In today's free webinar, Errin O'Connor, CEO of EPC Group, will focus on SharePoint difficulties particular to government agencies. The webinar will begin at 2:00 pm EDT and registration is still open.
Drawing on his real-world experience, O'Connor shows how government agencies, with their heightened need for security and regulatory compliance, can make a SharePoint governance plan that works and is neither too restrictive or permissive.
O'Connor has worked on over 100 successful SharePoint implementations with some of the largest organizations in the United States including The National Institute of Health, the NAVY and NASA. He is a frequent speaker at SharePoint events and is the author of "Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 Inside Out".
Hope you can join us!
We'll be at SharePoint Saturday
this weekend in Houston, TX.
This free conference features a full lineup of speakers talking about topics ranging from boosting SharePoint performance to building richer web applications within SharePoint 2010. A full schedule of speakers is available here (PDF file).
The conference will be held at
Norris Conference Center
803 Town & Country Lane
Houston, TX 77024
from 9:00 to 6:00.
Registration is free and open to the public. You can look for upcoming SharePoint Saturdays in your local area by checking the SharePoint Saturday website.
Looking forward, we'll be at the SharePoint Saturday being held on May 15th in Washington DC. That event promises to be huge, with over 900 attendees registered so far. For a a map and complete calendar of SharePoint events we will be attending, see our events page.
Here's the situation - you're excited about the new SharePoint installation. After months of work, you've got the full system in place. And now....no one in your organization is using it. How do you get them with the program?
Sadly, the most common SharePoint training methods are the least effective. That is the key conclusion from Michael Sampson's User Adoption Survey.
According to the survey, the most common methods of getting employees to use SharePoint are (ranked in order):
- Help pages- users go to reading materials on their own
- Classroom training - with a group of users
- Web-based training - including webinars
In terms of effectiveness, this list correlates as the methods judged least effective by trainees - with help pages being least effective. And classroom and web-based training being only slightly more effective.
The most effective methods of training were (ranked in order):
- One-on-one coaching
- Scenarios - where SharePoint is visualized helping in a particular work situation
- Executive sponsorship and support
Effective training was also found to present the most basic concepts first. This included describing SharePoint, its tools and how it works conceptually at the outset. Sampson also encourages trainers to remember that "user adoption is a process, not an event." Wise words.
Ease of use, strong document management and a powerful search have combined to make SharePoint popular with law firms. But will law firms be fond of SharePoint 2010?
Mark Gerow tackles this question in an informative article for law.com. Given the costs and potential disruption in upgrading, Gerow runs through the new features that might compel law firms to move.
Among the features he lists:
- Large Document Library Support - Of critical big importance to law firms, SharePoint 2010 can now support millions of documents. The new version also features enhanced tagging and reporting capabilities.
- Improved Records Management - Records in SharePoint 2010 can be listed in multiple repositories. These documents can be accessed by designated users on the network for reference but not edited.
- Improved Search - With the purchase of an additional license, SharePoint administrators can power their searches with FAST, a search technology acquired by Microsoft in 2009. FAST search features the ability to index billions of documents, search by client name, industry or area of law, and a thumbnail preview that allows users to see relevance at a glance.
- Easy to Use Workflows - With a new interface, workflows (automated processes for opening a new client case, adding a new employee, etc.) are more easily created by non-programmers.
- Improved Document Editing - Users of SharePoint 2010 can more easily edit documents without the help of IT. Gerow points out this feature may be a double-edged sword, "As more users assume responsibility for authoring their own pages, increased governance around style and content will be required."
- Offline Access - SharePoint 2010 documents can be taken offline, edited and synchronized later. This may be of good use for traveling attorneys.
You can read the entire article here
I was giving a demo earlier this week to a prospective customer who is in the process of migrating their SharePoint environment from 2003 to 2007 (they’re not planning to move to 2010 any time soon), and in the process they are also transforming different aspects of their environment, such as promoting some of their more prominent webs to site collections, and then merging content from different farms under these new site collections. (wow. long sentence) As part of this transformation, I was able to quickly demonstrate one of the cool features of echo for SharePoint 2007 -- the ability to target a specific content database when creating site collections, and thought I’d reprint this tip from the echoTechnology archives.
