Thursday, January 10, 2008

Top 10 Best Practices to Consider Before Implementing SharePoint

Here are what i believe is to be the top 10 things to consider before implementing SharePoint. More than one administrator/developer/manager has been burned by SharePoint by not taking the proper time to plan the installation and doing their homework. At my current position, the net admin and I had planned out what we thought was a viable install plan for SharePoint but upon returning from MindSharp SharePoint Administrator training, we scrapped our whole plan and started from the ground up. We believe the time spent re-planning the install will greatly benefit us in the long run.

  1. Consider and then reconsider. SharePoint provides a plethora of functions used to build different types of solutions. Organizations should have a clear vision as to what role SharePoint will fill in the workplace and plan the install accordingly.
  2. Brand Brand Brand. This is an essential step in the install process. The old adage "first impressions are everything" carries a lot of weight with end users...they are more likely to use the site if it is ascetically pleasing.
  3. Protect public area from user customization using the built-in security. The intranets should be designed to reflect the company look/values. Your team sites may be more in flux, and they are a great place to experiment with new web parts and functionality.
  4. Configuration rather than customize. Companies can accomplish approximately 90% of the needed site functionality through the use of OOB (out of the box) readily available web parts and through features such as custom lists and views.
  5. Grow accustomed to the way SharePoint works OOB. Customization is tempting, especially if your organizations IT department has application developers, be cautious - generally, Microsoft will not support customized installs of SharePoint.
  6. Training. End users need it. System administrators need a lot of it. Microsoft offers extensive technical documentation available on its website but for a Systems Administrator, I HIGHLY recommend MindSharp SharePoint Admin training.
  7. Phases. Implement parts of SharePoint in phases so Admins and end-users alike have time to let the new functionality sink in and learn to use it effectively.
  8. Disaster Recovery. PLAN FOR IT. Test backups. DOCUMENT tweaks and configurations done to your SharePoint server. Also, practice a couple times a year a disaster recover scenario using virtualized servers (VMWare or Virtual Server).
  9. Production systems should not be virtualized. I do not believe MSFT is currently supporting virtualized installs of SharePoint, even though it can be done. Depending on your user load and index load, you will benefit from dedicating hardware.
  10. Poll users for feedback about the system. This will give you valuable insight into what is working and what is not for the end users.

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