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June 2018 Office 365 Updates


June 2018 Office 365 Updates

Information

YouTube

Each installment of the series is published on YouTube to the Office 365 Update Series Playlist (https://aka.ms/o365update-youtube) which is part of the Office Videos Channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/officevideos).

Blog

The companion blog at http://aka.ms/o365update-blog hosts this document and articles related to this video series.

Transcript

Introductory Comments

Welcome to the Office 365 update for June 2018.

In the next few minutes I’ll be giving you a quick rundown of the latest Office 365 updates, with goal of helping you get the most out of the service.

Training Services

Source:       The SharePoint Community Blog: Introducing Microsoft Training Services

Newsflash! New capabilities in any product or service do nobody any good unless people actually use them. For Office 365, one challenge to using new capabilities is knowing they exist and what value they provide. That’s the focus of in this video. Another hurdle, and one I frequently hear from listeners, is training users on how to use Office 365 capabilities, both new and existing, to get work done. While I’ve touched on some great training already available in past videos, and provided links to training resources in the companion blog, there is also news on that front.

On May 21st, Microsoft announced Microsoft Training Services, a digital, customized learning service for Office 365 and Windows 10. The training is designed to help customers leverage learning to transform their organizations without investing heavily in training and change management resources.

To date, 25 organizations have participated in the pre-pilot phase, helping to develop and test the service, which includes:

  • Customizable, always up-to-date content,
  • Experiences right-sized to an organization’s needs, and
  • Metrics on training materials users consume and the types of custom playlists they create and share.

Microsoft Training Services will be available as a pilot in late July 2018. To be added to the pilot waitlist or to learn more, register at https://aka.ms/mtspilot.

Outlook

Source:       Microsoft 365 Blog: New Calendar, Mail, and mobile Outlook features help you get things done

New Outlook features across Windows, Mac, web, and mobile, help you manage your time and keep what matters most front and center.

Adding a new meeting or a location for an event just got easier and faster in Outlook for iOS. Even before you start typing, Outlook offers suggestions for your meeting location, including recently used conference rooms and other common locations such as “my office.” Once you start to type in the location field, Outlook suggests options, powered by Bing, and then autocompletes your meeting location with the necessary information, including the full address for public locations.

In iOS, Outlook will use your current location, your destination address, and traffic updates to send you a notification to let you know when it is time to leave for your next meeting. Note that this feature will be coming soon to Outlook for Windows.

Let’s face it. Some meetings are more important than others. Don’t tell my boss, but one criterion I sometimes use to determine if I’m going to attend a meeting is who else is going to be there. Up until recently, determining who would be attending a meeting could be challenging because meeting invitation responses were only visible to the meeting organizer.

Now, Outlook allows you to see the tracked responses and RSVPs for the meetings you’re invited to, even when you’re not the organizer. This insight enables you to better manage your time and decide if you should attend based on the plans of others. For example, if I’m invited to two meetings that overlap, and I can see that one of my colleagues is attending one of the meetings, I could elect to attend the other meeting and then sync with my colleague afterwards.

If you are planning a meeting that requires tight control of the attendee list, Outlook now gives you the option to allow or prevent the forwarding of your calendar invitation.

Do you collaborate with people in different time zones? I do, every day. That’s why I was thrilled when the Outlook team added more time zone functionality to Outlook. This has become indispensable when I’m planning meetings and looking for “time zone friendly” meeting times.

In Windows, you can now display up to three time zones in your calendar grid. Just click on File, then Options, then on the Calendar section. Under Time Zones,  you can add whichever Time Zones you would like to see.

In Outlook for Mac, you can add one additional Time Zone under Outlook Preferences.

Now, at a glance, you can understand what’s happening and when around the globe with Outlook.

The April 30th Office Blog post has additional details on all these features, as well as a preview of new features coming soon to Outlook on iOS and Android, including:

  • The ability to sync your drafts folder from your desktop to your mobile device,
  • Office Lens functionality for adding captured whiteboards, documents, and photos directly to new Outlook messages, and
  • the ability to tag your favorite people to keep your key contacts front and center in your mobile search experience, and more.

I’ll keep you posted on when these new features become available in future videos.

OneDrive and SharePoint

Source:       OneDrive Blog: New Capabilities for OneDrive Announced Today at SharePoint Conference North America

Microsoft 365 Blog: SharePoint innovations transform content collaboration with mixed reality and AI

At the May SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, several exciting features were announced for both SharePoint and OneDrive. Here are some of the highlights.

First, improvements in the built-in scan feature in the OneDrive mobile app for both iOS and Android. It’s now accessed from the dedicated icon in the tab bar making it easy to add images, multiple page files, and annotations right to your OneDrive.

There’s also improved upload support in OneDrive for Business with automatic uploads for photos and videos captured to your phone’s camera roll.

Another new feature is the ability to set and require a password when you share a file or folder with other people. This prevents others from accessing your files if your intended recipient accidentally forwards or shares the link. Note that this feature is independent from the secure external sharing controls managed by IT administrators.

In addition, you now have the ability to prevent users from downloading files shared via view-only links. This enables you to share Office documents in the cloud while preventing people from downloading and keeping offline copies.

There are several feature enhancements specific to Office 365 Administrators, including the ability to automatically connect and synchronize SharePoint team sites as part of a OneDrive deployment or upgrade process. For all the details and additional news, read the OneDrive blog post I link to in the transcript and resources document.

One news item that generated a lot of buzz at the SharePoint Conference was Microsoft’s unveiling SharePoint Spaces. Leveraging Microsoft’s investment in artificial intelligence and mixed reality, SharePoint Spaces are immersive, mixed reality experiences that enables users to view and interact with content from every angle. They can also visualize and manipulate data and product models in real-time.

With this innovation, SharePoint will become the first unified content collaboration and services solution to span files, websites, and soon, mixed reality spaces. Customers and partners can apply to be part of an early, limited preview of SharePoint spaces by clicking on the link in the May 21st Microsoft Blog post.

Windows Title Bar

The Title Bar has been a fixture in the Windows interface since the first version released to manufacturing 32 years ago. I’m happy to report title bar functionality in Office 365 has taken a huge leap forward in the name of productivity improvement.

Click on the title bar and a new drop-down enables you to take several actions, including:

  • quickly re-name the current document,
  • open the document’s location,
  • share the document via an invitation or a link, and
  • quickly access the document’s version history.

Truth be told, I sort of stumbled across this hidden gem in the Windows version of Office recently myself. But since doing so, I’ve particularly found the ability to open the document’s location to be a big productivity booster. Give it a try and I’m sure you’ll find how much it can speed up your work.

Security

Source:       Trust Center: How our products help with GDPR compliance

Trust Center: Preparing for a new era in privacy regulation

Trust Center: Office 365 helps enable data privacy for GDPR compliance

On May 25th of this year, enforcement began on a European privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation, better known as GDPR.

This law imposes new rules on companies, government agencies, non-profits, and other organizations that offer goods and services to people in the European Union, or that collect and analyze data tied to EU residents, regardless of where the organization is physically located.

GDPR is obviously a huge topic that we cannot adequately address in the time we have together, but we can at least get you started.

One essential step to meeting the GDPR obligations is discovering and controlling what personal data the organization holds and where it resides. Many Office 365 solutions can help you identify and manage access to personal data, including:

  • Data Loss Prevention,
  • Advanced Data Governance,
  • Office 365 eDiscovery, and
  • Customer Lockbox.

A second core requirement of the GDPR is protecting personal data against security threats. Current Office 365 features that safeguard data and identify when a data breach occurs include:

  • Advanced Threat Protection
  • Advanced Security Management, and
  • Office 365 Audit logs.

I’ve provided links in the transcript and resources guide to pages in the Microsoft Trust Center that address GDPR and what Microsoft is doing to safeguard individual privacy with the Microsoft Cloud.

Close

That’s all we have time for. Remember to send your feedback or success stories to [email protected]

I’m Jim Naroski, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you again soon!

read more
empty.authorJune 2018 Office 365 Updates
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May 2018 Office 365 Updates


May 2018 Office 365 Updates

Information

YouTube

Each installment of the series is published on YouTube to the Office 365 Update Series Playlist (https://aka.ms/o365update-youtube) which is part of the Office Videos Channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/officevideos).

Blog

The companion blog at http://aka.ms/o365update-blog hosts this document and articles related to this video series.

Transcript

Introductory Comments

Welcome to the Office 365 update for May of 2018. In the next few minutes I’ll be giving you a quick rundown of the latest Office 365 updates, with the goal of helping you get the most out of the service.

Excel

Source: Office Blog: New in March—rich data types, intelligent search, and expanded datacenters

Excel Blog: Preview of Stocks and Geography, New Data Types in Excel

Excel Blog: Experience the newest set of features and fast performance in Excel for Mac Version 16

Insights in Excel

Every day, millions of Office 365 subscribers rely on Excel to perform complex analysis for their organizations’ data. For many, however, extracting key insights from a new data set can be time consuming and even a little intimidating.

Microsoft recently announced the preview of Insights in Excel, a new service that automatically highlights patterns in your data. When you have any cell highlighted in an Excel data table, simply click the Insights button from the Insert ribbon. Powered by machine learning, Insights quickly identify trends, outliers, and other useful visualizations, providing new perspectives on data.

In this example, insights delivered over 30 suggested results that you can quickly scroll through.

When you find insights you like, just drop them into your workbook with one click. A new tab is created with PivotChart controls that enable you to further modify the chart if you need to.

New Data Types

Another new Excel feature, currently available only to Office Insiders, is support for new data types. These new data types are fundamentally different than the traditional cell contents which hold values, formulas, and text labels. The first two, new data types in preview are Stocks and Geography.

Say you have a list of countries, you can convert it to the new Geography data type by clicking on the command in the Data ribbon. Now the cell isn’t holding just the name of each country. It now contains a rich set of additional information behind the scenes. Clicking on the icon next to each item shows a data card displaying all the extra information in that cell.

Better yet, if you have the data in an Excel table, you can see a widget that lets you pull the additional data into a column of its own. In this case, I’ll add the population for each country.

Note that Excel didn’t just copy that data out of the cell. It actually created a formula for you. All the data available in this new data type is calculation enabled. This means that you can write your own formulas referencing any of the fields available in the new data type’s cell.

It’s not just States or Countries either. The new data types support things like postal codes, cities, as well as stocks, index funds, and other financial data. The Excel team plans to add more data types over time, including the ability to extend this capability to data unique to your organization. I’ll keep you posted in future updates. For now, I encourage you to read the March 29th Excel blog post I link to in the transcript and resources document available in the Office 365 Guy Blog. And remember, it’s only available to Office Insiders right now.

Excel for Mac

I know we have some passionate, and vocal, Excel for Mac enthusiasts in the audience. While Excel for Mac 2016 version 16.9.0 has been live since January, there have been several feature updates since then. An April 10th Excel Blog post covers eight Excel for Mac feature improvements, including the addition of more functions and charts; collaborative editing, more robust support for PivotTable Charts, and more. Be sure to check the blog post and continue to make your voice heard via the Excel virtual suggestion box at excel.uservoice.com.

Outlook

Source: HowTo Outlook: Outlook 2016 Update for May 2018

Office Support: Listen to your email messages

Prompt Before “Reply All”

Say you need to send an important or sensitive email to a colleague and you want to keep your manager informed. But for whatever reason, you don’t want the mail recipient to know you’re also sending it to your manager.

Enter the email bcc feature, which stands for blind carbon copy, a term actually borrowed from when we wrote business correspondence on typewriters, or heaven-forbid, by hand, using a copy medium called carbon paper.