As you are probably aware, SharePoint does not have this functionality out of the box. This is especially important for corporations that want to enforce governance controls and charge back based on storage usage per content database. If you want to achieve this with SharePoint, you have to ensure that you “trick” SharePoint into thinking that all the content databases are full except the one that you want to target. To do this, follow these steps:
- Go to Central Administration > Application management > Content Databases
- Be sure to select the right web application from the drop down
- Edit each of the databases (except the one you want to target), set their maximum number to be equal to the current sites in the content database (and the warning level to 1 less than the maximum)
For example, if you wanted to target the database WSS_echoDemo, you would configure your limits this way:
- Now you are ready to create the site collection either via the command line (stsadm -o createsite) or via Central Admin. SharePoint selects the content database with the most room to balance the storage across the different databases.
An easier way is to use echo, where you can achieve this in a few simple steps:
- Open echo, select the task "Create sites," and then select "Create site collections"
- Select the site template from the list or specify your own (e.g. _GLOBAL#1)
- Specify the details for the site collection in the control file (on the grid)
- Select the web application where you would like to create the site collections
Note the fields that specify the server and database name. Some rules about these:
a. If they are blank, then SharePoint decides where to place the site collections based on its internal rules
b. The database name must already be provisioned and be part of the web application. echo looks through the collection of content databases for the selected web application
c. If you need to create a new database, then specify the flag to create a new database
As per other features in echo, you can save this configuration to an Excel file ("Save as Control File"), edit it offline using Excel (you can add new sites, or change the configuration settings), and then open it in echo ("Load a control file") and execute.
Migration is a roadblock to moving forward with your SharePoint strategy. Search the web and you’ll find plenty of content that seems helpful at first glance, but leaves you wanting. Backup your hardware. Check. Run the out-of-the-box analyzer. Check. Prepare your users. Check. But what these articles fail to provide is any kind of practical guidance.
The truth is, migrations are phased, iterative, error prone, and not your goal:
Migrations are phased. How and what you migrate should not be determined by the technology you use – it’s about matching the needs and timing of your content owners and teams. A migration should be flexible, helping you to move sites and content organically based on those end user needs, not the limitations of the technology.
Migrations are iterative. Your planning should not be limited by the number of migration attempts you make, or by the volume of content being moved. A healthy migration recognizes the need to test the waters, to move sites, content and customizations in waves, allowing users to test and provide feedback.
Migrations are error prone. Drag-and-drop SharePoint migration does not exist in the real world. Maybe for plain vanilla sites without any degree of customization, but these sites are few and far between. There is no “easy” button for migration.
Migrations are not the goal, but proper planning and change management policies will help you to be successful with your current and future migrations. The goals should be a stable environment, relevant metadata, discoverable content, and happy end users.
The Axceler team understands the nature of SharePoint migrations and the ongoing change management needs of your business, and has developed a platform that fits within the ebb and flow of your migration lifecycles. Davinci Migrator for SharePoint 2010 gives you the ability to discover, plan, and migrate to the 2010 platform. The echo for SharePoint platform provides a powerful suite of managers to do your heavy lifting, and flexible enough to meet your ongoing change management needs.
To find out more about Davinci Migrator for SharePoint 2010, click here. For more on echo for SharePoint for MOSS 2007, click here.
"Want a job in government? Learn SharePoint," counsels Gary Blatt of the D.C. SharePoint Users group. His interview is almost a full year old but remains relevent today. SharePoint continues to be tremendously popular with federal and state government agencies.
According to Blatt, Microsoft was effective in pushing SharePoint into the federal government and now close to 100% of agencies have licenses. But despite the proliferation of licenses, only a small percentage of agencies are actively using it. Many agencies lack developers to implement their sites, creating a huge opportunity for IT workers.
