With Microsoft’s acquisition of Yammer last year, the ever-evolving social collaboration space is changing once again. While SharePoint had social features natively built in, the addition of Yammer into Microsoft’s portfolio and the subsequent integration has ramped up SharePoint’s social capabilities. Here is an introduction to a few of the features that involve both SharePoint and Yammer integration.
Send to Yammer
Send to Yammer allows SharePoint users to send documents, announcements and tasks to Yammer. This allows users to collaborate real time on projects. Once in Yammer, users can monitor who has viewed or downloaded these files by using the recent activity stream. Furthermore, Yammer’s integration with Office Web Apps will allow users to view and edit these documents directly from the Yammer activity feed.
Primary Yammer Web Part
The Yammer web part allows users to monitor Yammer streams and notifications directly from any SharePoint site. For example, a user might want to place their “My Feed” as a web part on their My Site to consolidate that information. Or a business unit might want to place their Group Feed onto their department site. The Yammer web part also allows a user to send private messages and track those conversations through a separate tab. Placing this web part on their My Site just gives the user another way to track their collaboration from one central location. Of course, the ability to utilize Yammer features like metadata tags, mentions of other users, etc., within SharePoint will ultimately help increase collaboration, search and ultimately, productivity.
Admins can also configure this web part using native SharePoint web part controls. They can also make Yammer activity streams available as read-only, so those folks who don’t have Yammer access will still be able to access the streams in SharePoint.
Office Web Apps/SkyDrive Pro
Microsoft also announced their plans to integrate Yammer with Office Web Apps and SkyDrive Pro by summer 2013. The integration with Office Web Apps, as mentioned above, will allow users to view and edit content directly within a Yammer activity stream. This will enable users to monitor changes and collaborate real time.
SkyDrive Pro is online storage where a user can upload and access files within a personal library that can also be shared with others, both within and outside of the organization. Yammer will be utilizing SkyDrive Pro as its underlying platform for file storage. Just another way Yammer will tie into SharePoint, by allowing users to download content from SkyDrive Pro that was uploaded using Yammer.
"Governance is most definitely something that should be a task on your corporate checklist, something that is done up front to provide guidance and direction for shaping your company infrastructure, especially your IT systems. At the core of governance are one or more company objectives -- the things that drive your business forward, and which help employees strive to improve. Example might be "Reducing the number of defects in our processes to zero" or "Improving employee innovation." Your corporate governance should take these objectives in mind, with all systems and initiatives taking into consideration how they can best move these objectives forward."
From AIIM.org, Governance: Overused, Misunderstood, Flavor of the Month?
Ask ten people to define governance, and you'll receive ten different answers. Many of us have participated in governance initiatives inside and outside of IT, but what all of these plans must fundamentally include are
- strategic components that correlate systems (like SharePoint) to corporate goals (like reducing the cost of IT, or maybe improving the speed at which innovation moves from idea to action), and
- tactical components that allow you to measure, guide, and when necessary, control, as a way of implementing the strategic components (like site guidelines, and content database limitations).
One of the most common questions we hear from the community: Is ControlPoint a governance tool? The answer is both no and yes. With the above definition, where governance is concerned with defining the rules and guidelines for how SharePoint is managed, the answer is no. Governance is more of a process or a method for managing your systems. It is much bigger than a single system or tool, and you are thorough in your planning and consistent in your execution, it should help move your company toward your corporate goals.
But as for setting up and enforcing the rules and guidelines defined by your governance strategy, then yes, ControlPoint is the best tool on the market for centrally managing a single or multiple SharePoint environments.
For example, one of the more common scenarios I use in demonstrations is when someone leaves the company. There is usually a process for locking down their access rights through Active Directory, but it may not be so straight-forward within SharePoint. SharePoint does not provide a method for tracking all sites and content within an environment related to a single user, much less across multiple environments. As a result, you may have sites and content floating out there with dubious ownership.
ControlPoint allows administrators to setup and subscribe to many out-of-the-box and custom reports, all of which are dynamic and actionable -- which means that they both provide data about what is happening in your systems, while also allowing the admin to make the necessary changes in real-time from the report. An 'Inactive User' report could be set up, published daily or weekly, to flag all SharePoint end users who no longer appear in Active Directory, allowing the admin to remove a user across multiple sites, site collections, or even farms -- all from one ControlPoint report, security trimmed based on their accountability. The admin can then reassign the content and permissions, as needed. You can even publish this report, and other critical reports, to SharePoint lists, and then build out dashboards and scorecards to help provide your team with a powerful management solution.
