May 26, 2017

Planning for a Successful Deployment

6 minute read

According to a 2016 AIIM report, only 6% of businesses report a successful SharePoint deployment. Content management and collaboration are critical to a business's ability to operate efficiently, so why then is success so elusive?

Common culprits are a lack of proper strategy, tepid executive buy-in, and inflated expectations of out-of-the-box capabilities.

Planning and Strategy are not Optional

Being a leader in any department requires strategic thinking. When it comes to SharePoint or Office 365 with SharePoint in the cloud, this involves not only understanding how content is managed and collaboration can be improved, but also how managing the most critical information, your company records,   can  improve productivity and impact an organization financially.  An  investment in a SharePoint governance and records solution that helps you realize your strategy more effectively and quickly  may have initial or recurring cost, but can easily show ROI once properly deployed.

By approaching this strategically, potentially through a pilot program to demonstrate a "proof-of-concept,” you can show the ability to explore alternate solutions to problems. A SharePoint deployment  leader must also be able to translate the strategic vision of the executive leadership to their team as well as the directors of the respective departments. By positioning yourself as a strategic leader, you are able to provide immense value during any cross-functional initiative.

Breaking down silos is a key component of successfully deploying a SharePoint solution. The best way to do that is to think horizontally: how can data from one department be leveraged in another? Also, is this data managed in a way that protects it while still allowing access for users who need it in their daily processes? It can be a simple mistake for those unfamiliar to think of records management as "archiving,”  as records have business value that   varies throughout existence.

It's true that this information lifecycle often ends in archival or disposition, but really challenge yourself and your team to understand the value of different types of records before they have outlasted their usefulness.

As with any project, the first step is to ask some crucial questions that will inform the decisions being made later down the line. Each organization is unique, and thus SharePoint must be tailored to industry regulations in addition to company policies and federal, state, and local laws.

Questions to Answer

Typically, the IT lead in combination with the Records Manager and business department leaders should answer a few questions before diving into the work of refreshing a retention schedule.

  • What is the value of the information from a business perspective?
  • What does our existing SharePoint environment look like and how easy or difficult is it to tag and classify information and records?
  • Who will lead the compliance efforts and how do we get user adoption?
  • What processes, workflows, and technology will be needed to maintain this?

Define the Scope from the Outset

For the SharePoint solution deployment to  be effective, its scope must be complete. This will involve a dialogue with all key stakeholders in every department. Their buy-in is a critical first step in any SharePoint  initiative.

These stakeholders must understand the scope of the project, the current state of their department's records management process, and how the changes being made to SharePoint will affect these processes. In addition, as mentioned above, key support functions such as compliance must also be defined. Generally, this role is filled by inside counsel, but can vary based on the structure of the company.

Make the Leadership Believe

As we discussed in last week’s blog post, getting an executive sponsor is crucial. That is no exception when it comes to deployment. Make sure that your team and any executive sponsors are on the same page every step of the way.

Change Management is Critical

Change is inevitable when an organization deploys new technology and the management of that change (or lack thereof) often can be blamed for failure to adopt the new technology. By nature, most people don't like change. Change is often threatening, especially to employees that have been in their roles for a long time.

Here are four areas of change that may need additional attention during a SharePoint deployment:

  1. Paper to electronic- If existing records are in a physical format, the change that needs to be embraced goes far past just implementing SharePoint. Aside from the technology, transitioning from paper to digital records is in itself a major endeavor. When it comes to records, records managers may feel a sense of security when they can physically put their hands on a record or feel better equipped to be the guardian of who else can touch that record.
  2. Trusting the technology– Getting records managers to trust the technology is another key hurdle to overcome. Records managers take their duty very seriously, and they are not going to embrace a solution that manages their records if they don't trust it. Therefore, education, dialogue, and culture are critical.If the IT department selected the SharePoint solution without input from the records managers, expect resentment and thus a reluctance to adopting the new solution.
  3. Disposition of electronic records- Approving digital records for disposition is a different process than approving paper records for disposition. When a records manager is approving paper records for disposition, they are physically handling the records, which may give them a higher comfort level with the process.In addition, an organization may develop a sense of comfort in keeping their digital records because they aren’t physically taking up space, so the cost of retaining them isn't as apparent. This can result in the reluctance to actually dispose of the digital records.The reality is that the exact opposite is true. If your SharePoint solution is set up properly, disposition should be a much easier and more accurate process than in the paper world.
  4. Adhering to a taxonomy- With the deployment of a SharePoint solution, a new or different taxonomy may have been implemented. Employees must understand this taxonomy if automation is not involved, requiring painstaking training.

Simplicity Equals Success

As you move through this process and add layers, you must keep in mind that simplicity will always prevail. An easy to understand deployment, and simplified workflows once it is complete, will  certify that the SharePoint solution deployment is truly effective and providing continuing value to the business.

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