Book review: Practical SharePoint 2010 Information Architecture by Ruven Gotz

The new book “Practical SharePoint 2010 Information Architecture” by Ruven Gotz is now for sale. The book, by Apress want to give “Proven tools and techniques for architecting successful  SharePoint 2010 deployments”.

The book is clearly written from a very practical standpoint (what Ruven has learned all the years he has worked with SharePoint) and is not a deepdive in taxonomy,  ontology, ux, .. And it contains a lot of usefull information.

Chapter 1: Planning for Successful Outcomes

This chapter builds the basis for the key personal skills you will need to cultivate to be successful as an IA
or a BA: confidence, humor, and honesty among them. We then talk about how to run successful
workshops and how to use them to build your own understanding of the issues within the organization
that SharePoint could be applied to. We then cover the concept of building road maps for planning your
project phases.

Chapter 2: Introduction to Mind Mapping

This is the first tool I discovered that led me on the path I am now on. I will show you how quickly you
can learn mind mapping as a technique for visualization that will instantly make your meetings more
compelling, useful, efficient, and fun.

Chapter 3: The Magic of Metadata

Having a clear understanding of metadata and being able to explain it clearly to your project
stakeholders are essential for success. This chapter begins by explaining the metadata concepts and then
build on them to an understanding of taxonomy, content types, and exploration of the “f-word” (that’s
“folders”). We talk about how to gather the metadata you will need for your project and how to build
interactive taxonomy maps using mind mapping tools.

Chapter 4: Site Navigation and Structure

One of the most political elements of building a SharePoint site is getting agreement on the site
navigation. There are multiple competing interests who want their area to be highlighted or who don’t
understand why just replicating the organization chart won’t work. We again use mind mapping to work
interactively with the stakeholders to solve this efficiently. We talk about card sorting techniques to
validate the structures, and talk about the differences between portal areas and collaboration areas.

Chapter 5: Wireframing for SharePoint

Wireframing was never something I enjoyed doing until I discovered a tool called Balsamiq, which had
just the right mix of simplicity and power. This chapter will cover the approach I take to wireframing and
demonstrate how to use Balsamiq. I also talk about Microsoft Visio for wireframing as well as usability
testing and content strategy.

Chapter 6: Complexity, Wickedness, and Dialogue Mapping

Getting to a shared understanding of what it is you are actually going to accomplish with your
SharePoint project is probably the single biggest factor that will govern your project’s success or failure.
This chapter will introduce the IBIS grammar for mapping, as well as the compendium software used to
build these types of maps. I will show you real-world examples of how I have used these maps to rapidly
achieve agreement about project goals and scope.

Chapter 7: Business Process Mapping

Business information is not just static, it flows. So just discussing the structures for storing information
leaves out a big part of the story. The mapping of information flows as part of business processes is an
important part of planning for SharePoint because of the workflow capabilities that it brings. This
chapter covers the use of Microsoft Visio and BizAgi software for modeling business processes.

Chapter 8: The Art of Creating Business Process Solutions

In Chapter 7 we covered tools for mapping business processes. In this chapter, Sarah Haase writes about
how to actually build solutions that implement business processes and—very crucially—talks about how
to measure the return on investment (ROI) for these types of solutions. The ROI calculation is one that
will matter to anyone who needs to prove the bottom-line value of any investment you have made.

Chapter 9: Success with Search

In this chapter, Michal Pisarek writes about how important good search is to the success of your
SharePoint project. He talks about establishing search requirements and then how to take advantage of
SharePoint search features such as facets, best bets, and reporting to ensure that your users get the best
search results possible.

Chapter 10: Governance, Adoption, and Training

Governance, adoption, and training are concepts that are deeply intertwined. After your SharePoint site
is delivered, it is these elements that will determine if you have built a viable, long-term solution or
something that will either die from lack of use or become chaotic and unmanageable.

Chapter 11: Practice and Testing in the Cloud

Our work often requires us to test new concepts and potential solutions. Because SharePoint is so large,
we can’t know all of the parts of it, and when our colleagues or customers ask us whether something is
possible, we need to have access to an environment that gives us free rein to test out ideas. This chapter
will compare the services I have used for this purpose: CloudShare, Microsoft Office 365, and Amazon’s
Elastic Compute Cloud.

Chapter 12: Conclusion: Putting It All Together

I conclude by taking you through the lifecycle of a SharePoint project, put together everything you’ve
learned throughout the book, and emphasize the key tools and when and how you would apply them.

So what do I think of the book ?

The subject is great! I mean, for someone like me, a functional / business analist this is a great source of information. When I started working in the Information Worker field, I had training on interview-techniques and notations. That is very functional information and stuff you really need as an analist.

But when you are dealing with SharePoint, there is not that much information on a non-technical level. This book solves the gap there. I also liked the chapters on non-sharepoint stuff, like the Balsamiq review and mind mapping. These are great techniques and applications that can ease the architects job.

About: Marijn

Marijn Somers (MVP) has over 14 years experience in the SharePoint world, starting out with SP2007. Over the years the focus has grown to Office 365, with a focus on collaboration and document management. He is a business consultant at Balestra and Principal Content Provider for "Mijn 365 Coach" that offers dutch employee video training. His main work tracks are around user adoption, training and coaching and governance. He is also not afraid to dig deeper in the technicalities with PowerShell, adaptive cards or custom formatting in lists and libraries. You can listen to him on the biweekly "Office 365 Distilled" podcast.

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