Home » What We're Thinking » Keystone Archive » March 2010
This month we continue our look at SharePoint with a great Q&A with Paul Montag of Labatt on how we helped them build a world-class intranet to improve communication within its organization.
We'll also answer the Top 5 Questions we're being asked about SharePoint 2010, and we've got more detail on our SharePoint Accelerator Program.
If you've got questions or want to discuss anything we've covered here, please get in touch.
How do you ensure your employees get the information they need when they need it? For Labatt, one of Canada's largest brewers with more than 3,000 employees, the answer was to leverage the power of SharePoint platform to build a world-class intranet portal-and partner with imason to make it happen.
Under the leadership of imason's User Experience team, Labatt migrated some 145,000 documents and mapped them into a new, bilingual information architecture that merged two intranet sites a news centre and a resource centre into one. The result was greatly improved communication within its organization, including a superior intranet user experience and shared internal access to digital marketing assets.
To find out more about the project, we caught up with Paul Montag, Business Relationship Manager at Labatt.
Keystone: This project created an intranet portal that would be the envy of any business. What were your initial key drivers and goals?
PM: The need to improve communication within the organization came through loud and clear in our annual employee engagement survey, and that was the primary factor in our plan to create a new intranet site. We wanted a more modern, stable platform for the portal and we also needed to simplify and consolidate our existing environment in both official languages.
Keystone: What made you select imason as a partner?
PM: They had in-depth knowledge of SharePoint, which we had selected as the technology framework. They also had the strongest response to the RFP when it came to skills and capabilities. Basically, imason gave us the complete picture, including some of the design elements that we were looking for, under one project management team. We weren't looking to hire a lot of developers we wanted a complete project management package from a single source. They also had knowledge of our legacy system, which was very important in terms of timelines.
Keystone: What kind of strategic input did imason provide on the direction and scope of the project?
PM: One of their biggest strategic contributions was recommending that we merge our two intranet sites, essentially a news centre and a resource centre. We went in thinking that we would have two separate entities, but they had the foresight to push us to merge them and it was absolutely the right call.
Keystone: Any successful enterprise intranet is really an extension of your brand. How did imason help you achieve that?
PM: They certainly helped us a great deal with the graphics and layout, and they did a great job pulling together and managing our creative team to design something that everyone was happy with. And in building the site, they made it really easy for us to change the imagery. For example, in the spring we had a Bud Light launch, and we wanted to turn the site green for a week and put Bud Light imagery around the site to emphasize to employees how important this launch was. imason was able to turn this around very quickly, and they were able to do that, in part by the way they built the site in the first place.
Keystone: In projects like these, hitches and changes often arise that can derail you. How quickly was the imason team able to react to unforeseen challenges?
PM: They were extremely professional about it and always reacted quickly and fairly. With a very limited timeline and a set budget, the amount of change could have become a problem on this project. But they were always accommodating and responsive they didn't complain when we had a misunderstanding about how things should be they would correct it and we would have a discussion about it. We didn't get bogged down in debates about whether or not this "part of the original agreement". They were committed to making sure that we got the site we wanted.
Keystone: How responsive have they been with issues that you have experienced since the launch?
PM: The site is very, very stable. It doesn't go down, it's easy to use, it runs well, so we've had almost no issues. So, right after go-live there were some initial issues. We put together a plan and imason addressed the issues immediately.
Keystone: What kind of feedback are you getting on this project?
PM: Going into this project, employees wanted search results to be like Google. Since the new system was implemented, I have not had one complaint search results are so much better, and that's because of the reorganization of the content and the new SharePoint product. So the results have been fantastic!
For questions regarding this case study, or to find out how imason can help you solve your business problems, talk to Jeff Dunmall, co-founder and co-CEO: firstname.lastname@example.org or 416.848.1313
If you want to get the most out of SharePoint, then you need to participate in imason's SharePoint Accelerator program.
These interactive consultations are designed to point out common pitfalls and demonstrate the best ways to make your SharePoint investment a success.
We talk with you and decide which areas you need to cover. You can choose from:
Then a senior imason resource with practical SharePoint experience will present on-site at your convenience. It is an interactive session - we expect your participation! We ask that you limit the audience to 8 people in order to keep the session as interactive as possible.
Interested? Find out more about the SharePoint Accelerator program or talk to Stephen Kearns, to book your session.
It seems our clients and our colleagues are as excited about SharePoint 2010 as we are! Everyday we are fielding questions about the release date, licensing fees, when to deploy, deployment costs, and what "game changers" are in the upcoming release.
