Can a SharePoint Implementation be Out of Control or Chaotic?


Many articles and many people that implement large applications on Sharepoint 2007 sometimes have a frustrating feeling about the product as the solution grows.

Surprised? I am not….

In fact I consider this is a normal situation in software implementations, and have in your mind, that Sharepoint 2007 is a complete solution (it’s not simply an ASP.Net Solution, neither a simple feature evolution of last version), with many functionalities across all the modules existent in the product.

Not exclusive in Sharepoint implementations, certainly you know that Software Science is a young and not exact science, and many methodologies and approaches (CMMI, ITIL, …)   are being developed to improve the success of implementing software solutions.

I have worked on a customer, and have experienced this problem: many sites with different solutions growing periodically, thousands of users to be managed and no polices defined. Of course the initial approach was easy (start developing right away), but after a few months the problems started appearing.

Humans have a natural defense in situations that are out of their control or that they cannot explain (it’s normal), and the first reaction of people responsible for the project, is questioning the product. But can Sharepoint 2007 be a big problem? Can Sharepoint implementations be so different from other technologies?  The answer is No! The product has many success histories showing that Out of Control behavior can be managed, and that normally the complexity is related to the company environment and not to the product.

So what we can do to minimize those problems?

The Good News J

 Microsoft provides detailed documentation about this generic problem, specific to Sharepoint Product Implementations, the Governance Plan.

 The Governance Plan is about People, Processes, Technologies and Policies, and is a result of years of work/experience, constantly being improved since Windows Sharepoint Services 2003. Its goal is to help prevent many mistakes known.

My suggestion and experience is to build a team to develop the Governance Model, prior to the development phase and deploying anything. Believe me: the total cost of the project will be much lower in the end, and you will see happier users.

There are many considerations and things to talk about in the Governance Plan (i.e., a great post from Joel Oleson’s Blog, talk about key considerations that you should care about in Deployment). For now, I will give you some of the highlights that you should care about:

·         Define an executive sponsor for the project.

·         Analyze and understand the business requirements.

·         Guarantee you have the right skills on the project team.

·         Train the people with the right skills, if you don’t.

·         Make sure that all people have the right understanding of the product and the requirements.

·         Plan ahead for search.

·         Build policies and standards for the solution (development, management, deploy, dynamic sites creation, etc).

·         Develop your look-and-feel of the site/portal and propagate them to all sites/teams.


Of course there are many others things that you should care, and since every company is different, the development of governance model will be different too. The following documents and links will certainly help you in building your plan:

·          Chaos no more: Steps for building governance into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (white paper) -

·         Plan Governance -

·         SharePoint Products and Technologies governance checklist guide (white paper) -

·         SharePoint Products and Technologies customization policy (white paper) -

·         Sample template: SharePoint Products and Technologies governance plan -    

·         Governance tools to help your job -

Remember that we are talking about Software science, and the Governance Plan will not fix all your problems, but will share with you many years of experience, making your experience with this product much better while improving the return of your (or your customer’s) investment.

See you soon …

Nuno Nunes


Comments (3)
  1. ss says:

    You mean to say that Goverance plan will solve the  issue? I am now involved with more then 6 MOSS projects and i am quite frustataed as well as I have no hesitation insaying MS pushed a bad product without good documentatio and howtos.

    The content deployment and search really sucks to a huge extent.Versioning is bad…memory leak is again a huge issue…integration of ifilter and overall doument capacity crawling is very bad…we are one of the gold certified partner and already paid MS most of our contacrt money in MOSS only..As i told we ve more then 17 proj on moss for diff client in our organisation and the experience is way into the worst product i saw in MS history which is popular but having tons of hidden worries.

    Even I wonder MS has not released the videos of the SPS and devcon conf 2008 to public

  2. int19h says:

    Guys… guides and how-tos are fine… but how about fixing the damn class reference for the product so that it doesn’t have blank pages with no descriptions whatsoever for every second public class and member? I’m not even mentioning that absolutely essential stuff such as LookupId attribute is not documented at all, and in general, one has to sift through several blogs and forums to find actual truthful and up-to-date info on most things.

    As it is, SP2007 is developer’s hell. It’s quite non-trivial to integrate with MS development products (VS, TFS, MSBuild), and even following the guides leaves one with a lot of quirks to deal with (such as not being able to edit .aspx pages properly in SP solutions). Installation is another bit of hell, and so is debugging: for all the stuff that _has_ to go into GAC, you have to deploy the .pdb by hands… argh!

    Then there’s the fact that SP APIs themselves are horribly designed, and walk over the most basic Framework Design Guidelines (by MS itself!) in various creative ways (such as returning new objects from property gettors, which have to be disposed; throwing COMExceptions; etc…).

    Please, please, let all those things be fixed in the next version of Office/SP. We love SP-the-idea, we want to use it creatively and to build our own solutions upon it, but it’s so much more painful than it needs to be…

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