Conference Notes

Share2010 Session: Mike Rawson from DB Breweries on "The Art of SharePoint"

Mike Rawson from DB Breweries in New Zealand talked about using SharePoint 2007 for the Intranet. Find Mike on LinkedIn. At DB, Mike is responsible for all integration between systems.

Key points from Mike’s talk:

  • In 2008, DB migrated from DocuShare to SharePoint. Worked with Gen-i (a Telecom NZ systems integrator) on the project.
  • Design – found that the taxonomy of the Intranet was critical. Thought it would be a quick task, but found that it took a long time to get it right. Need to work with a representative group of people from across the organization who have an interest in moving the business forward. For DB, the key titles were “Our Brand,” “Working Here,” “We Need To,” “About DB,” “Collaborate,” and “DB in Pictures.” Search is also front and centre. Under “We Need To,” it was broken down into core capabilities – “We Buy, We Make, We Move, We Sell, We Support, and We Innovate.”
  • Governance – doesn’t like the TechNet definition. DB has their own definition, “the practice of gatekeeping the deployment of technology or services into SharePoint. Ensuring that the risks, costs and management of the process leads to adoption and improved usefulness for the enterprise.” Key steps – (a) create a governance committee from the business users, (b) trust – have openness, (c) keep it simple – common sense, (d) what does it mean to bring SharePoint into the IT environment [support by who?, and what is the technology impact?], (e) adoption is more than an afterthought [get acceptance and feedback from users], (f) decide what’s not right for SharePoint and exclude it.
  • Mike’s best quote: “Don’t treat SharePoint as a file server. This is like buying a Ferrari, storing it in your garage, and filling it with paper.”
  • The core use of SharePoint is in fact knowledge management. This means enabling actions based on timely information.
  • Without governance, you get chaos – site proliferation, server proliferation, no standards, unreliable services, etc.
  • Context is critical. Without it, there is no understanding.
  • SharePoint is integrated into many systems – SAP BW Reports, BizTalk 2007 and 2007, PerformancePoint, Microsoft Project Management, InfoPath, and Nintex.
  • “We like Nintex because it enables us to send approve/reject emails to executives. They don’t have to get their hands dirty in anything outside of email.”
  • Final points – (1) don’t migrate everything – be sure it’s actionable content, (2) you must have a business champion, (3) big bang “burn the boats” approach requires lots of training, (4) define SLA’s well, and (5) ensure your implementation is the best – they need lots of experience already.

1. Would you do the big bang approach next time? It’s full of risks. Yes. But you must be confident that it will work – it’s not being at a casino and flipping a coin. If you leave them in parallel, it sounds attractive, but people will invest in the best bet.

2. How did you train people? Mike’s team were trained by external vendors. Then Mike’s team identified super users in each area, and trained them. Eg., finance trained finance people, with content and context.

3. Re Nintex, “the business people should be able to do their own workflows.” Do you feel Nintex requires training, or is it simple to adopt? It comes down to super users – they will have a crack at it and be effective. If a user is struggling with Excel, they won’t get it. Short answer – you already need to have sufficient IT competence.

4. Re Nintex, what was the driver to use it vs. out-of-the-box SharePoint capabilities? Not sure – Nintex was in before Mike joined. Probably heard about it via a conference, and implementation partner recommended it.

5. How do you measure the effectiveness of your new Intranet? We do it by survey – asking people, “are you feeling this is productive and useful?” For more answers, see Step Two Designs on measuring the value of Intranets.