If you know anything about C5 Insight, you probably know that we are huge proponents of proper planning and control in projects of any type, but especially SharePoint and CRM.  In fact, we speak on this topic regularly and make it a top priority for all of our clients.  One very important aspect of both planning and control is establishing and maintaining a leadership team for your project.  I know what you’re thinking: we already have a project team, do we really need another formal team?  After all, that only means more meetings, tasks, documents to write and manage, decisions to make, consensus to get, etc.  My answer is a resounding yes, you most certainly need this team. 

But here’s the truth –  while extremely important to the success of the project, this doesn’t have a to be a huge undertaking.  Every day we work on real projects, with real clients, facing real conflicting priorities and resourcing issues.  Trust me, we get it.  Without a doubt, the most important thing is to do something.  After all, inaction is worse than imperfect action.  Put another way, doing something is better than doing nothing at all. 

So today, I’d like to offer 3 practical steps for you to begin building a SharePoint Leadership Team today:

  1. Understand the goal and objectives
    One of the first things to understand is that there are a few different names for this team.  You will often hear this called a steering committee, governance committee, or some other name.  You’ll also find slight variations on the definition of these team; some being the same, some being very different.  What I’m talking about here is the steering committee and team which is at the head of the project (there is a team at the head of all your projects, right?).  Below is a list of the roles and responsibilities for this team:
    • Ensure SharePoint deliverables align to business goals (i.e. the business case and ROI) - At C5 Insight, our first engagement with a client is typically developing what we call the LUCK Roadmap.  During this process, we spend a lot of time understanding and then outlining the business case, complete with ROI for every single item that is in the project roadmap. If you cannot measure what you’re doing, how will you know if it is adding any value (a gut feeling doesn’t count)?
    • Establish and approve all governance, standards and policies
    • Establish and approve departmental and functional ownership - Power users, site owners, etc.
    • Approve branding/usability/look and feel
    • Establish and approve changes to the SharePoint Governance Document - This seems like a good place to stop and clarify one thing.  We have also seen great success with forming subcommittees under the SharePoint Leadership Team.  These subcommittees can focus on specific areas of the overall leadership team responsibilities such as a governance, adoption, training, and we’ve even seen a search subcommittee from one client, ensuring that search was always delivering relevant and prompt results.
    • Ensure training has a plan, is ongoing and always fits the needs of the changing organization
    • Recommend and assign participants for requirements and UAT sessions
    • Approve and prioritize requirements (beginning of sprints) and any changes (after UAT)
    • Approve and prioritize ongoing requests for changes (scope changes)
    • Ensure the overall success, adoption and profitability of the project

  2. Select the team members SharePoint Leadership Team - Visio
    In our experience, the team members are one of the most important decisions you can make for your SharePoint Leadership Team.  Below are a few suggestions on building this team:
    • It should be more than just IT.  While IT plays a very important role, the solution should be business owned and IT supported.
    • Build a skills inventory and  leverage team members who have worked on a SharePoint project before (either at your company or another company).
    • This team will most likely change over time.  In other words, don’t just “set it and forget it.”  Evaluate the team members at each project phase, and if you need to rotate in new business owners and team members, do that before starting the next phase.
    • Below are a few suggestions on who should be on the team:
      • The project’s Executive Sponsor (business owner)
      • The application owner (Who owns SharePoint?)
      • Business owners and champions – these are the individuals that a) understand the business, b) have real needs to solve and c) are passionate about the platform and project and will not try to sabotage it.
      • Someone in Records Management or the company “Librarian.”  Depending on the size of the organization, this specific role may not exist, but look for someone who has energy and passion around content organization and classification, while understanding the business as well.
      • Training representative – Who will be responsible for ensuring that training happens and that it is on-going?  This could be a training department or a single individual.
      • Your consulting partner and coach – If you use a consulting partner to help guide you through the roadmap, implementation and delivery process, they should be on this Team as well.  In our case, we have a Managing Consultant on every Leadership Team (SharePoint or CRM).

  3. Get started
    Last, but certainly not least is to get to work!  Below are concrete next steps you should take once you understand the goals and form the team.
    • Set some user adoption KPIs.  User adoption is often thought of as this nebulous metric, but you can track real KPIs.  For example: Usage trends (increasing, decreasing, etc.), search requests, feedback from users.
    • Determine the initial meeting cadence.  In general, we start with the team meeting every 2 weeks through Phase 1 of a project, and then possibly move to a monthly cadence thereafter.  Again, this depends on many factors, but set the meetings first.
    • Set the agenda.  Below is a very high level agenda:
      • Follow-up on action items from the last meeting
      • Specific Project Phase Items
        • Scope review: New scope, changes to scope, approvals needed, etc.
        • Any User Acceptance Testing (UAT) decisions
        • Functional and departmental ownership – define it, validate it, consistently examine if it is still valid
        • Budget and Timeline Review (is the project on track, behind, why, how do we address the issues, etc.
      • Governance
        • Establish the living governance document
        • New items to discuss/approve
        • Existing items to discuss/change
      • User Adoption and Feedback
        • Review user feedback (if you need a mechanism to capture this, C5 Insight has developed a solution for SharePoint 2010 and 2013 that will allow you to effectively capture user feedback - check out which assessment is right for you)
        • Review Training (any new needs, tip sheets needed, effectiveness, etc.)
      • Other Items for Discussion

How is your SharePoint Leadership team doing?  Do you have a team?  Have projects been successful without having a team? Let us know in the comments below! 
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