Over the past few months I have been meeting and working with customers to help them with Microsoft Office SharePoint 2007 (MOSS) and to plan for SharePoint 2010. Our discussion usually starts with generic questions such as:

  • How do we architect and setup our SharePoint environment?
  • What features should we turn on and what’s the impact of doing so?
  • How do we move content from one environment to another?
  • What are the best practices for governance, security and information architecture?
  • How much disk space do we need and what should we think about when planning for search and content databases?
  • What about backups?
  • How do we train our end users?

While there are some quick answers to these questions, most of the time there is much more to think about than just the surface level questions. Discussions that go well beyond a quick conversation.

In some ways getting started with SharePoint is a lot like building a new house for the first time. Just like how you would never build a house without having detailed architectural blue prints and plans, and involving subject matter experts (plumbers, electricians, etc.) to help with the construction, so too should you consider engaging certified SharePoint partners to help with the detailed architectural design, training and implementation.

What many customers do not realize is that there are often a number of free benefits and services available to them that are designed to assist with the up front planning. These include:

  1. Packaged services consulting benefits: Prepaid consulting days that many customers have available to them based on their contract with Microsoft. Key ones to note for SharePoint:
    • SharePoint Deployment Planning Services (SDPS) is designed to help your organization plan an effective deployment that can optimize the core capabilities of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server.
    • Business Value Planning Services (BVPS) helps your organization's business decision makers develop a plan to maximize the business value of the Microsoft Office system through structured, multi-day engagements.
  2. There are also a number of different IT and end user training resources available. Most of these are at no additional charge as well:
    • Training vouchers can be used to attend training classes with Microsoft certified training partners.
    • E-Learning courses can be used for self paced training.
    • The Productivity Hub can be downloaded, installed and customized in your SharePoint environment to both provide training resources and showcase key SharePoint capabilities.

One final note: many of the resources above are provided to Microsoft customers that have Software Assurance (SA) for SharePoint. If you don’t currently have SA for SharePoint, now may be a good time to get the above resources as well as the rights to use SharePoint 2007 now and SharePoint 2010 after it is launched next year.