Sunday, October 25, 2009

SharePoint Conference 2009 from a Distance

Sitting on the sidelines is no picnic when there are 7000 people having fun without you at #SPC09. So like thousands of others around the world, we sat glued to our laptops for days instead. The energy generated by the global SharePoint community for the keynote was felt in all four corners of the world – a ShareGasm if there ever was one ;-). We may have been sitting in suburbs in other world countries, but those few hours around the keynote felt like we were really there, and that was thanks to the thousands of tweets, pictures and blogs that were posted by those that attended. Thanks SharePointers!!!

Apart from all the great info shared on the sessions, there were underlying topics of conversation on Twitter, think it’s a fair representation of how these things go :

Day 1 – excitement, jetlag, food, SharePint
Day 2 – coffee, walking far, lack of sleep
Day 3 – beer and naps
Day 4 – irritability and exhaustion

This fun post is for the 7000 that were there that may not have gotten the big picture like we did. This is also for end users to see what’s in store for SharePoint 2010 – and how much we missed out on, sigh. This presentation (6MB, 2007 version) is a summary of my favourite photos and tweets posted over the past few days. (I don’t know anyone in the photos, they were just taken from the links supplied on Twitter). It is stored on Information Worker under Events - SharePoint Conference 2009 Pics if the presentation takes too long to load.

In the presentation:

Photos : keynote hall, speech, exhibit, how we kept up, around Vegas, parties Vegas style.

Tweet categories :
  • Getting there and day 1
  • On the keynote
  • On Steve Balmer
  • Geeks and nerds
  • Party consequences
  • Getting tired
  • What?
  • Appreciation
  • Marriage and divorce
  • Random stuff
  • On hotels and Vegas
  • On Twitter
  • Priorities
  • News for end users
  • What happens in Vegas...
There are thousands more photos all over the net, a search on Flickr has a great selection. Some people were so happy to be there they had to jump for joy, you can't help smiling at them. And of course there are plenty on Facebook too.

(Click here for the Office 2003 version, 10MB).


Monday, October 12, 2009

Let's Collaborate Brings You 3 New SharePoint Courses

I have designed 3 SharePoint courses for end users.

Lists - Why? Because as an end user, this is where you will find the most value. It’s relatively easy to learn, and once you get it, you will find endless uses for it. Most of your spreadsheets will become redundant, and if you need to fill in a form and send it to someone, you can use this too. You don’t have SharePoint Enterprise Features (Excel Services or InfoPath). You just need access to core SharePoint and Excel 2007.

Permissions - Why? Because as a site owner or site collection administrator, you have to understand how this works or you will end up redesigning your site. This is where the biggest confusion comes in for most site owners and administrators. In fact most guru's can't even agree how it should be done. I have come up with a unique way to make the penny drop so you can decide for yourself, and it involves you getting tied up! ;-) (Really).

Mentorship Program - Why? Because having a mentor for a couple of months can save you 2 years worth of work. If you have been tasked with becoming the resident SharePoint Champion this is for you, but take note of the pre-requisites. This is a unique program in the industry; there is nothing else like it out there. This is my specialty as this is where my biggest issue was when I was still learning, so I decided to provide this service.

Swap You SharePoint Training for Website Training?

I've hit a brick wall on my website.  I want to make it interactive but have no idea how.  I am not a website developer and have done as much as I can with the limited experience I have in this area. 

So if you are willing to share your web dev expertise with me, I will reciprocate by giving equal time in SharePoint training or consultation. If you don’t use SharePoint you can subcontract your deal to a friend that does use it.

My website is built using WebPlus 9, it doesn’t have full HTML editing capability, but you can put HTML and Java elements into it. The whole thing is hosted on a Linux platform, which means nothing to me.

I want to put RSS feeds to changes, be able to let people register on my site, change that puke orange to a nice orange, standardize on images, stop the pages from ‘jumping’ etc etc. I know what’s wrong with the site, I just don’t know how to fix it.

The only pre-requisite I have is that I must still be able to maintain my site myself, just teach me how. I don’t want to be dependent on someone else to do changes at this stage.

Please contact me if you want to help.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Webinars, Videos and Podcasts Issues

I recently raised an issue with Mark Miller about my inability to watch video footage from his site due to my 3G access with very limited bandwidth and data caps.  It seems this is quite a problem around the world with plenty other issues to consider.  Check out the responses on End User SharePointMy plea to anyone supplying webinars, videos and podcasts - please put the size and duration of the download in the description, as well as a documented version of some kind with the content so the technologically challenged people around the world can plan accordingly and have an alernative.  Or don't; but you will be losing a very big audience - end users - and they are the ones who need your expertise the most. Just a thought. :-)

Monday, October 5, 2009

How Do You Measure SharePoint - Metrics for Business Users

It goes without saying, if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. This is not always so easy on SharePoint from a business user perspective. It’s easier for the server administrators as they can measure uptime, total users, space used etc. But how do business users put SharePoint on their balanced scorecards?

