How Teams Can Quickly Build SharePoint Collaboration Sites

If you’ve read my other blog posts or whitepapers, you know I’m a big proponent of a having a structure that guides how SharePoint is rolled out across the organization. This includes a roadmap that aligns how SharePoint, the tool, will be aligned with business needs and rolled out accordingly (see my blog post here); a governance plan that describes how SharePoint will be governed (see my blog post here); a content strategy along with a realistic plan of how to implement it and appropriate resources; and a communication plan for how progress implementing the roadmap will be communicated out to the organization.

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All that said, when SharePoint is a new tool and people are using it for the first time, sometimes part of the rollout strategy is to foster the usage of SharePoint for mini-teams to start working together and get exposure to the tool and how it works. Expectation management is key and these sites are best treated as training initiatives that will get replaced with more robust long term solutions. But, if your team is clamoring to start seeing what SharePoint is all about, here are a few out of the box items that many teams are able to get a lot of value out of immediately (and which aren’t hard to migrate to more robust solutions when the time comes – that’s part of your road map, right?):

  1. Calendar.   Used to show key dates. Setup with synchronization to Outlook (out of the box) and alerts (out of the box) to get easily visibility into changes.
  2. Document Libraries.  Provides a place to store key documents. Setup for light usage with the idea that documents will be migrated once a proper taxonomy and information management strategy has been developed.
  3. Custom Lists.  If your team needs to maintain lists of information, these provide an easy way to do so.
  4. Contact Lists.  Most teams need ways to maintain contact information for each other so these provide great bang for the buck.
  5. Rich Text Web parts.  I always recommend every basic collaboration site have a rich text Web part on the main page that describes what the site is for. A few lines of text giving an overview of expectations for the site goes a long way to making sure everyone is on the same page.
  6. Help Section.  I always recommend every site have a dedicated list or document library called Help that is linked from the site’s top level navigation (by default, the left hand navigation bar.)  Even if that list has only one PDF document that provides Help on how to use the site (including screen shots!), this is a useful tool.

If you looked at the list above and thought to yourself that this seems really basic, you’re 100% right. Sometimes the best way to test the tool is to put something very simple together, provides lot of information and training on how to use it correctly, and then start letting your users play with it.  With expectations managed appropriately, a simple site like the one described above can be a great, practical training tool to let your users start getting a taste of what SharePoint is all about.

– Software Delivered as Promised. No Surprises.

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