Monday, 25 April 2011

Documenting SharePoint

It is four years today since I gave up my job of an IT Manager to become a full time SharePoint Consultant and the SharePoint light continues to shine brighter.

The reason I made the switch wasn't only due to the frustrations of the fire-fighting role of the hands-on IT Manager (a role that meant frequently working through the night to try to get Exchange Servers back online) it was also because I had such fond memories of my days with SharePoint 2003 Server.

With SharePoint 2010 now firmly established and trusted Office Talk are seeing more and more organisations (both in the Private and Public Sector) wanting to move to SharePoint. With the exciting new Hosted SharePoint 2010 solutions and many companies looking for a common business platform to reduce their overheads the future for SharePoint looks very bright.

This week we revealed the winners of the coveted Andy Dale SharePoint Awards for 2011 after a record number of votes were cast. To find out who the winners and runners up were please Click Here but why not make the excitement last a little longer by reading the rest of this blog first. You don't want to miss out on reading about how my Hall window is now probably visible to the Starship Enterprise as it flies around the Earth.

One of the keenest fought sections of the SharePoint Awards 2011 contest was the brand new 'Best Hosted SharePoint Provider'. I can reveal that NetConnect just pipped to claim the Gold Seal in the first ever Best SharePoint Hosted Awards. The record number of votes this section received highlights the growing interest in Hosted SharePoint. Perhaps companies want a SharePoint system they can use anywhere and at any time. In fact a SharePoint that never goes out which brings us to the light in my hall. A light that for the past four months has been shining anything but bright.

The problem with light in my hallway was that the large circular bulb only dully lit a third of the ring. This meant that doing simple tasks in the hall like applying makeup (the ladies in the house not me), reading the numerous pizza leaflets that are delivered each day or finding lost items in the hall cupboard became very difficult. I tried to replace the circular bulb but still only a third of the ring gave any light so it was time for drastic surgery.  The light-fitting had to be removed and replaced with a new shiny silver fitting. Well, I now know the mistake I made. Something that all IT Managers should do at all times. I failed to fully document my original set-up. A key part of any SharePoint implementation is 'Documentation'. To be able to see exactly how the sites are structured and to be able to use the documentation to recreate the SharePoint environment. The same it seems is true with light fittings. Maybe, looking back, I was a little quick to cut so many wires of differing colours, but without these snips the old light fitting would still be dangling from the ceiling now. I was left with three red wires, one blue, one yellow, two black, a yellow/green and two brown. It felt more like a snooker break than simply removing a light fitting.

Now the new light fitting had only a blue wire and a brown wire and I even read the manual (twice) to try to find out where to connect each of the ten leads. Eventually with only three wires left unconnected I decided that my work was done. On the fusebox I turned on the switch for the lower level lights and to my delight the new triple bulb light lit up. Feeling quite pleased with my DIY skills I left the house to watch the FA Cup Semi Final at my dad's. It was only on my return that a slight problem was revealed. The 'slight' mproblem was that the new light would not turn off. It was also a very bright light that could be seen through the Hall window for several miles. I was worried that Druids might decide to come from miles to worship it.

So my lack of documentation meant that I had no idea where all these extra wires went but it seemed that some of them had been linked to the light-switch. At least I now have a light that never goes out. Like Hosted SharePoint my Hall light is now always on and working. Showing me and any passing air crafts the way.

The moral of this story is to always document your system, especially if you are thinking of making any changes. So if you have n't already recorded the layout of your SharePoint environment. Know all the Web Parts that are used, know which SharePoint Features you have enabled, know which 'Views' you have created.

So congratulations to Netconnect on their SharePoint Award for 2011 and to the other 9 winners. A full list of winners and runners-up can be found at Winners. The winning companies will all be awarded their Gold Seals shortly and we hope they treat them more carefully than Real Madrid treated the cup they won last week.



Sonia said...

Congratulatiosn on your blog. I really love it.

Anna said...

Interesting post!