This is just one scenario. Through dynamic reports and quickly "pivoting" views into different aspects of your SharePoint environment, ControlPoint allows you to quickly take command of your environment, and make your governance strategy actionable. ControlPoint allows for real-time policy enforcement for Site and Item creation/deletion. Whether navigating through your environment to find broken policies, or setting up policies and procedures that help guide end users through compliant use of SharePoint, ControlPoint is the right tool.
Looking for more help with your governance strategy? Our website includes a quick overview of what should go into your governance plan, but you may also be interested in reading our whitepaper The Five Secrets to controlling Your SharePoint Environment. And to see what ControlPoint can do for you, download a free evaluation version.
Monitoring task progress is fundamental is keeping a project on track. SharePoint offers a task list that can be added to a site. These will keep tasks and progress visible to the team. Another benefit of using this out of the box feature is the ability for team members to update their own progress, creating more real-time information and lessening the need for frequent update meetings.
There are a lot of pertinent details that can be collected via task lists, such as task status, due date and priority, which can help team members balance their work load. Provided sufficient permissions have been granted, additional columns can be created to assist in data collection, such as a Past Due drop down column with Yes or No options. The form can also be customized to require certain information. These fields are denoted with a red asterisk.
Do note that SharePoint offers two types of Task Lists. One is a basic task list and one is a Project Task List, which adds a Gantt chart view by default.
Project Task List
One thing to keep in mind is that as with any tool, some best practices should be put in place to ensure efficiency.
1. Keep it simple.
The Task Lists in SharePoint are better served with simpler task assignments. Keep in mind that advanced tasking is not available with these basic task lists. Only Finish to Start dependencies are available out of the box. Another thing to understand is that SharePoint task lists are just that – lists. While you can add predecessor tasks as additional information SharePoint task lists are not a scheduling engine, so updates to one task will not automatically adjust dependent tasks.
Assigning Predecessor Tasks
2. Empower your team to update.
One of the main benefits of utilizing task lists is the ability for team members to update their own progress, removing the necessity for a project manager or team lead to constantly meet with team members and update their tasks for them. SharePoint task lists allow updates by percentage only. So it is prudent to establish an update policy outlining what exactly 25% denotes, 50% denotes, and so on. This will help align standardization with updating. Otherwise you will quickly find that one person’s 50% complete and another person’s 50% complete can be very different!
It is also a good idea to limit updating percentages to standard increments, such as 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%. Otherwise the project manager or team lead may well be scratching their head at what exactly 47% complete really means.
Updating Percentage Complete of a task
3. Maximize the SharePoint form.
Encourage team members to update their tasks by utilizing the description box in the form. This will alleviate the need to track the team member down for specific task progress questions. This also allows the team member to input additional details at the time they are working on the task. These details will be more accurate since they will not need to recall work they did on the task 16 hours ago. They can complete any details as they go.
This description area is also a great area for the task creator to add additional details that may be helpful for the team member assigned the task. This is a simple text box, so feel free to be detailed!
Task Form – Utilizing Description Box
4. Understand the project needs.
SharePoint offers a basic task list. And while a Project Task list looks an awful lot like Microsoft Project – it is not Project! If the project is requiring robust task tracking with advanced task dependencies and tracking progress down to the hour, it may be more prudent to utilize another tool, such as Microsoft Project. It may be more efficient to utilize this separate tool rather than hacking the SharePoint list to meet the project needs.
Please note that a popular option (and new to SharePoint 2010 and Project 2010) is the ability to sync a plan in Project to a task list in SharePoint. This requires Project Professional 2010. Now the project manager has the best of both worlds giving them the scheduling and tracking tools of Project, while allowing task visibility to the team. The team can even update their own tasks via SharePoint and those updates can be synced back to Project.
SharePoint’s task lists are an effective out of the box feature that allows project transparency and progress visibility across the team. This ability to see progress will also help the team maintain motivation as they see movement toward a milestone or project completion. When utilized properly, task lists can help drive advancement of initiatives, lessen the overhead of administrative work for project managers and/or team leads, and also creates a historical record of project work, at the same time of inputting updates, thus removing any duplicative work!
