SharePoint in Waves
This article was originally posted on March 26, 2008.
Wave 1: Infrastructure and Architecture
This wave of activity is the precursor to all other SharePoint-related effort. Many of our customers, lacking these specific skills in-house, have engaged us to assist them with designing their SharePoint infrastructure. It requires both a specific understanding of what they envision doing with SharePoint and also a broad understanding of many complementary technologies (e.g., Exchange, Active Directory, SQL Server, MS Office, etc.), and accordingly required our firm to invest in more traditional “system engineer” resources, as well as the traditional “architect” role, in order to meet these needs. You can either pay once to get this part of the project right, or you can pay over and over in consulting, inefficiency, lack of adoption, etc.
Wave 2: Application Configuration
This wave of activity has been the bulk of our team’s work over the past 18 months, and is more centered around an analyst role than an infrastructure-specific or developer-specific role. The 2007 iteration of SharePoint (Windows SharePoint Services v3 and Office SharePoint Server 2007) is so functionally rich that it has taken customers a long time to find the functional upper limits of the applications. We have driven a great deal of business value by analyzing customer requirements and configuring native functions and capabilities in SharePoint to meet them: core collaboration via workspaces and portals, intranets and extranets, search, document management, light workflow, etc. It may sound very straightforward, but we began investing in training around this skillset (specific to the 2007 iteration of SharePoint) almost a year before the product was brought to market.
Wave 3: Customization
We are just entering the bulk of the activity around this wave, by far the biggest of the three, and can almost split it into three sub-waves:
3a — using SharePoint Designer to brand SharePoint, change look and feel, and create SharePoint-based workflows.
3b — using custom code to integrate and tailor SharePoint (e.g., create custom workflows including extra-SharePoint components, integrate line-of-business data, etc.).
3c — using SharePoint as an application platform upon which to build and deploy custom applications and/or present data stored in other applications.
I’ve put together the following completely unscientific graph of where I try to represent effort across the three roles over time (approximately 18–24 months), with the classic economist’s disclaimer (“all other things being equal” etc.)
It is very difficult to put together a consulting team with the right mix of skills to meet these evolving needs, especially in a tight labor market here in New England, but given our deep roots in the art and discipline of custom application development, I remain very enthusiastic about our firm’s ability to execute effectively against all three waves of SharePoint work.
Originally published at https://mikegil.typepad.com.