Sharing life in the SharePoint trenches
From No Pulse to a Live Pulse
For many organizations, the first exposure to SharePoint is in using it as an intranet for employee communication and collaboration. We continue our conversation with three IT pros, Cory, Scott, and Ken, who were tasked with setting up a SharePoint intranet for their employer.
What lessons did you learn? What challenges did you face?
Cory: Planning and doing this right made our lives a lot easier once it was live.
Ken: Each phase was thought through. We carefully planned how we would build the site, and every piece was talked about before we built it.
Cory: We spent two to three days working on just that piece, planning.
Ken: The five-week timeline cut out all the extra. You couldn’t ponder anything. This was where Quilogy helped. You got down into the details very quickly, the pros and and cons. We also knew what we liked, what we didn’t like from the old Pulse. Our previous experience with SharePoint made a big difference.
Scott: What I learned about interviewing consulting firms is they have a few key words that they like to use a lot to make things sound more important or complicated than they really are, like ‘Governance.’ And they take those terms and use them every chance they can, kind of like a NASCAR driver thanking sponsors. Also, consultants will try to make the environment a lot more complicated than it really needs to be. So you have to weigh what the consultants say along with your knowledge of SharePoint and come up with a happy medium.
Ken: Quilogy, like any vendor, requires careful management by the customer—we were careful about what recommendations we took, how we implemented them, and we made sure it was our employees doing the work so we could see the admin impact after the fact. The partnership worked extremely well.
Cory: Another thing we found out was that artists can make the page as beautiful as they want but in SharePoint it takes a lot of work to get it to look good and explaining that to artists is hard. ‘But it looked so good in the picture.’
Cory: We have the theme and the home page is detached from the site so we can do a little more with that. If you want to have a home page that looks different, you can detach it—it uses all the Web Parts and the theme, but it allows you more placement of everything.
Scott: About a week or so into the project, our boss told us he wanted to have our intranet available from the Internet. This initially was not too difficult but later we realized it broke our search. It added some complexity to our setup and took us about a day to fix the search. The IPs had to map. For each https we had to map a specific IP, which adds a layer of complexity to SharePoint on the back end. We have one web front end and one search and index server. The search and index server wasn’t pointing to the right IP, but once we figured it out, it was okay.
The good thing about this is you can get to this new intranet from the outside.
MySite was a big challenge. There are a lot of SharePoint resources but not a lot of them have worked on MySite. Also, with such a short deadline, scope creep was a challenge. We needed to keep our eye on what we needed for functionality and not think so much about what would be nice to have.
What SharePoint resources do you use?
Conferences: SharePoint sessions at Penton’s Windows Connections conferences.
Microsoft training: Before they cancelled the enterprise agreement, the company had a Microsoft guy come out and train them on SharePoint. The challenge was learning the new things he was showing them while also dealing with the current day-today admin issues at the same time.
SharePoint user group: There’s a local group but neither has had the time to attend many meetings.
Blogs: Asif Rehmani, Joel Oleson, Mindsharp.
Websites: Top results on a Google search; Microsoft TechNet.