Only the person that was “blind carbon copied” on the memo then, and the email now would know they received it.

“Replying All” to an email you are bcc’d on it usually defeats the purpose of the reason for the bcc in the first place. Outlook’s new “Prompt before replying all” feature was designed to help ensure discretion when replying to emails when you’re a bcc recipient. If you’re on the bcc line and you click Reply All, Outlook will alert you with the message, “Your address was hidden when this message was sent. If you Reply All, everyone will know you received it.”

This helps ensure you don’t accidentally reveal that you received the original message unbeknownst to the other recipients, and perhaps more importantly, saves the sender from a potentially awkward conversation with the other recipients.

I’ve added a link to learn more about this new feature in the resource guide. And for the more inquisitive millennials in the audience who want to learn a little bit more about the fascinating history of carbon paper and all its uses, consider doing a search using your preferred web browser.

Read Emails Aloud

As voice-enabled virtual assistants like Cortana take on more-and-more tasks, the ability listen to my emails rather than read them is a natural progression. Another new Outlook feature being rolling out to Office Insiders enables you to listen to your emails.

If you’re an Office Insider, you can enable this feature by clicking on File, then Options, then click on the Ease of Access section. Add a check to Show Read Aloud, and the option will appear on the Home ribbon.

Planner

Source: Planner Blog: View Planner tasks on your Outlook calendar

Office Support: View your tasks on a calendar

In the March update, I covered several Planner enhancements, including new Group and Filter options. I also mentioned that, coming soon, a new iCalendar format feed would enable you to quickly publish Planner tasks to your Outlook calendar.

I’m happy to announce that on April 11th, the Planner team released that feature and it couldn’t be simpler to set up. In Planner, go to My Tasks, click on the ellipses and then on “Add ‘My Tasks’ to Outlook calendar,” then click on the Add to Outlook link. Your Planner tasks will be visible on your Outlook calendar and you can easily toggle their visibility on and off.

This integration will ensure that you don’t miss any task deadlines. For additional details, read the Planner blog post I link to in the transcript and resources guide.

SharePoint Search

Source: Office Blog: New in March—rich data types, intelligent search, and expanded datacenters

Office Support: What’s new in search in SharePoint Online

Last September at Microsoft Ignite, we announced new search capabilities in SharePoint Online that enable the discovery of people, information, and expertise from across your organization. This personalized experience is now rolling out to all Office 365 subscribers.

Now, wherever you start your search in SharePoint or Office.com, you’ll see consistent, personalized results powered by the Microsoft Graph. The search results are arranged into sections: Sites, Files, People, and News.

You can expand the search results to see more information before opening the item, and you have the choice of opening the item or going to the location where the file is stored. That’s huge!

When you exit a search results page, you return to the page where you started your search. Try this new search capability today and I think you’ll find, as I did, how powerful and flexible it is.

Microsoft 365 Security & Compliance Center

Source: Office Blog: Security, Privacy and Compliance Blog: Introducing the Microsoft 365 Security and Compliance Center

Microsoft 365 brings together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. The new Microsoft 365 Admin Center, which I covered last month, is a single place for admins to get started with Microsoft 365 and discover the breadth of management capabilities and experiences available.

In early April, Microsoft rolled out the first of two key components I mentioned last month: the Security & Compliance Center. It maintains the centralized experience, intelligence, and customization that Office 365 security and compliance center offers today. It gives data administrators, compliance officers, and security administrators robust security and compliance controls across Office 365, Enterprise Mobility + Security, and Windows, all in a single place.

Over the coming months, Microsoft will continue to add new capabilities to help admins deploy and manage security and compliance solutions, helping organizations optimize their resources.

For Microsoft 365 customers, the new admin experience will be available automatically, once rolled out to your tenant.

Microsoft Score

Source: Security, Privacy and Compliance Blog: Office 365 Secure Score is now Microsoft Secure Score

Secure Score analyzes your Office 365 organization’s security based on your regular activities and security settings, and then assigns a score. Many people think of it as a credit score but for organizational security, only you can’t use Secure Score to get a loan.

Back in the February update video, I made this promise:

Coming soon, Microsoft will be introducing an industry average score in Secure Score. This will show how your score compares to other organizations that have designated the same industry.

That day has arrived, but first I have some important news regarding the service overall. A common piece of feedback Microsoft heard was that is great for Office 365, but what about other Microsoft solutions? To address that feedback, on April 17th Microsoft announced that Office 365 Secure Score is now Microsoft Secure Score. Microsoft Secure Score builds on top of what was in Office 365 Secure Score and adds even more.

One new feature you will notice as soon as you log in is the new Microsoft score which is made up of your Office 365 Secure Score and your Windows Secure Score. The Windows score come from Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, or ATP, which provides information about the status of your antivirus, operating system security updates, firewall status, and other controls. To get the details of your Windows score, you can click on the “Windows Defender Security Center” link below your Windows score to go directly to the dashboard in Windows Defender ATP.

Beyond adding Windows to Secure Score, Microsoft Secure Score now supports Intune. This surfaces though the existing mobile device management controls.

Lastly, you’ll be able to compare your Secure Score against the scores of organizations in the same industry based on what industry you designate in the Service Assurance section of the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center.

To try out Microsoft Secure Score now you can go to securescore.microsoft.com and log in with your administrative credentials, or click on the Secure Score widget on the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center home page.

Close

That’s all we have time for. Remember, send your feedback or success stories to [email protected].

I’m Jim Naroski, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you again soon!

read more
empty.authorMay 2018 Office 365 Updates
april-2018.jpg

April 2018 Office 365 Updates


April 2018 Office 365 Updates

Information

YouTube

Each installment of the series is published on YouTube to the Office 365 Update Series Playlist (https://aka.ms/o365update-youtube) which is part of the Office Videos Channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/officevideos).

Blog

The companion blog at http://aka.ms/o365update-blog hosts this document and articles related to this video series.

 

Transcript

Introductory Comments

Welcome to the Office 365 update for April 2018.

In the next few minutes I’ll be giving you a quick rundown of the latest Office 365 updates, with goal of helping you get the most out of the service.

Microsoft Teams

Source:   Microsoft Teams Blog: Collaborate securely with anyone in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is a chat-based workspace in Office 365 that brings together people, conversations, content, and apps that enable teams to collaborate more effectively. Sometimes, those team members you want to collaborate with are outside the organization. That’s why Microsoft recently added the ability to add anyone as a guest in Microsoft Teams.

I know some of the Teams power users watching this might be thinking, “I’ve been able to add guests for a while now.” That’s true, but up until now, guests had to have an Azure Active Directory account. That’s no longer the case. Now anyone with a business or consumer email account, such as Outlook.com, Gmail, iCloud, and others can participate in Microsoft Teams as a guest, with access to team chats, meetings, and files. In addition, all guests are covered by the same compliance and auditing protection as the rest of Office 365.

To add a guest to a team, select Add Members in the menu next to the team name. Then add the guest’s email address. The invitee will receive a welcome email message with information about the team and what to expect now that they’re a member. Note that guests still need to have a Microsoft account associated with their email to participate. If the guest doesn’t yet have a Microsoft Account associated with their email address, they will be directed to create one for free.

Teams that include guests will be identified with text and icons throughout the Teams user interface to give all team members a clear indication that there are guests in that team.

For additional details, including a video on how to enable guest access in Microsoft Teams, follow the link I provide in the transcript and resources document posted on the Office 365 Guy Blog.

SharePoint Hub Sites

Source:   SharePoint Community Blog: Organize your intranet with SharePoint hub sites

Here at Microsoft, we have, shall we say, an abundance of SharePoint sites, and I suspect, and hope, your organization does as well. Our corporate Intranet runs on SharePoint, and we have team sites, departmental sites, document libraries, project management sites, and of course, the newest addition, communication sites, which I covered in last August’s update video.

If you’ve ever wished for an easy way to organize your SharePoint sites in an intuitive, logical way, I’ve got good news. In mid-March, Microsoft began rolling out hub sites to Targeted Release customers in Office 365.

SharePoint hub sites enable you to bring together associated sites into a single hub. The hub enhances discovery and user engagement, while creating a consistent look and feel to your project, department, or region.

For example, an HR SharePoint hub site can link and aggregate content from SharePoint sites dedicated to new hires, employee benefits, and recognition. A regional SharePoint hub can contain content from local team sites, communication sites, and project sites.

Bringing associated sites into a single hub has several benefits, including:

  • Scoped search, which enables you to focus on finding content that resides within the hub’s associated sites;
  • Content rollup, so you can read news and announcement across related sites in one spot; and
  • Easier cross-site navigation, which allows you to quickly get to related sites from the hub rather than going to each one individually.

Hub sites improve governance, giving admins a growth framework to maintain relationships between sites over time. And when managing change within the business, it’s easy to move a SharePoint site from one hub to another.

To learn more about this great new capability, read the SharePoint Community blog post I link to in the transcript and resources document. Remember, hub sites are rolling out to Targeted Release customers in Office 365, so I’ll keep you posted when it’s becomes generally available.

Power BI

Source:  Power BI Blog: Announcing Persistent Filters in the Power BI Service

Power BI Blog: Power BI Desktop March Feature Summary

I covered Power BI slicers last month. This month, I have two new Power BI features to highlight, custom tool tips and persistent filters. Custom tool tips, currently in preview, lets you design a custom report page to be used as a tooltip for other visuals, enabling you to communicate more information on a single report. The March 7th Power BI blog post includes step-by-step instructions and a video walk-through on how to enable it since it is still in preview.

The second new feature I’m excited to share is one that many Power BI users have been asking for: persistent filters. Starting in mid-March, all Power BI reports will now automatically retain the filters, slicers, and other data view changes that you make. You no longer need to spend your time re-applying filters and slicers each time you return to a Power BI report. With persistent filters, you can pick up where you left off last time and quickly get to the insights that matter most.

With this update, you’ll notice a new button on the top bar that says, “Reset to default”. When you first open a report, this will be greyed out. It essentially means that you are viewing the author’s published view of the report and have not made any changes.  As soon as you interact with the report by applying a filter or slicer, the button will light up and the reset icon turns yellow, enabling you to quickly revert to the published view.

Here’s a list of data view changes in reports that currently persist:

  • Filters
  • Slicers
  • Sort order
  • Drill location

Note that custom visuals are not yet supported, but the Power BI team is working hard to get the most popular custom visuals compatible with persistent filters.

Microsoft 365 Admin Center

Source:  Office 365 Blog: Introducing the Microsoft 365 Admin Center

Last July, at Microsoft’s Inspire event in Washington DC, we unveiled Microsoft 365, which brings together Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security.  Microsoft 365 delivers a complete, intelligent, and secure solution for the modern workplace, and unifies management across users, devices, apps, and services.

On March 2nd, Microsoft unveiled a new admin experience for Microsoft 365 enterprise customers: the Microsoft 365 Admin Center, a single place for admins to get started with Microsoft 365 and discover the breadth of management capabilities and experiences available.

The new Microsoft 365 Admin Center includes two key components which will be rolling out soon:

  • A Security & Compliance Center, dedicated to providing security and compliance specialists with integrated management capabilities across Office 365, Windows, and Enterprise Mobility and Security.
  • Microsoft 365 Device Management, which is dedicated to providing integrated device management capabilities across Intune, Office, and Windows.

The Security and Compliance Center will be available shortly, with Device Management to follow, soon thereafter.

Over the coming months we will continue investing in more integrated, streamlined administration experiences across Microsoft 365 to help organizations become more productive and secure while optimizing their IT resources. We will also continue to improve the admin’s user experience, so they complete their tasks faster and easier, and get more accomplished.

