You don’t know what you don’t know

By Andrew Woodward posted 01-23-2013 18:14



You’re tasked with rolling out SharePoint, the company want to do collaboration better. Being a conservative organisation the execs have engaged a very expensive, but respected, consultancy organisation to advise them. They’ve done detailed and expensive analysis of the business, bench marked the organisation against other similar organisations, made reference to the global trends and looked at the magic quadrants. And sure enough they agree SharePoint is the right solution, it’s the marker leader, meets all of the core requirements and should form the basis of the collaboration initiative, in fact even more so now that Microsoft have acquired Yammer.

Now it’s over to you, you’re tasked with rolling out SharePoint and changing the way the organisation collaborates. Problem is you work in IT!

Why is this a problem?

You know a lot about technology, have many years of experience in the industry. You’ve supported the organisation as it rolled out a corporate wide Active Directory; overseen the introduction of Exchange for email and led on the mobile project to give blackberry access to executives.

You know a lot about the technology and you also know that you don’t know a lot about SharePoint. You’re going to address this by bringing in a few SharePoint consultants to help fill this gap.

What skills are you missing?  You know that you’ve never built a SharePoint farm before so you look at CV’s for people with experience in this area. No doubt you approved agency helps you a lot in this area, they’ve been working for SharePoint for years and know exactly what you’re looking for! You take a look at Microsoft published materials and realise that a lot SharePoint projects require an amount of customisation and configuration so you also look for some development resources, you may also get an experienced SharePoint designer on board if branding is a big issue.

Now you’re feeling pretty confident, you know what you know. You know what you don’t know and have taken steps to fill the gaps.  This SharePoint project should be a big win, perhaps a career defining moment due to the high profile of the project.

Many months later…. (Some take years!)

SharePoint farms have been built, you’ve developed some slick looking branding along with a few awesome web parts.  My sites are configured and the user profiles are imported. Search is working and the test documents you uploaded are coming back nicely.  Launch date is here SharePoint is live, time to break out the champagne and start looking for a new car (that promotion can’t be far away).

Time passes….

Some people have team sites, others continue with file shares because it’s too complicated. Search is just returning seemingly random results and people again are unable to find out what to put where and how to find things. There are the occasional successes, the guy in quality really loves the versioning and metadata – but they are the exception.

What went wrong?

You don’t know what you don’t know.

The information is out there, it’s just outside of your current domain. You need to look outside, look at places you wouldn’t normally look for inspiration and ideas.  People are rolling out SharePoint effectively and really changing the way people work, but you have to look for them.

There is a growing trend in the SharePoint space where people are looking outside; looking for new ways of working, looking for ways to innovate and do things differently. This is having a massive impact on the way companies are doing projects because it’s increasing awareness of the things you know you don’t know.

Make sure you do one thing this week, take a look outside for something different.  Seek out a local SharePoint user group, go online and join a social network, get on twitter, read that book you always put off.  But do something different and start discovering things you don’t know you don’t know.

#innovation #Collaboration #SharePoint #sharepoint #ProjectManagement #Collaboration #InformationGovernance