The Case for a Business Case when Rolling Out SharePoint 2010

Before Migrating to SharePoint 2010 or Implementing SharePoint for the first time – do a business case!

The facts are stark: Almost 70% of enterprises are using SharePoint (Source) however the results of a survey conducted by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) indicate that less than 50 percent of SharePoint implementations were subject to a formal business case, and only half of those that did required a financial justification. (Source)

Even if you’re sure you want to implement SharePoint for the first time or migrate to SharePoint 2010, it’s a good idea to do a business case. Why? Not just because it’s good form.  Unfortunately, organizations that skip this step risk taking steps in the wrong direction instead of rectifying identified problems with elegant solutions.

First, let’s take a look at what a business case is:

  • A document or statement that captures the reasoning for initiating a project
  • An acknowledgement of resources needed to complete the project and an understanding of the net value to the organization of doing the project
  • An accounting of quantifiable and unquantifiable benefits of doing the project
  • An outline of the known risks of doing the project
  • A look at the alternatives to the planned implementation, including doing nothing

SharePoint 2010 is a great product, with many new features including seamless integration with Office, major improvements to Search, and great collaboration features.  So, why is it a good idea to do a business case even when you’re already clear that you want to migrate to SharePoint 2010 or implement SharePoint for the first time?

The act of creating the business case begins to make the successes and impacts of the project a reality. In the case of SharePoint 2010, one of the first important tasks is to really articulate what SharePoint will be FOR YOU and your organization.  SharePoint is multifaceted.  The more focused an organization can be on what it needs out of SharePoint, the more likely its implementation will be successful.

Writing a business case means thinking about the questions of why are we doing this? What are the costs, timescale, benefits, and risks?  Having thought through these questions and their answers, even best guesses at ROI and benefits, and presenting them in a well formed document provides you with something to share and enables you to involve other people. Such a document is a good means of getting buy-in and socializing the changes you want to see, as early in the planning stages. Even when change will bring a positive outcome, it’s never easy to get everyone on the same page for a smooth transition.  SharePoint can never be rolled out by one individual – as a system it will need at least cooperation from just about everyone in an organization, and starting with a clear understanding of why the change is happening and what the benefits are provides a solid foundation for success.

Even in organizations planning a migration to SharePoint 2010, there are multiple ways and reasons to migrate. The costs can be considerable, just like the benefits.  Consider this statement from Rob Helm, an analyst from Directions on Microsoft:  “SharePoint 2010 will challenge even companies already using SharePoint… Even for existing users, there are differences. The way supporting services are managed is different. Administrators and architects will need a lot of ramp-up time to understand the new product version. In some areas, it’s an even bigger jump than we saw moving from SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2007.”  (Source)

“Technology provides no benefits of its own; it is the application of technology to business opportunities that produces ROI.”  —Robert McDowell, In Search of Business Value   (Source)

Getting specific on the tensions solved by migrating to or implementing SharePoint 2010 not only allows your organization to do the right thing for its growth, but also to have the means to look back and assess success.

If, like many organizations do, you plan on hiring a vendor to do the implementation or migration, you will want this information prepared to communicate your needs to the vendor.  You’ll be better able to evaluate the vendor’s proposals and solutions if you’ve thought your needs and concerns through. Edgewater does many SharePoint implementation and migration projects and no two are ever the same.  It’s important that you use SharePoint to build solutions to the problems specific to your business. Don’t just skim the surface and fit your needs to a list of features that you know of or that already exist. This will lead to poor adoption and waste of your resources. The better you understand your actual needs, the better your solution can be.

Another important facet of the business case for SharePoint is that it encourages you to focus on ROI – it’s important for companies to really understand the long term costs of a SharePoint implementation.  When implemented correctly, SharePoint 2010 can save your business considerable costs and streamline your processes.

In addition, training is critical to making any conversion a success.  Sitting down to write or review a business case can be the first step in really thinking through what it means to make a successful change, how best to do it, and what it means in terms of specific costs and specific benefits to the organization.

So a good business case:

  • Backs up a decision to transition to SharePoint 2010
  • Forecasts expected ROI and other intangible benefits
  • Provides a vehicle for buy-in for both decision makers and potential users
  • Outlines measurable goals for the business, ensures actions are in-line with ideas
  • Reveals level of effort to implement a new SharePoint platform
  • Is a good vehicle to socialize the thinking and set expectations

A good business case can help your company focus on allocating the right resources, know what to expect, and be clear on what constitutes a successful project completion.  If your business case is convincing at a certain price point, and all your RFP responses come in higher than that, you’ll readily know if the project is really worth pursuing, or what portion of it to focus on first if you’ve written a good business case.

