I came upon this post over the weekend and think it will be particularly interesting to SharePoint developers as a commentary on issues to consider whilst delivering systems to the end users. I found it particularly poignant with relation to where T-SPARC are currently with the roll-out and piloting of the new programme design and approval system. Hope you find it useful.
A secretary walks into a Giant Car showroom and demands ‘OK tell me how much it is… I’ll take it?’ This is without actually telling the bemused sales guy; what make she wants, the model, the colour, age, size of the engine, spec etc. She had failed to ask her boss all of these things (end user) who had instructed her to ‘go out and get a car’, as he she took his instructions literally.
The salesman rubs his hands together and she goes and blows £300k of her bosses’ hard earned money on the latest supercar. All he needed was a basic saloon car to get around town!
Ok this didn’t really happen but the exact same thing happens week in week out with Internal Communicators who use SharePoint as their Intranet and/or Content Management systems and never ask users what they need and would like to see.
Between IT and Internal Comms, they are the ones that often decide what the end users will need and want as they ‘know’ their audience and have done the requirements gathering. (Often a 1 hour meeting with them to tell them what they were going to do!)
The days of static content (pushed out by Internal Comms) are well and truly numbered. On an Intranet, users not only demand and expect content that is fresh and relevant to them personally but also applications that will make their lives easier. With SharePoint, you will be amazed how many applications can be built within days, without any custom coding and often life changers for the users. This will also drive user adoption and get people visiting the content you want them to more often. These can be anything as simple as a holiday request form, through to a Recruitment system.
You just need to ask them what their pain is!
8 Great Tips to get the most out of SharePoint
- Don’t let IT Run the project – SharePoint is a business facing application. Unless there is a fresh installation needed, try to keep the project run by someone in the business who understands the challenges in the business rather than of the technology.
- Requirements gathering – Ask end users what they want by actually asking the question ‘tell me about the challenges in your business’. Count the blank looks on people’s faces when you ask ‘tell me what you want SharePoint to do.
- Custom code – There is always a time and a place for this but avoid wherever you can. For every 5 days of development, the same can be achieved with configuration in 1.
- ‘Out of the box’ Features – Get to know all of the features that are in SharePoint. Knowing what the product can actually offer can avoid custom code!
- 3rd Party Products – SharePoint, like all systems, has its shortfalls, but there are thousands of products that can be bolted onto SharePoint to address these. These costs a fraction of the cost of developing from scratch and are supported also.
- Micro-Projects – Wherever possible, try to deliver SharePoint offering in small chunks. This will make SharePoint become viral and also make it easier to improve on each piece that you deliver. Hard to do with a ‘big bang’ approach.
- End User Training – Train Train Train – Allow a decent budget for training end users on how to actually use SharePoint. How will people use the tool if they don’t know how to?
- Support – Log a ticket approach doesn’t work with SharePoint. Try to identify the ‘power users’ that can be accessible to help the business users.