Web Seminar Recap: Custom Workflow Solutions in SharePoint Server 2013 – Integrating Visio with SharePoint Designer 2013 for Workflow Development

written by: Jennifer Johnson on February 27th, 2015

A key component of SharePoint Server 2013 is Business Process Automation, taking the repetitive daily tasks business users are presented with and configuring SharePoint to handle them.

This one-hour webinar was presented by Andy Huneycutt on February 23, 2015. In this webinar he took a look at Visio Professional 2013 and the Visual Designer in SharePoint Designer 2013 for custom workflow solutions. Working with Visio, both business users and power users alike, can create powerful solutions to many business problems using a visual interface. Once the workflow process is mapped out in Visio, it’s exported to SharePoint Designer and can then be published to a SharePoint site. Topics covered in this webinar:

• How Visio stencils are used for workflow actions, conditions, and terminators
• How these stencils relate to workflow actions and conditions
• How Stage shapes use actions and branching logic
• How Loop shapes are applied
• The process of creating, exporting, configuring, and implementing a Visio based workflow in SharePoint 2013

Missed this web seminar? Find the slides and recording here.


Using SharePoint 2013 Blogs

written by: Tom Robbins on February 24th, 2015

Another SharePoint functionality that is not foreign to anyone that has ever used the internet is the SharePoint Blog tool.  Blogs in SharePoint are a fantastic tool to use to share customized content to specific audiences.  By using the familiar SharePoint interface, a blog owner can create a type of publishing system to share information with teams and stakeholders.  The blog is useful for the distribution of status updates, project status, and company news.  Blogs are a great tool to use to share information from one to many people.  Using the familiar SharePoint interface you can easily create a rich browsing experience for users to find information that has value to them.  SharePoint permissions allow the blog owner to control every aspect of interaction with the blog from post creation to comments.   Project Managers will find the blog extremely useful in sharing project information with stakeholders.  When merged with Project Server, SharePoint blogs are a great way to keep the team and stakeholders up-to-date.

The SharePoint blog is implemented via a site template.  The blog comes with a number of pre-installed apps that allow full management of blog posting and comment management.  The blog comes installed with the following apps: Categories, Comments, Photos, and Posts.  Together the blog site is managed with these three list apps.  The Categories app is a simple list that allows the blog creator to classify and categorize the blog posts to make them easier to refine in search results.  The Comments app is used to track comment contributions.  The Photos app is used to store images used in blog posts.  And the Posts app is obviously where the individual blog posts are stored.    Together these apps create a simple mechanism for managing and viewing the blog posts and their comments.

Here is a sample blog site:



Join me next week for my video blog on how to create and manage a SharePoint blog.


Web Seminar Recap: Database Versioning with TFS

written by: Jennifer Johnson on February 23rd, 2015

In traditional software development, versioning the database objects has been a difficult task. And doing a roll-back of database code meant long nights and lots of work! No longer – with TFS and Visual Studio 2013, you can easily manage database changes, automatically deploy schema and data changes, and perform rollbacks with ease. This really is one of the most effective ways to improve the efficiency of your development team.

This web seminar was presented by Bryon Brewer on Friday, February 20th, 2015. In this live demo, we walked through reverse engineering an existing database, bringing it under version control, and performing automatic deployments.

Missed this web seminar? You can find the slides and recording here.


Web Seminar Recap: Everyday Data Security

written by: Jennifer Johnson on February 11th, 2015

As we’re off to a new year in the world of information security, 2015 doesn’t look that great. With many hundreds of high profile data thefts in 2014, information security managers and leaders are scrambling to make hard decisions about security planning, policy and strategy.

Fortunately, there is one good takeaway from 2014. The sheer number of attacks last year reveals a lot of good lessons for this year. Although the overwhelming number of security incidents may leave you feeling like effective data security is a hopeless goal, the reality is that most 2014 attacks were preventable.

This one-hour web seminar was presented by veteran data scientist & analytics expert Damian Herrick, CAP. He discussed everyday data security practices that top-class data pros use to do business in a world full of more threats than ever. Damian is ASPE’s chief data science consultant, and one of the few professionals to hold the elite Certified Analytics Professional (CAP) from INFORMS.

Missed this seminar? You can find the slides & recording here.


