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When Best Practices Aren’t Best Practices

I have a satisfactory tap into the SharePoint community, and something that I see on practically a daily occurrence is taking actions labeled as best practices without understanding the underlying issue and potential consequences of implementation. This seems extraordinarily ubiquitous in SharePoint, way more so than other facets. I believe that a lot of best practices are taken as holy doctrine because it helps abstracts a lot of understanding conventionally required to implement those actions. For some rationale, the resulting approach is taken as divine creed.

Before you read on any further, let me state up front that I am not saying implementing given best practices for SharePoint is bad, I am going to merely state some things that are concerning regarding how they are involved and used.

I think there are three important points that have to be taken into consideration when deliberating, exploring, and implementing best practices for SharePoint. The first is regarding industry verticals, the second company culture, and third about conception.

More Often Than Not a Best Practice Will Not Account For Industry Verticals

Best practices are commonly constructed as boilerplate templates that can be stamped out at an arbitrary organization and similar results expected. Its implementation should result in a more efficient approach to get the best results from a particular task. However, blindly implementing a best practice without considering the industry vertical is one of the largest, and most frequent, mistakes I see. Completely understanding a particular vertical can take years, a vast majority of large enterprises are dynamic, living entities subject to changes, adaptation, and evolution. A person developing and promoting a best practice is analogous to the industry, whereas industry sensitive collaboration deployments require an operational SharePoint practice to respond to industry and industry-bound user’s expectations. The primary obstacle is the tendency to view best practice tackled issues from a holistic perspective. However, for industry compensation it is better to instead package vertical specifics within cottage industries, since they will essentially function independently and uniquely. The current SharePoint best-practices perspective requires an organizational focus taking into account variability at levels fundamentally nonexistent.

More Often Than Not a Best Practice Will Not Account For Company Culture

Introduction of collaboration software, and the resulting enforcement of its use generally results in fear that the exercise will result in criticism and loss of business for someone. One of the largest friction points cultivates when a SharePoint architect implements an information taxonomy adhering to a best practice which presupposes generalization to all organizations. Such a best practice will not adhere to organizational carve-outs which would instead actively implement procedures delineating company cultural sensitive best practices for information architecture implementation. This results in SharePoint not being a competitive piece of software within an organization, since it becomes difficult to demonstrate pragmatic effectiveness.

More Often Than Not a Best Practice Will Not Teach You the Underlying Process

Best practices normally demonstrate a procedure that results in a more efficient approach to get the best results. As a result there is often very little attention that is paid to the underlying considerations that are below the surface. This results in a considerable maintenance obstacle since an organization might not then have the expertise to measure and interpret variability within a SharePoint implementation. As a result, it is common that data collection for maintenance of best practices comes for immediate sources, such as encounter reports and built-in measures. When the underlying issues of the best practice is understood however it is easier to generate meaningful information that allow SharePoint administrators to improve indicators and overall maintenance.

I am not alluding to an argument that I think best practices are bad, I think they are good! I am simply trying to demonstrate a frequent trend I have been noticing that is disturbing, and I think needs to be rectified with accommodations for when the best practice is implemented in an organization.

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