For Microsoft 365 customers, the new admin experience will be availability automatically, once this is rolled out to your tenant.

Flow

Many of you have asked if there is a way to be notified when a new edition of the Office 365 update is published. While YouTube does let you configure channel update notifications, the Update Series is a playlist, and I haven’t discovered how to configure per-playlist notifications in YouTube. This situation gave me a good excuse to see if Microsoft Flow could help.

I’m already subscribed to the Office 365 Channel, signed into YouTube, and all setup with Microsoft Flow. My goal is to create a Flow to email me when a new Office 365 update is posted.

I access Flow from the app launcher. While there are more than 200 services you can connect to and a bunch of templates already available, we’ll create our own Flow from scratch.

To do that, I’ll click on My Flows.

Then I’ll select Create a flow from blank.

I’ll give the Flow a name.

I’ll type in YouTube in the search box, then select the trigger, When a new video is uploaded by a channel.

I’ll pick the Microsoft Office 365 channel from the dropdown list, then click New step.

I’ll add a condition, select Video list after clicking Add dynamic content, then contains, then enter Office 365 update.

Then in the Yes section, click add action,

Then select send an email from the dropdown list

Specify the To, Subject, and Body Info and click save flow.

Going forward, I’ll receive an update every time a new Office 365 Update is posted. Give it a try yourself if you’re interested and consult the transcript and resources doc to learn more.

Close

That’s all we have time for. Remember, send your feedback or success stories to [email protected].

I’m Jim Naroski, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you again soon!

read more
empty.authorApril 2018 Office 365 Updates
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March 2018 Office 365 Updates


March 2018 Office 365 Updates

Introductory Comments

Welcome to the Office 365 update for March of 2018.

In the next few minutes I’ll be giving you a quick rundown of the latest Office 365 updates, with the goal of helping you get the most out of the service.

Yammer

Source:  Yammer Blog: Now available: Move conversations in Yammer!

Yammer Blog: Now available: Seen counts in Yammer!

Yammer helps organizations drive open conversations. It enables you to collaborate, share updates, and crowdsource answers from your coworkers around the globe.

I sometimes come across situations where one Yammer group can expand to involve more people and topics than originally planned. For example, a conversation that started between product marketers may branch out into topics related to product support. Another example is when someone posts a question in one group, but the question could be better addressed by experts in another community. I’ve experienced that second situation quite a bit, myself.

To address these scenarios, the Yammer team recently added a feature that lets you move conversations between groups in Yammer. Here’s how it works:

First, identify the post you want to move, then click on the ellipses at the top of the first message in the thread. You’ll see a Move Conversation option. Click on that, then select destination group to move the conversation to. You can add a note for context, letting everyone know why the conversation is being moved to the new group. Then simply click the Move button and the conversation will be moved to the new group.

I’ve found this feature to be very handy in the communities I manage here and Microsoft, and if you’re a regular Yammer user, I’m sure you will too.

Ever wonder if anyone is actually looking at your Yammer posts? Then you’ll love the new seen counts feature. This new capability helps me better understand the impact my posts are having, for better or for worse, by displaying the number of people who have seen the message. Note that, at the time of this recording, seen counts is currently visible only to the original creator of the post. However, the Yammer developers are experimenting with letting you see the counts for any conversation that you have access to, so these new seen counts may be visible more broadly in Yammer by the time you watch this video.

Microsoft Teams

Source:  Office Blog: New ways to use apps and get more done in Microsoft Teams

While Yammer facilitates broad communication with people in your organization across workgroups, Microsoft Teams can be more suitable for collaboration within a specific team or workgroup.

New features in Microsoft Teams make it an even more powerful hub for teamwork by enabling you to use apps in new ways, including the ability to command apps and take quick actions from the command box. You can now also include specific content from an app in a conversation.

Up until now, you had to add screenshots and hyperlinks to your posts in Microsoft Teams. Now you can bring rich information from apps into a chat or channel message with a simple click. For example, you can search for a specific task in Trello, a work item in Wrike, or a weather forecast, and include an interactive card with that information right into your message.

The new personal apps space in Microsoft Teams makes it easy for you to access the apps you care about and see all the items that you have been assigned to across apps. You can view tasks in Planner, issues in Jira Cloud, or requests in Bitbucket Cloud, all right within Teams. You can also easily see items you have recently accessed, such as OneNote notebooks or videos from Microsoft Stream.

Search is one key way people navigate in Teams to get to the information they’re looking for, and now it’s even better. Slash commands are now integrated with search so you both search and take quick actions right from the same command box at the top of the screen.

For example, you can use a slash command to set your status to “away,” or call a coworker. To get started with slash commands, just type a slash in the command box to see the list of commands currently available.

These updates to Microsoft Teams mark the biggest release of new functionality since Teams launched last March. You can read all the details in the January 29th Microsoft Teams blog that I link to in the transcript and resources document.

OneDrive File Restore

Source:  OneDrive Blog: Announcing New OneDrive for Business feature: Files Restore

Keeping your files safe and secure is Microsoft’s top priority. Office 365 administrators are empowered to safeguard their organization’s data using capabilities such as Data Loss Prevention, eDiscovery, service level encryption, and data retention controls with consistent management across Office 365.

Even with this level of sophistication, files could still be compromised due to accidental end-user deletion, file corruption, or malware infection. Until now the recovery process from such an event could take time and potentially result in data loss.

I’m excited to share the news that the OneDrive team recently announced a new feature called Files Restore for all OneDrive for Business customers.

Files Restore is a complete self-service recovery solution that allows administrators and end users to restore files from any point in time during the last 30 days. Now both users and administrators can rewind changes, using activity data to select the exact moment to revert to.

Files Restore for OneDrive for Business can save time and stress when file loss occurs, putting end users and administrators in control. This capability started rolling out to all OneDrive for Business users in late January and should be available by the time you watch this video. For step-by-step instructions on how to use this new feature, consult the January 22nd OneDrive blog post we link to in the transcript and resources guide.

OneDrive on iOS

Source:  OneDrive Blog: New features make Office and OneDrive the best place to work on iPad and iPhone

In our continued effort to bring the best in class experiences on all devices, Microsoft recently released new functionality in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive on iOS that will make iPad and iPhone users more productive.

Now, using real-time co-authoring, you and your colleagues can contribute to, and edit, documents simultaneously in the iOS apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. You can see who else is working with you in a document, see where they’re working, and view changes automatically within seconds.

This means that co-authoring is available to you in Office Online, the latest versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on both PC and Mac, and now on iOS.

One of the most common and powerful tasks when creating content is pulling in text, photos, graphs, and other objects from different sources. Now you can pull in content with ease on your iPad with drag and drop support in Office and OneDrive.

In addition, Microsoft recently announced native support for the Files app in iOS 11. integration with the Files app allows you to access, upload, edit, and save your content to OneDrive or SharePoint from apps that support Files app integration. You can also tag and favorite your OneDrive and SharePoint files from within the Files app for seamless integration.

Power BI

Source:  Power BI Blog: Power BI Desktop February Feature Summary

Microsoft Docs: Slicers in Power BI service (Tutorial)

The February Power BI blog announced several new features, including many new capabilities requested by Power BI users. They include the ability to multi-select data points across multiple charts and, a feature I’m going to use immediately, the ability to sync slicer values across multiple pages of your report.

In Power BI a slicer narrows the portion of the dataset shown in the other visualizations on the page. Up until now, Power BI slicers only applied to a single page, but with this update, you can sync slicer values across multiple pages of your report.

The Power BI Team has added a new “Sync slicers” pane that enables you to select slicers to stay in sync across multiple pages. You can reach the new Sync slicers pane from the View tab. Once you’ve opened the pane, select a slicer to see the options. You can quickly make the slicer apply to every page by clicking the ‘Add to all’ link.

You’ll find additional details on this and other features, including some great videos, in the February 5th Power BI blog.

Planner

Source:  Blog: Conquer time with new features in Microsoft Planner

In last November’s Office 365 update, I covered Planner’s new Schedule view. The schedule view also supports drag-and-drop, enabling you to not only quickly add tasks but to move the start and due dates right on the calendar.

The February 5th Office Blog post announced several Planner enhancements, including new Group and Filter options that give you deeper insights into your tasks to help you meet key deadlines. For example, you can filter your tasks by due date to better understand approaching deadlines.

New due date notifications via email summarize tasks due in the coming week, helping you stay on top of your approaching deliverables.

And, coming soon, a new iCalendar format feed that enables you to finally publish Planner tasks to your Outlook calendar. I’m really looking forward to that.

Haven’t used Planner yet? You can get started easily by visiting tasks.office.com.

Close

That’s all we have time for. Remember, you can download the transcript and resources document from the Office 365 Guy blog at aka.ms/o365update-blog. I love reading your comments so post them on the blog or send them to [email protected]

I’m Jim Naroski, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you again soon!

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empty.authorMarch 2018 Office 365 Updates
angular-vs-react.jpg

Angular vs React – A SharePoint Journey

Bo is a Principal Consultant for ThreeWill. He has 18 years of full lifecycle software development experience.

As I started to write this blog I used the Google box to see if there were other posts like it out there and as it turns out Andrew Connell has a great one Angular, React or Vue – Which Web Framework to Focus on for SPFx?.  Given that his post is so good and takes the high road on which framework to choose I instead will provide you with my personal journey through the choices I made, the challenges I had and how I feel now.

Some Background

Let me start by first saying I am a huge fan of Angular.  I started like most with AngularJS and moved on to Angular 2, then 4 and 5.  As a framework, it gives me everything I need and more.  I’m a SharePoint developer from way back and Angular with TypeScript has made the transition from server-side C# development to client-side easy.  Since I have so much familiarity with Angular and have built some great Single Page Application in SharePoint using it, it is my go-to framework.

Master Plan Thwarted

Given where I was coming from when it was time to develop a highly customized client-side application in Office 365 I was no doubt going to start with the tried and true Angular pattern.  Using Angular CLI, Angular 2+, PnP Core JS, TypeScript and then taking over the home page with index.html from our Angular app.  Easy Peasy.  This pattern is battle tested, robust and allows us to control every aspect of the UI.  WCGW.

Well, it turns out if you decide to go with this approach there are some things that can go wrong.  The most important consideration is whether the site collection you are going into is a classic site collection or a modern site collection.  If you are still rocking classic, then this pattern is still a viable option, business in the front and party in the back.  You can create a folder on the site (through SharePoint Designer or PowerShell or whatever) and upload your assets and you are good to go.  Angular hanging out in your site collection making REST calls all day.

However, if you are targeting a modern team site or communication site this simply will not work.  Microsoft will prevent you from creating folders outside of actual Document Libraries.  But I’m a Site Collection Admin you say?  Don’t care, I tried, no dice.  Ok fine, I’ll just stick my files in a folder in Site Assets.  Sure, okay but how are you going to render index.html?  Now that it’s in a document library it will show it in the file previewer. Nice HTML you got there.

Before I move on to where I went next, I want to add yet another caveat to this.  If you do decide to go classic but you know some level of Microsoft Teams integration is in your future, think long and hard about your choices.  Adding your angular app via Web Site Tab link is an easy “integration” but it just keeps the user in Teams, it’s not really integration.  True integration, the kind that comes from developing an actual Teams app with Tabs (configurable and static), connectors and bots and all that awesome stuff, well that can get bumpy with the index.html app approach.  The biggest issue is that SharePoint is going to prevent it from being i-framed in a static tab.  That means your UI isn’t reusable in Teams and that’s a bummer. Fortunately, modern pages are super smart, and when used in teams all the SharePoint chrome and navigation is hidden, leaving you with just your page and the SPFx web parts on it.  So, you know, that’s sweet.

