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Understanding SharePoint & Office 365 Internal Communities, Related Goals, and Proven Best Practices

Posted by Errin O'Connor on Apr, 17, 2015 04:04

SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 Communities

 

When SharePoint Server 2013 and/or Office 365’s SharePoint Online is implemented within an organization there are both business requirements that are in scope to be accomplished as well as the information technology (IT) goals and key benefits that are embraced by IT to deploy SharePoint and support it for the long term.

From the very beginning communities start to develop and those related users within those communities have their own sets of goals, processes they wish to improve upon, and collaboration or increased knowledge sharing in a governed and secure manner that SharePoint offers.

This is true for SharePoint implementations of any kind whether it be an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) initiative or a new intranet or increased “social” or “professional networking” related strategy the culture is striving to embrace.

To simplify this very granular path or rabbit trail that could cause this type of discussion to quickly get “into the weeds” of a technical or business deep dive, there are three core types of communities that existing within any SharePoint 2013 or 2010 implementation.

There are, of course, many sub-communities and types of users that flow out of these main community types but the three that can be identified at the very top level are:

  1. The “Knowledge” community and related users whose goal is collaboration, knowledge sharing, social \ professional networking, and retaining this “knowledge” for the long-term. A goal of this community is to prevent “knowledge” loss when staff members leave the organization and providing their best practices, lessons learned, and intellectual property “knowledge’ when new staff comes into the company.
  2. The “Power User” \ “Super User” community who supports the “care and feeding” as well as support to ensure the “Knowledge” community continues to thrive. This group is made up of team members or users who work with both the “Knowledge” community as well as the business leaders who set these goals and the IT and “Operational” community who keeps the “lights on” and ensures security, performance, governance, compliance, and business continuity.
  3. The “Operational” community who supports both the “Knowledge” and “Power User” \ “Super User” communities. This community is made of the technical staff with roles such as the SharePoint administrators, Site Collection owners, Site owners, infrastructure, networking, and security. The “Operational” community is also getting ever growing requests to support the “Knowledge” community who is knocking at the door regarding mobility, smartphones, tablets, and the bigger BYOD questions.

Note: I completely agree with those who are reading this and naming off many different more granular communities or types of SharePoint Sites (Team Sites, My Sites, Community Sites, Records Center \ Management Sites, etc.) but you can draw a correlation between all of these types of communities or sites to the three main communities I identified above.

The Knowledge Community

One thing I have strived with my team members at EPC Group, the SharePoint and Microsoft consultancy I founded about 14 years ago, is to take the word “SharePoint” out of many conversations and focus on the business and functional goals at hand. Microsoft SharePoint is the technology you are using to accomplish these goals but think in terms of how the “technology” can meet the needs of the communities.

There is a bit of a new blurry line when talking about SharePoint Communities today with SharePoint 2013 having a new level or hierarchy of Community Sites (templates) which support specific communities but I think its key to bring it back to thinking in terms of knowledge management and “Communities of Practice” (CoP) or “Networks of Excellence” (NoE) that initially created many of the best practices and strategies that drive “SharePoint Communities” today.

So taking a step back and by using the “Networks of Excellence” or NoE concept in the knowledge management world, the following are roles, responsibilities, as well as best practices that should be taken into consideration.

Executive Community Sponsor

  • Approves and supports the business case and vision for knowledge sharing at the functional, business unit, operational and/or executive levels
  • Signs-off on the business case, vision and resources for knowledge sharing
  • Remains involved through executive briefings and communications to the organizational community sponsors

Community Sponsor

  • Sets goals and related performance criteria for the community
  • Fosters widespread interest and enthusiasm for Knowledge Sharing and community participation
  • Directs and presents the strategic input of the community to executives

Community Leader

  • Directs the activities and sets priorities of the community
  • Manages the usage and appropriation of community resources
  • Ensures the quality and timeliness of community activities/deliverables
  • Develops a team concept within the community dedicated to learning and innovation
  • Participates and leads all aspects of community planning, design, development and deployment
  • Oversees the processes, content, technology (portal administration) and people resources to increase the effective sharing of best practices and lessons learned across business units
  • Works closely with “Knowledge” Sharing leaders and staff to incorporate training and standards
  • Measures community maturity and effectiveness with accountability to business goals
  • Communicates knowledge sharing success stories and lessons learned
  • Gives recognition to community, going back to the “Networks of Excellence” (NoE), members for their contributions, and enables award or recognition submissions
  • Guides research and benchmarking projects (where applicable)
  • Encourages qualitative and quantitative benchmarking to identify new areas of improvement opportunity
  • Appoints, coaches and supports the community coordinators

