BOGO is Back!

written by: Admin on May 23rd, 2014


Be prepared to take on the world of IT. Now is the perfect time to get your team trained.

Buy one class scheduled in July or August and receive a second seat in the same class for free!

This is a great way to supplement training for your entire team. Enter code: SAVE2014BOGO at checkout to receive the discount. When registering, specify “2” in the quantity box; the discount will not be recognized unless you specify you want the second seat. You may also call one of our Training Advisors to register for the course. Second seat is available when first seat is purchased at list price and cannot be combined with other offers.


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Folders vs Metadata – Round 3

written by: Traci Taylor on July 22nd, 2014

In my final installment regarding the use of Folders in SharePoint I want to just outline a few bullet points and recap the previous blog posts.  And finally give a list of other resources on the web around this topic.

1)      Folders constrain you by not allowing you to use all the features of Views

2)      Folders are usually named very liberally.  The URL can become too large.

3)      Search cannot use folders because folders cannot have metadata

4)      If you are using folders because of permissions, consider Document Sets!

5)      Items that need to be classified in multiple ways would mean you would have to put a copy in every folder

6)      Metadata is scalable

7)      You can slice and dice your data using Views with metadata

This is a great matrix that I found on the web.  The link to the original page is listed below:

  Folders Metadata
Security Folders can be used to propagate permissions and control the access to the resources the folders contain. None.
Content Type Order Folders can control which content type’s users can create using the New menu on the list toolbar. Folders can also control the order in which the content types appear in the menu. None.
Navigation Folders are intrinsically part of the navigational infrastructure in the SharePoint platform. Metadata can be used to control navigation, but this requires creative approaches. List View web parts showing filtered list views can provide metadata-based navigational capabilities. While this requires no custom code, it can be labor intensive to add the web parts to a large number of pages. Additional metadata-based navigation can be accomplished through custom code.

SharePoint 2010 Update: SharePoint Server 2010 supports the use of metadata-based navigation for files in document libraries and list items.

Url Folder names form portions of the URL of the SharePoint resources the folders contain. None.
Tools Support Most Microsoft and 3rd party tools inherently know how to work with folders in the SharePoint platform. Metadata support in 3rd party tools is spotty. While a tool from one vendor will generally understand how to handle its own metadata, the tool will generally not understand how to handle the metadata from another vendor’s tool. This can make it challenging to incorporate metadata from multiple vendors’ tools into a single SharePoint information architecture.
Search None. Metadata is indexed by SharePoint search and will return results based on keyword searches. SharePoint Server also supports promoting selected metadata to searchable properties.

SharePoint 2010 Update: SharePoint Server 2010 and FAST Search for SharePoint supports using metadata to refine search results.

Sort None. Metadata can be used to control the order in which items are displayed in list views.
Filter List views can be configured to show only the list items contained within a folder and its sub folders. Metadata can be used to control which items are displayed in list views.
Group None. Metadata can be used to group list items together in list views. List views limit grouping to two hierarchical levels.




Web Seminar Recap: Building Libraries for Lifecycle Management

written by: Admin on July 15th, 2014

SharePoint is an Enterprise Collaboration platform which drives organizational engagement and allows teams to work on information together in a central portal.  Document libraries are the key tool for document/information lifecycle management. SharePoint Libraries are a key feature that allows organizations to manage document lifecycle from beginning to end.  While throughout history information managers have come up with creative ways to manage documents, unless you purchase a system specifically designed for lifecycle management, it has always taken much time and resources to manage documents.  SharePoint Libraries offer the capability to manage multi-user collaboration, but also versioning and content approval.  These features empower us to truly manage the lifecycle of information from the time of creation through the time when the information is no longer required.

Topics that were covered in this one hour webinar:

•        What are SharePoint Libraries
•        Different types of Libraries offered in SharePoint
•        Create Libraries with intent to manage information lifecycle
•        Use metadata and Views to visualize information
•        Content Approval workflow
•        Version Control
•        Best Practices

This one hour web seminar, Building Libraries for Lifecycle Management, was hosted by Tom Robbins on Friday, July 11th at Noon EST.

Missed this seminar? Download the recording and slides here!


3 Crucial Steps for a Salesforce Training Plan

written by: Melissa Monroe on July 9th, 2014

1. Establish a commitment to organizational change.

You’ll need to do the work essential to reach consensus with all teams. Discover where customer touch points relate, what information is important to whom and why, and find what existing business processes seem inefficient. Once each team feels they’ve been heard they will probably agree that change is a good thing.

2. Define specific adjustments to operations.

Try creating a matrix of all the problems found in the first step and the solutions that were discussed. Use this matrix to compare all the issues from all departments and note possible operational changes that would solve these issues. Focus on the operational changes needed. The largest part of building a solid Salesforce Training strategy is creating a consistent sales process that is based on best practices, can be executed across your sales organization, and incorporates tightly with marketing and operations.

