You might think it a bit cocky to start writing my memoirs of launch before the event but with my memory, I'll probably struggle to remember my name in 6 months (and so will everyone else) so I thought it best to make a start now and claim my 15 minutes of blogging fame.
The 2007 Microsoft Office system is a powerful and broad set of technology and as we in the Information Worker team launch our next release, we want to use our own technology to make it happen. I want to use this series to share some of what we've learnt.
I have a printout next to my desk which lists all the products that are in this release - there are 48 if you include the main suites and web clients. I keep it there to remind me of the huge scale of what we are undertaking. The project to launch 2007 is complicated enough - I have some 20 workstreams looking at each audience, segment and department of the launch. As launch lead, an early decision of mine was to use our own technology to help us run the project and at the same time help us to learn about the products.
Last year I passed my Project Management Institute qualification and all those years running projects in consulting mean I am always looking to make the job easier. First let me say though: technology can help but it is no substitute for sound project management skills. Like my observations about PowerPoint, it can help but it won't make you a great presenter if you don't know what you want to say.
Also, I am less interested in how the new release enables me to do things I did before faster but in the same way. Rather I am looking for examples of how the technology innovations mean I work differently. This series is about how we have found technology in 2007 was important in helping as plan and execute the project.
The final caveat is that despite my rabid commitment to using our own technology (much to the occasional frustration of our team), sometimes the betas are just not stable enough for us to do that. I've been live on 2007 since Sept 2005 - that was called dogfood4 and was a little bit hairy!
Now that we are nearly at beta 2 tech refresh, everything is pretty much working well but in the early days it was not always sensible to run a business critical project on a beta platform. Pre beta 2TR, it required me to build my own SharePoint Server and manage it but at beta 2 our internal IT group deployed SharePoint 2007 to the Microsoft intranet giving me a supported environment to use instead. Internally we run WSSv3 for our mysites and teamsite infrastructure. More than 20% of the UK sub are already running beta 2 and at tech refresh the whole sub is moving over. We are deploying Exchange 2007 at the moment with mailboxes being migrated. Our SharePoint infrastructure has excel services enabled even on mysites now. We run a lot of our project on our own server which we also use for live demos to customers, journalists and analysts.
Good for you, I hear you say, life must be great living in tech nirvana. Yes I realise that not everyone lives in a wall to wall Microsoft latest version world. However, I do want to paint a picture of what the vision is but grounded in some reality. I hope I get you to think about running your projects a little bit differently and give you ideas about how to use our technology in a smarter way.