Should I stay or should I go? Migrating to SharePoint 2013
By: Ben Weiss
The technical talent in Microsoft’s toy shop have been hard at work lately, pumping out a wide variety of new products in the form of Windows 8, Office 365, Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013 and more.
However, deploying the latest versions of these products is oftentimes not on the radar of enterprises across the industry spectrum. But, why?
As one LinkedIn user “Monica” put it, “Besides the obvious risks with bugs, external applications incompatibilities and the inevitable automation and file conversions, end user learning curves relative to interface changes (why does MS continually create a game of hide & seek when it comes to basic functionality!?) are a big consideration prior to making any major software upgrade.”
Reasonable enough. But, naturally there’s a distinction in the decision to upgrade more consumer-based products like Windows and Office as opposed to enterprise-based products like SharePoint.
With that in mind, any decision makers who use SharePoint for their business or who are thinking about integrating SharePoint for the first time have to at least be considering whether or not it makes sense for their organization to make the transition sooner rather than later.
And after talking to enterprise IT expert Samuel Sabel – managing director of SharePoint-boutique consulting and development firm Sabel Collaborations – I got the scoop on who should pull the trigger on SharePoint 2013 right away and who should stay put.
Key factors decision makers need to address before moving on SharePoint 2013:
Size of the SharePoint ecosystem
Size of the organization
Size of the rollout and adoption
Anticipated SharePoint growth in the next two years
Who should strongly consider pulling the trigger on SharePoint 2013 quickly?
1. Firms with no existing SharePoint environment
Companies that are on the verge of implementing a brand new SharePoint environment are probably the most eligible candidates for a SharePoint 2013 environment.
“To me, it makes no sense to implement 2010 when 2013 is out there, knowing that in a year or two from now, you’ll have to upgrade,” mentioned Sabel in a phone interview. “That’s two efforts and they’re more complex than just turning the system on each time because there is the installation as well as the migration of content.”
As such, even though the firm may need to deal with the bugs inherent to newly-released software, in the long run, both end users and leadership alike will save themselves a lot of time, energy and money by going with the latest version out of the gate.
2. Firms expecting their SharePoint environment to grow significantly
SharePoint comes to hold a high volume of business-critical functionality once it’s woven into the fabric of a given organization. With that in mind, if an organization’s leadership is planning on expanding the breadth of its SharePoint ecosystem and investing in custom development, a serious analysis must be done to determine the cost and pain of migrating now in a lean SharePoint environment versus later when it will possess exponentially more content.
Moreover, considering the expense of custom development, leadership in this situation would be well advised to determine whether the functionality the organization needs comes out of the box in 2013, making a quick migration more rational.
“What you need to do is make an assessment of what you have in 2010 or 2007, because you do not want to be on the bleeding edge of business critical functionality in transition,” said Sabel.
In other words, while it might be taxing to pull the trigger on 2013 right now, it’s important to know how much more it could suck to make the move down the road.
Who should stay put with their current SharePoint environment?
1. Firms with an established SharePoint2007 or 2010 environment in place
The natural counterpoint is that firms with an existing SharePoint setup filled with custom functionality and content would likely encounter undue hardship by migrating to 2013. Leadership will still want to engage in a cost-benefit analysis, but without a compelling reason to disrupt a 2007/2010 SharePoint system that is already functioning as desired, it probably doesn’t make sense to pull the trigger until all 2013’s kinks have been worked out.
The bottom line:
As repeatedly stressed above, the key idea is that leaders needs to assess the maturity and anticipated growth of their SharePoint environment before making any decisions. However, many firms may not have the internal resources to effectively make this assessment in house.
With that in mind, leaders would be well-advised to hire SharePoint technology staff to guide the path. And when considering what experts to choose, it’s important to remember that SharePoint is a business product as opposed to a strictly IT product.
As such, it’s important to either bring on staff or consultants (if they’re not on board already) that have IT skills including understanding of network infrastructure, SharePoint development (not .Net development) and implementation architecture as well as those with sharp business analysis and strategy skills for the decision making and/or migration process.
And with this blend of professionals, organizations will have the insight needed to be comfortable staying put or otherwise be able to migrate on time, on budget and with success.
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