3. Document your Salesforce Training Strategy.

Your strategy should recognize the specific business problems, define objectives with measureable results, and outline how Salesforce Training will affect the company, current operations, and your customers. To ensure organizational buy-off, boil down your CRM strategy into these critical points:

  • How will Salesforce Training improve the lives of its users?
  • How will it increase productivity?
  • How will it impact sales?

This strategy is then taken back to the key stakeholders for final buy-off.


Web Seminar Recap: Manage Your Project Portfolio using TFS 2013 Agile Features

written by: Melissa Monroe on July 8th, 2014

Using the new enterprise Agile management capabilities of TFS 2013, you can now efficiently manage a portfolio or projects, teams, and features in a single integrated view.

In this one hour web seminar, Manage Your Project Portfolio using TFS 2013 Agile Features on July 2nd, Bryon Brewer demonstrated the new planning features in TFS 2013 that allows users to create multiple levels of hierarchy representing releases, features, and user stories.  Users learned to manage efforts across multiple teams and sprints, track progress, gain visibility into overall project status, and see where resources are allocated.

Missed this web seminar? Catch up by downloading the slides and recording!


Folders vs Metadata in SharePoint 2013 – Round 2

written by: Tom Robbins on July 7th, 2014

As promised, “Round 2” in my series where we discuss the advantages of using metadata over folders in SharePoint.   I found a good example of why metadata is valuable in document classification.   I’d like to share that:

Although a great deal of information is (and opinions are) available on the web, most of them favoring the use of metadata instead of folders, I’d like to add some samples that I use in my daily work.  Please notice the quotes, intentionally put there to stress that using SharePoint instead of file shares is much more than just a migration: it’s a whole new way of work! However, that’s a bit out of scope for this article so let’s stick to metadata versus folders.

We love to structure our data…

… And that’s actually not a bad habit. A common scenario at customers is a file share for project teams that structure their data based on some properties of their projects, like the following example:

  • Division a
    • Department b
      • Project c
        • Stage d
          • Document 1
          • Document 2

People have worked like this for ages and seem generally satisfied with this solution.

Not so structured after all?

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Web Seminar Recap: SharePoint 2013 Automation and Task Tracking

written by: Admin on July 2nd, 2014

In a recent SharePoint class, a student presented the following scenario:
They needed a way to view reports from the current month. They also needed to sort the reports by status, and if possible use color-coded indicators so they could see where the reports stood at any point. Furthermore the solution needed to be automated.  Lets break down how we might solve this issue in SharePoint:

1.        We need to filter company reports by the current month.
2.        We need to sort company reports by reports status.
3.        We need to create a Key Performance Indicator to view reports by status and percentage.

One small issue, according to Microsoft, Status Lists and Status Indicators have been depreciated in SharePoint 2013!

This webinar demonstrated how we create an automated solution to address this real-world issue.  This included calculating fields to assign a month to reports as they are added to the reports library – meaning the user uploading the report didn’t need to worry about selecting a value for the month field; SharePoint automatically supplied this value for them.  We created a view that allowed us to display only reports for the current month, and to group our reports by status.  Finally, attendees learned that not only are status lists and indicators still present, but how to create and use them in SharePoint 2013.

This one hour web seminar, SharePoint 2013 Automation and Task Tracking, was presented on Friday, June 27th, 2014 by Andy Honeycutt.

Missed this seminar? Catch up by downloading the slides and recording here.


How to Change the Look and Feel of SharePoint Sites

written by: Saurabh Agrawal on July 2nd, 2014

If you are a SharePoint administrator, then you should be aware how you can change the look and feel of your SharePoint site according to client’s requirement, or even how to change the look and feel according to different festivals or holidays.

The standard SharePoint colors work just fine, but perhaps you want to change the color palette for a holiday, to match your brand, or even your individual team’s colors. SharePoint provides some very powerful features for changing the look and feel of your site. You don’t need web designers or any specialized technical skills. You change the look and feel of your site using settings in the Look and Feel section of the Site Settings page, as shown in the below image.



The Look and Feel section contains a number of options for changing things on your site such as navigation, title, description, logo, and most importantly the look of your site. The links in the Look and Feel section of Site Settings differ depending on which SharePoint feature is active.

The look of your site is composed by using multiple files which include Master Pages, CSS, color palettes, font palettes and background images. These are called your composed look.

Changing the Composed look using the interface:

Click the Settings gear icon and choose Site Settings; in the Look and Feel section of the Site Settings page, click the Change the Look link, Change the Look Page appear as shown in below figure.



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Introduction to Security in SharePoint 2013

written by: Saurabh Agrawal on June 25th, 2014

The increasing use of Microsoft SharePoint to store sensitive business data, extended access and collaboration to partners, customers and suppliers has outpaced native SharePoint security capabilities.

More and more organizations are storing and accessing sensitive, regulated information through this platform. To improve business security, organizations must invest in organizing, managing and protecting these valuable assets.

When securing your site, you need to perform three basic tasks.