Where do I go from here?

Okay so at this point I was licking my wounds a little bit looking for my next course.  Basically, saying to myself, Angular I am not giving up on you.  This is where I found great articles from Sebastien Levert (SharePoint Framework & Angular Elements: Building your first Web Part) and again of course Andrew Connell (Solve the SharePoint Framework + Angular Challenge with Angular 5.0 Elements).  Angular Elements to the rescue!

Following their examples, I got the typical hello world scenario working and continued to build upon it all the while asking myself if I was doing the “right thing”.  By right thing, it was a little voice saying give React a shot, Microsoft is using it, it can’t be that bad.  I ignored the voice and moved on.  Progressively, I layered in components, injectable services, directives and third-party modules.  Somewhere along the way I broke things but kept digging deeper into the mess to fix and resolve and pull out some hair.  I had many factors working against me, many of my own creation.  Transitioning an Angular CLI app targeting ES6 and trying to get all of that refactored into an SPFx approach using Gulp, ES5 was probably a bad idea.   know I could have changed the target from ES5 to ES6 but that’s a whole other mess of transpiling and other things I didn’t have time for.  This all made me feel like I was running in circles instead of following a path Microsoft paved for me with React, so I abandoned Angular Elements.  For now, that is.

The other factor in my mind that lead to this abandonment is that Elements are still being developed and I like cutting edge, but I don’t like bleeding.  I know I will revisit Elements when they are ready but for now, they are on a shelf in the garage. I also considered how they don’t work with Office Fabric UI yet and my thoughts are if you don’t get to own the whole playground then maybe you should play nicely with other kids on the playground.

Enter React

Sure, I could have looked at other framework options, but if I’m in SharePoint and dropping Angular why try to rock the boat, just embrace what Microsoft is using.  Tail between my legs but the new goal in sight I set off.  My goal was simple really, I just wanted to rebuild some version of the Angular App I had already built to get a meaningful feel for the framework in a real world (no hello world) scenario.

My first reaction is…man, it renders fast.  I felt like the UI was quick to redraw on state changes.  Speaking of state, I sort of get it.  I define an object and when that object changes UI do your magic and update as needed.  I’m sure I butchered it there but it’s a start.  I’ll need to dive deeper into all the different react elements and how state is managed between and among them to create a harmonious relationship.

Like everyone, I am NOT A FAN of the approach of having my HTML in my code and returning it out of a render method.  That is probably my first and biggest beef, as I am sure it is with others.  Not a technical issue by any means just one of habit, it doesn’t “feel” right and I could see my render method being the biggest chunk of code in the file.  I think the size of some of these render methods can be managed by creating smaller more composable React Elements very similar to how I have many components in Angular.  I just wish there was better separation between an HTML file and more code-based logic in my TS file.  Oh wait, I mean TSX file…I thought that was an Acura, but I digress.

Admittedly, I’m still a newbie but my two main other complaints are probably more because of my so-called baggage coming from Angular as a complete framework.  First is routing, it’s great in Angular and a bummer that you’ve got to use a third party in React to do this.  Second is dependency injection.  This was so easy in Angular that I took it for granted.  Again, I’m new so I will figure out the best patterns or libraries to make this better, but I mean instantiating my own services I mean who does that.  I loved that Angular did this for me and managed it the whole time.

Verdict

The jury is still out.  I mean I don’t hate React and I am sure with time I’ll establish some consistent approaches and patterns within the framework.  I didn’t become a fan of Angular overnight, after all, it took a few rounds with it to get there and I’m sure this is no different.  I do think that exposing myself to another framework on some real-world scenarios can only make me better when I go back to Angular.  I mean if…no I really meant when.

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Bo GeorgeAngular vs React – A SharePoint Journey
february-2018.jpg

February 2018 Office 365 Updates


February 2018 Office 365 Updates

Introductory Comments

Welcome to the Office 365 update for February 2018.

In the next few minutes I’ll give you a quick rundown of the latest updates to the service, with goal of helping you get the most out of your investment. We cover things rather quickly, so please refer to the Office 365 Guy Blog where we post the transcript and resources guide.

3D Animations

Source: Office Support: What’s new in Office 365: Get moving with 3D models

Last October, I covered the growing support for 3D models in PowerPoint. In that segment, I showed you how 3D graphics become even more dynamic when combined with PowerPoint’s Morph transition. Simply duplicate your slide, reposition your 3D model, select the Morph transition, and PowerPoint creates a smooth, cinematic transition between slides.

Good news: 3D support in PowerPoint just got even better. Office 365 subscribers can now add animation effects to 3D objects on a single slide. Now, there are animation effects specific to 3D images. Simply click on your 3D model, and an Animation Ribbon displays the options. There are also effective options specific to each 3D animation. Once applied, they can be managed and sequenced in the Animation Pane just like traditional PowerPoint animations.

Vector Graphics

Source: Office Support: What’s new in Office 365: Convert SVG icons into shapes

Back in December 2016, I covered scalable vector graphics:

Now you can insert and edit scalable vector graphics and images in your Office documents. We’ve even added a built-in library of professional, high-quality icons to get you started. Since these graphics are vector-based, they look great at any size without becoming, to use a scientific term, pixelated. Once added, you can apply styles, change the line color, change the fill color, and add other effects.

Vector graphics became even more flexible in mid-January. Now, after adding a graphic, Office 365 subscribers will see a new “Convert to Shape” option in the Graphics Tools Format Ribbon. This enables you to transform SVG pictures and icons into Office shapes so you can change individual elements within the graphic, like their color, size, and texture.

Remember, vector graphics aren’t limited to PowerPoint. You can also use them in Word, Excel, and Outlook emails. For more information, go to the What’s new in Office 365 page on the Office Support site I link to in the transcript.

Outlook Cheat Sheets

Source: Blog: TechCommunity: Outlook Cheat Sheet PDFs available to download in 37 languages

Introduced at Microsoft’s Ignite event in Orlando last September, the Outlook Cheat Sheets, available in PDF format, have been a big hit. They show you how to quickly accomplish useful tasks in Outlook Mail and Calendar across platforms. There are specific Cheat Sheets for Outlook on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Outlook on the Web.

In addition, the Microsoft Office International team has translated these Cheat Sheets into 36 languages.

If you want to ensure that you’re getting the most out of Outlook on the devices you use, download the Outlook Cheat Sheet of your choice from Support.Office.com.

Outlook on Mac

Source: TechCommunity: Insider Slow: Outlook for Mac now supports creating tables

Feature parity across Office for Windows and Office for Mac benefits everyone, but it isn’t always a reality for various reasons.

One feature on the Mac that recently caught up with its Windows counterpart is support for tables in Outlook for Mac. Now, everything that you can do with tables in the Mac version of Microsoft Word, you can now do in Outlook on Mac.

Simply insert a table in a new email, and you’ll see two new tabs in the compose window ribbon: Table Design and Layout. Commands in these two tabs will allow you to tailor the table just the way you want to.

Outlook on Mac – UX/UI Improvements

Source: TechCommunity: Insider Slow: Insider Slow: Several UI/UX improvements in Outlook for Mac!

In addition to tables, there are a few small updates to the user interface of Outlook on Mac, that I’ve been enjoying. In the past, you could only resize the text of an email in the Reading Pane. But with this update, you can set the default text size universally. Simply go to Outlook, Preferences, and Fonts. You now have a slider to change the text display size.

In addition, Outlook on Mac now supports swiping gestures on your trackpad to triage your In Box. A two-finger swipe to the right or the left when the mouse is over an email in the item list, will give you the option to either delete the message or archive it.

If you’re a Mac enthusiast or a user like me who works on both platforms, I’m sure you will welcome these improvements.

SharePoint

Source: TechCommunicty: Create and use custom SharePoint site designs in Office 365

On January 10th, the SharePoint team announced the ability to create and use custom SharePoint site designs. These custom design sites serve as templates for other sites in the organization.

This enhancement enables IT and content managers to create and deploy ‘modern’ SharePoint sites in a repeatable way that is compliant with your organizations guidelines and preferences, and supports your organization’s brand.

You can create a tenant-wide gallery of SharePoint site designs. Each new site can be assigned the right set of themes and designs by the right people. You can also assign who can pick and use specific designs when they’re ready to create a new site.

I provide a link to additional details in the Office 365 Guy blog. Note that this feature is currently rolling out to Targeted Release Office 365 customers. I’ll let you know when this SharePoint enhancement rolls out to all customers in a future video. What’s Targeted Release you ask? I put a link on the blog with more info.

SharePoint – New Editing Capabilities

Source: TechCommunity: SharePoint pages and image editing updates in Office 365

There are additional enhancements to SharePoint editing capabilities available Targeted Release Office 365 customers. If you’re not a Targeted Release participant, consider this a sneak preview and rest assured these features will be released to the full production environment soon.

These new SharePoint editing enhancements include the ability create a new page starting with an existing one. When you click on New, you’ll have the option to either create a blank page or start with a copy of the page you’re currently on. This will save you time and energy recreating elements that you’ve already designed.

One of the most requested SharePoint features is being fulfilled with support for rich text editing. When you add a Text web part, the embedded rich text editor gives you greater control for how your text appears. You can adjust the size, bold, underline and spacing.

In addition, you can easily add an image to a SharePoint page or news article, and when you do, you can further edit it by cropping or zooming to customize it for your layout. You can also pull in online, royalty-free images, powered by Bing, that are tagged with the Creative Common license.

There are additional details in the SharePoint blog. And again, I’ll keep you posted on when these enhancements are available beyond Targeted Release Office 365 customers.

PowerApps custom visual for Power BI

Source: PowerApps Blog: Announcing availability of PowerApps custom visual for Power BI (preview)

Power BI empowers everyone to get deep insights from their data and make better business decisions, while PowerApps enables everyone to build and use business apps which connect to your data. Doesn’t it sound like these two solutions should play well together? Well, good news: they do!

I am happy to announce the availability of the PowerApps Custom Visual for Power BI (now in preview) which enables you to use these two products even better—together.

After adding the PowerApps custom visual to PowerBI, you’ll be able to pass context aware data to your PowerApps application. The app will update in real time as you make changes to your PowerBI report.

This integration enables users to derive business insights and take actions right within their Power BI reports and dashboards. No need to switch tabs to open the separate apps, or copy and paste data from one window to another.

For the details and to participate in this preview, follow the link I provide in the transcript.

Secure Score

Source: TechCommunity: Updates to Office 365 Secure Score

Microsoft has received a lot of feedback from our customers on how to make Secure Score better. Many Office 365 Admins requested the ability of comparing their score against the average score of all Office 365 tenants. However, is it really fair to compare the score of an organization that has 70 seats against an organization that has 70,000 seats?

The Secure Score team came up with a solution. They grouped tenants into seven tiers based on the number of Office 365 active seats. Now, your organization’s Secure Score will be compared to an average seat size score, helping to ensure that the comparison between the scores is relevant.

Coming soon, Microsoft will be introducing an industry average score in Secure Score. This will show how your score compares to other organizations that have designated the same industry. Stay tuned for details. I’ll provide an update on this enhancement to Secure Score as soon as it’s released.

Security & Compliance

Source: TechCommunity: New in Office 365 security & compliance – January update

TechCommunity: Compliance Manager Preview is now available

Compliance requirements can be complex to interpret, difficult to track, and labor-intensive to implement. And with new regulations and changes coming constantly, keeping up can be difficult and expensive.