Using SharePoint 2013 Discussion Boards

written by: Tom Robbins on February 10th, 2015

SharePoint is all about engaging teams, lifecycle management, and locating and building relationships with not only colleagues, but organizational information.  SharePoint provides one central place to brainstorm, ideate, manage business processes, and solve business problems.  This is transforming the way people and organizations work together.  The dynamic of the workplace is becoming more efficient and is having a significant impact on the bottom line due to the collaboration tools and features in SharePoint.  SharePoint 2013 introduced a number of new social/collaboration features.  Newsfeeds allow teams to stay in touch through microblogging.  This microblogging includes the hashtag “#” feature which gives us a way to categorize and classify conversations.  Using mentions “@” gives us a way to bring people into conversations and connect with subject matter experts across an organization.

Another valuable tool for engaging teams is the SharePoint Discussion Board App.  Discussion Boards were available in earlier versions of SharePoint and continue to be one of the most useful tools for facilitating team collaboration.  Through the Discussion Board, we can have conversations which enrich our interactions.  Discussion Boards allow us to ask questions, brainstorm, start new business discussions through ideation, and engage like no other tool in SharePoint allows us to do.

Another great feature of Discussion Boards is that they can be connected to Outlook.  This allows a subject matter expert or team member to easily participate in those discussions directly from Outlook.

Discussion Boards are specially formatted lists.  They can be placed on any SharePoint page within a site.  The collaboration type for Discussion boards is many-to-many.  Once the app is added to a site, it’s intuitive how to create new discussions and reply to them.

Stay tuned for my next video post where I will show you how to create a Discussion Board and how to connect it to Outlook.



Web Seminar Recap: Governance – Never Underestimate and Revisit Often

written by: Jennifer Johnson on February 2nd, 2015

The most important part of any successful SharePoint implementation is Governance. Governance should be started early on and should be a living/breathing and ongoing effort. In this one-hour webinar, Tom Robbins discussed the creation of the Governance team through asking all of the right questions. From content management policies through security procedures, he discussed concepts that help you guarantee a successful deployment as well as a sustainable and useful system.

Below are the topics that were covered in this webinar:

• What is Governance?
• Building the Governance team
• Asking the right questions
• Checklists to walk you through to success
• Ongoing adoption and Governance maintenance

This webinar was presented January 30th, 2015. Missed it? You can find the slides and recording here.


Web Seminar Recap: Kaizen -Practical Lessons on Adopting a Continuous Improvement Ethic

written by: Jennifer Johnson on January 30th, 2015

From the world of manufacturing, to Agile, to DevOps, the concept of “Kaizen” has become foundational to linking the team mentality to the long-term quality of a team’s actual output. Literally meaning “good change,” in Japanese, in a larger sense Kaizen is a term that has come to mean continuous improvement in the world of IT and software projects.

If you think stellar, delightful, compulsive quality is important for your success – and you’d better – then the concept of Kaizen is critical to how you teach your teams, how you lead your teams, and how you perform your work. In recent years, the wide-open marketplace and a rising Agile mentality has made it obvious that cultural elements in the workplace are just as important as specific tools and processes. Among these cultural elements, none is more important than a well-established dedication to Continuous Improvement.

This one-hour long presentation was presented by Chris Knotts on January 27th, 2015. Missed it? You can find the web seminar slides and recording here.




VIDEO: How to Create and Use Surveys in SharePoint 2013

written by: Tom Robbins on January 20th, 2015

The video below will demonstrate how to set up a survey in SharePoint 2013, the different options for question creation, how to fill out the survey, and then finally how to review the results.

Greetings fellow SharePointers!  We were going talk about how to create and use surveys in 2013.

Within the SharePoint site, we will set up an Experience survey demonstrating how to use different types of questions. This survey will allow for anonymous and multiple responses, and we will demonstrate how to do that.

Step 1: Creating a Survey

Add an app and type in survey. A survey is just a special type of list.

Step 2: Advanced Settings

Go to Advanced Settings to select for questions to be anonymous and allow for multiple responses.

Step 3: Creating the Questions

As soon as we click next, SharePoint immediately takes me in and lets me start creating the questions.

Question 1: Do you have any experience with SharePoint?-We’ll make that a choice field (yes/no) and require a response, make it a drop down menu

Question 2:  What versions do you have experience with? We’ll make this a required field too. Fill in the version options. Let these be a check box so that you can select more than one.