The Axceler team is on the ground in Copenhagen, Denmark, preparing for a week of content and activities surrounding the European SharePoint Conference. This is my 2nd year participating in this event, and am proud to be presenting one of the three morning keynote sessions. It's always interesting to step back and look at the topics that the organizers have selected for their attendees -- as a speaker, I usually submit 6 to 8 different abstracts, giving the committee a few choices in topics, allowing them to pick the right topics needed to give the attendees a well-rounded event. For this week, all three of my topics will focus on the fundamentals of SharePoint.
In my first session on Tuesday, I will present a business and end user topic focused on improving productivity, which is another way of saying improving end user adoption. The session is entitled 'The Four Facets of SharePoint Productivity' and presents some best practices and guidelines for improving the SharePoint user experience, thus improving adoption and ROI of the platform. It's part of the Business Value track, and will be held at 3:15pm in Auditorium 12.
Also on Tuesday, Axceler is partnering with Harmon.ie and Webtrends at Bar7 in Copenhagen, from 8:30 to 10:30pm. You can find details here.
In my second session, I'll be giving an updated version of a popular session that lays out a value proposition for metadata and taxonomy. Entitled 'Looking Under the Hood: How Your Metadata Strategy Impacts Everything You Do,' this session is also part of the Business Value track, and has been used as a resource for organizations struggling to outline or roll out a taxonomy strategy within their organizations. You can find the session on Wednesday at 2:00pm in the Main Auditorium.
Also happening on Wednesday, our own James Fowell from Axceler's London office will be participating in a 'Migration Tool Shootout' from 2:00 to 4:00pm in Auditorium 15. Unfortunately, I'll miss this session as I'm presenting at the same time -- but if you'd like to learn more about how Axceler's migration solutions stack up to other competitive solutions, this will be a great session.
And finally, I'll be presenting the morning keynote on Thursday in the Main Auditorium on a topic that is essential for every successful implementation: governance. I'll be joined on stage by fellow MVP and friend Dan Holme to present 'The State of SharePoint Governance: Making Business Alignment Your Business Strategy' in which we'll share some details of the recent Axceler whitepaper that provides the results of our 2012 governance surveys, and outline a strategy and some best practices for helping your organization better align your current SharePoint planning toward a business-centric view. Some of the content for this keynote will come from the European SharePoint Conference community webinars that I have been conducting for the past 6 months -- I'll provide my slides and links to all of this on-demand material following the event, so please watch for it.
In addition to these sessions, you can also find me in the Axceler booth (#44) at 11:20am and 1:15pm each day for "MVP Unplugged" in which you can come by and talk with me about two topics: productivity and governance of hybrid models. During each morning unplugged activity, I'll be talking to attendees about 'Productivity and Usability' in SharePoint, sharing my thoughts on new SharePoint 2013 features as well as ideas for improving end user adoption in all versions of the platform. In the afternoon session, I'll be talking about 'Governance in the Cloud' in which I'll talk about some of the governance issues with hybrid cloud environments, and the realities of moving from on prem to cloud-based environments.
Of course, if you're attending the conference and would like to come by and meet the team, we're happy to talk more about your specific SharePoint questions and how Axceler can help.
For more information on the European SharePoint Conference, you can visit their website here, and you can follow the event news on Twitter at #ESPC13.
SharePoint 2013 is now very much upon us, with organisations looking to move to 2013 questions about the Pros and Cons are being asked. I am going to talk about one such part of the new environment and hopefully leave you with an idea and plan of how you will set up 2013 for your users, their documents and how 2013 can improve collaboration for you and your organisation.
Thanks to Christian for use of his MySite
So, what’s new in My SitesWell, My Sites have seen a lot of improvements to saving, sharing, and moving of content. Users can now post to the newsfeed; either publicly or to the newsfeed on team sites, and share information, who they are following, etc. with colleagues. Tags are now very much a part of SharePoint, just like you would tag in, say, Twitter, you can use these as key words to help people find your posts. We also have mentions, like you have on Facebook, allowing users to reference people within the organisation if they think it will be interesting to them. The site section is where your list of sites that you’re following are contained, along with suggestions for sites to follow, these may be your colleagues sites, or just sites which are followed by a lot of people. You will see an update in your newsfeed if someone else follows the site (not if they just updated what they are having for dinner) creating a social collaboration platform for users to communicate and share, both personal and business information.