Microsoft’s Compliance Manager, now available in public preview, enables you to manager your compliance from one place. It enables you to perform a risk assessment of your organization’s compliance with regulations and standards, such as GDPR, ISO 27001 and ISO 27018.

Compliance Manager helps connect data protection solutions with the regulatory requirements that matter to you, as well as enabling you to evaluate Microsoft’s cloud services (such as Office 365) with detailed audit information. To simplify your compliance workflow, Compliance Manager also enables you to assign, track, record compliance-related activities, and produce detailed reports that can help you be more prepared for audit activities.

For all the details, read the Security and Compliance blog post I link to in the transcript, which contains a video demo showcasing the Compliance Manager’s new capabilities.

Security

Source: Microsoft Support: Protect your Windows devices against Spectre and Meltdown

Before signing off, I want to give you a quick update on two current security threats that you’ve probably been hearing about in the news: Meltdown and Spectre. They are a newly discovered class of vulnerabilities based on a common chip architecture that, when originally designed, was created to speed up computers.

Microsoft is well aware of these threats and has released several updates to help mitigate these vulnerabilities. We strongly encourage the installation of these updates to all computing devices from phones and tablets to on-premises datacenter servers. Rest assured, Microsoft has also deployed updates to secure our cloud services, including Office 365. Check out the information in the transcript and resource guide to learn more.

Close

That’s it for the February update. Remember to send your feedback or success stories to [email protected].

I’m Jim Naroski, thanks for watching, and I’ll see you again soon!

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empty.authorFebruary 2018 Office 365 Updates
Intranet-in-a-Box.jpg

SharePoint Intranet-in-a-Box Report from ClearBox

Danny serves as Vice President of Marketing at ThreeWill. His primary responsibilities are to make sure that we are building partnerships with the right clients and getting out the message about how we can help clients.

Every time I talk to a new client wanted to move from Jive to Office 365 I have to point this out – Office 365 (out of the box) is not a replacement for Jive.

Yes, there is plenty of overlap between the two products. And, yes, with recent updates from Office 365/SharePoint online like Teams (much like Groups in Jive) and SharePoint Communication Sites (much like Spaces in Jive) the overlap grows with each day.

But, as it stands today, you need to either:

  1. Build a bespoke/custom Office 365 Intranet or
  2. Buy/configure an “Intranet in a Box.”

I typically point this out to clients by describing two workloads when moving from Jive to Office 365:

Workstream 1 – Jive Content Migration to Office 365

  • Purpose is to retain corporate IP locked up in Jive and into appropriate location in Office 365
  • Proof of Concept (migrate a few places) and Pilot (pick key department to migrate)
  • Production – typically done in waves and time for user acceptance and triaging/remediation of issues

Workstream 2 – Customization and User Experience

  • Decisions about making experience more Jive-like (Build vs Buy “Intranet in a Box”)
  • Implementation of either Build on Office 365 or Buy and Configure “Intranet in a Box”

Enter ClearBox’s Intranet-in-a-Box Report

When prospects understand Workstream 2 they naturally ask for our recommendation for which product to buy (if they do want to buy). This is typically when I introduce them to Sam Marshall and his Intranet-in-a-Box report (use “twobb10” for 10% off).

With 34 products (and 8 “short listings”) in the latest version of the report, the first goal is to begin to shortlist which products to evaluate. This report is an essential resource to do this. Sam also describes the process of selecting a product (and as it should, it begins with your requirements as the focus and not the features of a product).

Sam and his team also added a section on which options stood out for different regions (Europe, North America, Multi-National) and different reasons (Value, User Experience). These “Intranet Choice” awards help make sure the products that should be on your short list are not overlooked.

My favorite section of the report is where Sam and his team point out the benefits of using in-a-box products vs. building on top of Office 365. The table on page 11 of the report is very insightful and helpful for you and your team to make the decision about build vs buy.

On to the Product Evaluations

ClearBox focuses on these scenarios in the report: News publishing, User experience, Social and knowledge management, Search, Analytics, Employee services, Integration, and Wildcard. They provide screenshots for each of the products (typically with laptop and mobile views) for visual folks like me. They provide “price brands” for various numbers of users (500, 5,000, and 50,000).

Next, they cover details on the company and product, deployment, and support. This helps you find a fit to your company by answering questions like the location of the company and the typical client size for the product. For most of the products, you can also get a select list of customers.

The deployment section covers the versions of SharePoint / Office 365 supported by the product and options for how the product is deployed. They also cover how product updates occur, mobile support, accessibility compliance and the set-up process for new clients.

Finally, in each of the product evaluations, they cover technical support, user community, and partners/resellers. This section was invaluable to me – as a service provider some of the companies work through a partner model and some companies go direct (and provide product and services).

Next, we get product highlights with plenty of visuals and insights from the ClearBox team. This includes suggested areas to improve and considerations. To wrap up the review, they share what’s next up on the roadmap for the product.

And then on to the next 33 products. Which is why this report is over 400 pages long.

The last section covers some new products for “newer and niche offerings.”

Some Personal Thoughts

Many of these offerings are from services companies like ThreeWill that decided to build a product.  We’ve decided to focus on Workload 1 and partner with companies – here’s an example.  We learned the lesson years ago that you need to focus on one or the other. If I have any advice from my experience, it is…make sure the company is committed to the product and will be investing in the product in upcoming years. There’s nothing worse than owning a product that is no longer supported and/or doesn’t have a roadmap because the company has reverted back to services.  This happens.  Trust me (I’ve had to “put down” several products because I ran out of runway).

Summary

I recommend purchasing this report for clients for the following reasons:

  1. You want to understand the current market ecosystem for “Intranet-in-a-Box” products for SharePoint and Office 365.
  2. You are trying to decide whether to build vs buy.
  3. You need to do “due-diligence” around what products are in the market since this decision is one you will live with for years (chatting with Sam I found out that it took a team of 10 people over 700 hours of work to produce and that it saves buyers over 15 working days of effort to select a product…paying for itself in no time).
  4. You are a partner like ThreeWill and want to understand the opportunity in this market.

* We don’t make anything off of this – it just lets Sam know we referred you and how awesome we are as a partner.

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Danny RyanSharePoint Intranet-in-a-Box Report from ClearBox
sharepoint-list-testing.jpg

Automate Testing SharePoint Lists with PnP, Angular 2.0 and TypeScript

Bo is a Principal Consultant for ThreeWill. He has 18 years of full lifecycle software development experience.

One thing I’ve never felt like I’ve done very well on SharePoint List centric projects is plan for or support automated testing scenarios.  You know the kind of project where you build an awesome UI and use one or more SharePoint lists as your database. Often these projects have been so quick moving that there just hasn’t been time or budget for those sorts bells and whistles.

Recently I decided to make time and see if I could come up with a solution.  My goal was fairly simple; I wanted to be able to run my Angular 2.0 app locally or as part of an automated test scenario without SharePoint in the mix at all. Then be able to deploy it to SharePoint and have it run there with no code or configuration changes.

One additional consideration I had was that I am using PnP JS Core to wrap the rest API calls rather than going with straight http.  I’m a huge fan of this library for simplifying common SharePoint operations. I also love the PnP PowerShell Commands. Both are basically in my tool belt at all times.  If you are not using PnP just search for Angular 2 MockBackEnd Examples and you should easily find examples where you can replace Angular Http with one of your own that allows you to mock data.  Although I didn’t follow the example all the way through the post Look Ma, No Server: Developing Apps with Angular 2 Mockbackend from Vildan Softic looked promising.

When using PnP JS Core, the implementation offers a way to have your own Custom HttpClientImpl that you can simply plug in when you setup the PnP configuration specifics for your project.  In the main AppModule of my angular project I typically have a call within the constructor to perform this setup.  In the code below I’m setting the fetchClientFactory to my own custom fetchclient that really is only going to play the role of traffic cop for my scenario.

]
export class AppModule { 

  constructor() {
    this.setupPnp();
  }

  setupPnp(): void {
    let url = getBaseHref();
    pnp.setup(
      {
        baseUrl: url,
        headers: { "Accept": "application/json;odata=verbose" },
        fetchClientFactory: () => {
          return new CustomFetchClient();
        }
      })
  }
}

The customfetchclient is the main reason no configuration is needed to determine if I am running locally or within SharePoint. It simply looks at the Url and if it’s running on localhost it will redirect to the operations workhorse, the MockResponse class, otherwise I simply uses PnP’s fetch client. A key thing to mention here is that unlike the examples provided on Custom HttpClientImpl I decided to inherit their fetchclient rather than fully implement my own based on their interface. I honestly didn’t want to have to redo all that work they accomplish behind the super.fetch call in my code below.

]
import { FetchOptions, FetchClient } from 'sp-pnp-js';
import { MockResponse } from './mocks/mockresponse';

export class CustomFetchClient extends FetchClient {
    fetch(url: string, options: FetchOptions): Promise {
        if (url.startsWith("http://localhost")) {
            return new MockResponse().fetch(url, options);
        }
        else {
            return super.fetch(url, options);
        }
    }
}

MockResponse is where things get messy and in my experiment it’s still not as clean, configurable and magical as I would like it to be. This is version .1 of my code so this is to be expected I guess. However, it works and will just require some “upkeep” for our project to plug in additional mock data and other mocking constructs as needed along the way. Below is the only public method of the class and just deterimes which private method needs to handle the request, do the work and return a mocked response. You’ll notice things such as looking for a post where the url ends with api/contextinfo which is part of the “dance” when posting to SharePoint. I decided it deserved its own method to keep the normal post method more clean and consistent.

]
fetch(url: string, options: FetchOptions): Promise<Response> {
    let response;

    if (options.method.toUpperCase() === "GET") {
        response = this.Get(url);
    }
    else if (options.method.toUpperCase() === "POST" && url.toLowerCase().endsWith("_api/contextinfo")) {
        response = this.PostContextInfo();
    }
    else {
        response = this.Post(url, options);
    }

    return Promise.resolve(response);
}

Since I thought the simplest type of request to mock is was going to be an HTTP GET lets start there. Note I later learned POSTing an item is probably simpler to mock. Before I show the mock code I just wanted to step back and show the service code that is utilizing PnP to issue that get request. The code below is part of a DocumentService injected into a UI component. The method below, getAllDocs, looks EXACTLY as it would have if I had no mock data. It gets a list of items and then loops those items and maps them to internal data models used to bind to the UI. No mock anything here.

