A View to a Kill

SharePoint can be a nagging fellow, especially if you begin to stray from any “out of the box” solution. The crux of the problem is usually that you are asked to go out of the box to create columns, content types and views. A wide range of SharePoint experts will always say, “If you can do without coding or SharePoint Designer you are saving yourself possible headaches down the road.”

Here is an example of a SharePoint Headaches that came up recently and its simple solution that makes sense when you use SharePoint logic to cure it.

Headache: A Site Owner created a library of reports and then created a view called Monthly and set it as Default. Then he grouped them by the Month column.
groupby

The Site Owner rightly thought when people click on the Library’s link on the site people will see the Monthly View. Yep, so far so good.

But in the name of experimenting he also created a duplicate view with the same name, but not the same Grouping options and forgot he did so. This Second Monthly view doesn’t over write the first one or prompt you to save over, no it simply adds another view to you view list.

view

The Owner then mistakenly copied and pasted the url of the Second Monthly into a email notification workflow that users hit and get a view that is not the default Monthly view. https://… /sites/reports/Forms/Monthly1.aspx

But why, if you set a view to default shouldn’t it, well, default to that view?

Yes, it should and does when you use the build in navigation in SharePoint.

Now look back at the url and see if you can spot the problem…That’s right 1 too many.

Drilling into the views in the Document Library Settings, you can see the Original Monthly View has a url of https://… /sites/reports/Forms/Monthly.aspx, not Monthly1.aspx. If you manually give out the wrong url it goes to the wrong place.

The simple fix was to go into the Document Library Settings and delete the second view with 1 sticking out.

delete

The Site Owner was convinced that SharePoint is terrible and he just needed to delete all views and start over again. But now you as a SharePoint agent with a license to kill can now rub out the unnecessary view.

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CMS Watch: The SharePoint Report 2009 – One that is well worth it

The SharePoint Report

The SharePoint Report

I have been tweeting with @TonyByrne for a while and he asked me if I would review the CMS Watch: The SharePoint Report 2009. Since the government is now getting into blog watching I’ll go ahead and state that no money or products were exchanged for the opinions you are about to read. I was given a copy of the report to review, full stop.

I’ll start with a quasi –executive summary. This report is extremely useful as a basis of concepts and definitions as well as giving a constant big picture and focused view of SharePoint. Everything from costs issues (licenses) to server needs to what the orbiting SharePoint world of 3rd part solutions looks like.

The report seems to be written for everyone that would touch SharePoint. It would be a great resource for a consultant or the solutions minded person that gets SharePoint set in their lap. It provides back and foreground information to preview any questions and concerns they would have, such as what can SharePoint do and not do well.

The strength of the report lies in the fact that it breaks down the many faceted arguments into a presentable language that would not confound or confuse the non- technical person. It provides them with a terminology and concepts to report back their IT depts, end users and the business in general.

Concepts of ECM, WCM, Social computing all receive a thorough breakdown. These are the top level End User functions that come to mind, but there are many subjects that go deeper behind the scenes such as Security, Governance and Technical limits and this report addresses each. The report offers an opportunity for each group involved with all these to read, discuss and plan as group and as a not a silo-ed deployment where each component ignores the needs of the others.

A great function of this report is that it constantly gives a through breakdown of what MOSS does and to what extend how well function each does it. This would be vital information to help base a large decision to invest or not. This is done on two scales, visually via tables and charts.

For organizations this report would provide the vital foresight for the need and use of 3rd party add-on’s and consultants; a topic that very rarely gets mentioned and only comes to light when pressure points of implementation are met. Reading Chapter 7 on the SharePoint Ecosystem will provide needed perspective when venturing out of their internal solutions to rest of the world. Most notably the report indicates the 3rd built solutions and how support may not be a long-term issue. A great concept to know beforehand.

Personally I found the explanation for Content Types to be priceless. One of the first few steps to more advanced SharePoint configurations that people get into is Content Types. SharePoint by nature is not easy to explain since many words and terms overlap in SharePoint and MS regular use worlds. This example is another reason this report benefits all. It would be a key element of a training department’s arsenal of content.

There are instances where the report will fly completely over someone’s head and comprehension, but if SharePoint is part of the organizational plan, it will serve as reference once learning curves are surpassed. Before wading into authored books and SharePoint bibles this report can serve as a foundation to introduce concepts that drive the need to extend further knowledge and materials.

I also particularly liked how SharePoint frustrations (such as Site creep and My Site open chaos) are honestly addressed. As I mentioned before many organizations find these frustrations out only too late, but by spelling these issues out beforehand organizations can begin to plan for governance early and avoid such mass collisions of the platform.