How does this help with collaboration?So the social aspect has clearly been broadened, but what does this mean when it comes to working with documents from a social perspective? Well, Microsoft has given us SkDrive Pro. SkyDrive Pro is your own personal document library, you store your files and only you can see them, unless you want to share them with colleagues; your choice. The user sets up permissions for viewing or editing the document or folder and sends an email to inform people that it has been shared with them. Of course, you are probably wondering what the difference between SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro is. Here's a quick difference for you from Microsoft:
So the library is protected from public viewing unless the user's with access to SkyDrive share a folder or document. This means it’s a great place for confidential documents, or minor versions of documents you want to store. However, the issue you may face is getting the user to effectively use it -- why would a user go through the process of managing permissions to a document when they can just email the finished version to the relative people? Well, this is where we need to use intelligent set ups. Here is what I would do: Create a folder which is shared and a folder which is private, then the user only needs to move the documents to the relevant folder to share, or store it. They can use the private folder to modify documents; work on the minor versions, and then just move across the major version for sharing. This way it is simple to use, effective in its operation, and will fully utilize the collaborative set up of 2013, while still maintaining the security.
- SkyDrive is free online storage that provides users with a personal library where they can upload and access files from any of their devices. Download one of the SkyDrive apps and they can easily save documents, photos, and other files in this library, share them with friends, and even collaborate on content.
- SkyDrive Pro is also online storage that provides a personal library where you can upload and access documents, photos, and other files on your computer. But the SkyDrive Pro library is managed by the organization and is available with either Office 365 or SharePoint. This means users can share content in the library only with colleagues in the organization, and with invited guests outside of the organization if they’re logged into Office 365.
Collaboration is becoming increasingly important to the way that we work. Teams are becoming more virtual. The need to work closely with partners or with customers has become standard practice. Organizational IP (intellectual property) is developed and shared inside and outside the firewall. And all of that movement -- of content, tasks, and data -- requires some degree of governance and administration, ensuring the right people can see it, edit it.
Over this past year, Axceler conducted a series of surveys focused on different aspects of governance planning, all part of a broader initiative to better understand how enterprises are approaching the SharePoint governance issue. Specifically, we wanted to understand how organizations prepare for, plan, and execute governance strategies within the enterprise in relation to their collaboration platforms.
A whitepaper with the full survey results and analysis is now available for download.
As the illustration above indicates, organizations increasingly view SharePoint as the central hub of a complete collaboration framework, making governance -- the roles, responsibilities, policies and procedures by which organizations manage their information technology resources -- central to the success of their efforts. With the maturity of the platform, SharePoint has become more than just a document repository or intranet-only solution. And with the release of SharePoint 2013 and its focus on Web Content Management (WCM) functionality for public-facing websites, as well as search and mobile enhancements, SharePoint is exceeding even the expectations of Microsoft.
In this whitepaper, we touch on four key facets of SharePoint governance: perceptions on where organizations felt they were succeeding and failing in their governance efforts, how well roles and responsibilities were being defined, whether detailed planning was in place, and whether the organization was prepared to execute that plan. With over 1,000 respondents, our surveys captured some interesting data about the state of governance planning, and the clear disconnect between technology deployment and business goals. As illustrated in the following graphic, only a very small minority -- 10.1% of respondents -- view governance as a critical component of regular (daily/weekly) SharePoint management. While the largest group (40.8%) view governance as a necessary activity, they do not see it as being enthusiastically embraced within their organizations, this lack of support and/or understanding can lead to weak planning and execution, which may compound the effect of those weaknesses.
In addition to this whitepaper, the Axceler team has created an infographic to illustrate some of the key points within the surveys, and to put the data into perspective for your own organization. You can find the infographic here.
Governance will continue to be one of the primary determinants of success for enterprise collaboration. Identifying and understanding the common pitfalls is a great place to start in building out your own SharePoint governance strategy. For those participating in the European SharePoint Conference in Copenhagen next week (February 4-7), be sure to catch my keynote address on this topic, where I'll be sharing some additional detail and commentary from the whitepaper.