]
async getAllDocs(buildParent: boolean): Promise<BaseDocument[]> {
    super.logInfo("getAllDocs");

    let items = await pnp.sp.web.lists.getByTitle(this.listTitle).items
        .get()
        .catch(e => { super.logPnpError(e); return false });

    if (this.documents == null) {
        this.documents = [];
        for (let item of items) {
            this.documents.push(this.mapItem(item));
        }
    }
    return this.documents;
}

When the above code calls pnp.sp.web.lists.getByTitle(“Documents”).items.get() it will go through the customfetchclient and while running locally realize it needs to pass responsibly to MockResponse and ultimately end up in the Get method below. As I’m building this method up, you’ll see that I inspect the url and when a call is going against the Documents library I grab a local copy of an array of items that has been mocked to look like data from that SharePoint list. I then have methods that may “reshape” that array based on any select parameters. For example if $select=ID came in, then that would be the only item property I return for each item in the array. The applyFilter will also attempt to filter the array values based on query params like $filter=Value eq ‘something’ and so on. The applyFilter is where much work still remains for me but I’ve included the start of the pattern in the code below.

private Get(urlString: string): Response {

    let url = parse(urlString, true, true);
    let body: string;
    let items: any[] = [];

    if (urlString.indexOf("getByTitle('Releases')") != -1) {
        items = ReleaseList.Items;
    }
    else if (urlString.indexOf("getByTitle('Projects')") != -1) {
        items = ProjectList.Items;
    }
    else if (urlString.indexOf("getByTitle('Documents')") != -1) {
        items = DocumentList.Items;
    }

    // apply select, filter, top, etc...
    items = this.applyFilter(items, url.query.$filter);
    items = this.applySelect(items, url.query.$select);

    if (url.pathname.endsWith("/items")) {
        body = JSON.stringify(items);
    }
    else if (url.pathname.endsWith(")")) {
        let index = url.pathname.lastIndexOf("(");
        let id = url.pathname.slice(index + 1, url.pathname.length - 1);

        let item = items.find(i => { return i.ID === +id });
        body = JSON.stringify(item);
    }
    else {
        //not sure what might hit here yet
    }

    return new Response(body, { status: 200 });
}

private applySelect(items: any[], select: string): any[] {
    let newItems: any[] = [];
    if (select != null && select.length > 0) {
        let keys = select.split(",");
        for (let item of items) {
            let newItem = {};
            for (let key of keys) {
                newItem[key] = item[key];
            }
            newItems.push(newItem);
        }
        return newItems;
    }
    else {
        return items;
    }
}

private applyFilter(items: any[], filter: string): any[] {
    let newItems: any[] = [];
    if (filter != null && filter.length > 0) {
        //assumes this is always 3 parts currently, will need refactoring for startswith etc.
        // (e.g. ZipLookup/Id eq "1")
        let filterParts = filter.split(" ");  
        let simpleFilter = this.createSimpleFilter(filterParts);

        for (let item of items) {
            let propertyValue = item;
            for(let property of simpleFilter.property){
                propertyValue = propertyValue[property];
            }
            
            let filterValue: any;
            if(typeof(propertyValue) === "number") {
                filterValue = +simpleFilter.value;
            }
            else {
                filterValue = simpleFilter.value;
            }

            let match: boolean = false;
            switch(simpleFilter.operator.toLowerCase()) {
                case "eq":
                    if(propertyValue === filterValue) {
                        match = true;
                    }
                    break;
                default:
                    break;
            }
            
            if(match) {
                newItems.push(item);
            }
        }
        return newItems;
    }
    else {
        return items;
    }
}

private createSimpleFilter(filterParts: string[]) : SimpleFilter {
    let simpleFilter = new SimpleFilter();
    if(filterParts.length == 3) {
        simpleFilter.operator = filterParts[1];
        simpleFilter.value = filterParts[2];

        if(filterParts[0].indexOf("/") != -1) {
            let lookupParts = filterParts[0].split("/");
            for(let part of lookupParts){
                simpleFilter.property.push(part);
            }
        }
        else {
            simpleFilter.property.push(filterParts[0]);
        }
    }

    return simpleFilter;
}

There really isn’t much to the arrays that mock the list items. The are just simple classes I create for each list with a static Items property and then a collection of items. Note that I do use imports to other arrays as a way for me to bind lookups.

]
export class DocumentList {
    static Items: any[] = [
        {
            ID: 1,
            ProjectLookup: ProjectList.Items[0],
            DocumentType: "BR",
            Author: "George",
            Version: 1.0,
            StatusLookup: StatusList.Items[2],
            CreatedDate: "6/10/2017",
            UpdatedDate: "6/11/2017",
            BaselinedDate: "6/12/2017"
        },
...
    ]
}

If you’ve made it this far in the post I’m sure you are wondering about HTTP POST. In some respects, this is easier than the GET because a post is almost always for a single item and there aren’t as many other parameters to account for (filter, select, top, etc…). In this case we just need to take a body and either create an item or update an existing item. Again for completeness my ReleaseService might have a save method like below that is called from the UI component.

]
async save(release: Release) {
    super.logInfo(`save: [id:${release.id}] `);

    if (release.id != null && release.id !== 0) {
        await pnp.sp.web.lists.getByTitle(this.listTitle).items
            .getById(release.id)
            .update({
                Title: release.name
            })
    }
    else {
        await pnp.sp.web.lists.getByTitle(this.listTitle).items
            .add({
                Title: release.name
            })
    }

    this.releases = null;
}

In the MockResponse class the internal Post method handler will first do similar work as the GET just to figure out which list the user is going against and get the appropriate list of mock items to work with. Depending on the url format we can determine if this is new /items or an update /items(1) and add to the array of items or update an existing one.

    let url = parse(urlString, true, true);
    let body: string;
    let items: any[] = [];

    if (urlString.indexOf("getByTitle('Releases')") != -1) {
        items = ReleaseList.Items;
    }
    else if (urlString.indexOf("getByTitle('Projects')") != -1) {
        items = ProjectList.Items;
    }
    else if (urlString.indexOf("getByTitle('Documents')") != -1) {
        items = DocumentList.Items;
    }
    
    if (url.pathname.endsWith("/items")) {
        //add 
        let item: any = {};
        item["ID"] = items.length + 1;
        let requestBody = JSON.parse(options.body);
        Object.keys(requestBody).map(
            (e) => item[e] = requestBody[e]
        );

        items.push(item);

        let result: ItemAddResult = {
            item: item,
            data: {}
        }

        body = JSON.stringify(result);
    }
    else if (url.pathname.endsWith(")")) {
        //update
        let index = url.pathname.lastIndexOf("(");
        let id = url.pathname.slice(index + 1, url.pathname.length - 1);

        let item = items.find(i => { return i.ID === +id });
        let requestBody = JSON.parse(options.body);
        Object.keys(requestBody).map(
            (e) => item[e] = requestBody[e]
        );

        let result: ItemUpdateResult = {
            item: item,
            data: { "odata.etag": "" }
        }

        body = JSON.stringify(result);
    }
    else {
        //not sure what might hit here yet
    }

    return new Response(body, { status: 200 });
}

I hope the code, patterns and approach I’ve began helps someone else as they explore options for mocking SharePoint list data. I’m still a few weeks out from actually starting the project where I plan to use this approach and I’m sure when things GET REAL I will have modifications and refactoring driven by more and more data and GET/POST scenarios. I’ll try to update this post with those lessons and look forward to any thoughts and recommendations others have based on this or other approaches for mocking SharePoint list data.

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Bo GeorgeAutomate Testing SharePoint Lists with PnP, Angular 2.0 and TypeScript
knowledge-base.jpg

Using SharePoint for Your Next Knowledge Base Project

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and I’m here with Tommy Ryan. How are you doing Tommy?

 

Tommy Ryan:Good. What happened to the co-host thing?

 

Danny Ryan:I’m here with co-host Tommy Ryan. How are you doing Tommy?

 

Tommy Ryan:I’m doing well.

 

Danny Ryan:I can make a quick modification, that’s fine. How are you doing co-host?

 

Tommy Ryan:Doing fine co-host.

 

Danny Ryan:How are you feeling co-host?

 

Tommy Ryan:Just wonderful.

 

Danny Ryan:Good.

 

Tommy Ryan:All that thunder and rain and lightning, I’m all refreshed.

 

Danny Ryan:I guess all your grass is turning green now and your plants are starting to wake up.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, it’s looking. Yeah, the garden’s actually getting a good start.

 

Danny Ryan:Awesome. Yeah, we’ve got a nice little dogwood tree in our backyard that’s waking up. It’s been fun to watch it start to bloom.

 

Tommy Ryan:Did you lose all the flowers on it in the rain?

 

Danny Ryan:Not yet, no. No, no. No, it looks-

 

Tommy Ryan:Okay, we did.

 

Danny Ryan:You did, really?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, ours bloomed a couple weeks back.

 

Danny Ryan:It’s just starting to bloom so I guess I’m a little bit further north than you I guess. I don’t know what..

 

Tommy Ryan:Garden talk with ThreeWill.

 

Danny Ryan:Garden talk, here you go. You can probably talk for the next hours.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, that’d be a couple hours long.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah, okay. Today’s subject is using SharePoint as a knowledge base. I wanted to talk to you about some recent trends that you’ve been seeing with customers using SharePoint as knowledge base. I think this has been around for a long time as far using SharePoint as a repository for information inside of your organization. I guess what you’re seeing more recently is, how can we … Now this internal or external facing knowledge bases? Let’s start off with that.

 

Tommy Ryan:When you look at ThreeWill, in a sense as a portal it’s a knowledge base by default. It’s where you’re storing content and records and you want to go back and retrieve it. It’s a place to share things. That in a sense I think is a knowledge repository. Then as a organization you have certain lines of business and areas of specialization, in some organizations they have call centers, and so a knowledge base is a function of a call center that they need to answer questions for people that call in, and a way to way to have knowledge engineers collect the information needed to share with others or to be discovered by their call center representatives.

 

That can be an ‘internal’, quote, knowledge base. It’s customer facing but someone is aiding them on their behalf to get to that knowledge. Then you can take that knowledge base and make it self serve to your customers, making sure you have the right security and the right ease of use to make your customers happy when they come to look for that knowledge. You see that in different forms. You see it in documentation, in articles. You see it in forums or discussion groups. There’s different ways to collect and share knowledge and make that accessible to your end user.

 

Danny Ryan:What if you found has been the primary reason why people are thinking of SharePoint for doing this? Is it the built-in capabilities? Is it how you can extend it? What sort of things are people coming up with as far as why they’re using SharePoint?

 

Tommy Ryan:When someone goes to think about a knowledge base there are products specifically for that, that you have in a sense adopt, change your process to adapt to what that tool has to offer. The thing that we’ve always found with SharePoint and why we’ve picked it as a platform for us is it’s an extendable platform and allows you to do things, soften the edges of the solution. SharePoint gives you a great running headstart for a lot of the things that you need to care about as it relates to a knowledge base.

 

You need to have content management, kind of web content management or in document content management. Of course that’s a very, very strong area for SharePoint, document management through versioning and records management, and being able to publish and unpublish content and be able to control the flow of when content goes from ideation to revision to finale publicizing that information. Those are two very core areas, content management for web and document content. Then workflow is definitely an aspect that SharePoint has a lot going for it versus other tools that might be very limited in terms of what you could do with workflow.

 

Another very, very key area, search. What we found is a very strong aspect of bringing together a platform that has both search and content management, not a lot of those platforms are strong in both and SharePoint has a lot going for it as it relates to now that you’ve authored all this content when someone is answering a call and wants to get to that knowledge using search and search refiners and all the things that you can do to enhance that search experience.

 

Danny Ryan:I just published a blog post from Bo on managed metadata, that probably feeds into this as well.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, that’s definitely a way to tune your search results, is through managed metadata, so you do have those refiners on the left. For those that don’t know what refiners are, think of Amazon when you start filtering down and selecting different attributes. Most of the commerce sites that you go to you see, is it men’s or women’s clothing? Is it a shirt, jacket or pants? Those type of attributes that help you drill down to a subset of information where you’re going to find what you’re looking for.

 

Danny Ryan:When prepping for this you were saying something about translation services, that you can also use that as part of SharePoint as well

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, a real cool aspect of SharePoint is the ability to send out content for translation and for that to be created for you and automated for you. That’s an exciting aspect. If you had to support Spanish as a language in your call center, you can submit that to Bing translation services and it comes back and is publicized in a Spanish version of the site.