Federal agencies like SharePoint because it empowers rank-and-file employees, giving them the tools to do more, according to Blatt. Such empowerment saves massive amounts of time.
For example, in a recent SharePoint implementation by the Department of Defense that encompassed data from 26 different organizations, the organization saved 156 person-days. This time-saving and empowerment frees up employees' time so they can focus on more important tasks.
One thing is for sure, the current administration is serious about IT with $34 million budgeted for e-government technology this year. That's more than ten times the amount typically appropriated for centralized technology spending under Bush.
A couple years back at the Microsoft Office DevCon conference in Australia in a session on "SharePoint Developers Tips and Tricks," the presenter highlighted our very own SharePoint Spy as a great – and free – tool for analyzing your SharePoint environment. While this was some much appreciated free press, he didn't mention all of the other application features. SharePoint Spy continues to be our number one download, and a “Hot Pick” on SharePointreviews.com, and so I thought I’d provide some additional information on the tool to help you get the most out of your download.
The first great thing is that SharePoint Spy not only shows you the object’s public properties, but it also shows you the private properties. By selecting the "Raw View" button at the top, SharePoint Spy highlights those properties that are not exposed through public members.
To reset the view, simply reselect the object.
Another thing which you may not have discovered is that you can use the SharePoint Spy to retrieve the content of text files, including .ASPX pages. You simply need to navigate to the file you are interested in, expand the node, and then select "File Content."
Now you can copy and review the raw content of the .ASPX pages shown in SharePoint Designer.
Finally, one of the best features of SharePoint Spy is to compare the properties of two objects. This is the primary reason why people download the tool – and it’s a pretty cool feature, if we don’t say so ourselves. Select any object, right click, and then click "Compare this item with ..." You will need to select the other object by left clicking on it, followed by a right click, and once again selecting "Compare with this item." Once you follow these directions, SharePoint Spy will show the properties of the two objects side-by-side so that you can easily compare their properties.
We hope you find this information helpful, and it allows you to get more out of your SharePoint Spy download.
If you haven’t done so already, you can download a free copy from our website here.
With many getting their SharePoint MVP status renewed last week, it's a good time to explain what it takes to claim this elite status.
What is a Microsoft MVP?
Standing for "Most Valuable Professionals", MVP status is awarded by Microsoft to technological leaders who "actively share their high-quality, real-world technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft."
Coming from a variety of backgrounds, MVPs are generally considered the Microsoft technology community's "best and brightest." To give a sense of scale, out of 100 million technical community participants, only about 4,000 are MVPs. However, MVPs are independent of Microsoft and are not official representatives of the company.
A complete listing of SharePoint MVPs can be found on the Microsoft site, they are listed for SharePoint Server and SharePoint services.
How To Become a MVP
MVPs are named annually based on work done over the past 12 months. So winners cannot sit on their laurels! It's an ongoing process and it makes getting awarded year after year a big deal.
Here's the SharePoint MVP criteria:
- Provides a significant number of useful answers on a regular basis to questions in SharePoint team blogs, community forums, and/or newsgroups.
- Publishes original content (e.g. via a blog or website) and/or tools (e.g. via CodePlex) that are useful to a significant number of people in the SharePoint community.
- Presents or co-presents SharePoint oriented sessions frequently at major conferences (e.g. MS TechEd, MS SharePoint Conference, SharePoint Connections).
- Leads or actively participates at SharePoint oriented user groups or code camps.
- Nominated and vouched for by at least 3 current SharePoint MVPs.
Do You Have What It Takes?
Our own SharePoint MVP, Christian Buckley, provides some guidance in his article 10 Steps to Becoming a SharePoint MVP. Or, if you know someone who would be a good MVP, you can nominate them for consideration. Be warned, nominees "undergo a rigorous review process" including an evaluation of technical expertise and community contributions by a special panel of judges.