I’ve no idea how many books and reports have been published on SharePoint implementation.  I’ve acquired around a dozen over the last couple of years but many of these have been consigned to the loft. Still the best in my view is Essential SharePoint 2010 from Scott Jamison, Susan Hanley and Mauro Cardarelli because of its focus on governance. More recently I have found Microsoft SharePoint for Business Executives: Q&A Handbook by Peter Ward and a team of five other consultants of considerable value despite a lack of attention to the structure of the book by the publishers.  Very few books on SharePoint show screen shots of intranets to show what is visibly possible. Indeed most books on SharePoint have very little advice specifically on intranet implementation and when working with clients I have had to rely on the annual Intranet Design Award reports from the Nielsen Norman Group for visual case studies.

To my rescue comes the team from Step Two Designs with Best Practices with SharePoint Intranets. This 132 page report includes almost sixty screen shots taken mainly from recent winners of the Intranet Innovation Awards (IIA), using both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010.  There are 25 ‘best practices’ set out in the report, structured into seven overall categories:

  • Lay the foundations
  • Planning your project
  • Design your intranet
  • Collaboration
  • People and social
  • Processes and activities
  • Keeping up momentum

As with all Step Two Designs reports the advice is always pragmatic and of immediate value. There are many direct quotes from the intranet managers responsible for the intranets profiled in the report and these provide a validation of the good practice advice. The quality of presentation and the reproduction of the screen shots is excellent. Only in a few cases is there any redaction of the screen shots, usually to hide personal information. Chapter 3 on governance and Chapter 12 on My Sites are just two of many excellent chapters.

This report is about the art of the possible. It is not a deep dive into SharePoint technology but it is about how SharePoint can be used to create visually powerful and operationally functional intranets. It certainly disproves the claim that all SharePoint intranets look alike.  Hopefully Step Two will update this report on an annual basis based on the next set of IIA winners and the outcomes of consulting assignments.  The next edition could usefully highlight the differences between Standard and Enterprise CAL implementations (Chapter 11 on search implementation suffers as a result) and give more attention to metadata management. Overall this is a very useful report and the Step Two team should be congratulated on the effort that must have gone in to not just writing the text but also working with the organisations profiled in the report to gain their cooperation and insights.  Until 21 September the price of the report is $99, which works out at just $4 for each best practice.

Martin White

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