 

Danny Ryan:Now, since this is customer facing, has branding come up? Where’s branding in all of this? Is it not really an emphasis, it’s just trying to get the information? Any branding topics come up?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah. I think it is. Branded in general, it’s not knowledge base specific, it’s more of, “I’ve got a company brand that I want to emphasize.” We’re seeing it where people put a very strong branding effort for internal because it’s part of their culture and their brand. Then also when it’s external facing you want to pay attention to those details. That definitely comes into play when we’re looking at knowledge basis to put the appropriate level of branding.

 

Danny Ryan:Were there any discussions on whether visitors might be using a mobile device? Any sort of designs around making sure it works well on mobile?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, and that’s similar to branding, where any time we do something we talk about the mobile experience and what the customer wants to have as it relates to different form factors accessing the site. We have, we our knowledge bases, made them mobile responsive. You just have to pay attention to what functionality within the solution is appropriate for mobile and how do you resize and snap into a different form factor when someone accesses it from a phone or a tablet.

 

Danny Ryan:Are people doing it on SharePoint online or are they doing it on SharePoint on prem? Does it matter?

 

Tommy Ryan:We’re seeing it more on SharePoint on prem. Especially if it becomes mission critical and you want to control the response time, so you can scale your farm as you need it. Office 365, it’s viable and we see it. Probably haven’t seen it as much at large scale and we’ve looked at Azure too as another option for that if you want to, quote, “have it in the cloud,” but have control over the scale of the operation. Because we look at designing these knowledge base solutions to have a very heavy search component, and if you do have a lot of load from incoming calls you want to make sure search is not a bottleneck and so you dedicate some of the front end servers to the search query processing.

 

Danny Ryan:Excellent, excellent. Anything else you’ve been noticing at all when people are looking at using SharePoint as a knowledge base?

 

Tommy Ryan:I think, and you talked about it before, the managed metadata, having an information architect as part of the team to drive out the taxonomy of your organization, understanding how do you name things and what are synonyms for those things that you name so no matter what someone searches for they’re going to have a fast path to finding that knowledge because you categorized it well. That managed metadata is a very key exercise. It’s going to influence your search experience, probably even your navigation experience to be able to drive down into the details. Another aspect that we didn’t mention, but when you’re thinking about knowledge bases, if it’s a internal knowledge base and you don’t have any SLAs on a response to getting to the answer in that knowledge base, then you might not care about how fast you get there.

 

If you can get there eventually you’re okay, but in a call center you’re really caring about that response time. So we’ve looked at different ways to get to knowledge, using things like decision trees to allow you to look at it as a script that say someone in the call center would have to ask the right questions to get to the right answer, but putting that in a visual flow where instead of you opening up a Word document and looking through the script we have visual big buttons that drive you through that flow and give you a breadcrumb at the top to say hop back somewhere in that flow if you went down the wrong path. We’re finding that’s a great way to enhance the user experience and increase the performance of your call center.

 

Danny Ryan:Excellent. Since we’re talking about customer service and self service, this reminds me of a lot of the recent conversations that we’ve been having about Net Promoter Score. As far as looking at doing this project is that one of the underlying key metrics that you’re trying to address is Net Promoter Score?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah. We’re on a really big knowledge base project today, and that is the driver. It’s a very poor NPS score that they’ve got a goal to raise that, and this is instrumental to that initiative to raise that NPS score.

 

Danny Ryan:Excellent. Anything else before we wrap up?

 

Tommy Ryan:I think that’s good. There’s more to talk about. Would love to talk to you about knowledge bases and how that can help your organization and what you can leverage out of the box. We think the beauty of SharePoint, there’s the ability to configure a lot of what you need to do as part of a knowledge base solution, and you’ve got control of scaling and to think about the power that you have in the search experience and the content management experience and the workflow and the managed metadata. There’s so many things that SharePoint has going for it to fit as a knowledge base solution.

 

Danny Ryan:Absolutely. Yeah, if you’re looking to do this please drop by our website, threewill.com, contact us page is a great place to get started. Would love to continue this conversation with you. Thank you for doing this Tom.

 

Tommy Ryan:Sure thing.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice socks, are those the …

 

Tommy Ryan:Look at that.

 

Danny Ryan:Very nice, very nice. Thank you so much everyone for taking the time to listen today. Have a wonderful day. Take care, bye bye.

 

Tommy Ryan:Bye bye.

 

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Tommy RyanUsing SharePoint for Your Next Knowledge Base Project
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Large and Complex SharePoint Migrations Webinar

Kirk Liemohn is a Principal Software Engineer at ThreeWill. He has over 20 years of software development experience with most of that time spent in software consulting.

Danny:Danny Ryan, I’m the Co-Founder and VP of Business Development for ThreeWill and I will host this and I’m not hosting it quite well. Hopefully it’ll go a little smoother from here. I’ve got Kirk Liemohn here with me, Kirk is a Principal Software Engineer, a Migrations Practice Lead. Thanks for joining me, Kirk.

 

Kirk:Sure.

 

Danny:Awesome. So we’ll go ahead and jump right in since we want to … In this discussion, if you’ve got some questions that you’d like to ask please ask those questions through the … GoToWebinar interface. I see that a lot of people have figured that out so far.

 

We are covering primarily a white paper that was produced by Kirk. In fact it was so large that we’re calling it an E-book, it’s about 26 pages and it covers large and complex SharePoint migrations and some of the things that we’ve learned through the years. With that you can download that again through the … GoToWebinar interface, there’s a PDF that’s in there and feel free to download that. So let’s jump right in. … Let’s jump in for the second time, how about that?

 

Kirk:Yes.

 

Danny:That first thing that you go through in the white paper is a discussion about whether your organization is prepared for the migration. Tell me more about that.

 

Kirk:One of the main things there, obviously, is has your migration done this before? Has it done a migration before? Maybe you’re going from 2013 to 2016, those were the SharePoints this time but previously you’ve done migration from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013. If that’s the case, then you’ve got a lot of experience to draw upon and you can take what you did well before and use that. Those things that you didn’t do so well, you can try to avoid the same mistakes.

 

Maybe instead, however, you’re going from SharePoint 2013 to SharePoint online and you’ve probably never done that before because you don’t usually migrate there twice. Although maybe different farms you can do that with. So there are some different challenges there, you just need to realize that and then realize that, “Yes, we got some experience with migration but there’s some aspect that we don’t know as well.”

 

Other aspects are, do you have skilled resources for the migration? This could be anyone from project managers, tier 2 support type thing, developers or people to help manage the migration, IT personnel, communications, those types of things are important to have a successful migration. We’ll get into some of those a little bit more.

 

And then I think it’s really important to understand, do you have the time to do a migration? Do you have a reasonable deadline as to when this has to happen? As we have seen before, especially with our Jive to SharePoint migrations, this can … Sometimes our clients come in and want something done in two months and that’s just not a very reasonable timeline a lot of times. For a very large and complex migration, we probably want it to be a year or more out that you’re going to need this thing to be done.

 

And then finally I would say senior C-level type or senior executives, you need someone on there that’s an advocate for this project, the migration project. You need the CIO, CTO, someone like that that can say, “Yeah, we need to make this happen here. Why we need to make this happen.”, and work with that individual to give them an understanding of what the process is going to be like. What’s the end user experience gonna be like? Because you’re going to be moving people’s cheese, and it’s gonna potentially cause some people problems and you want everyone to understand this. You want to communicate it well, give the communications certainly a bit, but you also want some sponsor that can back you on this, and can understand upfront that there’s going to be challenges with migrations.

 

Danny:Now sponsors are usually somebody within the IT department?

 

Kirk:I could be. I guess it doesn’t have be but it typically is.

 

Danny:Okay. Then usually with these, we’re sort of looking at your own organization and a lot of these, for the large and complex migrations, really there’s a number of people who are involved. Your organization, the sponsor, the things that … the capabilities and also the amount of time that you can put towards the migration but then you’re also working with third party folks maybe … We’ll talk later on about off-shore resources and outside consulting firms. It’s almost like you’re putting together a larger team to go after this as well.

 

Kirk:Yes, support personnel, everything.

 

Danny:Let’s jump into number two. Should you automate?

 

Kirk:The first part of this is … Clearly for anything but a super simple migration you’re going to want to use a tool out there and that’s sort of a form of automation. You’re gonna want to find one of the third party tools to help you and that’s important in of itself. Then, do you want to automate on top of that tool? By that I mean, if you look at how a lot of these tool work, they let you go in with an interface and say, “Okay, I want to move this folder from my source environment to my target environment, or this library, this site or site collection”. They help you through that process, but a lot of times there’s a lot of configuration options. Like, “Okay I’m moving the site collection. How many versions of your documents and list items do you want to maintain as you’re moving it over.” You can configure that with a lot of these tools.

 

Well that’s only one piece. There’s dozens of knobs to turn with these more advanced tools, and you’re going to probably want some consistency.

 

In addition to that, if you’re moving a lot site collections, you may want to automate the process of batching these up and moving them over time. So maybe your doing 50 to 100 site collections a day, and maybe you want to run them in off hours based on the timezone of that site collection. Then maybe at the end of when it runs you want to send some e-mails, before it runs maybe you want to put a banner on the site to say it’s being migrated. There are lots of things you can do around that if you do the automation.

 

Then, of course, you can watch it from a monitoring stand point and understand. How many do we have active right now? Are we having problems anywhere? Do we have a capacity to do this? Really a lot of this depends on your method of migration. SharePoint, as many people know, … There’s things like site collection backup restore, database attach migrations, and then if you’re going to SharePoint Online you can’t do either of those. That one you have to use basically a tool that’s going to use CSOM or the Azure upload API, along with CSOM. There’s a lot of moving pieces, and you can’t do 1,000 site collections at once. It needs to be managed from a batching stand point.

 

Danny:There are a lot of tools that are out there. I know we’ve even done evaluations for clients just to see what was the best one for them. I know through the years we’ve, just because of our clients preferences, done a lot of things with Metalogix where we end up building on top of their tools, automating the tool, which has been interesting to see.

 

Kirk:Some tools don’t allow you to automate it and I think some have gotten better over the years. Metalogix is definitely one that you can’t automate it so they’ve got a relatively easy way to say, “Okay, give me the PowerShell script for copying this site collection over from one environment to another.” Then you can take that a layer in doing that on any site collection. Maybe you can find out when it’s done and do some other tweaks if you need to. If you’re automating you can overcome any deficiencies in the tool, or any custom things you want to do before a site collection is moved, or after any part of the migration.

 

Danny:We’ve got some folks from CASAHL on the line as well and how we use their tools to inventory things.

 

Kirk:To my knowledge that’s a lot of what they do is inventory. They do a very detailed inventory of what you’ve got out there. SharePoint doesn’t do a great job of telling you what’s in SharePoint. If you want to know things like, “Well how many farm solutions do I have out there?”, or “How many sandbox solutions do I have?” Maybe you’re moving to SharePoint Online where you can’t really do that anymore. What about running workflows? You can’t migrate running workflows to SharePoint Online, for example. How many are running? What about other things like, “The length of URL is too long.”, maybe it records some things like that, so lot’s of things you can inventory.

 

Danny:Right. This one I know, within the e-book is a long one. This is one of the longer ones. Since I helped format it a little bit, this was a longer one which was; break the process in to stages. We have lots of conversations around here about process and fun topics like that. What does this mean for a migration? Talk me through this.

 

Kirk:Sure. So we came up with … Obviously you have to manage this somehow, so you want to break it up into parts that you can think about a focus on. We broke it into four primary stages; Assess, Plan, Verify and Execute.

 

The Assess stage is the first one. That’s the one where we’re going to try and understand what it is you want to get done. We want to know what your goals are. We want to understand what the scope is. Are you moving two farms? One farm? How big is the farm? What site collections are not? What version of SharePoint are you on? We want to understand a resource plan. Come up with a schedule. Really get the lay of the land, initial communication plan, lots of things.

