Setting Expectations for SharePoint Portals

Yesterday I viewed the web presentation from our friends over at Global360 and Gartner and noticed that over 50 percent of companies now use some form of SharePoint. To me, this is an amazing statistic which not only reflects Microsoft’s successful penetration into the collaboration space but points to a huge demand by all types of businesses for effective collaboration. Why do so many companies deploy SharePoint? Initially, I think it was due to the opportunity for users and IT folks to grow their communication levels both inside and outside the organization. Most people understand from experience (often painful) that effective communication and information is the key to performance, as well as a key to their own personal satisfaction in the workplace.

However, one of the greatest challenges faced by companies is the ability to meet these lofty expectations when tools such as SharePoint are deployed. With SharePoint 2010, there is now even more capability around business process management, easier collaboration, and other enhanced features. I recently attended the SharePoint TechFest in Irving, Texas and it was obvious both IT and business users are genuinely excited about these new possibilities. So, if you are the company “owner” of a collaboration initiative (such as SharePoint), how do you effectively set expectations? How do we move forward with a deployment plan that fully leverages the promise of SharePoint and is aligned with the business objectives? From our experience, some basic steps that come to mind are:

  • Explaining the compelling portal features in a fashion that is clear to users with realistic benefits
  • Explaining the limitations of portal features, especially if not executed correctly
  • Explaining that participation is required by users to be successful; and secure this user involvement
  • Establishing basic roadmaps and project plans for feature roll-out based on business priorities
  • Execution of the plan in accordance with the roadmap
  • Solicit and share feedback from the user community as the feature set is deployed – incorporate as needed
  • Establish ongoing enhancement plans through a cross-functional portal team

I’m interested in how others communicate the potential of SharePoint portals and other portal solutions. How do you set proper expectations throughout the enterprise and truly leverage the promise of portals through excellent execution?