The below 10 questions are meant to help a business properly prepare for and setup a SharePoint 2016 on premise environment. Each question is accompanied with the technical implications and the amount of technical time to accomplish each aspect so business stakeholders have some technical insight as to why the questions are being asked.
How many people will be using SharePoint?
Implication: The more people using SharePoint, the more hardware that is required. A company with 100 users requires far less hardware than a company with 10,000 users. Subsequent technical questions may include where should the servers reside and is mirroring the server required. Depending on the overall architecture will dictate the amount of time required to do the actual setup.
If you lose information, how fast do you need it back?
Implication: This is a very loaded question as there are many subsequent questions about who does backups and where they are stored. There are also many levels of information within SharePoint, which are found here. There are also support policies and procedures that need to be developed and tested around restoring the information. Finally, there are a lot of tools out there for getting this job done which can be seen here. Ultimately this question can lead to no work at all if your company has enterprise backup processes already in place or it may lead to many hours of work, depending on the answers that surface.
Will people with non-company credentials need access to SharePoint?
Implication: SharePoint does not do this by default and requires a custom setup to enable this functionality. It should include how to create users, resetting passwords as well as requesting a password. This can usually be achieved in about 15 hours of work.
Do you need or want a secure protocol (HTTPS)?
Implication: While SharePoint is traditionally an intranet, IT departments realize there are different ways of accessing the intranet such as a remote desktop connection (RDC) or a virtual private network (VPN). Depending on how a company is setup, the IT department may want to issue a secure sockets layer (SSL) certificate to make SharePoint HTTPS instead of HTTP. Each SSL certificate is about 5 hours of work for each server it is needed on.
Do you want to use outside, approved applications within SharePoint?
Implication: People have gotten used to being able to add applications to their devices in a very rapid manner thanks to Google Play and the Apple App Store. SharePoint has this concept as can be seen here, but requires a bit of configuration to do so. There are also subsequent governance questions on how to manage which applications are available and who should be able to allow them into the SharePoint environment. Setting up the SharePoint App Store takes about 10 hours of work.
Do you want your employees to have their own personal space for files?
Implication: Having a personal space for files can have a lot of different business implications on how information is stored and shared. Typically the answer to this question is ‘Yes’ in which case we tend to ask ‘Will training be provided for managing security?’ as well as ‘What happens to a person’s files if they leave the company?’. The answers to these questions can lend themselves to choosing between My Sites, OneDrive, OneDrive for Business or simply a site with dedicated libraries for each employee. The amount of time required to set this up is based on how much security and training is needed by the company.
Do you want to manage security within SharePoint or within Active Directory?
Implication: There are two primary types of security groups that can be used within SharePoint; SharePoint Groups as well as Active Directory (AD) Groups. This article does a great job summarizing the pros and cons of each with a few aspects missing:
• With Active Directory Groups, people in SharePoint have a much harder time seeing who is actually in those groups whereas SharePoint Groups are very transparent. There are solutions to remediate this however, such as this.
• There are custom workflow actions, such as these, for managing Active Directory groups from within SharePoint. Ultimately, it is up to the IT Department as to whether they want to allow this.
While AD Groups are more holistic, they do require some additional solutions, add-ins and processes to manage them efficiently. If the answer is ‘SharePoint Groups’, then no additional costs are really associated. If the answer is ‘AD Groups’, then there is about 10 hours of work between installations, training and governance.
How do you want search to be used?
Implication: SharePoint comes with a great search engine and many companies do not realize its full potential, such as being able to customize search results or searching not only within SharePoint, but other information sources such as file servers. However, it can lead to a very deep technical conversation on how to achieve the best overall experience, including its own hardware architecture. Some of these conversations start here. Ultimately the amount of time dedicated to SharePoint search optimization may be non-existent or many weeks of conversations and configuration.
Do you need to see Microsoft files on devices that do not have Microsoft Office installed, such as tablets or phones?
Implication: There is a SharePoint add-in called Office Web Apps. With this product, Microsoft files can be viewed in a browser, but the add-in needs to be manually added to the SharePoint platform in order for it to work. It may also have hardware implications depending how many users are within the company and leveraging this technology. Setting up Office Web Apps typically takes about 10 hours of time to do, depending on the hardware scale.
Will SharePoint be used heavily on tablet and phone devices?
Implication: SharePoint has elements of mobile design incorporated into it, but when people really think ‘mobile experience’ they think about elements on their screen not only resizing, but re-positioning themselves or even hiding completely depending on the size of the screen. This whole concept is called responsive design and requires not only a whole technical framework to be added, but layout templates created and configured for the company’s needs.