Beware of the Contract Killer!


If you or your company are considering implementing SharePoint, here are a few important tips you need to consider, especially if you’re considering using a contractor/consultant.

  • Don’t used a phased deployment approach
  • Plan Plan Plan
  • Do not allow a contractor to drive your decisions
  • Deployment should take less than 1 week of physical work
  • Train DBA’s on SP Administration

SharePoint, especially SharePoint 2010 is a complex product. How it is used or can be used makes it even more complex, so let’s not allow bad contractors or consultants to kill your implementation before it even gets off the ground.

Let’s start with a couple definitions.

Deployment = The installation of SharePoint and all Service Applications so as to be ready for configuration based on business needs.

Implementation = The process in which the Deployed installation of SharePoint is then released to the end users for use.

It is important to understand the difference between the two terms so you can identify what tasks are to be done during which stage of your project.

You Don’t Phase Me!

I’m a strong believer in segmenting a project into smaller more manageable pieces whenever possible. This is, of course, not my recommendation for the deployment phase.

Often, contractors recommend only deploying the features of SharePoint you will use right away. On the outside, this may seem like good advice.

There’s no reason to complicate things by adding extra features you’re not ready to start using.

This is, however, a great way of over complicating a relatively simple deployment. SharePoint 2010 deploys with a simple to use installation wizard, which then allows you to install all the Service Applications via another wizard. You can choose to manually install the Service Applications instead of the wizard, but you should make sure you install them all right away.

If you can, I recommend doing the manual installation of the Service Applications as it gives you more control of Database names etc.

The recommendation to phase anything would be better suited to the Implementation stage of the project.

The Reason?

The instant you have users on the system it makes deploying additional service applications and fixing problems much more complicated. This often results in long hours after regular business hours and countless Change Management entries and Implementation Plans, all for something that could have and should have been installed in the first week during deployment. So don’t let your contractor convince you to not install all the features right away. This is a great way for contractors to make a little extra money.

My Plan is All in My Head

A plan in your head is not a reliable plan. All the parties involved need to know what the plan is and how it’s going to be executed.

Planning is actually the most important part of any project, but all too often is not done enough. If you aren’t willing to take the time to plan the deployment and implementation of SharePoint then you should consider offering the position to someone else. If you cannot see a project from start to finish and get it down on paper, how can anyone trust you can actually do it? You should know how a project is going to look at every stage before you even begin. That’s not to say there won’t be surprises along the way, but you should know how to deal the majority of them before they occur.

No Back Seat Driving Please

If you are the decision maker, make sure your decisions are what is driving your project. Contractors will have a tendency to lead you towards the same cookie cutter solutions they’ve used with other customers. Make sure you aren’t following them blindly, but don’t disregard all of their advice. Make sure their advice fits your business before going with it. After all, you hired them to help you, let them help, but don’t let them take the wheel all to find yourself in the ditch without a shovel.

You Spent How Long on Deployment?!?!

As noted before, your deployment stage should’t take more than a week. Anybody that tells you otherwise either doesn’t know what they are doing, or is trying to gouge your pocket book.

This isn’t taking into consideration the time it takes to acquire the needed hardware, funding, etc. This is simply the installation of the software should take no more than 1 week. Typically you should be able to complete the installation with Service Applications in a couple hours, which includes the documentation of the configuration used.

I Can’t Do Basic Administration, What Gives?

We ran into this issue at our organization. We got our SharePoint 2010 farm deployed and then the DBA’s, bless their hearts, locked the SQL instance down so only they could create new DB’s among other things.

The lesson is, make sure you get your DBA’s to a class on how to administer SQL for SharePoint. There are some changes that will go against their best practices which may make them pretty uncomfortable to make. That is ok and it’s ok that they don’t want to give your Farm Admin SA priveleges, but you need to understand what procedures will need to be in place in order for you to get anything done.

This makes getting all of your deployment done in one quick motion even more important if your DBA’s insist on reducing your SQL permissions after installation. If they do this, you will need to request SA perms every time you want to do something that will modify a DB. You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches if you get your DBA’s on board before you start.

Contractors Aren’t Bad… Well… Most Aren’t

Contractors just have different goals and motivations than you or your business have. They also can’t understand your business needs as well as you do, so you have to manage them appropriately. A poorly managed contractor or consultant can quickly cost a company lots of hard earned dollars. So be careful when you hire a contractor or consultant.

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