Filling in the business side of the puzzle

When the going gets tough, the tough get going…to the SharePoint Best Practices Conference

December 16, 2008 by Ruven Gotz

I’m going to the Best Practices Conference in San Diego, and I went to the last one in Washington as well. It’s true that I am a speaker, but I signed up to attend the last one before I knew I was going to speak. I just knew that I was going to learn a ton based on the speaker list, and I did.

Times are pretty tough right now, but hopefully ROI still remains king. If you can justify the short-term cost with short, medium and long-term gains, you’ll have a pretty good chance of getting management to see that it’s worth the cost to send you. Here’s something I overheard at the last one: “I went to the experts panel, and now I know what I need to do for the next six months: I’m set.”

SharePoint can be a nasty beast: Handle it properly and it will reward you, but screw up - even a little bit - and be prepared to suffer the consequences. Last week, Joel Oleson ( was here in Toronto, and I got to the answer to a question that I was about to learn the hard way. Joel’s going to be at the conference, and he’s very approachable. You’ll be able to ask him your questions and save yourself some considerable pain.

I’m a huge (long-distance) fan of Paul Culmsee ( He’s going to tell you about SharePoint ROI, and more importantly, he’s going to set you straight on “Wicked Problems”. SharePoint implementations often fail due to these types of problems. Learn from Paul how to tame your wicked problems and you could save your company the tens, or hundreds of thousands of dollars that a failed implementation could cost.

Getting governance right is one of the most important factors in a successful SharePoint implementation. At the conference there will be no-less than four sessions on governance that you just should not miss. Paul Galvin ( was my favourite speaker last year: I’ll be sure to attend his and Natalya Voskresenskaya’s ( governance talk this year.

To shamelessly plug myself:  I’m going to talk about requirements gathering and how to communicate with clients and stakeholders.  If you can’t get the requirements right, you can’t deliver what the users need and your project will be a failure. I have developed a collection of techniques and tools that help me make this process (which is really, really hard) a bit easier. As I’ve refined these techniques I’ve had great success in delivering what’s needed (even more important than delivering what’s asked for).  I’m pretty sure that these techniques work because our clients invite us back for return engagements. I was also lucky enough to lead a SharePoint project that won this year’s Information Worker Solution of the Year award from Microsoft Canada. (First shameless plugs, and now bragging… sorry.)

So, bottom line: It’s about the bottom line. Save your company money and come to the SharePoint Best Practices Conference.

Written by Ruven Gotz

Ruven Gotz is a Director with Avanade, Microsoft’s Global Partner. As a Microsoft SharePoint MVP with over 20 years of IT industry experience, Ruven has spent the past nine years delivering award-winning SharePoint solutions for a wide range of clients. Working as a Business Analyst and Information Architect, Ruven is able to apply his eclectic education and varied experience in Psychology, Computer Science, Economics, Software Development and Training to get to the heart of complex problems. Ruven is a great communicator who is able to discuss technology concepts in language that is relevant to his audience, whether they are from IT or business. He has become a leader in the use of visual tools to help his clients and team members achieve shared understanding of problems and goals and shared commitment towards implementing a successful solution.

Ruven recently authored “Practical SharePoint 2010 Information Architecture” (Apress).

Ruven lives in Toronto, Canada. On Tuesday nights in the summer, you’ll find him racing his 24’ sailboat ‘In the Groove’.

(NOTE: Ideas and opinions on this blog are my own: I am not representing my employer.)

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