I got a call from a friend who was working with a client.
The client wanted him to set up SharePoint. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything more specific than that as a requirement. He got the impression from the client that they expected SharePoint to just work, to do things just by virtue of having been installed, with little thought to the fact that configuration would be required for SharePoint to actually do much of anything, and that there would be ongoing need for administration. They had so far been dismissive of his attempts to convince them that “Just set it up” wasn’t an adequate strategy for deploying SharePoint successfully.
His question –
How can I help them understand that what they are asking for is likely to end in failure, if they don’t take configuration and ongoing administration into consideration?
I was able to provide a few pieces of advice on approaches to getting the needed information:
First, SharePoint had already been implemented in other parts of the organization. This provides an opportunity to have a discussion around what features this department had heard about from the rest of the organization that had convinced them they needed SharePoint too. Finding that out will be a pretty accurate guide to what they need and the challenges they face.
Second, he could have stakeholders meet with him for a “features review”, to go over the things that SharePoint can do for them, and use that to determine what things they wanted and discuss the configuration and maintenance needed to achieve those goals.
Third, find out who their in-house SharePoint talent is. Anyone in the organization who has some experience with SharePoint may shed light on the actual requirements, and may have some leverage to get management to understand the complexity of their needs. Meeting with them and determining their competency level may also provide insight to how much help (if any) they will need once SharePoint has been set up. If they are going to be over their heads, preparing them to know when outside assistance will need to be called in might be a good tactic.
A fourth option occurred to me today – a meeting to define success metrics. The business side tends to like words like “metrics”, and it may make them more amenable to discussing and defining requirements and coming to an understanding about the resources needed to fill those requirements.
All of these approaches are just different tactics to get to the same information, ways to get past the barriers in the minds of the stakeholders, preventing them from seeing and addressing what it is going to take to achieve success.
Have you ever worked with an organization that wanted you to “just set it up”, without providing clear requirements and probably lacking a clear understanding of just what they are asking for? How did you handle it?
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