If anything this report does not offer a how to guide to develop or deploy SharePoint, its strength is giving an objective look at what develop or deploy SharePoint is. To close out the report Chapter 8 offers a map to the obstacle course that is SharePoint implementation. If (and I do not recommend this) this report just gets skimmed make sure your organization reads this chapter. It does not sum up the report but it provides the topics, ideas and questions of the SharePoint discussions that need to take place.

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So you want to get Social…but don’t know where to go….Second, Audience Architecture

Having recently been asked to be the SharePoint lead for a major “2.0” roll out with SharePoint and a 3rd part Social Media add on’s, I can really roll up my sleeves and comment on what needs to be done.

First of all it is important, no vital, that all involved have a general understanding of what Social Media is and what it can do. Doubly so for SharePoint functionality. Please implore on the team, even the seniors that they need to either be briefed or do their research. I had to quasi dog whisper a senior, tsst, to get them back on track and make them realize they were describing features and functionality that had scant little to do with the employees that will be using them. In our instance, they wanted chatting and blogging by service reps, who have little time to between global market closings to make sure trades and wires get through.

Having those people post consistently is impossible. But why not put a jr analyst on it, they can gather info and post for the group. I was able to placate a bit by saying these people could certainly have a current My Site ready for enterprise search for talent and knowledge. Even status changes could be effective.

“Just settled failing trade in Malaysia with my main man in the local market who told me to key code %%%% when sending SWIFT message 1###>”

A person seeing that could then look up the author, contact them and set up a time to discuss helping out. Remember blogging freaks some people out. They see it as writing essays, long pieces that they have either no time or confidence to do. But throw in the Twitter-like character limit field and even a busy person can find a moment to post an update. It becomes a little stress relief for them.

So where does the architecture come in? This proposed solution came from drawing out the flow of information, roles and time frames on paper. Once this was visual, it made sense to the seniors. They saw the potential of blog spaces that become ghost towns as soon as they turn their backs.

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Tampa SharePoint Saturday, 11.14.09

To all SharePointers in FL and Beyond, SharePoint Saturday Tampa 11.14.09 registration open . http://www.clicktoattend.com/?id=141441

Re: My blog, there really hasn’t been much time to post while I have been organizing, but look forward to @SP_SAT_TPA previews & post Saturday follow up.

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The Italian School of Tampa

This project that steams from my wife’s vision.

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Mid Year Reviews

Way to Go!!

Way to Go!!


That time of year again and read this piece on goals from a former teaching colleague and over all great blogger Tom Johnson. Makes me ask myself, “How am I going to end up the year?”

Tom, as always hitting the nail on the head. Viva il Presente!!!

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Box.net vs. SharePoint

Had a great conversation with Sean Lindo of Box.net today. It was the final piece in my research and review of both products.

Sean, thanks for taking the time to talk to an anonymous blogger.

The rest of you, posting on this topic coming very soon.

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How to stick and move till the business need is ready for the knock out.

Tonight I had a real good night in the gym. My feet finally have lost their brick like effects and I began to glide into punches and move around the bag well.

And as always it got me thinking about SharePoint. You see foot movement and speed make you nimble in the ring. With SharePoint there is always that fatal thought to “how get people onto the your site and get them working, collaborating, work flowing, etc.”

It can be a lot. But the trick is to boxthe problem, i.e. be nimble and move in and out, stick and move till the business need is ready for the knock out.

Take for instance my latest project. Get old accounts off the books. It involves contacting clients, confirming that they need to be closed, sending out legal’s letter, passing on info the closure team and final confirmation.

Oh yeah, all to be done by September all 3000 accts.

So the question that comes after “Let’s get this on SharePoint” is what can SharePoint do?

Management wanted a triple reminder sent out on a timed basis to make sure reps follow up. In essence no one wanted to manually check and follow up. So instead of launching a major workflow and diagramming session, I thought about it.

When next level SharePoint attributes such as workflows come into department vocabulary most people begin to think automation of it all.

Translated this is what management wanted, run a query of the entire list and check where it is in the 3 step approval process. Depending on the completion of each, remind the correct party that they need to get their part done.

One of the first things you need to do is dispel the span of this idea. You must remind people that SharePoint is a collaboration portal first of all. Mass batching and processing of entire lists and libraries is extremely difficult, if not down right near impossible.

My reaction was, if this process to close accounts needs to temporarly be a present factor in daily work, why not add it to daily routine. Reps and managers need to check there lists and update them. Workflows for this project would best be served as escalation reminders.

For example, if item xxx is not updated by this date, send an email reminder. Then I added an easy feature found in list and library Actions/Alert Me.

This can not be overly configured, but it is effective to let people know when there are changes.

The Business Case is this scenario is to stick and move and then work towards the knock out. A three step check off process needed to be tracked and then marked completed. That’s all.

Posted in Boxing, Case Study, Collaboration, SharePoint | Leave a comment