Why upgrading your SharePoint intranet is a bad idea?

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You already have an intranet which has served you for a while. It may be built on say SharePoint 2007, 2010 or 2013. There are various reasons you are planning to migrate your intranet.

  • A new version of the product is now out and you plan an upgrade project to get updated with the technology version.
  • You may also have the intranet for the last 5-6 years. It is at its end of life and hence you decide to upgrade it to the latest version. As you can’t upgrade it, you plan to use a migration tool to move all the content to the new version.

 

Both of the above cases are perfectly good use cases to do an upgrade, however they are missing a key question in this. What business value does this add?

Don’t forget that at the end of the day, what matters most is the value any activity brings to the business. Take this time and pause from the project, and think on the business challenges and problems which was the driver behind deploying SharePoint in the first place. Are those still relevant as of today? What are the challenges users are facing right now? What can you do better this time around?

 

These are some of the most common issues we find businesses faced with in their old intranet.

 

  1. Adoption issues

SharePoint is a complex product. Without a proper change management and user adoption strategy, there are always bound to be adoption issues. People do not use the old portal enough due to lack of training, and have lost interest with it. They go back to the old ways of doing things bypassing the intranet.

 

  1. Usability issues / outdated look & feel

 

For intranets which were deployed 3-5 years ago, changes as they it is showing its age. With this new world of increasing UI/UX focussed solutions, the existing intranets stands out and shows it age.

Without a proper ongoing intranet team, changes are that the functionality is also outdated. Business have moved on and evolved, but the intranet has been left behind and does not truly reflect the business and give the level of usability which is needed.

 

  1. No Mobile access

This is a big one. In the last year or so, mobiles and tablets have enjoyed immense growth. Users are used to being able to work anywhere and anyway they want and the inability to access the intranet via a mobile is hampering the speed at which users do business. This can be a major irritant to an otherwise usable and engaging intranet.

 

  1. Bugs

Intranets generally are not static. They evolve over time with user content, configurations and customisations. Also, new system patches may break that otherwise excellent view or workflow which was done by an enthusiastic power user. Sometimes without executive commitment to evolve the intranet and IT backing to actively support it, these bugs get left behind in the system.

 

Problem of in-place upgrade

If you are just upgrading your intranet to the next technology version e.g from SharePoint 2010 to 2013 etc, you will inherit all the problems you already had. Further new changes will cause more user adoption and change management issues.

So what’s the solution?

I would like you to go back to our first point of thinking why you are doing this upgrade and what business value this adds to your organisation. Document the challenges you have with your intranet, and use this as an opportunity to better structure and align the intranet to the new face of your business. This will ensure that the intranet is still relevant and usable to your user base. Make sure you don’t lose this opportunity to do some housekeeping on your intranet and look at the information relevancy.

 

We suggest that you do go through the following steps:

Analyse

Find out what is wrong with the old intranet. What is the business driver to upgrade it. Are there any pressing issues which have been troubling your users, and how you can make your intranet more usable and engaging with your users.

Analyse the content and the structure to make sure it reflects your changing business structure better. Look at search and see if users are able to find the information they need in the old intranet. This will help you validate your structure and content planning.

Plan

Once you have a list of things which has come out of the analysis phase, it is time to take a step back and look at the old intranet. Look at the new functionality you can make use of in the newer version of SharePoint or Office 365. Only then, you will be in a position to prepare a suitable plan to get you to your goal. Ask yourself questions as,

  • how can I transform my content to the new structure while doing my migration?
  • How can I tag and classify my content so that it is easier to find.
  • How can I identify and get rid of the junk which has accumulated and either delete / archive irrelevant information?
  • How can I plan to test the migration of the new system?
  • How can I make use of the new features to enhance my productivity and collaboration ability?
  • How can I plan for a smooth go live cutover?
  • What contingencies do I have in case something goes wrong? How can I ensure business as usual during this phase of the migration?

 

Implement & Migrate

Once you have your action plan ready, it is now time to actually implement it. Configure the new intranet to make use of any new functionality which is relevant for you and then happily migrate all your data to a new shining intranet which your users are going to love and adopt in their way to happy collaboration.

 

Conclusion

Don’t expect an upgrade to deliver miraculous results if you are only doing a technology upgrade. Also technology upgrades for your intranet adds no business value to your organisation. Take this opportunity to analyse what you can do better, what new features you can leverage in the new product and how you can empower your users better. It may be a good idea to not do this planning in-house and engage with a consultancy which has done many such projects and has specialist knowledge to help you navigate common pitfalls and maximise the value you can realise from this upgrade. At Toolagen we focus on first defining what value it can add to your business and then help you plan the best way forward so that you can realise the maximum value out of your migration project.

Toolagen is a specialist software development consultancy based in the UK and focussing on SharePoint, Office 365, Windows Azure, Microsoft .NET and Power BI.

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We are a cloud specialist development company focussing on SharePoint, Office 365, Power BI and Windows Azure based applications.

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