So we've taken the top 5 questions, along with our answers, and put them together in one place for our Keystone readers.
1. When will SharePoint 2010 be released?
Microsoft has announced that it will be launched on May 12 of this year. It will likely be released to manufacture in April, with consumer availability on retail shelves in June.
2. What will the license costs for SharePoint 2010 be for my company?
The licensing costs haven't been released either, but we're expecting a model similar to the existing one, where SharePoint 2010 Foundation Server (formerly Windows SharePoint Services) will be free.
For SharePoint 2010, we expect the same Standard and Enterprise versions, with both a server license and a client access license (CAL) required. For external scenarios, a per-server based licensing model will continue to apply.
3. When should we deploy a solution on SharePoint 2010? Should I wait for the first service pack? What else should we be thinking about?
Remember the launch of SharePoint 2007? The pre-service pack version had significant issues, particularly in Internet scenarios. So if your usage falls into the set of features supported in SharePoint 2007, we feel a pre-SP1 deployment is acceptable.
However, if you are looking to leverage new functionality in the product, like the ability to federate farms or manage complex taxonomies, it is likely better to pilot these features in SharePoint 2010 and wait for SP1 before fully deploying them to the enterprise.
4. What effort/cost will be involved in migrating from SharePoint 2003 or SharePoint 2007?
Microsoft has significantly improved the upgrade experience. The 'all-or-nothing' requirement in SharePoint 2007, where upgrades involving vast amounts of data had to occur basically over a weekend, have been eliminated.
Instead, SharePoint 2010 allows users to control the upgrade timing, and it gives them the opportunity to 'preview' their site post-upgrade to confirm everything works as expected. This allows you to stretch the upgrade cycle out over a longer period of time, making it more feasible.
You can expect to push more of your upgrade costs and effort to employees, and you should plan for a team that can deal with exceptions as they occur. We expect the effort to support an upgrade to still be sizable, ranging from 50k to 250k, depending on the size of the installation.
In situations where development hours have been put into SharePoint 2007, expect a migration effort. On the up side, the API difference between 2007 and 2010 is minimal. On the down side, the shared service provide and timer services are depreciated.
At a minimum, the code will need to be recompiled on SharePoint 2010, adjusted as required, retested on the new platform, and then all data in SharePoint 2007 will need to be upgraded.
And finally please note there is not a migration path from 2003 directly. You must upgrade first to 2007.
5. What are the "game changers" in SharePoint 2010?
In essence what they've done is made the deploy easier, improved the search experience is, and brought real social networking capability to the enterprise.
SharePoint 2010 smoothes out a number of the rough edges that made it challenging to roll out SharePoint 2007 across the enterprise. Now, multiple languages are fully supported, so you don't have to choose one language to deploy a site in. As, well, it is possible to define centrally-managed hierarchical metadata fields, content-type ownership can be distributed. and farms can be better partitioned and managed. Essentially, SharePoint 2010 takes all of the features on the fringe of SharePoint and fully incorporates them for enterprise roll out.
The search experience in the standard SharePoint 2010 product is significantly better. Most significantly, facets are supported, making a more interactive search experience possible. And adding the FAST product brings a whole new level of sophistication, making it possible to manage content as it is inserted into the index. Our initial feeling is that most customers won't fully realize the added value FAST brings until they dive into the powerful content processing pipeline capability.
SharePoint 2010 also brings real social networking components to the Enterprise. My Site has support for blogs, videos, wikis, tags and tag clouds, commenting, notes (pseudo 'wall' functionality), expert search, expanded profile information, micro-blogging, org chart viewing, and activity tracking.
Just a note, in deploying the social media components, consider turning off any document support save that for the team sites implementation you might follow with. Our first experience with this functionality is positive, although we are finding examples where the features aren't as intuitive and easy to use as we had hoped. We anticipate that the final build will smooth out some of the bumps.
What hasn't changed in SharePoint 2010 is the broad spectrum of choice still available to end users in the platform. That power is what makes SharePoint so compelling, and it is also what makes it so difficult to responsibly deploy. Enterprises still need to think carefully about the use cases they are enabling, and the parameters employees should be working in to keep the platform properly managed. Governance is no less important, and while the product includes more fine-grained control over functionality, you still need a well defined governance plan implemented before you roll out the feature set to take advantage of it.
If you'd like to know more about deploying SharePoint 2010, talk to imason.