As a SharePoint developer, I always feel hesitant to “Go-Live”. What if I don’t apply the right permissions? What if the snippets of custom code corrupts the site? What if users don’t like the images? Oh… the rejection!!
Although being in the development & testing environment feels comfy and cozy, we have to take a deep breath and leap forward. Reflecting on my personal experience with sites going live, there are 3 main best-practice suggestions that can make the process effortless.
KEEP AN ONGOING DEVELOPERS DIARY
One of the most important lessons that I learned is while you are developing content, keep track of any lists, libraries, web-parts or workflows that may require unique permissions than the permission structure of the parent site. You don’t want to give all employees read access to HR payroll information or edit control to executive board meetings minutes. Personally, as I develop content for a site, I use an old-fashion composition notebook with a section labeled “Go-Live Reminders”, to keep track of items that requires unique permission. This list also details content and web-parts that requires “target audience” settings enabled. Having reference notes that can serve as a reminder of how to appropriately apply permissions before going live will be a life saver.
UTILIZE A GROUP OF KEY USERS TO TEST THE ENVIRONMENT
Another important lesson is to use a phased roll-out plan or a “Soft Go-Live”. The idea is to open-up the development site to a group of key users who would be able to test navigating the site, accessing documents, completing forms, test workflows, check approval flow and provide initial response. The benefit of utilizing this approach is that it gives you time to absorb critical feedback and make necessary adjustments. If you have users in different time zones or different locations, it may be wise to have a couple of soft go-lives. You could create a plan to open up your site to groups of selective end users, either grouped by location or region, or organizational structure. The idea behind using a phased plan is that you are able to stress test the performance of your site as you increase the number of users in each phase. Conducting a site walk through by using a testing group will be beneficial to the success of the final go-live.
SET A DATE & COMMUNICATE
A final step of the go-live process is having an effective communication plan. You could use an email blast, announcement in a corporate newsletter, morning meeting to relay critical information to ensure that the transition into a production environment will be smooth. Here are some points to include in your communication.
Clearly state the projected go live date.
Set expectations by highlighting the usefulness of the site and how it will benefit users and the organization.
Point out helpful resources, like training videos, knowledge base libraries, and other useful navigational tips that were discussed in the training period.
Let end users know that the SharePoint team will be available for support after go-live and continue to be there to discuss enhancement ideas or even critical feedback.
Congratulations on executing a successful GO-LIVE!