For those unable to attend my keynote, I will be conducting a related webinar on February 12th entitled "Understanding the Disconnect Between Collaboration Tools and Business Goals." You can register for this free webinar here.
Often data takes some further analysis. Perhaps you are hoping for an average of scorings entered into a SharePoint list. Or you want an aggregated amount concerning data such as total gross sales for an item to show in a list. Or maybe you wish to automatically calculate a past due date by adding a number of days after a specific date. It may seem like data would need to be exported and then processed in another application, such as Excel, but there is another possibility. It is a SharePoint option available out of the box called a Calculated Field, which can then be shown in a column.
In our first example, the product manager would like to see the overall gross revenue of each product. Below is a SharePoint list showing the product, the product category, number sold per quarter and the price per unit.
To calculate the total gross revenue, let’s make a calculated field.
Select Create Column in the ribbon, List tab, Manage Views group.
Name the column and choose Calculated as the column type. Note that it mentions “calculated based on other columns”. These other columns come in to play in our next step.
Now comes the important piece – we need to tell SharePoint the formula to use to create the number we want in our new column. Note that all my columns from my list are available to use in the formula. Simply select the column name and click Add to formula.
We can also choose to add this column in the default view my marking the checkbox. And now click OK to complete the column creation.
Now we can see how many products we sold per quarter and the annual gross income to date for each product simultaneously. There is no need to extract the sales per quarter amount and the price per unit, then figuring out the desired equation in another application and importing it back to SharePoint. SharePoint automates this process with the calculated field.
We can still slice and dice the data in whichever way is desired. We can create a view sorting my Product Category for example. Since our calculated field is already created, it can play the same part as any column when constructing a view. Let’s look at another example. Perhaps past due dates of 30, 60, and 90 days from the invoice date need to be tracked.
Create a column, name it and select Calculated as the column type.
Now for the formula, add 30 days to the Invoice Date column. So add the Invoice Date column to the formula and complete the formula with ‘+30’. Choose this column to be displayed as a date.
Create two more columns for adding 60 days and 90 days to the Invoice Date.
Now the necessary past due dates are automatically calculated and can be displayed.
Another helpful use of a calculated field column can be in creating reports. The report owner can add this column to a personal view and with a switch to this view, the necessary data can automatically become visible allowing them to create the report quickly, and not spend time recreating the wheel and redoing the calculations week after week.
While the calculations may seem complicated and too “code”-like, there are lists available on the Internet of frequently used calculations. Now while this caveat seems unneeded, it will be reiterated here. Although this may seem surprising - not everything on the Internet proves to be 100% accurate, but it can save a lot of time in at least getting you started. These lists may prove useful, even if there may be some trial and error, or tweaking needed. Here is a list from Microsoft containing frequently used formulas that will make for a good start.
With SharePoint 2013 general availability almost upon us, it’s time to start thinking about how we migrate to the new platform to start benefitting from all of the great new features that Microsoft have introduced into SharePoint.
If previous new versions of SharePoint are an indicator, apart from a few early adopters, the majority of our customers do not migrate until at least 6 months after general availability (we still have a large number of customer’s still running SharePoint 2007 environments). This leaves plenty of time for migration planning, which if you have read any of Axceler’s previous blog posts on this matter, is a crucial part of a successful migration.
If you are looking to migrate sooner rather than later then it may be beneficial to sell SharePoint 2013 internally to senior management. Listed below are some of the key reasons why you may look to upgrade to SharePoint 2013 within your organisation:
- Social has become a company strategy
- Publishing content to multiple formats (intranet, extranet, internet, mobile, tablet). This is particularly important with the onset of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
- Increasingly mobile workforce, geographically dispersed
- End user adoption (tighter integration with Office) and usability improvements
- Improved search and business intelligence, whether data is on premise or in the cloud
In addition, migrations are a perfect opportunity to take stock of your SharePoint implementation and assess its health, usage and configuration.
So what is the recommended approach, and what is new for migration in SharePoint 2013?
The big change with migration for SP2013 is that in-place upgrades are no longer supported. In practice this was only ever used for small environments where few customisations were made. The database-attach upgrade method is now the only recommended approach unless third part tools are used.
Deferred site collection upgrade is a new feature that has been added which allows site collection owners to be able to easily upgrade their site to the new 2013 format. This is available from within the site settings page so the site owners are able to upgrade in their own timeframe, without the need for PowerShell or command lines.
