users and creating anonymous guest links.  I’ll cover the process for sharing sites and documents with external users in Part 2 of this series.  Part 2 coming soon!

Welcome to my BLOG

Well its been a long time coming, but I’ve finally decided to start a BLOG.  I’ve never been much for keeping Journals, but now its time.  I’ve spent the last couple years starting my own Consulting/Training business.  In that timeI have continually stumbled across technical "Nuggets" by listening to students or while researching student questions.  But I’ve never had anywhere to publish those "Nuggets".  A Blog seems to be the perfect place to store this kind of asynchronously acquired information in a categorized format. 

Now that I’ve decided to give up the “freelancing thing“ and go to work for Mindsharp fulltime I don’t even have the excuse that I’m too busy trying to build the business.  Since Mindsharp has their own Blog hosting site its finally time.

So watch this space and I’ll try to share the things I learn about SharePoint, CRM, and .NET development.  Hang on to your hats its liable to be a bumpy ride.

Paul Stork
MBA, MCT, MCSE, MCSA, MCSD, MCDBA, MCITP