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How To Build Your SharePoint Intranet Project Planon 21 October 2021Posted by Kevin Senior
If you’ve worked for a mid-sized to large organisation, chances are you’ve at least heard of SharePoint, if not used it yourself. But just in case you haven’t, here’s a quick synopsis of the Microsoft product. SharePoint is a collaboration solution an organisation can use for a few different purposes:
- File storage
- Document management
The last use case is what we’ll be focusing on in this guide, as we’ll be walking through how to build a SharePoint intranet project plan. If you’re in the market for a collaboration solution and think SharePoint may be a good fit, the content below will give you a solid idea of post-purchase expectations.
What’s a project plan, you ask? Well, solutions like SharePoint, while robust and capable of increasing your teams’ efficiency, can be a bit cumbersome. Hence why you need a solid SharePoint implementation plan to lay out how you’ll configure and use this solution, maintain it over the long term, and train users. The road to a finished SharePoint implementation is too long not to have a clear path.
7 Steps To A Winning SharePoint Intranet Project Plan
We reached out to several experts—including actual SharePoint users—to get their take on the important elements of a SharePoint implementation plan. Check out their input below.
1. Review current organisational processes and systems.
If you want SharePoint to increase efficiency, you’ll need to review the processes you have in place to determine how the solution can best enhance them. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to just plug SharePoint into your process without changing a few aspects. In fact, some processes may need a complete overhaul.
Do you already have an intranet in place? You’ll need to review that too, including what users liked—and didn’t like—about the system.
Don Rua, marketing director at Admiral, shares a story about a SharePoint implementation in which he participated. His company was large, with 50 departments and an intranet that had over 150 connections to other systems. “Our intranet touched company systems that provided data analytics, reporting, financial planning, and other functionality—and everyone hated it.”
Rua notes that employees frequently complained about the company intranet because it was outdated and lacked the functionality needed to complete work efficiently. It pushed people to create workarounds and intranet-like spin-offs across systems. “This reduced overall company cohesiveness, limited communication, and made it difficult to track anything. We wanted to make sure to avoid these issues in a new solution, which we eventually decided should be SharePoint.”
2. Decide on stakeholder roles.
Implementing a complex solution like SharePoint, especially in a larger organisation, will necessitate the involvement of numerous people. James Leversha, director at Top Notch I.T., says it's critical to establish who owns and governs not only the project but also the intranet itself.
“Due to the platform's technology-heavy design, IT will almost always be a significant stakeholder in a SharePoint intranet project plan,” Leversha explains. “In many situations, though, it will not be the owner. This ownership may be held by a single group, such as communications or knowledge management, or it may be shared among members of a committee or other governing body.”
Leversha notes that whatever the model, it must be clear how stakeholders make key strategic decisions, where the budget comes from, and where the intranet sits in the organization. “Stakeholder management is one aspect you must do at the onset to establish boundaries.”
A best practice here is to curate a cross-functional team that has strong influence over their respective areas. For example, Rua’s company set up a project advisory team that represented multiple firm departments. “Not only were they chosen to represent their areas’ needs but also to lend their clout to the project. The implementation required a lot of change, and their voices would undoubtedly make the eventual transition for workforce members much easier.”
You may also want additional oversight from project sponsors, who are typically higher-level personnel. Rua’s SharePoint implementation had a committee of executives, in addition to the advisory team. “We would present updates to the COO, CTO, and a few top directors.”
William Mills, president of Aptimized, calls out a few specific roles you may want to consider in both your SharePoint intranet project plan and post-implementation usage:
- “An architect, 365 configurator, developer, or UX/UI designer will cover the technical side,” he says.
- “For non-technical roles, there are community managers, change champions (the folks writing the content for the sites), communications lead(s), and the program sponsor (could be head of HR or head of corporate communications),” he notes.
- “Lastly, you may need vendors and other external partners helping with the heavy lifting for new content or technical delivery,” he says.
3. Choose the right SharePoint site architecture and components.
“Before building your SharePoint site, you should consider what it will be used for and how it will develop over time—think about your SharePoint goals and objectives,” says Brad Touesnard, CEO of SpinupWP. “Work out your preferences in terms of the number of site collections, the type of navigation, and the folder structure, among other aspects.”
Touesnard also notes that you will need to consider a number of modules that SharePoint offers:
- The Library permits you to store documents.