Community Coordinator

  • Ensures effective content management by collecting and managing the right information that supports the community
  • Ensures that SharePoint’s content is updated and relevant to the user’s needs
  • Monitors collaborative spaces (Sites) to extract new knowledge and to identify issues that require responses
  • Builds awareness of and access to the right people and right information that supports employees’ daily workflows (day-to-day tasks)
  • Maintains processes for knowledge acquisition, storage, maintenance and dissemination
  • Facilitates community interaction and outreach to grow the number and contributions of active members
  • Links community members with subject matter experts to answer questions or provide solutions
  • Collects and packages “Knowledge” Sharing success stories and lessons-learned and champions these to other communities to keep a sense of competition within various communities to strive for excellence

Community Core Team Members

  • Actively participates in and steers network activities under the guidance of the community Sponsor
  • Builds regional sponsorship for and engages regional members in knowledge sharing activities
  • Formulates and executes plans to deploy community deliverables at the regional levels
  • Provides a link between the strategies of the Community and the strategies of the regional business units
  • Develops relevant measures of success for the community
  • Engages local community coordinators and subject matter experts (SMEs) in knowledge sharing activities

In identifying these different roles, there is a best practices framework that can be followed to ensure SharePoint Community Effectiveness along with 10 Critical Success Factors.

 

In identifying these this framework, there is a best practices SharePoint Community operating model that can be followed to ensure SharePoint compliance as well as continued “care and feedings” of the community.

 

There is always the question of “the users and participants have a day-job and tasks they must manage” so how can this be “worked” into the SharePoint network and overall participation. The following image details an approach to this question.

 

With any network, you are going to get critical or very time sensitive issues or areas of possible improvement come to the attention of community leaders and the roles identified above. The following is a workflow or process showing an example of how these community items can be dealt with head-on but also puts a timeframe out there for resolution of issues so that they are not prolonged and the community itself does not become irrelevant because users have stopped providing or sharing knowledge because of an unresolved issue.

 

Lastly, you want to ensure you have defined metrics and an understanding of the maturity model as well as how relevant each community’s knowledge is to ensure it is being updated, used, and ROI is being gained from the network. The following diagram compares the knowledge gained from communities to the time spend to provide you with a starting point for your organization.

 

The “Power User” \ “Super User” Community

The “Power Users” \ “Super Users” who supports the “care and feeding” of SharePoint  communities where I mentioned earlier “keep the lights on” and ensures security, performance, governance, compliance, and business continuity should follow the following high-level as well as more granularly listed best practices:

 

 

The “Operational” Community

SharePoint Operational Community and Related Roles support the following in SharePoint:

It is also key to have these permissions and responsibilities in the operations roles persistent throughout all communities (SharePoint sites \ farms). The roles and responsibilities defined below are specific to SharePoint Communities used for operations and maintenance of SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2010.

Note: These will vary based on your specific requirements as well as the site templates and technology versions you have implemented but is a very strong “core” list to pull from…

Role Responsibilities and Tasks Group Permissions Trustee
SharePoint Team Manager
  • Responsible for all SharePoint Product and Technology Efforts.
  • Leads SharePoint Steering Committee.
  • Leads SharePoint Team.
  • Major SharePoint Technology Decision Maker.
SharePoint Team
  • Full Control – full control given at the web application policy level for every web application in all farm locations.
  • Admin Control – full control to all central administration and SharePoint services in all farm locations.
  • May or may not have system administrative or SQL administration rights.
Application Manager/Infrastructure Architect
SharePoint

Application Architect

  • SharePoint Development Team Lead
  • Third Party Configuration
  • Line of Business Integration
  • Governance Model/Best Practices Enforcement
SharePoint Team
  • Full Control– full control given at the web application policy level for every web application in all farm locations.
  • Admin Control – full control to all central administration and SharePoint services in all farm locations.
  • Has system administrative or SQL administration rights in non-production systems.
SharePoint Team Manager
SharePoint