As author J. Peter Bruzzese  puts it, “SharePoint 2010 is jam-packed with new features that matter, ones that will increase productivity if used properly. I predict the number of companies using SharePoint is going to soar with this next release. I’ve been working with SharePoint since its first release (where I hated it) through 2007 (where it was growing on me) on to 2010 (where I can honestly say I’m really impressed by and loving it).” (Source) There are many resources available through searching online to assist with creating a business case for SharePoint 2010, but only someone with real knowledge of YOUR organization can write the business case for you, and ensure you’re using SharePoint 2010 properly to serve your business’s needs.

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Related post on ROI of Enterprise 2.0:
https://edgewatertech.wordpress.com/2009/05/03/why-ceo%E2%80%99s-must-care-about-enterprise-20-as-a-strategic-imperative/

Your Company’s Social Debut

Planning Your Company’s Debut or Strategy in the Social Media Sphere

Corporations have long been regarded by the law as having “legal personality”-  which means they have rights, privileges, responsibilities, and protections just like humans (with some differences, like marriage).   It should come as no surprise then, that they’re acting like humans more and more – now they’re relaxing with friends, and socializing! As communication gets easier through digital technology, humans are now able to interact with corporate personalities.  And these personalities are just beginning to awaken to the new freedoms they can find in the digital landscape.

If you’re like me, and I bet you are, you are both human, and, also a part of bringing business personalities to the social scene. In this capacity, I recently attended SocialTech2010 in Jan Jose, CA, right from my desk in NYC.

As the Twitter stream flowed by rapidly with commentary and quotes from the speakers, I watched and listened to advice, case studies and stories from the experts on Social Media for Business. I came away with the recognition that Social Media for business is just like a big networking cocktail party!

Companies aren’t accustomed to acting as social creatures and the adjustment will take some time. We all had to learn social skills growing up; companies can do the same. There are a few things that etiquette would require of a cocktail party attendee and that’s the same strategy the speakers at SocialTech2010 are recommending:  Know who you are, be interactive and respectful, don’t gossip, be a good listener, and don’t be afraid to share yourself.

As businesses gain proficiency in this kind of interacting, they follow an arc towards maturity. Kathleen Malone of Intel outlined the following 5 stages of a Social Media Approach:

1)      Listen: In this stage a company finds out: What are people saying about my Brand and/or my field? Where are they having this discussion? Who are the major players and influencers?  Services like Radian6, which Malone says Intel deployed 18 months ago, make this possible.

2)      Analyze: This is the time to read the room/space, figure out what your angle will be when you eventually do pipe up. Which conversation will you enter? What are your expectations? Why are you going to participate?

3)      Create: This is the stage where the business comes up with something appropriate to say. To participate effectively in the conversation, Malone says your content should be: useful, interesting, human, “snackable” (meaning in bite size pieces, easily consumed), inspiring and should cater to egos and build community.  

4)      Engage: In this stage you go public and enter the conversation, getting your content out there in new ways and/or by participating in the conversations that already exist.

5)      Measure: Your social media approach is not complete without an understanding of how you’re doing. The internet is an amazing forum for measuring how people behave with your content, and you should use a variety of tools to understand the response to your forays. Measuring properly will provide insight on how to proceed, both in the ongoing conversation, and with the business itself.

Both Malone and Brian Ellefritz of SAP outlined the natural evolution of Social Media programs at large companies  – first there are what Ellefritz calls “Grass Roots” efforts, where excited individuals branch out in ways that are unpredictable and non-uniform. He says companies should encourage these exploratory missions. Leadership will begin to emerge internally, and informal education will get the ball rolling. Following the “Grass Roots” period, Ellefritz sees “Silos Form.” This may not feel 100% smooth, but is an important step, as “coop-eteition” (a kind of cooperating/kind of competing relationship, sort of like sibling rivalry that spurs each one on) sees different silos jockeying for position. During this step, Ellefritz encourages companies to “invest in leaders, not laggards”, and to get the players from various silos together to learn from each other.  Also, he says, “don’t wait too long for governance.”

The next evolutionary phase in a corporate Social Media Program is “Operationalizing” – where leadership becomes clear, channels become well formed and in alignment with the divisions in your business.  Tools begin to consolidate and more emphasis on measurement and results appears. By this point your business may have headcount devoted to social media, and content should become less problematic, less of a focus, because it’s running more smoothly.  During this stage it’s important to align and integrate silos, and focus on strategy, ownership, metrics and priorities.