  • Managing user via SharePoint group
  • Assigning   permission to your site and site assets
  • Granting Administrative Access

Managing users via SharePoint group

A fundamental responsibility concerning site security is managing who can access resources on your site. SharePoint enables you, as a site owner, to control what users or groups of users can access your SharePoint sites. SharePoint uses groups to manage the process of granting someone access to the content in a site. Each SharePoint group maps to a set of permissions that define the tasks that a user can perform. When we create a site, SharePoint automatically creates groups for the site, and assigns permission levels to the groups. These are known as the default SharePoint groups. All the apps and sub sites that are created below the top-level site use these groups and have the same set of people inside the groups. By default, all the content and sub sites in your top-level site have the same permissions, dubbed permissions inheritance.

Site Visitors: Grants read-only access to the site and allows users to create alerts. Users who need read access to a site but don’t need to contribute content are visitors.

 Site Members: Confers the Contribute permission level for users, which allows them to add, edit, and modify items and browse sites. Most end users fall into this category for a site.

Site Owners: Grants full control. A site owner may or may not use the site on a regular basis, but the site owner can delegate administrative and design tasks to others. Also, a site owner may or may not be a technical person.

Access to your site and its content is managed through group membership. Adding and removing users from SharePoint groups is the most efficient way of granting and revoking permissions.

Adding users to a group

To add users to the Site Members group, follow these steps:

Log in to the SharePoint site as a site owner and add users to groups on the Site Settings page by clicking the People and Groups link in the Users and Permissions section.

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Am I Eligible for a GSA Discount?

written by: Admin on June 23rd, 2014

ASPE has a special approach and consideration for government clients in order to address their unique needs and concerns. We offer reduced pricing on many of our products for federal, state and local government clients through the GSA Discount. But who qualifies for this great opportunity?

Entities Eligible for GSA Discount:

    1. Executive Agencies
      • Example: Export-Import Bank of US
    2. Other federal agencies, mixed-ownership Government corporations, the District of Columbia, qualified nonprofit agencies for the blind or severely handicapped individuals for providing service to the Government
    3. The Senate, the House of Representatives, and activities under the direction of the Architect of the Capitol
    4. State, local, regional, and tribal governments
    5. Institutes for higher education (excluding private institutions)
    6. Tribes and Tribal Organizations
    7. Certain Institutions that assist the disabled:
      • Howard University
      • Gallaudet University
      • National Technical Institute for the Deaf
      • American Printing House for the Blind
    8. Governments of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands
    9. The American Red Cross and other voluntary nonprofit relief agencies

We strive to provide our customers with the highest quality and most challenging education programs. Whether it is for a Fortune 500 corporation or government agency, we have an excellent track record of transferring knowledge that delivers real results. When you take advantage of this great discount and classes, you’ll quickly come to experience the confidence that comes after you let us train your team.

For more specific information on GSA Eligibility click here!


Folders vs Metadata in SharePoint 2013 – Part 1

written by: Tom Robbins on June 23rd, 2014


In my much anticipated blog post regarding the use of Folders in SharePoint 2013, I am finally ready to demystify the confusion and lead the SharePoint faithful away from an antiquated thinking around how to classify and categorize information.  

With almost all students and customers I work with, I always see the use of Folders in SharePoint and there is always some seemingly perfect explanation for why Folders must be used.  It is a common struggle for teams within organizations to break the decades old habit of creating large and complex nesting structures of Folders to classify and categorize information.  We are all experts at putting things into containers so that we can find things more quickly.   While this seems like the correct way of thinking, we more often than not, quickly find that this complex structure has only added complexity to our ability to find things.  In our kitchens, everything is in its proper container.  Silverware is in drawers, pots and pans have their cabinet, and dishes and bowls even have their nook.  But we are people, not computers.  Computers don’t need containers to locate things.  Computers use data.  Think of it this way.  What if you wanted to quickly see everything in your kitchen that was a gift from your wedding anniversary?  Because the gifts can range from dishes to gravy boats, you have no way of quickly finding these items without opening every cabinet and drawer and closet in the kitchen and doing a manual inspection.  Or, what if you wanted to find anything of value that cost over $100.  Again, start opening the cabinets and drawers and start making your assessment.   One option, and this option is a preview of great things to come, might be to put a green post-it note on everything that was a gift from your in-laws.  At least then, you could easily open all of your cabinets and quickly get a glance at the items that need “Thank You” notes.  This same complexity in finding items stored in containers is also found when items are stored in complex folder structure.  You must open every folder to look for what you are trying to find.  And what if you have buried similar documents, like expense reports, across years of folder structure.   Take this example.  Let’s say you have a great folder structure, because after all there is no other way to classify and categorize information.   You have a folder for each division within a company.  In each of those folders you have a folder for each year.  In those folders you have a folder for each quarter.  In those folders you have a folder for each project you worked on within each quarter.  And then finally within each project you have expense reports related to those projects.  100’s of folders and 100’s of expense report later, you have created what you think is the perfect system of classification…  UNTIL!   What if you need to see all Expense reports over $500 for Click to continue »