Wednesday, October 13, 2010

SMS integration with SharePoint

As part of my Code|Influence projects, I embarked on developing and copyrighted an SMS powered application, that would receive text messages in form of SMS perform various types of functions based on the SMS content, and reply back to the sender the results via SMS.

With the SharePoint passion in me, I then went further to see how this would work with SharePoint. With a proof-of-concept done, I finally can perform various SharePoint functions e.g create list items, kick off workflows, search etc...all via SMS.

The good thing to note is that this SMS application's various operations that it can perform are so unlimited, including those outside the SharePoint world. For now, I will end here. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

How to implement a SharePoint "Change Management Process"

Not so much from the technical point of view, SharePoint Change Management is the process of monitoring and controlling changes within a SharePoint project. By managing the implementation of change, you can:

• Reduce the impact of changes to the SharePoint project

• Identify new issues and risks as a result of changes raised

• Ensure that changes do not affect the SharePoint project's ability to achieve its desired objectives

• Control the cost of change within the SharePoint project

Change Management is comprised of the following processes:

Step 1: Identify Change: The first step in the change process is to identify the need for change. Any team member can suggest a change to the SharePoint project, if he or she believes it is needed to keep the SharePoint project producing deliverables to the customer's specified requirements. After identifying a need for change, the team member records relevant information on a Change Request Form (commonly called a CRF), describing the change, and identifying drivers, benefits, costs and likely impact of the change on the SharePoint project. The CRF is forwarded to the SharePoint Project Manager for review and approval.

Step 2: Review Change: The SharePoint Project Manager investigates the change to identify the reason for it and its impact. Then he or she decides whether it is critical to the successful delivery of the project. Changes which are not critical to SharePoint Project delivery should be avoided whenever possible to prevent "scope creep" (i.e. the gradual increase in scope throughout the SharePoint project Lifecycle).
If the change is deemed critical to success, the SharePoint Project Manager either approves the request or seeks approval for the CRF raised. In some cases, the SharePoint Project Manager has the direct authority to approval minor change requests; however, in most cases the SharePoint Project Manager needs to seek CRF approval from the Project Board.

Step 3: Approve Change: The Project Board reviews the details in the CRF to determine whether or not the change should be implemented. Based on the level of risk, impact, benefits and cost to the SharePoint project, it may decide to decline, delay or approve the change request.

Step 4: Implement Change: The SharePoint Project Manager approves all changes, which are then are scheduled and implemented accordingly. After implementation, the SharePoint Project Manager reviews the effects of the change on the SharePoint project to ensure that it achieved the desired outcome, when the change is then closed in the Change Register.
Throughout the Change Management Process, the SharePoint Project Manager can monitor and control changes to the SharePoint project by keeping this Change Register up-to-date.

There you have it. By completing these 4 steps, you can carefully monitor and control SharePoint project changes, to increase your likelihood of success.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How to Plan Your SharePoint Projects

Because I have always looked at SharePoint as a platform for building your organisations solutions that help improve business productivity, I thought I could write about a few simple project management steps that can aid when building these business solutions, classified as SharePoint Projects.

Step 1: Set the Direction

Before you start out, set the direction for the SharePoint project. Do this by clearly identifying the SharePoint project vision, goals and deliverables. State the overall timeframes for delivery and clarify the amount of resource available. Determine what is "in scope" and "out of scope". Identify the benefits and costs in delivering the SharePoint project and any milestones and constraints. Only once this is agreed with your SharePoint project Sponsor will you know what it is that you have to achieve.

Step 2: Task Selection

You're now ready to start planning. Identify the groups of tasks that need to be completed to build your SharePoint project deliverables. Then for each group of tasks, breakdown those tasks into sub-tasks to create what is known as a "Work Breakdown Structure" (WBS). Your WBS is essentially a hierarchical list of tasks, in order. Assign start and end dates to each task, as well as task durations. Always add a little extra time (e.g. 10%) to your durations, providing you with contingency. Next add Milestones to your plan. These are tasks that represent major achievements along the way.

Step 3: Inter-linking

The next step is to add links (or dependencies) between SharePoint project tasks. While there are a variety of link types, most SharePoint project Managers add "finish-to-start" links so that one task cannot start until another one finishes. To make your SharePoint project achievable, only add links between tasks if there is a critical dependency between them. Remember, when one task slips, all tasks linked to it may slip as well. So use links wisely.

Step 4: Resource Assignment

Now comes the fun part, assigning resources. A "resource" may be a person, equipment, location or materials. Against each task in your plan, assign one or more resources required to complete it. As you assign resources, watch your resource utilization. In other words, make sure you don't over-assign a specific resource to multiple tasks, so that it’s impossible for that resource to complete everything assigned to it.

Step 5: Baseline, Actuals and Reporting

With a fully completed SharePoint project plan, you're now ready to save it as a "baseline", so that you can later compare your progress against it. Then start recording your actual progress against the plan. Every day, record the amount of time you've spent against each task. Also record the new planned start and finish dates, and monitor the overall SharePoint project completion date. Report on progress as you go. By regularly updating the SharePoint project plan with your progress, you can control the delivery of your SharePoint project and meet those critical goals set.