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Reasons Why Portals SUCCEED

  Asked By: Nichole    Date: Oct 11    Category: Sharepoint    Views: 1172

I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s comments from a couple of weeks ago on why portal implementations fail. I didn’t have a chance to chime in with my own thoughts, but I think most of them were already expressed by others on here.

I’d like to turn the question around and see how the answers may change. What are the reasons that you’ve seen portals succeed? Think about the two or three most successful implementations that you’ve seen, or in which you’ve been involved. What were some of the driving factors or the ingredients for success for those implementations?

From my experiences, some of the things I have noticed that have aided in successful implementations have been the following:

A step-by-step approach. When we work with clients, we encourage a “walk before you run” approach. We like to start with one or two departments or functional areas that have key business needs that can be addressed by SharePoint and related technologies, while keeping a watchful eye on areas that can and should be addressed in later phases. When we start with the areas with the biggest needs, we have a great early-adoption rate from the users. Those users tend to generate a lot of buzz with those in other departments, who then want something similar to address their own needs.
Clear understanding of SharePoint’s capabilities. This comes from making sure that each of the different types of users has the appropriate training. At a SharePoint User’s Group meeting last week, a participant mentioned that at his company, they have a certification process that is required to become an administrator of a site. Before any one is given the site administration rights, they must go through the company’s training program and show that they sufficiently understand how things operate in SharePoint.
Recognition that “if you build it, they will come” is a fallacy. People have to have a compelling reason to go to the portal in the first place. Just building the portal and putting information out there is not enough. There has to be content that they need or find interesting, which will drive them to go to the portal.

Those are just a few of my thoughts. I’d like to hear what others have to say.



3 Answers Found

Answer #1    Answered By: Royce Orr     Answered On: Oct 11

I must agree with all 3 of your points. Starting with the 3rd point we had a portal  that was a “build it and they will come” approach  and it was quite the failure. There was initial excitement with the capabilities  of SharePoint, however the lack of planning and a solid taxonomy caused the portal to scale poorly. Quickly that excitement turned to a hatred for the portal which brings me to your second point. Lack of or improper training  caused additional problems specifically in the area of search and the differences between WSS and SPS. The lack of understanding  caused people  to believe the portal was broken or loosing information  and they distrusted the system.

When we reconstructed the portal we started with your first point meeting  with departments then creating small cross functional units where departments and collaboration intertwined. At the same time we trained every employee at a high level what SharePoint was, what it wasn’t, and where to go to find  information on its functionality. One of the largest hurdles that we had to overcome was to refocus the content  management portion back on the end user. We had a large misconception that the portal was something that IT managed completely. I still believe we could have used and still could use more training however the result has been great  and we now have a success  story.

Answer #2    Answered By: Laura Walker     Answered On: Oct 11

I didn’t pose the question  to the group  – but I did put together a list of success  indicators…

1) Honest Evaluation of Strengths/Weaknesses – Know what you’re not good at and figure out how to work  around it.

2) Help Users find  the information  they need – from every source – Help them find information in word documents, in ERP systems, and connect with other people  that may have the information they need.

3) Shared Vision – Create a shared vision for what the project will be.

4) Ownership – Accountability for content

5) Evangelism – Make sure that there are people who are enthusiastic about the solution.

6) Right Size the Solution – Don’t make a problem too big or small. Find a solution that moves the problem forward

7) Component Based Construction – Build reusable pieces rather than monolithic applications.

I covered step-by-step above (I believe.) I didn’t get your other two points, but in the slide deck I had them covered as warning signs so … they were covered in another way.

Did I miss any?

Answer #3    Answered By: Peter Peterson     Answered On: Oct 11

My experience is the sites/portals that are successful in terms of
traffic, are the ones in which the portal  was the correct tool to
solve a real problem.

The ones not successful are the ones which were either developed
based on a desire (or management command) to use the technology and
so a business  need is manufactured or one is selected that is not
well suited for a portal solution.

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