Being an IT person that has been "embedded" in the comptroller organization at USSOCOM has been a great experience. Since I live and breathe their business each day (for the past 11 years), it has allowed me to learn how they interact with their various business partners during budget cycles, Congressional interactions, and the myriad of financial data systems they use on a daily basis.
Migration from SP2003 to MOSS
The migration to MOSS was our opportunity to set up our business portals for our SOF community. I support both NIPRNet (unclassified) and SIPRNet (classified) Site Collections for the comptroller organization.
We really struggled with access and permission issues with SP2003, so we used the advice we read on many SP blogs concerning building a successful SP archectiture PLAN-PLAN-PLAN...
Since MOSS offered item-level permission, we used the lessons learned from SP V1 and V2. We needed to provide an environement that our community could both collaborate and protect data. Our main site collection is split into two different environments, Internal and External Business Centers. We broke inheritance and used Active Directory to allow only our internal comptroller personnel assigned to our headquarters access to the Internal Business Center site collection.
Our External Business Center is set for read-only for all USSOCOM personnel (authenticated users) and for the collaborative business processes we set up SP Security Groups based on our Components, Theater Special Operations Commands, and other agencies. These groups are "self-managed" by the group members and are allowed to "Contribute" in any/all business processes they are involved with. This approach allowed us to break a paradigm we have struggled with for years - the "I want to limit who has access to the data."
If a Group Member contrinutes in an area that they shouldn't - their Group privileges can be taken away! This has not happened yet. MOSS has also given us the much waited for Recycle Bin - in the rare cases a user deletes an item.
Now when personnel want to put their business processes on the portal we just ask them "who you doing business with? External or Internal customers and go from there.
Educate the Masses
Our comand has three levels of SP training. We (the IT embeds) have opted to find and train comptroller power users and enable them with site collections and design rights. This has allowed us to use MOSS to enable our users to conduct their business in a central portal area: one spot, one autorative source of info, one look and feel.
On our NIPRNet Portal, we have set up an IT training area with target information that comproller personnel are intersted in (Excel Services). We also link to all the SP Blogs, SP tutorials, and send out Portal Tips emails to spark interest and drive the power users to excel.
We have found that SP training is expensive!! Our new approach is to have them "on-site" and request a per class cost and not per user. We also have tailored the classes for the environment and implementaion we use at USSOCOM.
One venue that is free, is using SP MVPs to provide free "talks and how-tos" to our users. This is simialr to SP Saturdays but they come to you! We have had Brett Lonsdale from Lightning Tools provide a talk on Mapping out the Business Data Catalog (BDC), SP911 and Critical Path Training have also been very helpful.
Squeezing the MOSS
If you are not using Excel Services, BDC for datamining back-end DBs, Performance Point Server or SQL reporting services you are not getting the ROI on MOSS that you should!
I have attached a great Web Part that was free and we use on some of our sites. It is a content editor WP and allows tabs in a WP zone for each WP. URL for WP
I will share how we have fully automated several processes using SPD and ShareVis workflows in my next post.
Happy New Year to all!