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.”