I find a common challenge with SharePoint is identifying where to go with it or what to do next. What is the greatest opportunity on which to focus your efforts?
My answer to any sort of SharePoint planning first involves assessing your maturity levels and using that for any strategy or roadmap planning. In this post, I share my approach and the exact measures I use to assess the maturity of a SharePoint service.
A maturity assessment is not a criticism nor a means to judge operational efficiency and historical progress; it simply identifies where an organization fits on a continuum at a point in time, a point identifying an organization’s progression maturing from a chaotic state toward an optimized state. The following figure shows a matrix with the maturity levels that I use listed in the columns and the SharePoint capability areas I focus on listed in the rows.
These maturity levels are based on the research and recommendations in the book by DevFacto Principal Consultant Steve Goodyear’s (that’s me!), Practical SharePoint 2013 Governance (Apress, 2013). The following list describes each maturity level:
- Chaotic: You operate in an ad hoc, unplanned, and unpredictable manner. You do not have a complete inventory of deployed software and infrastructure. You do not automate your processes and you have not documented your procedures. You manually manage your infrastructure on an individual basis. You manually distribute desktop software. You discover and respond to problems by user call notifications.
- Reactive: You operate in a fire-fighting manner. You do not have business sponsors and your IT executive drives decisions. You have an inventory of deployed software and infrastructure. You have limited automation for your processes and you have documented some procedures. You have a centralized system to distribute desktop software. You discover and respond to problems through an alert and event management process. You implement a problem management process and you measure system availability.
- Proactive: You operate in a predictive manner. You set thresholds and predict problems. You have moderate automation for your processes and you have documented many procedures. You centrally manage your IT infrastructure. Your problem, configuration, change, asset, and performance management processes are mature. You measure application availability.
- Managed: You operate as an IT service provider. You have defined services, service levels, and pricing. You understand costs. You have maximum automation and integration for your processes. You have fully documented Service Level Agreements and you have linked them to business value. You have a capacity management process. You measure and report on service availability. You have fully defined your governance policies and you have automatic reporting to enforce them.
- Optimized: You operate as a strategic business partner. You collaborate with the business to improve business processes and engage in business planning. You have fully automated the management of your infrastructure. You have real-time infrastructure management and provisioning. You measure and report on IT and business linked metrics.
Each SharePoint core capability area maps to a maturity level, based on the competency and maturity levels observed during the SharePoint maturity assessment. The following sections provide a description of the capability and a rubric for identifying the characteristics at each maturity level for the given capability.
Collaboration involves users working together on a unit of information to create new knowledge. It involves features such as document sharing, group workspaces, and notification alerts. This capability assesses the maturity level for how users collaborate with each other in the organization.
Social computing means discovering knowledge through other people, and SharePoint builds this capability around personal profiles known as My Sites where users can browse an organizational chart and maintain a list of colleagues. Users can rate or flag content they like, add comments associated with content, and share links. Other users can discover new content or other types of information through activities of what different users are rating or commenting on simply by being each other’s colleague or sharing common interests. This capability assesses the maturity level related to people information.
Portals and Web Content Management
Portals provide a central hub for information such as organizational announcements, policies, forms, and the like which the portal publishes and makes available to users. A portal might also serve as an entry point for users to initiate processes and workflows, including activities such as submitting their timesheets, status reports, or a performance review. Portals can exist for a specific department, such as a knowledgebase portal, or they can represent the entire organization; and these departments or organizations often brand their portals to give them a branded user experience. This capability assesses the maturity level related to portal publishing, including intranets, extranets, and public websites.
Enterprise search provides users with the option to search within a particular application, such as a portal, or they can use it to search across the enterprise and across content repositories. Users can search for other users, for content that others have generated, or for processes, such as forms that they need to access in order to initiate a workflow process. Users can use search to find specific content quickly from large repositories without having to know the directory structure, such as content stored in a large records repository where a typical user would be unfamiliar with the file plan structure. This capability assesses the maturity level related to the search experiences and capabilities.
Records management manages the information life cycle. It also provides a means for records managers and legal resources to monitor the organization’s compliance and to respond to legal cases. This capability assesses the maturity level related to records management and its related processes.
Business intelligence involves monitoring trends in data, scorecard or performance indicators, and other types of analytical reports, a capability with services such as SQL Server Reporting Services, Excel Services, and PerformancePoint Services. Users use these services to support decisions and have the services alert them to changing conditions. They may view these reports through a portal, a mobile device application, or through a client application such as Microsoft Excel. This capability assesses the maturity level related to the business intelligence reporting and scorecard solutions.
Composite applications encompasses custom developed applications such as integration solutions that expose data from external systems through Business Connectivity Services, enterprise process solutions that use InfoPath Forms Services and Windows Azure Workflows, and custom components coded using C# and the SharePoint API. This capability assesses the maturity related to composite applications built and deployed, primarily focusing on how advanced the forms and their related processes as indicators for an organization’s overall composite application maturity level.
Working through this process gives you a snapshot at a point in time—a clear picture about how your SharePoint service performs and what opportunities can enhance and optimize your service. I shared these details because I believe the process and its resulting insights are so valuable, something everyone should utilize.
These categories and maturity level rubrics can help get you started. For more depth on this topic, you can pick up a copy of Practical SharePoint 2013 Governance (Apress, 2013) and work through Chapter 7 in particular, where I guide you on assessing your maturity levels and then help you use your assessment to build a roadmap for your SharePoint implementation.
You can also e-mail me or your DevFacto account manager to talk about how to engage me or one of my expert teammates to come in and help you work through this maturity assessment and roadmap planning process—an engagement where I like to spend a couple weeks conducting workshops with you and your team, the output of which is a report assessing your maturity levels and a roadmap recommending where to go from here.