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Avoiding the 3 biggest SharePoint project mistakes

Major IT projects transform how businesses function: they drive increased productivity through better processes and put in the foundations for more efficient working environments.  However, if things go wrong the impact can be severe and undermine profitability.  SharePoint is no different.  When implemented properly, with care to configure it to meet business needs, it brings many benefits to collaboration and processes, but there are things that can go awry.

The fact is, as hard as you try, it is almost impossible to totally remove all potential problems from any IT implementation projects, but by avoiding the most common issues, it is possible to minimise risk and keep things on track.

In this article, we discuss 3 of the biggest project mistakes that can happen when implementing SharePoint development project and offer methods to identify them, avoid them, and ultimately, minimise their impact.

Not Agreeing a Specification

As with any project, when discussing SharePoint, it is essential to have a full specification in place that is agreed by all project stakeholders.

If you lock down the specification at the outset of the project, you can avoid feature creep from the addition of extra functions that may result in delays or cost increases as the focus of the project drifts.

Spotting the Problem

A lack of an agreed specification should be an immediate red flag.  But it isn’t always that simple.  In some cases, vague outlines are put in place – an example might be “Add Document Sharing”.  This might seem simple and logical, however there is a lack of a true definition of what the feature is or how it will be implemented.

Avoiding the Problem

Our development process uses a MoSCoW specification that is agreed at the start of activity.  This outlines what the project:

  • Must Have
  • Should Have
  • Could Have
  • Won’t Have

The MoSCoW states priorities clearly so that all stakeholders have a clear knowledge of what the project outcome will be.  We agree these specifications during the initial workshops that plan the roadmap to ensure that outcomes are clear from the start to avoid future feature creep.

Lack of a Clear Goal for the Project

As above, this may seem basic, but it is often the case that a project doesn’t have a clear and measurable goal that would allow for analysis of whether the project has been successful.

In most cases, the business case for greenlighting a project is the operational efficiencies, but these must be tied into the specific elements of the project so that the outcome can be understood.

Spotting the Problem

As with many common issues in an IT project, the key symptom of a lack of a clear goal, is limited clarity in the planning.  Without a clear reason for something to be done as part of the SharePoint development process, it is hard to understand exactly what is wanted.

The goal of the project might be straightforward – adding a holiday booking application to a SharePoint intranet.  This needs to be backed up with what the purpose of the application is for the business and what benefit having this in SharePoint or elsewhere might bring – the benefits may be clear, but they need to be stated so that they can be measured.

Avoiding the Problem

During the planning phase of a SharePoint project we use workshops that help us develop a clear understanding of what different stakeholders within an organisation need from SharePoint.  From these, we take the findings and compare the needs of the business with the needs of staff and the available budget for the project.

This analysis allows us to create a structured project plan with clear and commercially relevant goals for SharePoint.

The Wrong Project Leader

While it can be uncomfortable to recognise, in some cases, the root cause of project failure is that the wrong person is in charge of delivery.  There are some key reasons for this:

  • Too little experience in project management
  • Too little time to manage the project
  • Too little authority to manage delivery

How to Spot the Problem

In the above cases, the result will be the same – a project where there is a lack of control which means a lack of clarity in progress, or a drift in the completion date.

How to Avoid the Problem

The only real cure is prevention.  To be successful, you need to have an experienced project manager who has full authority over project delivery.  They need the autonomy to not be overruled about features or implementation once the roadmap and specification have been agreed.

How we Can Help

In most cases, analysing project progress means that it is possible to get things back on track and keep them there.

If you’re still in the planning stages, running SharePoint workshops can create a firm specification and roadmap that can form the basis of the project.

If the project is already underway, pausing activity and auditing what is being done compared to the business case and specification can help bring things back under control.

Finally, if the project is complete, but the goals have not been met, we can review the activity and then plan a recovery that helps you maximise benefits within the available budget.

To see how we can help, call us today and speak to a member of our project team.

Call now on 0203 697 0302 to speak to a member of our team

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