Product Management

SharePoint Design: Business Outcomes versus Requirements

A NetworkWorld post by Susan Hanley grabbed my attention – “Designing SharePoint Solutions: Start with the business problem and look backwards!” The article gives some great advice on how to approach SharePoint design decision trade-offs:

  • Start with understanding the business problem you are trying to solve.
  • Identify the key stakeholders in the problem – the people who depend on its resolution.
  • Choose an approach that creates the best balance for each of the stakeholders – content contributors and content consumers, business owners and IT – and one that has a chance at being sustainable over the long haul. For example, if the best possible outcome requires heavily customized features, you may have an issue migrating to a new release or applying updates. Is it a show-stopper? No. Should you think about it? Yes.
  • Put a stake in the ground, make a decision, chose your shade of SharePoint – and get started!

(Read More) I especially love this quote:

focus on gathering business outcomes rather than the “R-word” (requirements).

It really shifts the design methodology, not only for SharePoint, but for any software solution.  To steal a metaphor, business outcomes are the forests, requirements are the trees. Instead of burying yourself in requirements, focus on the desired business outcomes. In the case of ECM solutions, this means starting with the big picture items like:

  • I need an easy way to get these paper documents indexed and archived
  • I need an easy way to get these electronic documents indexed and archived
  • I need an easy way for this specific group of people to find this type of document

If you start with desired business outcomes, you are much less likely to miss something important. Conversely, if you start with requirements gathering, you are likely to miss something that one of the stake holders assumed was common sense and would automatically be part of the solution.

Follow Jim Hofer on Twitter (@iHunger)