BENEFITS OF SHAREPOINT ALM IN PRACTICE. whitepapers

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1 whitepapers BENEFITS OF SHAREPOINT ALM IN PRACTICE A set of practical insights on the benefits of using application lifecycle management in SharePoint or Office 365 projects

2 In our organization, we believe that structure gives balance and power to our activity. Having a structured application lifecycle management (ALM) is just a part of this balance we strive for in all our projects. Since application lifecycle management (ALM) is a set of processes that covers various aspects of a software application s lifecycle, from conception, all the way through implementation and finally operations, our approach addresses these specific aspects, providing practical information that is relevant for Office365 or SharePoint on premise solutions. The need for a structured ALM is there and it requires attention aside from the main need that a solution may cover. The reality is that a SharePoint or an Office 365 project means much more than its actual development, and planning strictly the development time and effort may be a trap in which many clients and service providers fall into. Too often, we have been confronted with the case of clients not taking into account their own involvement in the requirements analysis phase - or the UAT phase, or even the User Adoption efforts - which cost both time and money. This poor practice reflects on the entire industry, as clients end up with a much larger bill at the end of the day - larger than they've forecasted. This is both due to the additional services requested from the Service Provider (such as end-user training, documentation, project handover, and so on), but even more due to internal costs.

3 Benefits of ALM in SharePoint or Office 365 projects Correct forecast of costs One of the main reasons why we advocate having a structured application lifecycle management (ALM) approach is the advantage of being able to forecast the costs correctly for a solution implementation. An IT Service provider is responsible of letting the customer know all the aspects that are connected to a solution implementation, including planning, requirements analysis and up until the change management process that has to be followed after the solution is rolled out in production. Improves change management Maintenance aspects are widely overlooked in the initial planning phases, and addressed only after problems become more and more apparent, such as the fact that it takes weeks to push even small updates to Integration environments due to deficiency in communication between different formatting providers and lack of defined ownership on specific aspects of the change management process, such as deployment (who writes the scripts?, who performs the various update steps?), validation (who validates the if the update is correctly set in place?, are the changes apparent?) and documentation. Increases transparency Besides the high-level issues that directly affect cost and timeline, a structured ALM approach outlines and reduces potential risks by making all the necessary steps transparent to the customer. However, having a set of "necessary" steps as a best practice does not mean that the same ALM approach is valid for everybody. For example, in our organization we did end-user interviews early on in the requirements definition phase, because most of our colleagues have deep knowledge when it comes to digital workplace tools, which makes their ideas and feedback very valuable. An organization that is not specialized in building IT solutions might skip this step altogether and invest more in user training. Activates agility From our experience, projects in which ALM is not discussed from an early stage tend to be less agile, because continuous integration and stakeholder involvement processes are not defined and thus not facilitated. It's easy to connect this yet again to the reduced value that is delivered to the customer: solutions might sometimes be misaligned with business objectives and changes requested by users take so long to implement that the organization loses time and so user satisfaction drops. Better project management An ALM process agreed with all the actors in a solution (customer, various service providers) helps mitigate all these issues by clearly specifying each actor's roles and responsibilities, as well as how to react in various scenarios (such as change requests, rollback etc.). The teams then don't need to spend time discussing what to do and can focus their efforts on fulfilling their role.

4 SharePoint ALM framework Our ALM process framework contains a set of aspects which we consider to be useful in most SharePoint projects. As different clients have specific needs, we recommend that these be adapted accordingly. Below, you will find some best practices and examples on how we adapt the framework to a SharePoint project. Requirement Management It is important that requirements are written with SharePoint in mind, so as to leverage powerful SharePoint features and avoid including requirements that would involve a cost that would greatly exceed the benefits due to incompatibility or approaches that don t fit well within the platform. Guidelines in our ALM framework help prevent such situations; our solution consists in involving SharePoint experts from an early stage of the project. Planning It is important that stakeholders know what is expected from them, and can also consider their time and costs, not only those of the service provider. Planning these efforts ahead also ensures expectations are aligned which can prevent conflicting outcomes later. Define ways of working Some of them include methodology, environments, coding guidelines, etc. We recommend a white box approach, meaning that the customer is aware of how the team works and can fine tune the process to better suit his needs. For example, most customers prefer an agile approach whereas others have a really specific need that is unlikely to change, so they may be more inclined to choose a less agile approach. By contrast, a black box approach is when the customer has no information on how the team is organized and is just waiting for the package to be delivered at the end of the development phase. Solution design Defines the technical concept that should cover all the requirements, considering OOB functionality as the ideal option due to reduced costs and time. Migration from legacy/external systems should be considered as part of the design, and might even be handled as a special project. This process also helps the technical consultant make sure that he has taken into account all relevant aspects and alternatives in order to provide a feasible solution. Define timeline Break down the work into packets, split it in sprints to allow adaptation, feedback and review. Guidelines for defining milestones ensure that we have a unified approach across the organization and that uncertainty and risks are mitigated as early as possible.

5 Development Describes aspects related to source control, code quality checking tools, code review, continuous integration. Having all this agreed on from the start and communicated to the team helps control the quality right from the get-go (as opposed to only doing so when something is wrong) and enables quick and seamless ramp-up for additional team members if needed. Deployment Deployment should be viewed not only as the installation of the solution on production environment, but as the set of activities that empower people to use the application. From this point of view, the user acceptance phase that precedes the actual installation and acts as the last quality gate or the roll-out strategy that creates awareness and provides user training are very important steps that contribute greatly to the success or lack of success for the entire project. Maintenance Covers the change management processes, including change requests, new features or upgrades. For Office Store applications, special attention should be provided as it is impractical to wait for approval of a version just to test the upgrade process; that's the main reason why it is important to have the steps clearly defined such as to not miss some minor detail which can then delay further releases. To conclude, the structured ALM approach is based on filling more than just a need for a solution. It aims to cover all the aspects of an application lifecycle management because resource allocation is equally important as the application itself. Defective management of resources can eventually lead to other problems for which there might not be solutions.

6 Using structured ALM approach is in the best interest of all industry stakeholders, especially given the increased competition. Get in touch to find more about our ALM approach in SharePoint projects ACCESA Established in 2004, we've evolved and grew as an IT service provider by assisting important shifts in our clients' IT strategy and business. Today, our partners see us as managers of change: we fit IT strategies for middle and large-size organizations by providing functional expertise and technological know-how. Our mission is to understand and adapt towards our partners' dynamic challenges by delivering sustainable solutions that help them manage technological change easier. Our team shares a single vision: to be a long-term partner that enables companies to increase business value by using technology. We are present throughout Europe with offices in Switzerland (Zürich), Germany (Munich) and Romania (Cluj-Napoca, Oradea). For more information, please visit: Copyright , Accesa. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written permission from Accesa.

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