Strategic initiatives come in many flavors, and one type is meant to create transformation inside the organization. These types of goals and objectives move the business forward. A strategic initiative is an endeavor intended to achieve three interrelated outcomes:
• A boundary-spanning vision or “strategic intent”
• Realization of important benefits to “strategic” stakeholders
• Transformation of the organization
Unfortunately, it seems like information technology workers get little to no notice when these initiatives are launched. The objectives are in place, and now the business wants results very quickly. When IT is not ready (or in some cases, not willing), or if management is unhappy with the cost structure or the level of service, they will consider bypassing internal resources. When this happens, frequently executive sponsorship or top-level visibility of the initiative is used as the reason to go around IT. Third party services may be considered quicker and cheaper options. SharePoint is one collaboration tool IT departments can use to anticipate and react to major initiative actions.
Sometimes, IT can be in a bind in terms of understanding how to react and how to respond to a new strategic initiative. The business will likely want to pay only for what they need in a temporary and operational way, and will certainly not want to absorb a capital investment.
SharePoint is a widely used platform in many corporations. It’s either already deployed, or it can be quickly deployed using an Infrastructure as a Service model. From this point, the raw capabilities useful to empower strategic initiatives—form and workflow, the ability to set and configure security effectively, business intelligence tools that allow analysis and assessment—are readily available. The technical side of initiatives are made up of these components. Finally, SharePoint is extensible, enabling IT to start from an existing platform and then extend it in order to accomplish and accommodate initiatives that may be gaining speed in an organization. This helps to improve the timeliness and the quality of IT’s response.
Every single initiative comes with a communication component. SharePoint is a great place for communication planning and for the delivery of communications using standard tools, social tools, and available integrations with common productivity applications like email.
Here are three steps to leverage SharePoint for Strategic Planning and centralize planning efforts.
A Hosted SharePoint solution helps you share and collaborate on documents, data, and information.
Once initiatives are planned, SharePoint can be a communication hub to empower initiatives.
Analytics Processing for SharePoint 2013 is part of the Search service. It tracks page counts and page hits and gives visibility into how many users are accessing the software at any given time.
It’s possible to create dashboards for more granular and involved deployments, but even at a very basic level, IT can create a one-stop-shop for business leadership to track the progress of an initiative visually.
The simplest way to manage innovation through SharePoint is to use an email-enabled list. The advantage of this method is that it automatically centralizes lists and ideas so that messages are never lost in one inbox. Metadata and columns can be added so that once ideas are submitted, topics can be rated and ranked. This is the most lightweight option.
Another possibility is the SharePoint Community Site template. This can be used to create an idea campaign accompanied by a structured list. When users visit the community site, they can add their ideas to the list. With social and newsfeed features, users can also comment and discuss. The badges capability introduces a level of gamification to incentivize users to invest more in the process of the idea campaign as they earn badges for submissions and comments.
Finally, SharePoint can be used for simple training needs. While not meant to replace a SCORM compliant learning management system (LMS), SharePoint can again act as a lightweight delivery platform for video and audio related to strategic initiatives.
In this model, asset libraries for video or audio content can be created. SharePoint also offers an embed code to distribute this multi-media training content across other channels, like a wiki page.
For example, PowerPoint slide decks can be embedded on the web, along with the ability for users to actually click through and run the deck. The PowerPoint web application is being leveraged on the back end to render the content, delivered in a much more efficient way than emailing attachments.
The above methods are quick and easy ways for IT departments to enable strategic initiatives in-house, through out-of-the-box solutions via SharePoint. Once you have some familiarity with the software, you can create even more detailed plans and communication tools.
Posted By: Rob Colwill
Rob is the CEO of Coldwater Software, a leading product and consulting company headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Using a proven approach to the software development lifecycle for all products and custom solutions, the company has delivered successful Microsoft® products for Bing®, Office®, Dynamics®,SQL Server®, and more for over a decade.