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Team, Meet SharePoint

Establishing a Teamworking Protocol

At the beginning of working with other people on a shared project, team members need to agree on the general approach to how they will work together, particularly when technology such as SharePoint is involved. Because everyone not in the same room is invisible, a shared mental picture is needed by everyone to know what has been planned to happen. “How does what I am working on by myself here relate to what Yvonne is doing in Australia and what Robert is working on in London?”

At this stage of the team’s work, a few broad principles and agreements are in order. For example, it is very helpful to have shared and common expectations about the following:

  • How often people will respond to announcements posted in the SharePoint announcements list. Is a response within a week sufficient, or is something faster expected?

  • How people will react if they do not understand something that another person says. Do they push ahead on their understanding, or do they go back to the other person?

  • How people will share the contextual information about what is going on for them.

  • That it is expected—and absolutely beneficial—that people have disagreements and differences of opinions about key matters in the project. If everyone thinks the same, a team will not be necessary. However, the key is that we will not allow disagreements to derail the progress of the project, because we agree to listen carefully and resolve our disagreements through candid dialogue and debate. When we can’t do this by ourselves, we agree that after making our case to the wider team, we will abide by the decision of the wider team.

Making the point of agreeing with these principles upfront is very helpful to ensuring that the difficulties of working remotely do not overshadow the work of the team, and ruin it for everyone.

The best way to start the agreement toward a shared way of working is for the team leader to make an initial statement of approach, using the SharePoint Team Wiki. This should be on a page linked from the Project Delta Process Comments page, and should be named Agreement on Working Approach (see Figure 4-25).

Figure 4-25

Figure 4-25. Use the wiki to describe the common working approach.

After the initial statement has been made, the team leader should create an announcement linking back to the page, asking the other members on the team to read it over and make any suggestions or recommendations that make sense. These can be made directly on the page in the wiki.