Upgrade evaluation site collections have been added which provide site collection owners a way of trying out the new 2013 format, whilst still keeping their site in its original 2010 format. The site collection owner can request the evaluation site (which is a copy of the 2010 site), and then review the new interface and functionality. They can go back and make any changes to their site and then upgrade it when they are ready.
Visual upgrade has been deprecated as SharePoint 2013 can now host sites in both 2010 and 2013 format. There were some problems with the visual upgrade in 2010 as it was not a true preview (i.e., the site had already been upgraded). However, the SharePoint 2013 installation contains both a 14 and 15 hive so you get a true preview as both 2010 and 2013 web parts, solutions, features, templates, etc. are actually installed into the environment.
So as you can see, there are a number of new additions to 2013 that help to smooth out the transition to the new platform, particularly from a site owners perspective. In terms of the overall approach to the migration, Microsoft recommends a 3 stage process (Prepare, Upgrade Databases, and Upgrade Sites). There is lots of information on technet that explains the approach, and to help you plan the migration.
For larger and more complex SharePoint environments, a third party tool is often the best approach as this provides additional benefits such as:
- Allowing for more granular migrations
- Transform the environment as you migrate
- Only take across the content that you need
- Clean up unused sites, content, components, etc.
- Allow for incremental migrations
Check out ControlPoint for SharePoint Migration for complete control over your SharePoint Migration.
Let’s face it; the worlds of information and technology will always be evolving, and while many areas have seen changes, the need to manage and secure content has remained constant. Information that was once only verbally shared with trusted individuals, or even physically kept inside a hidden safe, now lives behind firewalls within network shares, or possibly on a SharePoint site in a location that we hope is only opened up to those with whom this information should be shared.
With data usually living in more than one place (unless if it’s handwritten of course) the question quickly becomes, “Who can access my information and what will they do with it?” Anything placed on the internet may be subject to or accessed by individuals other than yourself. But anything local to your computer may lack the mobility that you desire. Take SharePoint for instance; the on-premises or traditional model of SharePoint’s deployment allows an organization to house its data internally, but with this level of security comes the responsibility of managing the hardware, as well as providing mobile options to access the information. SharePoint’s solution to minimizing the extra effort on the organization’s end has been to release a cloud-based solution, Office 365 with SharePoint Online, with which the mobility concerns and hardware are now managed by Microsoft, but the information that is housed on this platform could be spread to servers across the globe. A middle-ground for many, offered by Microsoft and several other hosting providers, is a ‘dedicated’ environment, where you have the same type of farm setup as an on-premises environment, except now the hardware is managed by the hosting provider rather than yourself. The housing location of this data is no longer spread around the world, which makes this option quite favorable to many organizations.
The evolution of data storage is very similar to that of administration, specifically SharePoint Administration. Having been a fairly centralized task in the past performed by one or few individuals, SharePoint Administration now varies in organizations, depending on the size of the user base as well as the resources at their fingertips. More and more, companies choose to decentralize this process to make sure that administration lies in the hands of people who know the sites and have a direct tie-in to the business function. Because of this shift, the model provided by Microsoft has also been altered to help accommodate an easier end-user experience in SharePoint 2013. The structuring of the Cloud model, in a “Multi-tenant” scenario that allows Microsoft to provide SharePoint to many customers on shared hardware, caters itself to a decentralized approach as Site Collections are provided to individual business functions or departments.
Even with the push to a delegated model (where teams can manage their own site collections and sites rather than defer to a centralized admin) and the realignment on the Microsoft end, organizations still feel comfortable having a mixed model to support the best of both worlds – a delegated model to ensure departments have a representation in administration, while providing centralized support to ensure the entire process follows through smoothly.
Axceler’s solution, ControlPoint for SharePoint Administration, assists organizations in getting this type of model in place by providing an easy-to-use UI to perform common administrative tasks in more efficient ways. Through this UI, companies can also identify prime individuals for delegated admin tasks and provides a security trimmed environment to make sure these individuals are only managing the content they should “own” or oversee. Understanding the importance of educating users, Axceler provides Axceler Academy to all its ControlPoint for SharePoint Administration customers to teach users not only how to use the solution effectively, but also reviewing the best practices around these administrative tasks.
