Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SharePoint: Is there life after development? Transition plan for SharePoint support team

Finally, my 2 year project on SharePoint 2007\2010 has been finished!
We started with 9 brave people in the team.
Our tasks were:
1. Build SOA infrastructure;
2. Bring data from disparate data sources into one application for measurement and management;
3. Build SharePoint farm;
4. Organize development and deployment process;
5. Develop custom business solutions based on SharePoint technology;
6. Build a report system to make use of the data in SharePoint;
It took us roughly 8 months of initial and hectic work.

And in another 1 year we have been asked (with 7 people):
 7. Extend functionality;
 8. Maintenance;
6.  Develop mobile solution to work with custom SharePoint sites;
7.  Upgrade 2007 to 2010.

Finished all. Now, it's time to transition support to the support team.
So, here is my a suggested transition plan for SharePoint support team.

The plan should be outlined by a person who holds knowledge. But the content should be filled by support team.  Also support team needs to get an estimate for every phase, the estimate should be recommended by a knowledgeable person.
They need to collaborate with developers to get the document done. 
Once the document is ready, a team lead\ or some other guy who knows the picture, needs to verify the document and to correct if necessarily.

Here are steps for transition plan:

1. Knowledge holders 
A main holder can be a team lead in the project. He should provide contact information to support team.
The contact info should contain all major areas that is needed to fully support the SharePoint farm and a responsible\ knowledgeable person in this area.

Here is an example of areas:
SharePoint Developer
SharePoint Architect
External system (BDC) administrators
Report developer
AD Administrator
ISA Administrator
SharePoint trainers

2. Environment  awareness
Support team should become aware:
 - what environments were build (ex: Dev, QC, Training, Staging , Prod);
 - the purpose of the environment;
 - the environment topology (how many servers with what roles, load balancing (ex. ISA) configuration)

The access plan should be developed: when to ask access to where. 

It will be milestones for the support team get them up to speed.

3.  Code awareness
- what the custom solutions and where they are;
- solution dependencies;
- how to build and deploy;

4. Development and deployment approaches
- is it possible go with no-downtime deployment and how (SharePoint : Farm solution deployment with no downtime. Update-SPSolution -local)

Approaches to deploy:
Content-based and code-based deployment, hybrid ( refer to previous posts):
When it makes sense to use:
- Sandbox solution - SharePoint 2010: Sandboxed solution restrictions and considerations
Hybrid Sandbox solution ;
- Farm solution;
- Content deployment

Each of these has own appropriate context and their advantages and disadvantages.

Note: This step is  for education purposes. You never know what knowledge a new member in SharePoint support team has.

5. Troubleshooting : common areas
As an example for our farm it is:
- External system check ( BDCM)

6. Backup and restore strategy

Happy supporting