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Pinpointing Ways to Screw Up Microsoft SharePoint 2003

SharePoint costs a lot to implement. It costs in hardware, software, and resources. That's why avoiding a few common mistakes can be money in the bank for you and your organization.

People Problems

SharePoint is a product that's designed to be used and influenced by a lot of people. If you try to gloss over the people element, SharePoint eats you alive. Avoid these problems and increase your likelihood of success:

  • Don't put off setting business goals and outcomes: Know what you want to achieve before you go into implementing SharePoint for your business — and have a way to measure that achievement.
  • Don't ignore the business community: Your business users' needs are what drive your SharePoint implementation. Have representatives from the business community actively involved from day one.
  • Don't neglect planning: Get your plans ready — for installation, implementation, content management, training, and a lot more — before you install SharePoint.
  • Don't assume that everyone wants to play: Users may not want to contribute content to the portal. If information equals power in your company, don't expect employees to give it away for free.
  • Don't try to do everything in-house: Assess skills to figure out when and where you need help. And budget for the time and help you need!
  • Don't assume IS folks are experts in both information and systems: "Information Services" doesn't mean "all-knowing." You may find someone with a degree in library science at least as valuable as your technical staff. What do your IS folks know about taxonomies, ontologies, and epistemologies? You might even want to throw in a sociologist to explore the role of organizational culture and informal power structures in fouling up your implementation. (If those words make you glaze over, then some help is in order.)

Technical Headaches

There's a whole host of technical problems waiting for you — potentially exacerbated by some human foibles:

  • Poking around in the database: When your overzealous database administrator offers to get into the SharePoint databases to "fix" something, tell him or her (politely but firmly), "No, thank you." SharePoint provides many ways to access data in the database, in addition to the browser user interface.
    SharePoint's SQL databases are tuned so they work bestwhen only SharePoint accesses them. Accessing the databases directly can throw off that tuning and corrupt data. Never access the SharePoint databases directly by using any Microsoft SQL Server tool, for any reason!
  • Using Front Page willy-nilly: You can use Microsoft Front Page 2003 to open and edit your SharePoint sites — but should you? Performance problems may emerge if you edit a SharePoint site in Front Page because of the way SharePoint processes its edited pages.
  • Indexing external Web sites: When you add external Web sites to the site directory, don't add them as sites to search. The entire Web site gets indexed — which means your SharePoint server is stepping through every page of somebody else's Web site, adding links to that content so it can be searched on your portal. It isn't pretty.
  • Not minding the store: Make sure that someone who knows SharePoint administers your SharePoint server. Your administrator should know databases and Web servers — specifically, how SharePoint uses them together. SharePoint has its own backup-and-restore tools, and its own monitoring and configuration tools.
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