Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Book review: Microsoft® Office SharePoint® Server 2007 Best Practices

Microsoft Press has started a very interesting "Best Practices" series with a book dedicated to a product sometimes called the next big ‘operating system’ from Microsoft. First off this is not a book for those just starting to learn how to install, configure, and administrate SharePoint Server 2007; there are some other books suggested for reading in this case. What is valuable in this book is that best practices presented in it (except for those few based on hard-coded limits in the product) are the essence of many, many discussions, analyzes, resolved support issues and numerous implementation projects undertaken by the authors. The book consists of four parts: Planning and Designing, Building, Deploying, and Operating. And although there are plenty of possible deployment scenarios for a SharePoint Server 2007, throughout each part of the book the authors present common threads of best practices that can be utilized across a number of different deployment scenarios. Your solid knowledge and understanding of these best practices built on the proper use of Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies will eventually lead to better and wiser design decisions: it will help you to efficiently map the features and functionalities in Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 to your specific environment, culture, requirements and deployment. But let's take a look at the other side of technologies: not only they empower individual information workers but also bring a significant change in a corporate environment and power dynamics within an organization. It takes more than a creative idea or a unique skill to help solve a significant problem - you need allies within your corporation, and the more influence they have at the enterprise level of the corporation, the more likely it is that your deployment will be successful. Another point essential to your SharePoint Server 2007 implementation is the development of business requirements: clearly articulated, measurable, agreed upon and written down for the reference. Also a strong governance for a deployment is required to mitigate inevitable conflicts. As the authors mention,
Yet changes that can cause conflict that result in power wars, if not anticipated, discussed, and managed properly, can kill your deployment.
Sad but true, and what is especially valuable in the book is that besides diving into technical details the authors also discuss these less-talked-about sides of a deployment. Think about the power dynamics in your organization, thoroughly define business requirements prior to deployment and implement proper governance for the deployment itself. These are best practices at least just as important as those concerning security policy or an information architecture development, and you will be presented with an excess discussion of these best practices as well as numerous examples, notes from the field and lessons learned.