The trick is to have measured from the beginning. It is much harder to measure benefit when you are months or years into your project. If you are, don’t worry; just keep this in mind for future sites on SharePoint. But sites are never “finished”, so you could start from today if you need to.

When determining metrics, you’ll need to demonstrate that your site / project is meeting and supporting business objectives. Management are going to want to know how SharePoint is adding value. Ask yourself, if someone had to justify to you why you should continue to invest in SharePoint (whether by upgrades, resources, enterprise licensing, training or 3rd party tools), what would you want to hear?

There are two aspects to take into consideration, quantitative (numeric information), and qualitative (non numeric information). In other words, the number of clients that have visited your site (quantitative), and their current happiness level by the survey they completed (qualitative).

Don’t give quantitative accounts without a bottom line to demonstrate the time / money savings, for example : “I used to have to email my whole team to get feedback, then collate all the responses, it is much easier now”.

That doesn’t mean much to business decision makers, however : “I used to send email to 15 team members, then have to collate their responses and publish the results to management. I now send one email and the responses are captured by the team members themselves in a custom list saving me 3 hours of work per week. At my current rate of R100 per hour, I effectively save the company R15600 per year on this task alone”. These are metrics management can understand and appreciate.

To do any of this, you first you need to establish a baseline, snapshot where you are now, then decide what you are going to measure and how often. A good idea is to look at your organization or department’s current key performance indicators. Think about how your site impacts or supports these indicators. (If they don’t, maybe you need to rethink your site content and what you are trying to achieve).

Like most things in life, you need balance. Make sure you aren’t spending more time collecting metrics from SharePoint than doing other work. Remember too that realizing that value of SharePoint takes time. Simply installing the product does not constitute a successful project. Company-wide user adoption with the proper use of the functionality using best practices with successful retrieval of information quickly does.

Some things you could measure; if you have more to add, please feel free to comment accordingly. Remember to translate all time saved into a monetary value per week, month and / or year. Obviously depending on what you are responsible for in SharePoint will affect what you are going to report on, Site Owners will be different to Site Collection Administrators and those responsible for the entire implementation.

• Site stats – take a screen dump of the usage analysis on your site every month. It is available out of box under Site Actions – Site Settings – Modify All Settings. This will show how effective your site is in disseminating information as well as identify dormancy.

• Put a hit counter onto your site, (out of box SharePoint Designer web component). Take screen dumps every month so you can monitor increased visits. When you report, mention you reached X number of people in the space of X months. Keep track of the stats per month and do some nice graphs at the end of the year to impress your decision makers.

• Take screen dumps every time you change the look and feel and note how long it took to achieve each one. Management tend to hugely under-estimate how long it takes to do things on SharePoint, you need to prove what you have been up to. Also say how you’ve improved the site with each version – you did it in response to a survey on the content for example.

• How long it took to retrieve the right documentation from a file share as opposed to now on SharePoint.

• The number of sub folders you had on a file share compared to SharePoint. (You replaced all sub-folders with metadata effectively making the top level folder the one point of truth for uploading documents, and saving X time for users to get to information, and reduced the number of clicks by X.

• If you work with Excel spreadsheets and converted them to lists on SharePoint, demonstrate how you saved X time collating reports / data from users who before had to fill in the spreadsheet and mail it back, where-after you had to collate that information and send out reports. Say reports took X hours / days / weeks to complete one report, whereas now multiple reports are updated simultaneously by using different views for multiple managers on one list. Reports are now available 24/7 as the team update the list, as opposed to weekly or monthly once someone had compiled them.

• If you are in charge of cleaning up data from file shares or sites on SharePoint, note how many search results turned up a topic as opposed to after cleaning up the data. Mention also how the use of metadata has made for a more effective SharePoint solution as a result.

• Convert single documents in document libraries into wikis and again take note of the amount of clicks saved with anecdote about better use of information.

• If you have a SharePoint community of practice site (which is good idea), and it has how to’s, common errors, and training material; determine how long it took to educate your user base as opposed to after you had the site. So before you had to sit with new users for X time, now you just refer them to your site and the turnaround time has dropped by X time. Users now do self diagnostic by referring to the error repository and how to’s instead of calling the helpdesk or primary administrator – keep track of how call numbers have decreased as users become more confident and able due to your information sharing.

