Death is coming to SharePoint 2010. Mainstream Support from Microsoft SharePoint ended nearly two years ago.
More importantly, Extended Support will end in just three years. Once that happens, Microsoft will no longer provide security updates or non-security hotfix support, honor warranty claims or offer paid extended support
Suffice to say, you need to get off of SharePoint 2010 – and the clock is ticking – and onto a modern, secure, sustainable intranet platform.
If you’re still reading, I presume you are still on SharePoint 2010. I also presume you haven’t undertaken a major redesign or upgrade in a few years.
The good news is that a lot has changed since you last launched your intranet – both in terms of technology options, but more importantly, in terms of how companies use intranets, content, and collaboration tools, and the entire design and user experience.
Let’s start with the strategic issues that underpin the technology decision you will need to make: to stay (with SharePoint) or go. You will need to create a plan to make this move as painless and effective as possible.
At the risk of boiling down a very complex issue to a sentence or two, one of the biggest decisions involves seeing the forest through the trees: do you need a basic publishing intranet, or a more advanced platform portal that is the center of a more complex digital workplace? How advanced and socially collaborative should it become?
If your focus is mainly a one-to-man
y communication tool or channel, a content publishing platform and access point for links to other intranet sites, then perhaps SharePoint is overkill, and a basic web content management platform will suffice. If you need more advanced collaboration, application integration, and federated search, these capabilities require a more robust platform, such as SharePoint 2016 or Office 365, which is the cloud-based version of Microsoft Office and includes SharePoint Online, and many of the social and collaboration features including Yammer and the new Microsoft Teams.
Back in the days of SharePoint 2007 and 2010, it was easy to throw stones at Microsoft for the many warts of those early solution. However, the evolution of SharePoint and Office has been impressive: SharePoint 2016 (on premise) or SharePoint online (in the cloud and a part of Office 365) are generations better that their predecessors.
YOU NEED A PLAN
First, it’s imperative to carefully and thoughtfully ensure that the new technology – whether SharePoint or not – aligns with the business needs of your organization. While this sounds like common sense, the number of companies who end up selecting a technology based purely on bells-and-whistles is astounding. The intranet requires a plan and strategy, with measurable objectives, that align with those of the enterprise.
The process by which you go about understanding your business needs is almost as important as the needs themselves. One of the most important constituents – your executives – need to understand and buy into the new solution; you’ll also need the support of those that own and manage content, and those that read and use it, your employees. You want to engage them early and often. They must be an integral part of the project.
Once you’ve identified the needs, and aligned them to the business and technology options, and determined the gap from where you are today, you’ll need to prioritize how all the content, data, applications and integrations from the old intranet will move to the new one. And, obviously, this can only be achieved with active participation from all the content owners.
Questions you will need answers include:
- Will the migration be a wholesale ‘lift-and-shift”?
- How much application integration is needed?
- What discrete areas/content/apps/integrations will launch first, second, etc.?
- How social/collaborative will it be? How might this change over time?
- How much content needs migration?
You’ll also need to determine the resources needed to make this all happen, including user and publisher training.
All these questions need answering by your governance team, and an operating model that outlines not only how the new solution will operate once it’s newly launched, but how it will first be transformed from the current SharePoint 2010 intranet, and how it will sustain itself beyond the first 6-12 months of operations. Think about it this way: do you want to be undertaking a project like this again in 4-6 years? If not, then creating a sustainable, evolvable governance model will ensure you make gradual changes on a planning roadmap that keep up with your users’ needs.
For example, custom webparts built in SharePoint 2010 don’t migrate to SharePoint 2016. In fact, nothing migrates directly to SharePoint 2016; you may first need to migrate to 2013, before you join the present day and age. Often custom code won’t migrate at all and new webparts, applications, forms and workflows have to be re-built from scratch.
You’ll want to create a new user experience for the new platform – including a mobile interface. A responsive design intranet may suffice, but you may need a mobile site, or a dedicated mobile app. Or for some constituent groups, launching a mobile-first solution may suit them better.
Lastly, the technology solution itself. Do you stay with an on premise deployment? Move to the Cloud? Use a Hybrid model? There are many aspects that must be weighed, such as if, or when, email and Active Directory are involved (often a key component of a digital workplace). And usually the issue of email and upgrading of Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) are not a part of conversations about intranet. But now that Microsoft has deftly, and effectively, integrated all these applications into the core of a digital workplace, a more holistic discussion is often required.
The cloud offers much faster implementation, and in the case of SharePoint Online, Microsoft is routinely rolling out new features in the Cloud, on Office 365, prior to SharePoint 2016 on premises.
There are many pros and cons for cloud vs. on premises, and some of the excellent applications that are available that run on top of SharePoint online to make deployment and management faster and better, and ongoing operations easier, such as Powell 365, Jive and more. Suffice to say, that’s a topic for another blog post.
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