If you would like more information on the ControlPoint for SharePoint Administration platform, you can find a downloadable datasheet here, or you can download a free trial here. And if you are already a ControlPoint customer, but would like to know more information about our free administration training on the platform through Axceler Academy, contact us.
While visiting Axceler headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts last week, I was able to participate in a webinar with friend and business partner Nick Kellett (@NickKellett) from StoneShare (www.stoneshare.com), a SharePoint consultancy and Microsoft Gold Partner with offices in Ottawa and Toronto, recognized as one of Canada's 50 fastest growing start-ups (PROFIT MAG). Aside from being a SharePoint MVP and CTO of Stoneshare, Nick has a long history of working with Axceler (and echoTechnology before it), participating in the initial planning and design of our migration platforms. With extensive experience developing enterprise content management (ECM) platforms and portals, Nick is a seasoned expert in governance and compliance solutions.
In our webinar entitled 'Governance Compliance and Monitoring in the Real World,' we outlined some of the common pitfalls of SharePoint deployments, and the compliance concerns that are common across most environments, such as permissions and accessibility, privacy issues, regulatory guidelines (such as PIPEDA, HIPAA, SOX, and ITAR), auditing and e-Discovery requirements, and overall service quality of the platform. While individual scenarios may vary, there are common threads across almost all SharePoint deployments.
One helpful tool that Nick shared to assist attendees in assessing their compliance maturity is the SharePoint Maturity Model developed by Sadalit van Buren (@sadalit), from Blue Metal Architects, which is based on the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) developed by Carnegie Mellon to track and measure the formality and optimization of an organization's software development processes. The SharePoint Maturity Model similarly tracks and measures the formality and optimization of a SharePoint environment, helping an organization to better understand -- and work to improve -- their content publication, collaboration , business process, and search maturity. (There's also been talk in the community about extending this model to include a separate category for Social, which makes sense). For an organization to move from the "200-Managed" or "300-Defined" levels into the more mature "400-Predictable" or "500-Optimizing" levels, it requires an organization to employ monitoring and detailed reporting.
To help organizations understand the path to process and compliance maturity, Nick developed a 5-step plan to governance compliance success:
- Identify your compliance requirements. As with any SharePoint deployment, you must first understand the business requirements of the system before you can develop solutions. For highly regulated industries, your governance compliance requirements are defined by the governing entity. For less regulated organizations, your requirements may come from industry best practices or as an output of your SharePoint Maturity Model planning. The key is to develop a shared understanding between end users, functional management and the leadership team as to the requirements.
- Map your requirements to SharePoint functionality. Once defined, you can then identify which requirements can be met through out of the box SharePoint functionality, and which may require customized monitoring and reporting, or possibly an appropriate 3rd party solution, such as Axceler's ControlPoint platform. As I mentioned in the webinar, be mindful of keeping the identification of requirements and the mapping of requirements to SharePoint functionality as two discrete activities. This should be true for any technology platform -- if you look at your requirements through the lens of the platform limitations, you may not identify the appropriate solutions (from the business standpoint) . Define your requirements first, and then whether those requirements can be met with SharePoint.
- Establish governance model and policies for these requirements. Your governance model is defined by the compliance requirements to be met, and the limitations of the platform. You may be able to automate some policies because of robust SharePoint functionality, while others may be very manual due to functional limitations. Governance is about helping you achieve your business goals, and ensuring that all roles and responsibilities are clearly defined to meet those goals.
- Determine compliance monitoring approach and tools. Nick outlined 4 key governance compliance scenarios that may require separate monitoring approaches and tools, based on the SharePoint maturity level an organization is trying to achieve. These include content analytics, permissions, auditing, and storage management.
- Monitor (and automate!). One your governance model has been defined and deployed, the next, and ongoing, step is to monitor your environment, and to constantly look for ways to automate and improve on what you've built.
As I tell audiences almost every time I present on the topics of governance and administration, SharePoint is not a static platform that you deploy once and are done -- it is a living, breathing platform with evolving business and end user requirements, and as such requires constant compliance and performance tuning. A mature governance and compliance strategy will help you both maintain and grow with SharePoint.
If you would like to watch an on-demand recording of my session with Nick Kellett, you can find our webinar here. I also encourage everyone to review the SharePoint Maturity Model and assess your own environment as the next step in improving your governance and compliance goals.