Wednesday, 19 October 2011

SharePoint doesn't have to be a frustrating Flatpack.

On Sunday 9th October we opened two large boxes of what claimed to be a wooden desk. In fact it contained 22 pieces of wood, four bags of varying screws, a tube of very sticky glue and an eight page 'easy' assembly guide. The guide claimed it took two hours to assemble; so straight away I was a worried man (remembering the wardrobe of 1998 that claimed one hour and took a whole weekend). But I can now happily report that on Monday 17th October we successfully finished building the desk. Sadly with a few extra holes (as you'll see in picture below the dowels were quite hard) but these have now been disguised by skilfully arranging items on the newly assembled desk. Also quite a few screws left over for future projects (hopefully well in the future).

It didn't all go quite to plan along the way to building the desk
So why am I sharing my lack of DIY skills with you in this SharePoint Blog? I suppose it is because although SharePoint is fairly easy to build it is still very difficult to get the sites to look exactly how you had envisaged and for them to behave in quite the manner you had required. So unless you are a SharePoint expert I would recommend two different ways of building your SharePoint Environment.

Option 1 is the one that many companies do and can make projects run a lot smoother. Is to hire a SharePoint Consultant. I would have loved to have hired a Desk Consultant who would have quickly assembled the desk for me or shown me step by step what needed to be done. Including how far to insert my dowelling rods.

Option 2 is to buy a SharePoint already built. I would have been very happy to buy a desk already built even if it would have been a challenge to manoeuvre it through the study door. So how can you buy SharePoint already built? One way is to buy Site Templates that you can just upload straight into your Solutions Gallery and then you can be using in just minutes (I mean real minutes not Flat Pack Assembly minutes). This is what many customers of Office Talk have been doing and our set of 11 Department Templates have proved very popular. We originally created a set of Templates for SharePoint 2007 (they also worked with WSS 3.0) and then early this year converted them all to SharePoint 2010 (and Foundation).

This Post is turning into an advert for the Office Talk Department Templates , but there are plenty of other SharePoint companies selling Templates too. Office Talk have used their understanding of how both Private and Public Sector organisations work to design templates for the Human Resources Department, Information Technology Department (or whatever IT is currently called), Finance Department, Purchasing Department, Training, Project Departments and the most popular of all the Health & safety Department. Each of these templates contain Lists and Libraries that are relevant to that department. For example the Health & Safety Department includes an 'Incident Reporting System' and the IT Department one includes an IT Helpdesk System.

So my advice if you are looking at implementing SharePoint is to either get expert help with your Flat Pack installation or buy some ready built sites.

At least the desk is now looking sturdy and the drawers are gliding in and out quite freely. Perhaps after around 20 hours of work and several blisters I am reasonably pleased with what Claire and I have created. I might even risk putting a heavy book on it later.

If you want to buy one or all of the excellent Department Templates then please visit the Office Talk website now

Just make sure if you call in the experts that they really are experts. Never forget when the Trotters claimed they were expert Chandelier cleaners on the classic 'Only Fools and Horses'.