System Architect

  • AD and Exchange Integration
  • Profile Synchronization
  • Patch Management (Validation and Testing)
  • Responsible for SharePoint farm infrastructure design, installation, guidelines and best practices.
  • Governance Model/Best Practices Enforcement
  • System Administrators day to day support
  • Search Administration
  • Farm Administrators day to day support
  • Third Party Configuration
SharePoint Team
  • Full Control– full control given at the web application policy level for every web application in all farm locations.
  • Admin Control – full control to all central administration and SharePoint services in all farm locations.
  • Has system administrative or SQL administration rights in production systems.
SharePoint Team Manager
Active Directory Manager
  • Active Directory Management
  • DNS Management
  • Exchange Management
Infrastructure Team
  • Will not have access to portal or site configuration settings and will not be able to make any changes to the application.
SharePoint System Architect
Network Engineer
  • Firewalls
  • WAN
  • WAN Optimization
  • Remote Access Management
  • External Access Management
  • Load Balancing
Infrastructure Team
  • Will not have access to portal or site configuration settings and will not be able to make any changes to the application.
SharePoint System Architect
SharePoint Solution Manager

 

  • Responsible for SharePoint services, policies, procedures, and governance/best practice enforcement.
  • Liaison between business users and SharePoint Team.
  • Day to day support for Site Collection Managers.
  • Serves as SharePoint champion for all locations.
SharePoint Team
  • Will not have system administrative or SQL administration rights.
  • Local Full Control– full control given at the site collection level
SharePoint Application Architect

SharePoint System Architect

SharePoint System Administrator

 

  • Responsible for SharePoint farm infrastructure change requests.
  • Responsible for day to day maintenance of SharePoint farm OS operations and uptime.
Infrastructure Team
  • Will not have access to portal or site configuration settings and will not be able to make any changes to the application.
IT Manager

 

SharePoint

SQL Database Administrator

  • SQL Server database backup and recovery, SQL configuration, SQL upgrades and monitoring.
  • Responsible for databases, site collection, and site backups.
Infrastructure Team
  • Will not have access to portal or site configuration settings and will not be able to make any changes to the application.
  • SQL Administrative rights
IT Manager

 

SharePoint Solution Analyst

 

  • Tests custom code and third party tools in non-production systems
  • Defined requirements for proposed solutions to determine whether the solution is Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS), requires custom development or requires feature extension
SharePoint Team
  • Full Control– full control given at the web application policy level for every web application in virtual lab environments
  • Admin Control – full control to all central administration and SharePoint services in virtual lab environments
  • Has system administrative or SQL administration rights in virtual lab environments

 

SharePoint Application Architect

 

SharePoint System Architect

Local Group Roles in the Operational Community (End-User Roles)

  • These community (site) roles will be managed by the Farm Administrator.
  • Community (site) users may belong to more than one group to add additional permissions.
  • Community (site) users may also be removed from lower level roles as higher level roles permissions may encompass the permissions of the lower level role.
Roles Responsibilities and Tasks Training Permissions Trustees
Site Collection Manager (IT)

 

(Top Level Communities or Sites)

  • Manage Features and Solutions for site collection.
  • SharePoint site provisioning for site collection
Instructor led with good understanding of site administration, security, content creation, feature deployment Access defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level. Farm Administrator

 

 

Site Collection Owner (Solution Manager in Development, IT in Production)
  • Site Collection Owner
    Content creation
    Manage content.
  • Sub-site management
Instructor led with good understanding of site administration, security, content creation Access defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level. Site Collection Manager

Farm Administrator

 

Site Owner(Solution Manager, IT and End User)
  • Site Owner
    Content creation
    Manage content.
Instructor led with good understanding of site administration, security, content creation Access defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level. Site Collection Manager

Farm Administrator

 

Developer (IT Dev is the SharePoint Team). This group exists on all sites at time of creation but is removed prior to go-live.
  • Manage the site layout and structure.
  • Create custom workflows.
  • Create custom Web Parts, solutions and features.
  • Responsible for building the framework and features of the portal.
  • Modify SharePoint templates as needed.
  • Write ASP.Net code.
  • Participate in design tasks as needed.
  • Participate in development and testing as needed.
    Create custom forms.
Instructor led training with CBTs. MS training for Visual Studio, and SharePoint Designer “Developers” Full control of non-production systems.

