Managing SharePoint Projects

Just like with software development, the answer to “Is it possible?” with SharePoint is always yes. Yes, we can remove the quick launch menu. Yes, we can change the colors of the font based on its values. Yes, we can build up to 2,000 sub-sites.

But too many yeses lead to blown timelines, erratic development, and failed projects.

Though a project team may start out with the best intentions of building a simple site, they can quickly fall into the rabbit hole of development by too liberally interpreting the project scope and charter. Without clear guidance, SharePoint projects may lose sight of the value for the company.

SharePoint project management is a uniquely challenging. Here are a few thoughts on overcoming the challenge.

Scoping the project

From outside of the project, the milestone, “Build a team site for HR.” is perfectly clear, but when elbow deep in development, what was planned, what is wanted, what is needed, and what the company can afford may be very different things. Anticipating the degree of this disparity is impossible without extremely thorough discovery, and that discovery is not always appropriate or possible before the project starts.

Because it is pointless to enumerate every design decision and requirement, experience and feel are key to writing a good scope of work and project charter. Knowing when the business value of the customization justifies the effort is also important. The best the project team can do is understand the spirit and budget and design to meet those requirements.

It’s the difference between budgeting for what will be built and building what was budgeted.

That’s phase 2

Of course, you plan for revision. You know that the site won’t be right the first time, and the small decisions on the site will be remade perpetually. Eventually, you need to draw the line, and to do that, we say, “That’s phase 2.”

Phase 2 is the bucket in which several things fall,

  • Good ideas that don’t fit in the original scope
  • Customizations and development greater than what was anticipated
  • Ideas around which there is no consensus
  • Ideas that have questionable value to the business
  • Ideas that might change after users spend some time in the system.

After the dust has settled from phase 1, the items in phase 2 can be reevaluated and formed into a clear project.

Going forward

SharePoint sites are most successful when a few internal advocates are pushing for adoption and educating their coworkers.  Some of this work may be require a formal project, and some of it is just the new maintenance and support that SharePoint requires.

Support the efforts of your power users through training, user groups, awards, etc. but also recognize when the efforts of an individual cannot achieve what is possible with the site. Reconvene your project group to take on the next challenge.

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