Designing a SharePoint Extranet - Where to Begin?
A couple of weeks ago I posted a code snippet for adding users to an extranet environment. A few folks have asked if that is the first step in the process of creating an extranet. In my opinion, it is not. When I design an extranet with a new team, the first discussion session I lead is on defining a security model. Here's why:
Design Session Objective:
- Define the collection of unique user types (e.g. Client, Executive, Project Manager, Team Member)
- Create a matrix of business functions and allowed participants (i.e. only Project Managers can update content)
- Create a framework for the site taxonomy (i.e. each Client has a landing page and underlying project sites) and map defined user types to the respective security for each site type
- Document any exceptions to the rules above
Design Session Outcomes:
- Well-formed security model with a complete list of user types and associated permissions
- Framework for overall extranet navigation
- Framework for content associated with the various site types based on who can update specific content
- List of exceptions
Design Session Next Steps:
- Validation of security rules and taxonomy with business users, sponsors and IT
- Actionable plan for IT to start building the appropriate authentication model (e.g. AD users and groups; DMZ-based AD domain)
- Follow-on discussions on the next design stages: Site Templates, Navigation, Working wih External Data Sources, Dealing with the Exceptions, Customization... and, ultimately, the creation of a design document and associated project plan.
Note, this model works for both SharePoint V2 and V3 (I've done both!). In some ways, it is almost technology neutral (although I always like to balance business requirements with SharePoint native functionality in the discussions). The other benefit is that these design sessions are not exclusive to geek-speak. All project team members are welcome to participate. The objective is to develop a plan that accurately maps SharePoint functionality with business requirements. By starting with the security model, you can quickly gauge the complexity of the overall design and work quickly and seemlessly toward an efficient navigation and optimal user experience.
More details on navigation considerations in my next post...