Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint Online are fantastic options for businesses wanting to reduce the complexity of their infrastructure. In our last article, we kicked off a discussion on the importance of taking time to properly plan your SharePoint platform.
Our first two planning exercises are designed to help you focus and clarify:
- The goals of the business and any constraints on the business
- The solutions you wish to build into SharePoint
The following planning session takes aim at designing the structure of your information and the permissions your users have to access it.
Planning exercise #3:
Users and content.
Before we go any further, let’s cover off on a quick definition. Information Architecture is a fancy term for describing the art of organising and labelling websites and intranets. Your site’s “IA” is the structural design of information; groups, categories and labels. It determines how user friendly (or unfriendly) you site will be.
Chances are you have a file server with years of data stored on it. Before you rush into SharePoint to recreate the folder structure you had on your shared drive and migrate a tonne of data, consider that SharePoint features such as promoted links, libraries, lists, search, metadata and content types are going to change the way that users find and store information.
SharePoint architectures that grow too organically can end up a mess; once disorder sets in it can be difficult to eliminate it. It’s also critical for this reason that you carefully plan permissions and assign roles. The site architects should not be “everyone”.
With your key stakeholders, consider:
- What types of information you have
- What groups of information you have
- How you categorise information and how your team searches for information;
By subject? By task? By Department? A combination?
- How users think about your data (what terms or tags are important to them)
- What existing data should be imported into SharePoint
(What happens to data that doesn’t make the cut?)
- Who needs access to what
- Department or team information vs company data used and stored by individuals
- What sort of policies regarding data do you want or need to employ
From a usability perspective, this is one of the most important planning sessions you can undertake. If your team finds their SharePoint site easy to navigate, it is going to get a lot more traction. You want it to be the place users go to share information.
You also want users to understand what gets stored where. Equally as important, what doesn’t get stored in libraries? What sort of information should be stored in an individual’s OneDrive?
Taking time to plan your SharePoint site will help you avoid the pitfalls of an organic and unintentional IA. Writing a Governance plan takes this one step further and sets out a framework for users to work within.
Our next article will explore Governance further, as we continue to discuss our recommendations on how to unleash the full potential of Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint Online. In the meantime, for more information or a free initial consultation, you can visit our Microsoft Office 365 page or call 1300 766 554.
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