- Tasks allow you to delegate and track progress on activities.
- Announcements let you post important information.
- The Calendar enables you to schedule meetings and other events.
- Contacts provide you with a way to store employee emails, phone numbers, and other contact details.
“There are other modules to consider,” says Touesnard. “Which modules you choose depends on the functionality you need.”
4. Evaluate your budget, timeline, and scope.
“These types of projects can go on forever because of the complexity involved and vast amount of content your stakeholders will want for the new intranet,” says Mills. “Ensure that you box in your needs based on the mandatory features you’ve decided on.”
Coloring outside the lines with scope—namely attempting to implement features outside of the original plan—naturally impacts the budget and timeline aspects of the project. You can quickly find yourself with an overrun budget and extended timeline without a clear plan to follow closely.
5. Schedule implementation tasks.
“A successful SharePoint implementation requires proper scheduling of every task involved in the project,” says Waqar Ahmed, SEO expert at Appstirr. “Typical implementations can take anywhere from three to six months, and that timeline can easily go off course if not planned beforehand.”
6. Test the implementation.
Ahmed says it’s important to test SharePoint prior to rolling it out to the entire organisation. This gives you the opportunity to catch issues, optimise configuration options, and gather preliminary user feedback. “Put together a group that represents as many typical users as possible from across the organisation. You can then make adjustments to the system before going live company-wide.”
7. Roll out the solution.
Once you have everything set up and addressed your test team’s feedback, you’re ready to take SharePoint live to the whole organisation. Be sure to encourage your key stakeholders to push adoption and keep the feedback loop open to quickly address any issues that arise.
5 Ways SharePoint Falls Short
While the above steps can help you create a great SharePoint intranet project plan, that doesn’t mean SharePoint is the best choice for your organisation. Here are a few weak points to consider—and an alternative solution that might be a better fit.
1. The interface is too complex.
A chief complaint among SharePoint users is its complexity. Having been designed to handle tons of use cases across industries, the solution’s interface is often described as “clunky” and “frustrating.” It’s no surprise that user adoption tends to be low.
Glasscubes, an all-in-one collaboration solution, is similar to SharePoint in that it offers a number of efficiency-boosting capabilities. However, Glasscubes is user-friendly, having been designed with ease of use in mind.
2. It’s costly.
If you have a tight budget, SharePoint is likely to completely blow it away. Not only are there fees for the initial purchase but also for licensing, maintenance, and upgrades. Don’t forget the labor costs of your IT team and training as well.
You can subscribe to Glasscubes for one (affordable!) monthly cost and never have to worry about maintaining or upgrading the solution down the line.
3. Users need a lot of training.
SharePoint has a high learning curve due to its complexity. In some cases, it can take weeks or even months to get users fully up to speed depending on how you’ve chosen to configure the solution.
Your team can master Glasscubes in a matter of hours—most users get the hang of the system the same day.
4. It requires IT involvement.
We mentioned the cost of IT above. Do you have in-house technical personnel? If so, they’re going to be tied up with configuring and maintaining SharePoint. If not, you’ll need to hire the right people.
Glasscubes doesn’t require any IT attention. Simply sign up and start using the solution.
5. There is no free trial.
Given the expense and complexity of a SharePoint implementation, it’s unfortunate there’s no trial period to try out the solution. After investing so much time and energy, what happens if you don’t even like it—or your users don’t adopt it?
Glasscubes provides a 30-day free trial, so you have plenty of time to determine whether it’s a good fit for your organisation.
Who needs a whole SharePoint intranet project plan when you can get started with Glasscubes today?
Glasscubes makes intranet-ing (yes, we made that word up!) a cinch. Our solution is more than just an intranet—it’s a robust collaboration solution that ensures your entire organisation is able to stay connected internally and externally. Secure file sharing, task management, and threaded discussions ensure your staff and clients stay on the same page.
With Glasscubes, you can:
- Request files from clients in a secure, easy-to-use manner. Avoid the hassle of hunting down important information and doing follow-ups to get what you need.
- Collect, process, and approve information through customisable, automated forms and workflows that include user assignees, assignee follow-ups, and completion alerts.
- Create customised workspaces for each project team in your portfolio. Team members can share resources and communicate with one another in their specific workspace, and you can access them all for easy oversight.
Want to see how other companies are using Glasscubes to support their teams? Check out these case studies.
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