sharepoinTony

@info – The practical side of SharePoint

Posts Tagged ‘Best Practice’

What not to do – buying web parts

Posted by sharepoinTony on September 10, 2010

This is a message to business managers trying to solve problems using SharePoint.

First, good job using SharePoint!

Now, please DO look at the options available to you that will help you get things done or enrich your SharePoint environment.

Please DON’T puchase web parts without talking to your SharePoint Administrator, Specialist or whomever you have focused on SharePoint.

Why?  Well, here is a short story (which I will call a fairy tale) that should make my point.

Once upon a time there was a department looking for a more robust solution than was available in their OOTB SharePoint 2007 environment.  They happily danced around while looking for solutions and discovered a shiny web part package that was priced very well.  The joyful department manager purchased the package and gleefully notified the SharePoint Administrator of the wonderful find.  The glorious admin reviewed and installed the tool and went about configuring for the perfectly good solution for the happy department.

The happy department requested a meeting.  Before they start using this new dandy they want a few changes.  The excitement filled the air as the team listed requirements for their solution.  What’s this?  They want to change the columns used by the solution’s installed list.  They want the solution to use existing InfoPath forms.   Gee, that seems reasonable doesn’t it?

A cloud of darkness appeared over the happy crowd, evil seemed to rain over them, sadness ensued.

You see children, the solution is a good one only if it meets the requirements set forth in the beginning.  Oops, no requirements had been written.  That’s OK as long as the needs to enrich the environment and make the identified task easier for the joyous department members are met.  Oops, the solution won’t allow those desired changes to the list.  Oops, it will not allow the use of InfoPath forms.

Hmm, what went wrong?

Then End.

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Lean Thinking for SharePoint

Posted by sharepoinTony on August 27, 2010

I have to start this with a tidbit of history.  You see, I actually did something before I began working with SharePoint…surprising as that may sound.  For several years prior to SharePoint I had a really long job title, but the gist of what I did was implement Lean practices in a corporate setting.  My focus was on the “office” which meant any business function that wasn’t on the factory floor.

So what is Lean?

There are books that go into depth on the subject, and Wikipedia provides some definitions, but my personal short description is this: Lean is a way of thinking and working that incorporates continuous improvement, process improvement, and efficient practices.  It is all about eliminating waste in your business.

Lean is what lead me to SharePoint.  When I first saw SharePoint and learned the things it could do, I jumped into it.  SharePoint was the tool I was looking for to help implement new processes, to help business staff embrace Lean concepts, and to help the company benefit from the Lean effort.  I got excited about SharePoint and haven’t looked back.

One of the cool things about SharePoint is the concept of distributing the work and enabling people to create what they need in a site.  Eliminate the bottleneck.  That is a Lean thought, it is a Lean way of doing things.  Lean is about empowering your staff to do the things that they need to do to get their job done.  And you want them to succeed, to excel, and to do it all without WASTE.

How many times have you experienced the waste most companies tolerate?  Wasted time, wasted spending, wasted energy.  Lean is about eliminating those wastes.  By capturing the time, energy, and money previously lost in that waste you can redirect all of that into improvements that benefit the company.  You can take a week-long process and make it into a few hour process.  When your company shortens process times it becomes more competitive, more cost-effective and usually more profitable.

What is Lean Thinking for SharePoint?

Although there are lots of benefits to studying Lean, I think that by simply using a few Lean concepts your SharePoint activities can make significant improvements that benefit your company.  “SharePoint people” can easily pick up these concepts and incorporate them into their work.  A perfect example is the implementation of a new workflow.

We typically attack a workflow request by asking about the process and capturing key steps we know we will need to create a SharePoint workflow.  But what if we take the opportunity to ask questions?  Why are those steps needed?  Who really needs to be involved?  What is that information used for and by whom?  But don’t stop there…you have to follow-up by tracking that information flow.  What does that person actually do with the information?  Is it even used?

That is the tough part.  People always say they know the process or they know the requirements.  Never believe them.  I cannot tell you how many times I followed a process, tracked the information flow across multiple branches and up the chain of command only to find out that the end result was never used.  Everyone in the organization had accepted the process, enforced the perceived “need” and just “knew” that we had that do it that way.  It often turns out that someone in some department said they needed the information and that filtered its way into the process over time.  It sounded valuable, so management made it a requirement.  Everyone got used to the “requirement” and it became part of the culture of the business.  Years ago that probably was needed information.  The business had to change to stay competitive, but  business processes lag behind and are not updated.

Taking the time to truly find out what is needed and why it is needed allows you to create a process, in a SharePoint workflow, that reduces work and eliminates waste.   By taking the time to do this, even if you don’t find any waste you will gain a solid understanding of the process and have documented the process which is of value to the company.  Having to change a workflow to correct the process isn’t fun and is a form of waste.  Just do it right the first time and you will save time and money.

Resources you can use to learn more about Lean:

Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation, Revised and Updated
by James P. Womack, Daniel T. Jones
Easier, Simpler, Faster: Systems Strategy for Lean IT
by Jean Cunningham, Duane Jones
Office Kaizen: Transforming Office Operations into a Strategic Competitive Advantage
by William Lareau
The Lean Office: Collected Practices and Cases (Insights on Implementation)
by Productivity Press Development Team
Lean Administration: Case Studies in Leadership and Improvement (Enterprise Excellence)
by AME – Association for Manufacturing Excellence

Posted in Best Practice, Lean, Workflow | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Installing MOSS

Posted by sharepoinTony on September 25, 2009

I read Paul Swider’s blog post “Best Practice for User Accounts When Installing MOSS” today.  He is right on target, “there should be no surprises on install day”.  It is ironic that I read this blog today because I created a similar table to the one he has in his blog post earlier this week, to prepare for my SharePoint install this morning  (I installed MOSS, did basic configuration setting up a couple of web applications and SSP’s easily well before lunch).  Paul’s table was nicer, and I like his idea of phases which I thought of  in a similar way but couldn’t vocalize it as nicely as he did.

The point of this post is that he made me think a bit more about best practices, especially when installing MOSS.  Here are some off-the-cuff random thoughts I had on that topic:

  • Did you download any service packs or patches that you might need installed PRIOR to your SharePoint install?
  • If so, are they all in one easy to find folder, ready to go?
  • Where are your CD’s/DVD’s – do you need them?
  • Are you documenting your install in any way?  How?  Where?
  • Do you have a scheme for naming your web applications, ssp’s, content db’s?
  • What services are you going to configure?
  • What is your indicator that you have successfully installed MOSS?  When do you stop this task, and move on to the next?

I like to have these things mapped out, in my mind and documented.  The process of install and initial configure should be straight forward and easy.  Just make your own check-list, include the critical details, and follow the steps.  Write down what you do as you do it and you won’t have to hunt for a port number or database later.  Being a bit anal pays off sometimes…my install day today was kind of relaxing.  By the way, I had Thai for lunch.

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