Access defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level.

Access does not exist in the production environment.

SharePoint Application Architect

 

Member
  • Content creation (documents, lists).
    Contribute to collaboration sites (blog, wiki).
    Initiate workflows.
CBT with good understanding of document libraries and lists Access defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level. Site Owner
Approver
  • Approve content (documents, lists).
  • Initiate workflows.
CBT with good understanding of content approval and workflows Access defined at the SharePoint application level. No access at the system level. Site Owner
Reader
  • View content
N/A N/A Site Owner

 

End User Community Permissions

The following is an example of “end user” community permissions based on the user roles for the community (sites) are listed below.

List Permissions
Community (Site) Permissions Site Collection

Manager

Owner Developer Member Approver Reader
Manage Lists – Create and delete lists, add or remove columns in a list, and add or remove public views of a list. Y Y Y N N N
Override Check Out – Discard or check in a document which is checked out to another user. Y Y N N N N
Add Items – Add items to lists, add documents to document libraries, and add Web discussion comments. Y Y Y Y N N
Edit Items – Edit items in lists, edit documents in document libraries, edit Web discussion comments in documents, and customize Web Part Pages in document libraries. Y Y Y Y Y N
Delete Items – Delete items from a list, documents from a document library, and Web discussion comments in documents. Y Y Y Y N N
View Items – View items in lists, documents in document libraries, and view Web discussion comments. Y Y Y Y Y Y
Approve Items – Approve a minor version of a list item or document. Y Y Y Y Y N
Open Items – View the source of documents with server-side file handlers. Y Y Y Y Y N
View Versions – View past versions of a list item or document. Y Y Y Y Y N
Delete Versions – Delete past versions of a list item or document. Y Y Y N N N
Create Alerts – Create e-mail alerts. Y Y Y Y Y N
View Application Pages – View forms, views, and application pages. Enumerate lists. Y Y Y Y Y Y
Site Permissions  
Manage Permissions – Create and change permission levels on the Web site and assign permissions to users and groups. Y N N N N N
View Usage Data – View reports on Web site usage. Y Y Y N N N
Create Sub-sites – Create Sub-sites such as team sites, Meeting Workspace sites, and Document Workspace sites. Y Y Y N N N
Manage Web Site – Grants the ability to perform all administration tasks for the Web site as well as manage content. Y N N N N N
Add and Customize Pages – Add, change, or delete HTML pages or Web Part Pages, and edit the Web site using a Windows SharePoint Services-compatible editor. Y Y Y N N N
Apply Themes and Borders – Apply a theme or borders to the entire Web site. Y Y Y N N N
Apply Style Sheets – Apply a style sheet (.CSS file) to the Web site. Y Y Y N N N
Create Groups – Create a group of users that can be used anywhere within the site collection. Y N N N N N
Browse Directories – Enumerate files and folders in a Web site using SharePoint Designer and Web DAV interfaces. Y Y Y Y Y Y
View Pages – View pages in a Web site. Y Y Y Y Y Y
Enumerate Permissions – Enumerate permissions on the Web site, list, folder, document, or list item. Y Y Y Y Y N
Browse User Information – View information about users of the Web site. Y Y Y Y Y N
Manage Alerts – Manage alerts for all users of the Web site. Y Y N N N N
Use Remote Interfaces – Use SOAP, Web DAV, or SharePoint Designer interfaces to access the Web site. Y Y Y Y Y Y
Use Client Integration Features – Use features which launch client applications. Without this permission, users will have to work on documents locally and upload their changes. Y Y Y Y Y N
Open – Allows users to open a Web site, list, or folder in order to access items inside that container. Y Y Y Y Y Y
Edit Personal User Information – Allows a user to change his or her own user information, such as adding a picture. N N N N N N
Personal Permissions  
Manage Personal Views – Create, change, and delete personal views of lists. N N N N N N
Add/Remove Personal Web Parts – Add or remove personal Web Parts on a Web Part Page. N N N N N N
Update Personal Web Parts – Update Web Parts to display personalized information. N N N N N N