Implementation: How to get your SharePoint project off the ground

So, you’ve finally unlocked the budget for your new SharePoint project, and you’ve started planning your next steps and implementation once you have the platform. Whether it’s an Intranet you’re after, or perhaps a platform to assist you with records and/or document management, SharePoint, once implemented, can make your life a whole lot easier.

An here’s the tricky part. Actually implementing it into your existing system. This can be challenging for multiple reasons. Our quick wins with SharePoint implementation can give you a helpful boost to get you started – and a good place to start is with your Information Architecture.

Information Architecture

SharePoint Information Architecture (IA) is the backbone of a well-defined environment, making up the structure, taxonomy, structure of content (metadata of the organisation’s created content). IA includes the design of the site structure of SharePoint, and marries up your vision of user productivity with the deliverables of SharePoint.

Designing your Information Architecture is a bit like designing a house. That house will be made up of walls, a roof, doors, windows, etc. Each room will have a function (e.g. kitchen, bedroom, living room, bathroom), and therefore it will need the right furniture and resources to fulfil that function. So, let’s think of the furniture/equipment that is needed. For example, a washing machine may need to go into the kitchen/utility room.

Therefore, the kind of components required for that washing machine to be operational is plumbing and electricity. Unlike say, a living room which would have lights and therefore only require electricity. By defining the resources needed and the detail of the component (e.g. the voltage required, the length of piping, hot and cold water, etc.) in the room where the washing machine will be is the same with information architecture. The purpose of each SharePoint site in terms of what the users will do in those sites is related to the functionality of that site, and therefore, the detail of the information architecture of that room.

Don’t start your journey without knowing where you want to go – Governance is needed!

An untenable position to be in would be to invest a lot of money in a new platform and months later find out you’re unable to make your original plans come to fruition because of an oversight in governance. Your SharePoint system can be accessed by anyone, anywhere if it’s set up that way. You need to ensure information is safeguarded and only the correct people have permissions and authorisation to view it. In your plan, go over the areas within SharePoint that may need a little extra protection. This can save you so much time and hassle in the long run once your SharePoint platform is fully developed. Ensure you have the capability to make changes to your governance later in your journey. Some things may have rules on them now, but not in a few months’ time. Better safe than sorry!

Don’t create too many sub-sites

It can be tempting to get carried away with documents and folders and file paths – but before you know it, you’ll be running into the exact same problems before you implemented SharePoint. Don’t get us wrong – the search functionality is fantastic – but if SharePoint is going to be used by a lot of people in your organisation, you’ll have difficulties down the road if your documents aren’t organised. The more sub-sites you have, the less governance and control you have over how it’s run.

Try NOT to copy and paste from old Word documents

Copying and pasting may seem like a quick way to migrate information, but with most copy and paste attempts, anomalies can be carried over by accident and become difficult to correct on the other end. You could end up making a mess of your SharePoint – so it’s not recommended. You won’t be saving yourself as much time as you think.

Apply Branding

When using SharePoint sites, the design aspect is all up to you. It’s important to remember that with a little effort, you can make SharePoint look however you want it to look. Branding is another level of control and it can increase user adoption and offer a through-line of consistency.

Consider an agile delivery method

Agile can give you the quickest win you’ve ever had on a project as it delivers in short, timeboxed phases with continual review – this keeps the costs down, ensures thorough testing and there shouldn’t be any surprises when the project is complete.

Start with a Proof of Concept

This may not seem like the ‘quick way’ to deliver your all singing, all dancing solution, but we whole-heartedly recommend building a POC (Proof of Concept) environment. Depending on the complexity of the proposed solution this could take a few days/weeks. However once done you will have built an effective demonstration and prototyping platform.

A proof of concept must include several attributes:

1. It should be realistic. Ask yourself “is this how users will use it every day?”
2. Make it scalable. The solution can be built for 50 users, but will it work in the same way with 5,000?
3. It must have scope for other areas, i.e. it needs to be extensible (it works brilliantly for HR, but what about
4. You need to be able to evaluate it – e.g. you need to know if you’ve ‘proved’ the solution or not!

A good proof of concept should allow you to thoroughly test many aspects of your SharePoint platform. You’ll have a much better understanding of the platforms’ strengths and weaknesses in the context of your actual business ‘problem’, and your project will be better planned and more successfully delivered as a result. At the very least, you will be making decisions about the solution you want to deliver based on real, live findings.

If you want to know more about quick wins within SharePoint such as reporting, user adoption, Intranets and more – you can download our guide here.