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Avoiding the 3 biggest SharePoint project mistakes

31st May 2016

Large IT projects can transform the way businesses run: bringing improved processes, increased productivity, and a more efficient working environment; but if things go wrong, the impact can be devastating.  SharePoint is no different.  When properly introduced into an organisation, and care has been taken to develop and configure it to meet business needs, SharePoint brings a lot of benefits, but there are things that can go wrong.

In the real world, it’s almost impossible to completely eradicate all problems from IT implementation projects, but by avoiding the biggest issues, you can reduce the overall project risk and keep things on track.  In this article, we’ve listed 3 of the biggest mistakes that can happen within a SharePoint development project and provided information about how to avoid them, and what actions you can take to minimise their impact on your project.

Lack of an Agreed Specification

Whether you’re introducing SharePoint into a business for the first time, or adding functionality, it is absolutely essential to have a full specification that is agreed by the stakeholders in the project.

Locking down the specification at the start of the project means that there will be no later additions or feature creep that might result in delays or cost increases as the project drifts.

How to Spot the Problem

In theory, a lack of a specification should be immediately apparent, however in some cases, a set of fairly vague outlines are put in place for the project.  For example, an item in the project might be “Add Document Sharing”.  This seems like a single item, but can have a big impact, as there is no clear definition of what is being delivered or how it will be implemented.

How to Avoid the Problem

At igroup we create a MoSCoW style specification that prioritises certain items at the outset of the project.  This means there is a clear list of what the project Must, Should, Could, and Won’t include.  Priorities are clearly stated, and all stakeholders understand what they are getting.

Creating a MoSCoW requires a good deal of experience in SharePoint as well as project management in general.  We address the MoSCoW during our initial SharePoint Workshops that help to set the roadmap for the project.

Lack of a Clear Goal for SharePoint

In order to successfully achieve a goal, it is important to have a goal in the first place.

A business’ investment in a major SharePoint project can be high, so there will always be an element of analysis of what the ultimate outcome of the project will be.

The business case for SharePoint is usually define in terms of the operational efficiencies that it can bring, and as such each element of the project should have a clear goal to improve productivity, efficiency or accountability within your business.

How to Spot the Problem

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

An example of this might be that there is a goal of “having a holiday booking application” within a SharePoint intranet.  This seems straightforward at first glance, however there is not enough information about what the purpose of the application is, and what benefit it will bring to the business to host this in SharePoint.

How to Avoid the Problem

At igroup we use workshops during the planning phase of a SharePoint project to get a clear understanding of what different stakeholders within an organisation need from SharePoint.  We then take the findings from the workshops away and compare the needs of the business with the needs of staff and the available budget for the project.

From this analysis we’re able to create a structured project plan that is structured around clear commercially relevant goals for SharePoint.

The Wrong Person is Leading the Project

In some cases, a SharePoint project can go off track simply because the wrong person is in charge of delivery.  This can happen for a few reasons:

  • The person has too little experience in project management
  • The person has too little time to manage the project
  • The person has too little authority to manage delivery

How to Spot the Problem

In all of the above cases, the result will be the same – a project where there is not enough control over what is being done.  This will usually manifest in a drifting completion date, or a lack of clarity in progress.

How to Avoid the Problem

The best cure is prevention.  Choose an experienced SharePoint project manager who has full authority over the delivery of the project – so they cannot be overruled about features or implementation after the specification and roadmap has been agreed

How igroup Can Help

Depending on where you are in the process of running your SharePoint project, igroup can help you get things back on track and keep them there.

If you’re still in the planning stages, we can help to run SharePoint Consultancy workshops to create a specification and roadmap that can be kept to.

If your project is underway, but things are not going as you would hope, we can help to audit what is being done, and review the specification to get the project back under control.

We can also help to rescue failed projects so that they are able to deliver to their original goals and benefit your business as they should.

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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