Why a SharePoint project is like building a house – Part 2 The Build

By Simon Tyrrell, nSynergy Chief Strategy Officer. If you missed Part 1 please jump across and have a read before continuing on.

Images courtesy of Clever Design, www.cleverdesign.com.au. Photographer Ian Wallace.

Images courtesy of Clever Design, http://www.cleverdesign.com.au. Photographer Ian Wallace.

Where did we leave off? That’s right, my house project was about to enter the build phase and things got even spookier from a SharePoint project parallels standpoint.

The Build

Once we had selected the builder (note – the 3D walkthrough I mentioned in Part 1 was very helpful at this point) we went into build mode. Surprisingly, the whole experience was much less stressful than my wife and I had anticipated.

In hindsight I put this relative ease down to three key things: our relationship with the builder and his level of skill; the relationship between the builder and the designer; but most importantly, the fact that we had such a clear understanding of what the end result would be because of the process we went through in the vision, concept and detail phases.

On numerous occasions when we went onsite during the build a question was raised about a point of design. Our immediate action was to revisit the 3D model and view the design in its final context. This allowed us to refer back to the full story, and not just pieces of disjointed functionality.

Images courtesy of Clever Design, www.cleverdesign.com.au. Photographer Ian Wallace.

Images courtesy of Clever Design, http://www.cleverdesign.com.au. Photographer Ian Wallace.

What does it all mean?

The popular way of doing things with portals, intranets etc. is targeted at a technical audience (i.e. the builder). And, for a long time, we too accepted this as best practice – we would capture requirements and refer to business outcomes in our solution design. But often we did this expecting users to consume and understand a level of technical detail that simply wasn’t important to them. Significantly, we rarely showed them a visual representation of how we had interpreted their requirements or how we planned on meeting their vision early on in the piece.

I immediately realised we needed to dedicate more time to helping our customers generate a ‘mind’s eye’ view of what are often quite complex, multi-layered solutions. In doing so, we could reduce uncertainty by helping them understand it faster, and with more clarity, while maintaining the level of detail and complexity needed to actually build the environment.

This learning is supported by our experience with the house design. Although a number of changes were made to the initial 3D designs to deal with technical realities, my wife and I have made very few cosmetic or functional changes.

Why? Put simply – because our designer used rich visual representations from very early on, we knew where we were headed. We could see how he was meeting our vision and requirements, and were therefore very comfortable with what was happening. I am positive this made our designer’s life much easier and our builder made comments on more than one occasion that without the visual representations he would have struggled to build the house in the time and at the cost he did. He was able to get an immediate understanding of the design vision that simply couldn’t have been achieved from detailed technical drawings.

Architecture is an industry going through change in its tools and its processes. Some architects and designers are at the cutting edge using the latest tools and methods such as those used by ours. Others are doing what they have always done. I know which one I would work with if I was to do this all again!

Got a question for Simon? Contact us at info@nsynergy.com.

Previous nSynergy blogs you might enjoy:

SHAREPOINT VIDEO: Enterprise video killed the radio star

WEB DESIGN: The skinny on flat design

CHANGE MANAGEMENT: Pole-vaulting roadblocks to change

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