After this shift, the next phase is what Ellefriz calls “Lifestyle.” This is when the Social Media program has engaged and competent employees and success is understood and positive outcomes are frequent. This is a level of Social Media implementation that is fairly rare in today’s scene, though Ellefritz points towards Zappos as an example of a company that may be at this level.

.. .. ..

The wonderful thing about participating in social media is that it lets your personality out! For a business that hasn’t previously seen itself as the kind of entity that has a social life, this might seem daunting at first.  That’s why Ellefriz’s evolutionary arc makes so much sense to me. The way I see it, people and businesses want more than ever to get clear on who they are, and who they want to be, in order to present themselves well, and to participate in Social Media conversations. The best advice is to be authentic. Just like at cocktail parties, the people you’re conversing with generally know if you’re “full of it”, or if you’re being sincere.  Your conversational counterparts like to be complemented, offered nuggets of useful information, and generally considered and included.

For businesses, (and the teams of people that perpetuate them) this will mean really focusing on what the goals are, what opportunities exist to communicate clearly and uniformly around these interests, finding “friends” out there to talk with, and owning up to the inevitable minor mistakes that are so easy to make along the way. Since SM is such a public sphere, the resulting increased level of transparency is going to make businesses change and open up in new ways.

Coachdeb:”RT @MarketingProfs: “When someone says they need a Facebook strategy, a Twitter strategy, I say… Wait! Take it back… What’s your story?” @scobleizer #mptech”

So, armed with the Social Media/networking party analogy and with the stages of approach and evolution path laid out before you – what are you waiting for?  Participate!

Here are 10 tips to consider as you get started:

1)      Go where the fish are – target engagement carefully where the conversation already is.

2)      Social Media is Local. The goal is to be uniform while being decentralized – Intel communicates internally with their 1000 “Registered Social Media Practitioners” with guidelines and trainings (some mandatory). Intel also has their own internal newsletter that aggregates Social Media content – Malone says this makes management comfortable as well as keeps everyone updated.

3)      Have a Content Calendar for the year to coordinate Social Media messaging across channels and people, and to keep it focused on your message. Kathy Malone said at Intel, 2/3 of the content that gets put out falls under the guidelines of their content strategy calendar.

4)      Consider in advance how to manage Social Media Risk. One of the most interesting things Jaime Grenny of SalesForce said at SocialTech2010 is that all their employee training videos on Social Media strategy (and how to use online video for B2B marketing) are up for the public to see on YouTube (here).  This level of transparency lets everyone know what to expect upfront.  Malone outlined a “prevention/detection/response” approach in which 3 teams worked from different angles to mitigate risk on the social media front. And experience teaches: “if you screwed up, fess up”, and be transparent.

5)      If your company is doing moderation of dialogue, consider having a light hand to keep the conversation honest – as Intel puts it, they let the good and the bad in, but moderate the ugly – mostly meaning profanity and non-constructive comments, and they’ve found their audience appreciates it.

6)      Build a business case for your business so you know why you’re entering into Social Media – not only will it legitimize your efforts internally, but it’ll provide clarity for your message. Will it extend customer service? Will it increase SEO? Can you use it to create brand advocates and champions? Can you collect ideas on where to take your product?

7)      To measure, use Context. As with all web metrics, in order to understand what’s happening you need to understand the context of your data, and compare it to a baseline to view trends. Knowing your goals will assist you in setting up context.

8)      People are the PlatformLaura Ramos of Xerox encourages us to get our people out there and seen. Show video of your thought leadership. Get your salespeople to share their stories and knowledge with the rest of your company and make them heroes. Build relationships, and let your existing customers create new business for you. Social Media Marketing is not about reaching many to influence a few but engaging a few to influence many!

9)      Social is relevant. Here are some StatsRené Bonvani of Palo Alto Networks says that FaceBook has a 96% penetration in enterprise, meaning that only 4/100 people aren’t using it at work! He also said that only 1% is posting on Facebook but that people are 69 times more likely to use FaceBook chat than to post.  Another impressive Bonvani stat: 69% of business buyers use social media to make purchasing decisions.  No matter the numbers, it’s clear that with the cost of communication dropping close to $0, as social beings, we’re using the web to communicate more often with more people, and in smaller chunks regularly.

10)   Social media has to be part of WHAT you do, not something else you do. Jeremiah Owyang in his keynote said that the only difference between the Social Site and your business is the URL. He says that in the radical future, websites will be dynamically assembled on the fly based on social profiles. URLs and domains won’t matter – the web will be sorted around people and contextual situations.  Because of this, ads will become useful content.  This is already evident.

So – Get out there and participate!

Edgewater Technology provides strategy, consulting, web metrics, and implementation expertise to help you focus on the best ways your company can engage in these dynamic communities and track your success!