Re-awarded as an MVP for the 11th Year

MVP_Logo_Secondary_Blue288_RGB_300ppiFor the last 10 years July 1st has always been a day that I both looked forward to and dreaded.  I’ve looked forward to it because its anniversary of the day that I was awarded the honor of being named as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for the first time. But I’ve also dreaded it.  Because no matter how many presentations you’ve made or how much you’ve answered questions on the forums or active you’ve been in the community, you always wonder if its been enough. But then sometime around mid-day the email arrives saying that you have been re-awarded for another year as an MVP.  That email arrived for me today around 11:40 AM (9:40 AM Redmond time). So for the 11th year Microsoft has decided that my contributions to the SharePoint and Office 365 community were sufficient to earn  me an MVP award again for the category of “Office Servers and Services”. 

But this coming year will be a little different than previous years because I plan to move towards partial retirement from my consulting career. Before you get the idea that I’ll be less involved as an MVP, think again. Being an MVP has always been about your contributions to the technical community over and above your regular job. So in the past I often took vacation time to speak at conferences or spent time on the forums before and after work.  Since I won’t be focusing on “earning a paycheck” anymore I’ll be able to devote even more time to community activities. I’m expecting my contributions to the community will go up as I move to retirement, not fade away.

So, I make this offer to Community Leaders

If you are looking for a SharePoint or Office 365 speaker for your event, and you can help me defray travel expenses, I will be willing to travel almost anywhere, at anytime to share what I have learned over the years.

SharePoint, Office 365, and Dynamics CRM are subjects that I’m passionate about. And my moving towards retirement is just a partial thing. I still plan to continue to do consulting and training for many years to come. If consulting/training opportunities come my way I will continue to work. Because that’s now I keep learning new things. But if paying jobs don’t happen to come my way then I’ll live off my retirement savings and spend even more time speaking and answering questions. 

So here’s to another year as an MVP. I think it will be an exciting one.

SharePoint Saturday – Cincinnati

SPSCincinnatiI had a small but enthusiastic group at my session this past Saturday at the SharePoint Saturday Cincinnati event. We had an excellent discussion about the planning that organizations should do before they implement or upgrade a SharePoint environment.  I promised attendees that I would post my slides by today before I got busy with other things.  You can find a link to the session below…

Implementing SharePoint: Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail (Slides)

One of the most common mistakes I’ve seen clients make when implementing SharePoint is to not spend enough time review a list of seven planning topics that are critical to the success of every SharePoint project. We’ll review what questions you should ask and why each area is critical to project.
The seven areas include:
• Governance
• Security
• Content Classification (Taxonomy/Folksonomy)
• Physical and Logical Architecture
• High Availability/Disaster Recovery
• Staffing
• Training/Communications

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?

SharePoint Fest – Chicago Wrap-up and Slides

SharePointFestChicago2016I really enjoyed my time at SharePoint Fest in Chicago last week. Due to some personal commitments I had to cut things short and was only able to make one day of the conference.  But I still had a wonderful time.  The attendees were great and both of my talks were well received. I want to express my thanks to the conference organizers and the attendees for the wonderful conference. I really enjoyed myself and I’m already looking forward to doing it again in DC next spring.

I had lots of attendees at both sessions who asked for the slides so I’ve uploaded them here.  They are also available on the SharePoint Fest Chicago site.  If you have any follow-up questions please email me at paul.stork@bluechip-llc.com.  You can download a copy of the slides from each talk using the links below:

BV 103 – SharePoint 2016: What’s New and Why should I Upgrade?

SIA 106 – Implementing SharePoint: Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail

When Implementing SharePoint: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

plan-to-fail1

Benjamin 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?

Empowerment does not come from a “one size fits all” product or solution.

SharePoint can be used to tailor a product or solution and deliver the greatest business value to an organizations’ technical environment. And 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.

There are many reasons why an organization may not spend enough time planning before implementing SharePoint. Some of the most common are as follows:

  • “We don’t know enough about the capabilities of SharePoint. We need to do a pilot to find out what’s possible.”
  • “People are excited now about the new environment. If we spend a lot of time planning that enthusiasm will subside.”
  • “Planning is important, but we don’t want to succumb to Analysis-Paralysis. We’re afraid that planning will just go on forever and we’ll never implement anything.”
  • “We hired a consulting firm to do our implementation.  They are experts, have done this before and already know how it should be done.”
  • “We’re just doing an upgrade.  We did our planning when we originally implemented SharePoint.”

All of these statements have a kernel of truth in them. However, all of the above overstate the case and can lead to significant problems. Here are the issues raised by each statement:

  • Often, pilot environments become indispensable production environments when no one is looking. Once an environment is in production it’s difficult to go back to the beginning and plan, even if you learned important lessons.
  • Planning tasks that don’t involve a broad cross-section of the user population can lead to a decrease in user acceptance, and users look for alternatives to fulfill their business needs. But a poorly planned environment will also lead to a lack of user adoption and a failed implementation.
  • Planning is not important to success, it’s critical to success. But if planning seems to go on forever it is poor planning. Planning should be a well-managed and scheduled part of an implementation project. It should have goals and deadlines.
  • Seeking professional help can be an asset and save time. But every implementation is different and planning for those differences is a critical success factor.
  • Upgrades always involve change and new feature sets. Otherwise why would you upgrade? Planning is not just a task done up front. It’s a task that needs to be incorporated into the life-cycle of SharePoint.

Now that your organization is convinced that planning is a critical to success and to strategically implementing SharePoint, you need to know what tasks to plan.

In part two of this blog series, we’ll discuss common planning tasks that are overlooked when companies fail to plan their new SharePoint implementation.

Read Part 2