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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Web Seminar Recap: Custom Workflow Solutions in SharePoint Server 2013

written by: Admin on July 28th, 2014

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.  Microsoft made significant improvements to workflow in SharePoint Server 2013.  All of your SharePoint Server 2010 workflows will continue to work in the newer SharePoint, in fact the standard workflow engine is installed automatically.

SharePoint Server 2013 also introduces a new workflow service called Workflow Manager.  This is the service platform SharePoint 2013 uses for workflow activities.  Workflow Manager is built on top of Windows Workflow Foundation and is part of the .NET Framework 4.5.  SharePoint Designer 2013 has also undergone improvements and has added new functionality, designed specifically to take advantage of the new workflow capabilities in SharePoint Server 2013.

In this series of lectures we will explore the process of creating custom SharePoint 2013 workflows using SharePoint Designer 2013.  We will implement real-world solutions to solve real-world problems.  Some of the new features covered in this webinar were:
•        Creating a custom List based workflow
•        New workflow building blocks such as Stages and Loops
•        Workflow actions in SP 2013
•        Creating a Task and starting a Task Process

This one hour web seminar, Custom Workflow Solutions in SharePoint Server 2013, was held on Friday, July 25th at Noon by presenter Andy Huneycutt.

Missed this seminar? Download the slides and recording here.


SharePoint Roles – A Common Language

written by: Tom Robbins on July 28th, 2014

With any type of community group, technology, movement, or culture, a common language is critical in communication.  The same goes for SharePoint.  Using a common set of words and meanings allows us to communicate effectively and with understanding.  I often hear students and customers using many different types of terms to explain the different user roles in SharePoint.  There is a clear differentiation in SharePoint between “User” roles and “Admin” roles.  In technology, we commonly think of “Admins” as those people that run the servers.  This is traditionally an IT department consisting of server admins, database administrators, network engineers, etc.  With SharePoint, we certainly have those admin roles, but due to the nature of what SharePoint offers to an organization, there is a much larger role.  The “User” role makes up about 95%-98% of the people touching SharePoint.  These “User” roles include end users, site owners, content editors, approvers, stakeholders, project managers, team leads, etc.  The “Admin” roles are what we typically use to define the technology management side of SharePoint.  Those roles would be server admins, farm admins, database administrators, Exchange admins, SharePoint architects, etc.

There can literally be 20-50 different roles that people play in SharePoint.  I wanted to first make a clear differentiation between the two general classifications of SharePoint roles: Admin Roles, and User Roles.  Secondly, I wanted to offer a list of common roles and their SharePoint responsibility.  Those roles are listed below along with roles that are specific to Governance teams.

It’s critical that we all share a common language with SharePoint.  Standardizing on the naming of roles will help us, as a SharePoint Community, understand and communicate better with each other.  Determining and defining these roles and responsibilities early in the Governance process is critical in any successful SharePoint deployment.

The first section is a list of “Key Players” that should participate on the Governance team.  The second section is a list of common SharePoint Roles:

Key Players in Governance!

Role Responsibility
Executive stakeholders Key executives should define the overall goals of the governance committee and periodically evaluate the success of the implemented practices and policies.
Financial stakeholders Financial officers should make sure that governance rules and processes help increase the return on your organization’s investment in SharePoint products.
Business division leaders Business leaders represent the teams that do the primary work of the enterprise and drive the architectural and functional requirements of the deployment. They work with information architects to structure the information architecture and taxonomy standards. Business leaders also work with IT leaders to create service-level agreements and other support policies.
IT managers IT managers help develop their service offerings and determine how to achieve their IT responsibilities (for example, improving security and maintaining reliability) while supporting the features required by the business teams.
Software development leaders Software development leaders help determine which customization tools are approved, how to verify code security, and ensure code-related best practices.
Technical specialists Technical specialists design, build, and run IT services and solutions.
Trainers Instructional experts should develop a training plan for your organization.
Influential information workers The members of your organization who do the day-to-day work should help ensure that the services and information architecture meet their needs.
Information architects or taxonomists Members of these groups design information systems and taxonomies. Based on their analysis of the information needs of the audience, they develop plans that support organizational objectives and define site architecture and navigation.
Compliance officers Governance includes making sure that an organization meets its regulatory and legal requirements and manages its corporate knowledge. If your organization has roles that are responsible for compliance or legal oversight, include representatives from those disciplines in your governance team.



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How Can I Make SharePoint Easier for My Users?

written by: Andy Huneycutt on July 24th, 2014

SharePoint is about giving you and the people you work with a better way to get things done.

So why then, do I constantly have students asking how they can drive users to use SharePoint? Or why SharePoint is difficult for their users to learn?  Or how can they make SharePoint easier for their users?

Do you ever wish you could improve your business processes and help people save time?

Lets discover a better way to engage our user base and promote adoption at the same time.  I’m a big believer in out-of-the-box.  I don’t like to reinvent the wheel, or develop custom applications if I don’t have to.  I prefer combining OOTB tools to provide my user base with something smarter.

Business Process Automation!

The following scenario employs a few Enterprise Content Management tools to create a powerful automated solution for end users.  It saves my users time, and gives my people a better way to get things done. It also makes managing my department’s assets easier for me.

In a recent SharePoint class, two students approached me with a similar problem.  They needed a way to view their company reports based on the current month or by a recent month. They also needed to view the reports by each report’s status, such as In Progress, Completed, Deferred, etc.  Finally, they needed a way to display a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) to their department managers so they could quickly and easily see the department’s progress at any time.

Does this sound like an issue you or your users might face?

Enter Business Process Automation!

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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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