• If you are the SharePoint champion in the organization, have metrics like having to send out minimum 52 emails a year with SharePoint tips or tricks or news, have to host 6 user groups internally to grow the user base and contribute to user adoption, must conduct 3 satisfaction surveys per year – after each one, record how things have improved or declined then make it part of your next scorecard to address the results and how you plan to do that.

• Have a ‘give us feedback’ section on every site – it will encourage staff to participate. Keep stats on how many people did comment compared to X months later – you are contributing to user adoption and encouraging a collaborate environment (not easy when that is not the inherent culture).

• For administrators, monitor the number of sites, space and users – report on the growth per month as well as the activity of the sites. Report on number of dormant sites – then if you are involved in the training of users as well, how many fewer dormant sites there were after your training.

• A big winner is saving on email which costs organizations a fortune. Specify how many mails used to go out with attachments compared to now. You only send hyperlinks to documents on SharePoint, it has prevented many duplications of documentation going around the company and provided one point of truth. Also state that your policy is to only send out summary Alert Me’s from SharePoint thereby also saving the amount of emails going to staff giving them more time to concentrate on their jobs.

• Monitor the number of documents being uploaded. At the end of a given time period, say there was a X% increase of uploaded content, (if the content doesn’t have decent metadata and naming standards this could work against you, so make sure you have educated your teams properly in following best practices).

• Keep track of the number of responses to discussion forums vs surveys and report on how your study showed that either one is a more effective communication tool. Again, report on the number of responses vs the number of staff, do percentages, before and after the baseline.

Determining metrics effectively is dependent on the right approach being taken from the start. Don’t ask what SharePoint can do for you; ask what you can do for SharePoint! In other words, first you need to identify your business issues, analyse your “as is” situation, decide and document the ideal world scenario, think about how departments get information from each other, how well teams collaborate willingly and how information is found. How are you planning on retrieving your information a year-plus from now? Once you have taken all these into factor, apply the right functionality in SharePoint to each process – then measure it.

Here is a list extracted from Essential SharePoint 2007 by Scott Jamison, Mauro Cardarelli and Susan Hanley on what else to measure and how :

Objective : Maximize the reuse of best practices across the enterprise, enabling the organization to replicate successful business practices in all geographies.
Possible Measure : Quantitative – number of downloads of best practices or reusable assets. Qualitative – usage anecdotes where users can describe in quantitative terms how a SharePoint asset that they reused contributed to business objectives.
Capture Frequency : Monthly
Issues and Challenges : Frequent downloads are a proxy for content value, indicating that the content is delivering value to users. Gathering anecdotes is a labour intensive process and may require some creativity to obtain. You may want to consider a success story contest (with prizes) to get SharePoint users to share high-quality success stories.
Target : Look for an upward trend in the number of downloads for new content or portals. Look for steady state activity in more mature environments. Targets should be set based on the maturity of the solution and the strategic importance of the content. Targets for success stories might be based on the total “value” represented in the stories collected and/or the number of stories documented.

Objective : Improve time to market for proposals and contracts.
Possible Measure : Quantitative – average proposal or contract development time.
Capture Frequency : Ideally captured for each proposal or contract then compiled (averages) on a semiannual or annual basis.
Issues and Challenges : This measure will be easiest to capture if it is already a key performance measurement for the enterprise.
Target : Trend downward from baseline. Target might also be a specific percentage of time reduction.

Objective : Reduce training costs for enterprise applications.
Possible Measure : Quantitative – total training costs for enterprise applications.
Capture Frequency : Annual.
Issues and Challenges : Some organizations justify their SharePoint investment solely on the reduction in training costs. The assumption is that most users are not ‘power users’ of enterprise applications. Instead of investing in full training programs for these users, you only need to train them in the use of the portal, not each enterprise application.
Target : Percentage of absolute reduction in training expenses for enterprise applications.

Objective : Provide an organised ‘one stop shop’ for information for SharePoint users that help them reduce information overload.
Possible Measure : Qualitative – usage anecdotes where users can describe in quantitative terms how using SharePoint has improved their productivity.
Capture Frequency : Monthly.
Issues and Challenges : Gathering anecdotes is a labour intensive process and may require some creativity to obtain. Consider using the built-in SharePoint survey capability. Targets for success stories might be based on the total “value” represented in the stories collected and/or the number of stories documented.
Target : Targets for success stories might be based on the total “value” represented in the stories collected and/or the number of stories documented.

To put this into further context, this is an example of what I had on my scorecard last year for one of my duties as SharePoint champion and responsible for the communication of all things SharePoint :

Measure : Prepare and publish newsletters and articles, establish website, participate and present artefacts to business units and interest groups.

Source : Website, emails, surveys, minutes, site usage stats.