Question 3:  Please rate the following SharePoint features. List the different features or a few features- lists, libraries, surveys, discussion boards, business intelligence. Then you can set the range 1-10 or 1-5. I think 5 is enough. And then well say at the bottom in the scale, don’t like, its ok, love it, and well do an n/a so that people can say not applicable to any of those items.

Question 4:  Would you like to be kept up to date on the progress of our SharePoint installation? We’ll make this a yes no and a yes by default. That way if you dont change anything well be able to send you emails.

Last and finally create a place to provide an email address and make that a single line of text. We wont make the email address required and then well click finish.

Step 4: Branching Logic for Question 1

So now, where we would normally see the columns for list, we see each of the individual questions and the only thing left to do before we test it out is go back in and put in some branching logic for this first question. So if you have no experience with SharePoint, we are just going to jump straight to this question asking whether you would like to be kept up to date on the progress. So to do branching logic, we simply click on the question that we want to give branching logic to. Now that the question has been created, there will be options for branching logic. So if you say no to do you have any experience with SharePoint, were going to jump straight to would you like to be kept up to date with the progress. That’s how simple it is to create the questions. We used a couple of different options- choice fields, rating scale, yes/no, single line of text.

Step 5: Responding to the survey
Now just click on the experience survey and we can go ahead and respond to the survey. So because the first question has to be answered before any other questions can be shown, we have to answer it.

ex. Do you have an experience with SharePoint?  Yes, I do. Click next. So now you can choose the options of which versions of SharePoint we have experience with. Notice now in the rating scale we have the different features of SharePoint listed from don’t like to love it. After completing all questions and entering email (not required), click finish. That’s how easy it is to create and respond to a survey.

Step 6: Reviewing Results
You can also click the links (see video) to see the survey results as people are filling out the survey as people are filling out the results. You can also switch back and forth to the overview as well as see all responses. For this example, that’s the only response to the survey we’ve had so far, so that’s the only one that will show.  You can also export your results to excel if you want to do any further analysis.


Web Seminar Recap: Leveraging DevOps and Agile for Customer Value-Driven Outcomes

written by: Jennifer Johnson on January 16th, 2015

The DevOps “Way” of thinking is sweeping the more successful IT departments we read about. The implications are rippling across project and program management domains. If you are a project or program manager, team leader, or business analyst, the time has come for YOU to understand how to derive value from the DevOps way of thinking and create positive impacts on your operational methods, applications, and your continuous deployment model.

The DevOps way is disrupting the conventional understanding of the value chain across projects – and not just hard IT projects. As new capabilities and evidence of value arise from successfully implementing the DevOps way of thinking and working, it is important to help team leaders bridge the gap between traditional project and IT learning and the newer DevOps way such that we leverage existing resources and optimize for the future.

On Wednesday, January 15th, 2015, this one-hour presentation was presented by Richard Jenny, veteran Program Manager and DevOps Director, as he shared some real-world insight and impact of combining Project Management, Agile and DevOps practices to realize significant ROI on both project and operational work.

Missed the web seminar? Find the slides here!


SharePoint 2013 Collaboration Features: Surveys

written by: Tom Robbins on January 12th, 2015

While SharePoint is often initially looked to as a document management system or a replacement for network drives, by definition, SharePoint is an “Enterprise Collaboration Platform”.  Certainly one of the many ways to implement SharePoint is to address the management of documents, or information lifecycle, but because SharePoint is all about collaboration and engagement, there are many tools and features the facilitate this.

Welcome to 2015 and a new year to talk about SharePoint and really learn more about implementing it effectively!  In my January blog posts, I’m going to talk about some of the new and old collaboration features.  It’s all about Engagement and bringing your teams together to work better.  Each week I will talk about the features in my written blog posts and then demo how to implement those collaboration tools in the live environment.

Those collaboration tools that are often overlooked and misunderstood are: Surveys, Blogs, Discussion Boards, and Wikis.  There are also some new features introduced in 2013.  Those are the Newsfeed and Communities.  Many times people just shake their heads and say that these tools are just the “Facebook” or “Internet” social stuff and they immediately turn away from them.  But there is more value than meets the eye.  Ask the Zuckerberg’s of the world if there is interest in social and if social has had an impact on how the planet communicates!!  I think you will find that the internet and social platforms have a huge following and significant impact.  People really do find value in these tools.  Imagine people getting as excited in talking about work as they do about kittens and bagels!  Let’s start the year off right by talking about the first of these SharePoint tools: Surveys.

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