Key SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 Methodologies and Best Practices

Posted by Errin O'Connor on Jan, 16, 2015 08:01

EPC Group’s industry leading SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 consulting practices are driven by underlying methodologies, strategies and lessons learned that have stemmed directly from initiatives executed within organizations of all sizes and from all business.

There are key methodologies and matching granular questions that must be put in place in your SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365 implementation and the following are examples of these:

  • Defining an “anchor application \ killer app” or key set of SharePoint 2013 features that will continue to draw users to SharePoint for many years to come
  • Defining the granular moving pieces around regulatory and compliance issues for global and large enterprise implementation specific considerations
  • Understanding the Cloud (i.e. Private, Public, Hybrid, SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, etc.)
  • Defining (in your IT Roadmap) integration requirements for SharePoint and/or Office 365 with external data sources (Oracle, custom SQL databases, HR systems, ERP systems, Documentum, etc.)
  • Best practices around developing internal Power Users and ensuring SharePoint’s continued growth and progression within your organization
  • Social strategies that will ensure proper and governed enterprise buy-in
  • Multilingual implementations and architecting a SharePoint solutions for 1 or even 1,000,000 (million) users
  • Performance considerations across multiple data centers or locations
  • Disaster recovery, business continuity, data replication, and archiving
  • SharePoint content publishing best practices and implementing the “one version of the truth” concept
  • Mobility, BYOD, and external security considerations
  • SharePoint and/or Office 365 governance best practices and how to develop a SharePoint steering committee
  • Implementing true records management (ECM \ RM) with SharePoint 2013 including working with your organization’s retention schedule and strategies around disposition, eDiscovery, and compliance
  • Ensuring you put emphasizes on metadata and core content type discovery exercises
  • Defining SLAs and strategies for long-term support of SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365 as well as strategies around Microsoft SQL Server 2012 \ SQL Server 2014 and Windows Server 2012
  • Understanding Microsoft Azure as well as other offerings such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) as they will come up in conversations with the business as well as other IT leaders
  • Understanding developing custom apps, web parts, workflows, Apps, and solutions
  • Content database sizing, SQL Server best practices, and shredded storage
  • Identity management and authentication

Note: This is just a short subset of the methodologies EPC Group initially covers with our clients in our “from the consulting trenches” strategies to ensure your SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365 platform is implemented right, the first time.

These powerful platforms can easily meet specific business and functional goals around implementing an organizational intranet, collaboration platform, enterprise content management (ECM) or records management (RM) solution.

Other organizations may be interested in implementing a professional (social) networking or business intelligence (BI) platform as well as rolling out workflows to streamline business processes while ensuring extranet and mobile compatibility. All of the elements mentioned above must be accomplished while staying in line with compliance and governance standards as well as well as mobility and your organization’s overall I.T. roadmap.

Time Tested SharePoint Deployment Strategies from the Trenches

There is a method to the madness and a way to implement SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 right the first time. It is key to think in terms of beginning the overall initiative by gathering the key stakeholders from multiple departments where you and the project team members can start to whiteboard the overall solution andSharePoint roadmap with its long-term success in mind.

This “Bottom-up SharePoint 2013 Implementation Approach” will open up the proper mindset for a successful implementation and ensure that roadmap development is initiated to take into consideration future phases and other possible initiatives.

If a SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365 project fails or falls short of expectations, it is typically due to the hard questions not being asked or addressed due to time and budgetary constraints or the project team not having been “in the trenches” seeing the various types of “granular curveballs” that can be thrown their way.

For example, EPC Group was recently involved on an enterprise-wide SharePoint Server 2013 initiative with approximately 11,000 users and data centers in three different countries.

In the very first discovery meeting with the I.T. Director, he asked “how is your firm’s approach different from other consulting firms and why and how does your methodology differ to make sure this project is going to be a success? This is an extremely high profile project with just about zero room for error.”

The answer to that question is based on the strategy of avoiding the typical “top-down SharePoint implementation approach.” When referring to the “top-down” implementation approach, EPC Group is referencing the “build it and they will come” mentality where SharePoint sites are implemented across the organization and allowed to proliferate without proper governancesecurity strategies, and the identity of a core set of content types that manage the actual types of content (documents, etc.) that SharePoint will be storing.

By allowing users to have too many permissions, like providing the ability for a user to create subsites within their departmental or project site and then be given full permission control of that new subsite can cause major content sprawl and non-governed growth.

Eliminating risks by applying proper governance will reduce the instances where content (i.e. documents, records, etc.) may not be protected in a manner to meet specific compliance standards or where three or four sites are created that are very similar in nature and end up going unused long-term.

The “bottom-up SharePoint 2013 implementation approach” is based around identifying, from the very beginning, the types of content that will be stored, the matching metadata or core content types for that content, as well as the types of users and possible scenarios that the organization may experience not only in phase 1 but in phase 2 or phase 3.

When referring to looking at a SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365 initiative from all sides in a three dimensional way, I am referring to the project team members, both technical and non-technical, understanding at a high level how content is stored, secured, and accessed by users not only authenticated within their organization’s network but also by approved users who may be utilizing their laptop or tablet device waiting to catch a flight and sitting in an airport connected via a public Wi-Fi.

The mobile, bring your own device (BYOD), mentality is here and the strategy and policies must be addressed in your SharePoint roadmap for not only current staff but for those future clients or partners you may want to access to a “SharePoint supplier portal” or for staff to access business intelligence data.

If the more difficult SharePoint or Office 365 roadmap strategies are left unanswered and rather to be left to be answered at a later phase can end up costing the organization more time, budget, and risk because certain areas may need to be re-architected or redesigned to meet future organizational needs.

When SharePoint 2013 and/or Office 365 is architected without future phases in mind you also risk the possibly of losing buy-in and support from the user base which can stifle the momentum and long-term adoption of the platform.

EPC Group’s SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 Roadmap and Implementation Strategies “From the Consulting Trenches”

EPC Group will continue our blog posts on SharePoint 2013 & Office 365 Roadmap and Implementation Strategy development in the days and weeks to come to touch on the real-world “from the consulting trenches” approach that EPC Group has successfully implemented for hundreds of organizations throughout North America.

These strategies are also detailed in EPC Group’s latest publications, “SharePoint 2013 Field Guide: Advice From the Consulting Trenches