Targets : D Performer – 400 people reached, C performer – 600 people reached, B performer – 800 people reached, A performer – 1000 people reached.

Target Dates : Make SharePoint Community of Practise site part of the Get Fit for IT Program (June); Host 5 user groups or knowledge cafes (November); send 8 newsletters (December); conduct 2 satisfaction surveys (December).

Hope this helps.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

SharePoint 2010 for End Users

Everyone has heard about the new version, but as an average end user you probably would not have seen it yet or know much about it. It may also be a couple of years before your company decides to upgrade to the new version. So why should you care and what does this mean for you, especially when you are battling to get the current version under the belt? I’m probably the last person to write anything on the new version, but here’s my 5c worth.

When working with a powerful tool like SharePoint, you always need to keep the big picture in mind and remember the 3 cardinal words : plan, plan, plan. You need to know what SharePoint 2010 will have to offer out of box so you don’t overcomplicate your current solution and do any custom development without an upgrade in mind. Just be aware, that’s all. And when the time comes, do the necessary research and get help if necessary.

What is going to be important is making sure you are on Office 2007 and SharePoint 2007 now already. If you are still on 2003 versions and planning to hop, skip and jump versions to start fresh on 2010, you are going to have a very steep learning curve. The user experience is so vastly different from the 2003 versions it’s just not true. Get all your users onto Office 2007 as soon as possible and start getting used to the interface. The integration from Office into SharePoint is seamless; having one without the other is pointless.

This is what it looks like, (see the Site Actions button has moved to the other side of the screen and the ribbon is a permanent feature) :

Just as SharePoint teaches you to think differently about your information and how to access it, there has been a change in thinking in Microsoft as to how to offer SharePoint. The terminology of 2010 is quite different to 2007. You’ve all seen the pie chart (value offering) of 2007 :

This is what the one for 2010 looks like :

What does it all mean?

Sites – they aren’t being referred to as portals anymore, (there goes my easy explanation of what SharePoint is). Sites are designed to share information securely and cover all mediums; intranets, internets, extranets and team sites. Checking in / out multiple documents is now a breeze!

Communities – empowering people to work together seamlessly in new ways, (think out of the box).

Content – management of content from its creation to its destruction and sharing it in ways to make it come alive.

Search – FAST had been integrated to make rich people search and data effortless. Previously ‘locked’ business data (line of business, transactional databases, etc), can now be searched as well. Getting results right the first time was the top focus.

Insights – allowing you to make better decisions faster and viewing data, people and systems effortlessly in order to make those decisions.

Composites – ‘rapid business solution development’, meaning you can build solutions with ease on top of SharePoint now. SharePoint Designer and Visual Studio integration is far less complicated.

More new lingo for SharePoint 2010 :

Web Edit – right now we use the Content Editor Web Part now to make the site look pretty, but it’s a hassle to change. Web edit allows you to change the web part in the browser. Images can be easily uploaded now and formatted. Adding web parts looks completely different and far more user friendly. Default Silverlight web parts are also available which end users can leverage.

Rich Theming – you can import themes from your PowerPoint presentations now. Nightmare for the Governance fanatics out there, but great news for loosely governed team sites looking for some individuality.

Multiple Browser Support – SharePoint will look the same regardless of the browser you are using, (IE, Firefox etc).

Visio Services – design your business processes (workflow) in Visio and simply upload it. SharePoint will automatically display the processes in the browser.

Business Connectivity Services – the evolution of the Business Data Catalogue, (advanced users only). It also offers integration with Office and has offline capabilities.

SharePoint Workspace – the old Groove. Also has great integration with Office and offline capability.

Entities – new to SharePoint Designer which has had a major user interface revamp, looks a lot more like SharePoint now and easier for the end user to operate, (thankfully). Entities allow you to connect to backend systems.

Rich Media Support – slides, videos, animations, sounds, etc are all integrated and make your presentations come alive like they never have before.

Connect and Empower People – across time zones, business partners and firewalls to connect to customers. Ability to access SharePoint on your PC, on your phone or via the internet. High focus on social computing.

Cut Costs With Unified Infrastructure – means integration across all technologies with seamless search. It also means one training module, not 20, on one technology. The enterprise class infrastructure allows you to build applications in your environment yourself.

Rapidly Responding to Business Needs – the platform consists of and supports all line of business applications, business applications and rich applications for high end business needs. No more ‘rip and replace’ programming required.

But apart from all this cool functionality, it’s just downright pretty!! I can’t wait.

That’s it for now. Makes you wanna rush out and buy it hey. :-)

Watch the sneak peak here, (it's around 130MB in case you are using 3G or have a cap).