Filling in the business side of the puzzle

No one's going to thank you for SharePoint Dial-Tone

July 02, 2009 by Ruven Gotz

…yes, this is about governance

(Warning, shameless self promotion will appear at the bottom of this post: Reader discretion is advised.)

From the phone company’s point of view, if they provide you with dial-tone and then connect your call, they are delivering on their promise. You don’t pick up the phone every day and say “Wow, dial-tone! The phone company is doing such a great job today”.

SharePoint is a much more complex system, so why does IT often act as if all it takes to successfully deploy SharePoint is to deliver “dial-tone”?

  • The service is up == Dial tone
  • The service is performing == Calls go through
  • Let’s limit training and support costs == You can only dial these six numbers (Huh!?!)

Caught you with that last parallel, eh? But, if you take a look at the discussions of governance that are out there, you’ll see that they are very much focussed on dial-tone-like approaches with many limitations on what users may do (i.e. very IT centric).

Let me ask you:

  • If your SharePoint service is rock solid, fast and has 100% uptime. Will SharePoint be successful?
  • If your backup and disaster recovery processes are extensively tested and well understood. Will SharePoint be successful?
  • If your source code is designed correctly, well tested, and responsive. Will SharePoint be successful?

I could go on with a much longer list of items that many governance plans cover, but we have found that all of these elements are NBNS TM: Necessary But Not Sufficient for a successful deployment.

By the way, when I say “we” I’m referring to a group of SharePoint people (Paul Culmsee, Dux Sy, Andrew Woodward and me) who have found that we had a lot in common with our approaches to SharePoint deployment projects.

We have come to realize that all of these governance plans, efforts, practices and initiatives are NBNS unless you have one more, essential element: Shared Commitment and Shared Understanding. (Ok, that’s technically two elements, but Shared Commitment comes from Shared Understanding, so they are connected.)

Collectively, we have found that building Shared Understanding & Shared Commitment into our projects has been spectacularly successful. Now, making this happen requires a shift in thinking, and it requires tools and techniques that require some practice but are not hard to learn. Read Paul’s series: One Best Practice to Rule Them All for a lot more detail.

I’m really excited to report that all four of us will be touching on these topics when we speak at the upcoming Best Practices conference in Washington DC in August. But, I am even more excited to tell you that since the conference has brought us all to the same place at the same time, the four of us are going to do a deep dive on Successful SharePoint Project Delivery during a three-day workshop running August 19th - 21st in the DC area (the week before Best Practices).  This is a fantastic opportunity, as we come from the corners of the earth (Australia, England, Canada, USA) and so getting together is a rare event. Here is a post with more details: Our goal is to run a highly interactive workshop for a small number of attendees, where we will work through - in detail - the thinking and the tools of our approaches, while having enough time to talk to you one-on-one to help you deal with the unique circumstances of your own organization. The cost for the three days will be $1,750 per attendee, with a 10% discount for those who are also attending the Best Practices conference the following week.

If you are interested, please let us know by visiting Dux’s site: (this is not a registration site, just a place to record if you are interested).

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Best Practices Conference, and I hope some of you will consider attending our workshop.

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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