Singapore Management University Saves Six Months Required to Implement Microsoft® SharePoint® 2013 with AvePoint Client Services

Critical Needs

  • Help from experienced SharePoint experts throughout the planning, implementation, and training phases of a new SharePoint implementation
  • Education on managing a SharePoint environment and training end-users to ensure it runs properly and is used effectively

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Success Highlights

  • Completed planning, implementation, and training phases of a new SharePoint intranet deployment in six months – 50 percent faster than initially expected for the project – by bringing on the AvePoint Client Services team of SharePoint experts to oversee the entire process
  • Received thorough training on effectively managing and governing the SharePoint environment as well as best practices on educating more than 9,100 users to take full advantage of the intranet’s enhanced collaboration capabilities
  • Achieved high satisfaction rating for the new intranet environment, with users giving the intranet a score of 8.2 out of 10 on average when surveyed
AvePoint brought the expertise, experience, and credentials needed to ensure our SharePoint project was a success.
Goh Wee Sen Associate Director of Web & Media Technologies, Singapore Management University

The Challenge

SMU was ready to upgrade to a new system after using a legacy system by Autonomy as its corporate intranet for nearly eight years. “Our users were having a difficult time finding what they needed on the system, the process of updating the intranet was cumbersome and required special software, there was no way to collaborate on documents, and the content was not mobile-friendly,” said Goh Wee Sen, Associate Director of Web & Media Technologies at SMU. “It was time for a change.”

With the need for a more modern intranet that will serve 1,100 staff and faculties as well as more than 8,000 students, SMU began a search for the right technology. Since SMU already used Microsoft products such as Exchange and a very small portion of the company’s intranet was already running on Microsoft SharePoint 2010, SMU chose to implement a hybrid combination of SharePoint 2013 on-premises and SharePoint Online. “The latest version of SharePoint had a capable search mechanism, mobile-ready interface, offered collaboration through the whole suite of Microsoft Office tools, and included many easy-to-use features for updating and publishing content,” Goh said. “For all of these reasons, we felt SharePoint was the best option for our intranet.”

With a ten person team at SMU in charge of the SharePoint implementation, the group decided to bring on an advisor to help, as its members had varying levels of SharePoint knowledge. “We wanted to minimise risk throughout the project by bringing in a competent partner to help,” Goh said. “We needed someone with a good depth of expertise in working with SharePoint across different industries who could help us learn from what other organisations have already done.”

The AvePoint Solution

In order to find the right partner, SMU brought in vendors to present to a 15-person panel. Members of the panel unanimously chose AvePoint Client Services (ACS), which offered SharePoint planning and implementation services based on Microsoft best practices and the company’s experience enabling collaboration for more than 13,000 organisations since 2001. “AvePoint brought the expertise, experience, and credentials needed to ensure our SharePoint project was a success,” Goh said.

For the first portion of the project, the ACS team helped SMU plan its overall SharePoint deployment in a series of workshops run by experts on the technology. These workshops – attended by SMU’s core SharePoint team – covered SharePoint information architecture, governance, and migration processes. “Based on AvePoint’s advice, SMU took a phased approach to the SharePoint project,” said Goh. “We targeted some of the largest departments to begin our work, such as Human Resources and Finance, which are sources of information that everyone on campus uses.”

While this took place, SMU’s IT team set up the hardware infrastructure required for the new environment. Throughout the process – from planning to execution – a dedicated technical solutions specialist from AvePoint worked on-site with SMU. “We had some misconceptions about how our intranet should be structured, so bringing AvePoint’s experience to this process was very beneficial to us,” Goh said. “It was also helpful to have a dedicated ACS specialist throughout every step of the project, creating detailed documentation the entire time. AvePoint took very good care of us.”

When planning was complete and the SharePoint environment set up, ACS began by training the team on effectively managing SharePoint, followed by sessions on how to train users on the new platform. “AvePoint shared knowledge that would help us properly manage SharePoint on our own – including how site collections should be governed, how policies and usage should be set up, data protection best practices, troubleshooting tips, and general advice on how to keep SharePoint in good health,” Goh said. “Following that, AvePoint trained us on how to educate our users – sharing its experience on how to best help users adapt to the new platform.”

SMU was not only able to speed up its implementation but also ensure user satisfaction on the new platform. “Many of us expected the intranet project to take at least one full year from start to finish, but by leveraging the expertise of ACS we were able to complete the project in only six months,” Goh said. “We surveyed users on the new system, and they rated their experience quite positively with an average score of 8.2 out of 10.”

The Bottom Line

SMU knew that SharePoint could offer its staff a more productive and collaborative work experience, but it needed to be sure the implementation was carried out properly every step of the way. In AvePoint, SMU found the partner it required to ensure the project was efficient and impactful. “AvePoint helped us raise the bar for our intranet, and our staff now view it in a new way,” Goh said. “Where it was once just a way to consume information, it is now seen as a way to better collaborate, improve communication, and be more productive on the job every day.”

About Singapore Management University

A premier university in Asia, the Singapore Management University (SMU) is internationally recognised for its world-class research and distinguished teaching. Established in 2000, SMU’s mission is to generate leading-edge research with global impact and produce broad-based, creative, and entrepreneurial leaders for the knowledge-based economy. SMU is home to more than 8,300 undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Singapore Management University