Deploying SharePoint in a Customer’s Environment

The most difficult and therefore most important part in a SharePoint project is deploying SharePoint in the customers’ environment. There are a lot of challenges waiting for every IT service provider. Here are a few examples:

1. Why does a customer want to use SharePoint? If it’s driven by management you need to bring the IT department as soon as possible together with project managers and consultants. They need to be involved from the first second since SharePoint is deployed in their environment. It’s impossible to change the infrastructure or deploying SharePoint without their help. They will be in a bad mood it they aren’t respected.

2. You need a contact person who is responsible for server maintenance, infrastructure and backup. A backup process e.g. can be analyzed if it meets SharePoint requirements. If not you need to sensitize the responsible person that there is additional work to do or even additional training necessary.

3. It’s just a matter of time before a red light occurs in event log. It will and if it happens the customer will call you because a lot of customers don’t have SharePoint know-how. And even if it’s not related to SharePoint they will call you. So who pays you for the assistance? And what happens if your IT service provider you work for has no infrastructure experts? Whom are you going to ask next?

Since a SharePoint developer has to know about infrastructure many people think you can do everything even analyzing and repairing the customers infrastructure problems. It has to be clear that a developer can only resolve things related to the application.

4. Authors and end user are also important since they are going to use SharePoint. Sometimes an intranet isn’t used since there are no advantages using it. Sometimes there are a lot of useful functions and new ones should be added. Knowing how a user works is important because he won’t changes the way he works about-face.

5. Even if you have a software requirements specification which clearly defines the deliverables of your solution your customer will come up with change requests. If you are doing a content migration over weeks or months the persons involved will come with change requests. Now you can start to change parts of your solution every week or collect change request, pick the things which enhance your solution and deploy them only once at the end of migration. You shouldn’t create a new building lot before the migration has ended or your solution is live.

Dealing with the challenges before they occur is essential. If additional training or consultancy is required you need to include it in your offer. If not your customer may run out of budget before your customers users even start to use SharePoint.

Andreas Glaser

About Andreas Glaser

SharePoint WCMS developer since 2006, also consulting, conception, training, administration, loving Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V

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