How to fail your SharePoint project

Top tips to ensure your project SharePoint project fails   SharePoint project - Success or Failure

A slightly tongue in cheek view on the ways clients, partners Microsoft etc. combine to trip up delivering a successful project. Any references to projects, companies and clients will be fictitious or at least heavily disguised to protect the guilty

Install SharePoint completely out of the box

Put the discs in, hit next, next, next. Hand over the users (they don’t need anything more.) Job done.

Ensure it’s an IT led project.

Don’t allow the business to provide input – this is about technology and what do they kno

Allocate at least 50% of your project budget on visual design

It doesn’t matter what it does, as long as it’s pretty.

Invest the other half in the technical platform

  • Buy lots of shiny servers with flashing lights and have fun setting them up
  • Ensure you have at least 6 servers in the farm, but ideally go for the full 16 server Microsoft white paper recommendation.
  • Don’t worry about the number of users and likely throughput and adoption curve; it’s much easier to over specify everything now than to have to scale up or scale out late.

Ensure that any customisation is only done by .NET developers

  • Ideally ones who haven’t had hands on experience with SharePoint. They can learn an enormous amount by hand coding features that already exist in SharePoint.
  • Always use Visual Studio for any configuration and development task. The browser interface is for WIMPS and SharePoint Designer is really just FrontPage and we all remember how good that was.
  • Custom developed code ensures that you really know what the application is doing. You are unlikely to ever want to upgrade your SharePoint solution (SP2013 is at least a year away) and supportability is hardly an issue, is it?
  • Also don’t bother with InfoPath for building eForms – as good developer can build one in only a week and the business users aren’t going to want any iterations or enhancements anyway.

Don’t build any kind of Information Architecture

  • Information structures are simple. As long as you have a file name and have put it somewhere obvious then people will find it. SharePoint search is really powerful and can find everything anyway.
  • SharePoint adds quite enough metadata – you get a title, automatic created/modified information for author and date. What more would anyone want
  • Ensure you test you navigation and views with at least 10 documents/items in a list
Just build it and they will come
SharePoint is so good that people will simply adopt it. You don’t really need any of the following:
  1. Communication and engagement plan
  2. A launch plan
  3. On-going training
  4. Content governance
  5. Platform strategy
Use folders
Library design and content migration is simple. Just set up folder in libraries that mimic the directory structure on your file servers. Drag and drop documents into those. Simples
Hire a contractor
  • Contractors are marvellous. Any contractor knows all anyone needs about SharePoint, so they can do technical design, configuration, development, visual design, administration, business analysis etc.
  • Contractors are world famous for sharing their knowledge with their employers and their staff. Knowledge Transfer is often their middle name.
  • Besides, they will probably be in the organisation for years (at £400+/day), so it’s not like there is any immediate threat

Massive leap – do everything in phase 1

  • SharePoint has loads of components, capabilities and features. So naturally the best way is to implement as many as possible in phase 1. Users will be fine with the amount of process change this requires.
  • You don’t need any kind of maturity in processes or specific experience before enabling advanced features such as records management, so just turn it on.
  • And don’t forget that every list and library should use version control, check in/out and approvals

Never, ever use partners.

  • They are expensive, self serving
  • It’s not like they really know that much and SharePoint is so simple you can certainly make a good job with your in house team. Many of your team have coded in .NET and know SQL, so that’s all there is to it really
  • And because it’s so simple you won’t need to send anyone on a SharePoint Admin course
Keep it all locked down
Don’t let users provision their own sites or add their own pages of content. It’s much better to pushallsite requests through IT and to ensure that content is all routed through a webmaster. This way the small amount that does get published is of good qualit
Allow a free for all
  • If, for some strange reason, the business insists that they want to be able to do things without the implacable hand of IT then it’s best to wash your hands of the whole thing and give everyone design rights.
  • Let it be entirely self governing
  • Don’t encourage a governance or steering board. If they insist then you don’t actually need to be part of it.
Point Search at everything
My favourite is indexing Wikipedia
Migrate everything
Once you have SharePoint in place copy (tech speak for dump) all your content into it. Don’t worry about:
  1. How long that takes
  2. Duplication
  3. Definitive versions
  4. File plans
  5. Database sizes
  6. Backup
It will sort itself out, just as it has with file servers. And don’t worry about the copies you left on the file servers, that’s a content owner problem.

 About the Author: 


Simon Hudson is an entrepreneur and health sector specialist. He formed Cloud2 in 2008 following a rich career in the international medical device industry and the IT industry. Simon’s background encompasses quality assurance, medical device development, international training, business intelligence and international marketing and health related information and technology. Simon created Cloud2, with colleague and co-director, Taran Sohal, in response to an evident need the NHS has for a partner committed to helping them deliver successful projects based on Microsoft SharePoint. Simon has had a rich career spanning both the UK and the international health industry, with roles that have included quality system auditing, medical device development, international training (advanced wound management) and international marketing. Upon joining ioko in 2004 he created the Carelink division and, as General Manager, drove it to become a multi million pound business in its own right.
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