SP2013 intranet launch good practice – some case studies
In late September I was invited by Kristian Norling to talk to members of the Intranatverk community in Malmo, Intranatverk is the Swedish subsidiary of IntraTeam. The meeting was actually a small-scale conference, with around 50 attendees from Sweden and Denmark. Many of the papers described projects that involved migration of SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013. Because this was not a public event I will not disclose the identity of the presenters or their organisations. I certainly gained a fresh insight onto the challenges of migration, launch and management of SP2013 intranets.
For me the good practice that emerged was along the following lines.
- Migration to SP2013 is a complex project, especially from SP2007, and it requires careful project management and substantial support from stakeholders
- All the presenters emphasised how important it was to maintain very good communication with stakeholders, both the obvious senior management stakeholders and also users within the organisation who could provide department/subsidiary level communications out to users and also channel back comments to the intranet project team.
- The launch process needs to be carefully planned. One organisation had a ‘silent launch’ where teams were introduced to the new features that would be available even though they only existed in wire-frame formats. Even at this stage important discoveries were made about user requirements which had not previously been on the specification. A presentation to all stakeholders in time to undertake remedial work was also recommended.
- During the development stage of the project the team size tends to be quite large. Several of the teams found that the sudden reduction in staffing as the development project came to an end left them seriously under-resourced for the post-launch challenges. No matter how thorough the user testing had been there always seem to be issues that did not surface during testing.
- In one case the number of publishers increased from 40 (in a very centralised publishing model) to over 4000 within a few months of launch. Fortunately the organisation had invested in the development of e-learning applications for publishers but it still meant that the level of support to publishers was less than ideal.
- The delivery of personalised news was raised by several speakers. In principle personalised news seems to be a good way to manage potential information overload, but in the event things did not go to plan. Users may have multiple roles and interests, they may be interested in a news feed from a country office just because a friend works there, and people seemingly with the same roles and responsibilities found they had different news alerts. In one case the entire newsfeed application had to be discontinued and re-developed.
Overall everyone seemed pleased with the functionality that SP2013 was giving them, especially in being able to integrate other applications into an intranet portal platform and to be able to provide an enterprise social network capability. This was my first visit to Malmo (which is just 30 minutes from Copenhagen Airport by train) and I can commend it as a city worthy of a visit, with a seemingly endless number of good restaurants.