 

The next one after you do the assessment is the planning stage. That is the big one, so we even break this one down further into four more steps. Instead of planning we break it down into; Inventory, Map, Streamline and Communicate.

 

Inventory is what you talked about with CASAHL tool. Microsoft has a tool out there, some of the migration tool vendors have a tool as well. We even have one, our ledger tool.

 

Danny:Everybody’s doing it.

 

Kirk:Just to be the cool kid on the block.

 

Inventory is to understand what you’ve got and what you want to move. You want to take stock in what’s out there. How big is each site collection, if you’re moving site collections. You want to understand, is it business critical? Is it not? What about your OneDrive or user base data. Those types of things.

 

After inventory you want to map it. It could be a simple mapping exercise where you just say, “Well, we’re moving things from point A to point B. It’s a lift and shift. We’re keeping the same URLs except for maybe the beginning part or maybe we are keeping the beginning part the same.”, so same managed path, if you will, same URLs for the site collection, or are you going to do some reorganization a long the way. You could move a lot of site collections into the same site collection, or vice versa. As a simple example. That’s the mapping exercise.

 

The streamline exercise is really after you start to understand this stuff, you want to decide, are there ways we can automate this or make this better? This might be the time that you might define proof concepts that you need to get done, in terms of, let’s test out the tool in this way, or how are we going to manage this batching of moving all of this content over?

 

Then finally after streamline in the planning sub phase, if you will, is communication, and this one comes up multiple times in this white paper or E-book. This is just one of those times that you’ve got to communicate to others, what the plan is, what the customer requirements might be. So you might have farm solutions. You might have to deal with those. Once you’re done with this planning phase you can update your migration charter, basically your scope as to what you’re going to do and what you communicate to the team members as to what we’re doing.

 

Big breath.

 

After that phase we’ve got the verify phase, and that’s where we’re really dig in and say, “Alright, let’s make sure we can actually do this. Let’s take a subset of things.” This is where you might do proof concepts on the tool, do some tests on it, make sure that it’s hitting your primary business use cases that you have out there, that you know of maybe from your inventory. You’ve got to do pilots. So after you’ve gone through some of those, maybe you’re going to automate in some way, you’ll want to go ahead and set that automation up, code for it, prepare for it. Then at some point you can do pilots, and we’ll get into pilots some more, but that would be part of this verify stage.

 

Then finally, after that, is doing the real work, the execute stage. Ideally in the verify stage, you’ve done a pilot of enough of your process so that there’s not many surprises, but there’s bound to be surprises when you’re executing. The execute is where you’re going to do things over and over and over again if it’s a large migration.

 

Danny:A lot of these, it really doesn’t matter what you call them, you just can’t skip some [crosstalk 00:14:56] Call it your process, call it whatever you may, I think this is all designed around reducing risk. Looking at, how do we pull off a successful migration? Well, these are the things that we’ve noticed have to happen in order for us to reduce the most amount of risk-

 

Kirk:Right-

 

Danny:for it to occur successfully.

 

Kirk:Yes exactly.

 

Danny:Awesome.

 

Okay.

 

Number four. Drum roll please. Communication is … We talk about communication, it seems like that’s the central theme with you, right? I guess you can migrate to the best of your ability, but if you mess up the communication then it’s not a successful project.

 

Kirk:Right. We’ve seen before where … We need to communicate not only … There’s lots of people to talk to right, but if you don’t communicate to your end users and your site owners you’re gonna have some problems. They’re gonna start seeing things are happening underneath them and they’re gonna be complaining, and some of those people are gonna know the CEO. So you just need to communicate early, and well. We’ve got lots of way to do that.

 

We’ve got a few different documents that we think are useful through this process. One is a policy document and this will define what your policies are with the migrations. As an example if you’re moving to SharePoint Online, you’ll probably have a policy that says, “We are not going to move migrating workflows, SharePoint workflows.” That’s because you can’t do that with SharePoint Online. That would be a good policy to have, but people need to understand that. What does that mean? How do they prepare for that. You’ll probably want a runbook or a checklist for them to go through before the migration so they’re prepared for that.

 

There can be other policies of things you support and things you don’t support as part of the migration, but it’s important to understand what that is, and that takes time to understand that. I talked before about time. To come up with this policy document and then communicate it out takes some time, and I think it’s an important piece of the migration.

 

Another one is a runbook that I just mentioned. So this would be maybe a checklist that site owners have to go through before their site is migrated, or it could even be users but typically would be site owners that they do before and after a migration of a site. This may time, for example if you are going to SharePoint Online and you’ve got farm solutions, well those farm solutions aren’t going to go over. How are you going to deal with that? Are you, as the IT organization that’s running the migration, going to go ahead and, as a service, re-architect those farm solutions for them? If there’s a lot of them, probably not. You’re gonna make the business own that. Each business unit that has farm solutions, now they’ve got to come up with a way to get that over on their own. You’ve got to work through that process, and the runbook might have that as one of the checklist items.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Kirk:A couple of the documents that we have, that we’ve discussed as a self-help document, which is for users. Maybe you’ve noticed through your testing phases and pilot phases that there’s certain places where users can get confused. You’re moving from one environment to another, from one version of SharePoint to another, things look differently in SharePoint. Site actions menu is on a different side from 2010 and 2013. In SharePoint Online you’ve got the new modern views and modern UI that looks different. So maybe you’re self help might help users find that stuff and make it a little bit less jarring as they go from one environment to another.

 

Then finally another document that we’ve talked about is a knowledge base and this would be more for your level one or level two support to work through if there are migration issues. An example of this might be, when you’re migrating master pages and they don’t migrate well for one reason or another. There might be some ways that some technical individuals can help out and they might want to have some guides through the document.

 

That’s only part of the communication. There’s more to it than that. In the white paper, we show a timeline as how some of this might work, but when you’re doing the migration of people’s content, you might want to e-mail out the site owners, or people who use the site and say, “Hey, you’re going to be migrated in two weeks, and here’s the schedule.”, or you might want to send out some communications earlier than that and let the site owners sign up as to when they’re going to be migrated or give them some leeway from a timing standpoint. A lot of times there’s some aspects of your business that have critical periods within the year. Maybe it’s around a holiday, or something like that. You just have to give them some leeway so that you’re not migrating them at the most important time of their year. Maybe it’s tax season, or something like that. You can communicate via e-mail, you can communicate via banners on the site-

 

Danny:Okay-

 

Kirk:just lots of different ways, and you can automate some of that obviously if you want to.

 

All right well we’ve talked about pilot already-

 

Danny:You don’t usually say “Always”. Typically you’ll say “It depends”.

 

Kirk:Well it depends if you’re doing a larger complex migration.

 

Danny:If you’re doing a large … well I think we went into this … and it is large and complex migration so-

 

Kirk:-but the answer is you do one, and in fact, you might want to do two.

 

The pilot is critical. I think what’s important about a pilot, and important for me to communicate right now, is a pilot is not necessarily just testing, “Does the tool that we’re using work the way we want it to for these 20 site collections, let’s say.” That’s good, you want to test that out and you want to pick a decent number of pilot site collections that you can use to move over and migrate and see how it goes, but you don’t want to just test the mechanics of the tool. You want to test the mechanics of your process. Do you have a support process that’s ready to handle this? Do you have a ticketing process that’s ready to handle this? Can you handle issue remediation? What do you do when an issue comes up? How is it handled? How are the communications working during … how’s it going to work during production? Well if you can test it during pilot you’re going to run through some of those things and you’re going to find out what’s working well, not working well and work through the kinks in the process.

 

Once you start your full on migration a lot of times people want to go fast, fast, fast, fast and if that’s the case you’re going to have a hard time catching up if you’re always trying to deal with these issues that were not tested during pilot.

 

Danny:What groups typically do the pilot. Is there any guidance there with who does the pilot?

 

Kirk:A lot of times you’ll see IT wanting to pick themselves as a guinea pig, which is fine, but you really need to work through representative parts of your company. It needs to be more than just IT. You just have to branch out to different departments, and, of course, you want to choose people, maybe a site owner, that can work with you through some of these issues.

 

For example, during the pilot process you may find out that, “Oh, that didn’t go well at all, we’re going to just trash what we just did and we’re going to do it again.” Ideally you want to work with individuals that will allow for that. Now when you’re done you really want it to be in production. I think that’s the ideal scenario, but you have to allow for a redo or a mull again of some sort in some of these cases, or it’s going to limp a long and you’re going to be like, “Okay, well we’ve got these five libraries moved over but we really had a problem with this one because of the way custom content types were set up.”,or something like that. We need some time to work through that. Please work on the old site for this library and the new site for this one, or something like that. You may decide that’s how you want to go and having pilot users and pilot site owners that can work with you, it’s important.

 

Danny:Number six. Have a plan for triage … There’s going to be issues? I guess we’re talking about large and complex.

 

Kirk:Yeah. If you’re doing certain things like a database attach, a lot of times that can go pretty simply, but if you’re doing a lot of one off movements or moving things with CSOM over to SharePoint Online then these tools are not perfect and there are certain things that it can’t do just right. They can report errors and you can you try and look at those errors and work those, and, of course, users can report errors as well. From a triage standpoint you want to be able to take in a different piece of information, and you want to have a plan for how you’re going to address them. What we’ve done in the past, is we’ve looked at something we call issue definitions, which is just a way of defining a type of issue that we think can occur. Maybe we found that out during pilots, or even some of our testing. It’s something that we know the tool doesn’t handle perfectly-

 

Danny:Yep-

 

Kirk:or because of our process something just can’t happen perfectly.-

 

Danny:Yep-

 

Kirk:Maybe some of those we’re able to automate and code around but some of them we can’t. If you can define some of those issue up front, then what we’ve done is we’ll actually automate the process of taking errors from the migration tool, plug them into these issue definitions and then we jumpstart the triage process so we know, “Okay, this needs to go straight to level two support, or level three support or we’re going to start managing the triage process and the remediation of the issues.”

 

There’s a feedback loop where these issue definitions, you can determine them a little bit, mostly in pilots and even throughout production. Then that feedback loop is, well maybe goes back to update our knowledge base or our self help or our policies. Maybe our policy manual we talked about earlier, needs to say “You know what we cannot handle this.” And we communicate that out.

 

Just realize that there’s a big feedback loop there.

 

Danny:I’m just pulling up as you’re talking here, just, sorry I’m just pulling up the e-book and noticed it had some nice diagrams just sort of talking through this a little bit as well.

 

Kirk:That kind of shows a little bit of a feedback loop where those issues go into an issue definition, then depending on what happens, you’re going to have some feedback to the site owners. Maybe you’ll do an update to self help or knowledge base.

 

Danny:Nice.

 

So support process.

 

Kirk:Yea, so this is part of the triage right-

 

Danny:Okay

 

Kirk:You’re going to have, I think I already mentioned some of this, you’re going to have inputs from multiple sources. You’re going to have users are calling in with issues, site owners are going to be calling in with issues. Then the actually people running the migration or the tool itself that’s doing the migration, it’s going to find issues. All of that needs to come into your process and you need to have a clear defined path of how you’re going to handle those issues.

 

This gets back to when I talked about the pilot needing to test, not only the tool itself, but needing to test the overall process. If you can include your support process as part of the pilot you’re going to be well prepared to do the migration because … Just imagine on day one of a migration if you’re doing 100 site collections or 1,000 site collections, or whatever it is. Probably closer to 100. These issues are flooding in. You need to have a vetted process where you can deal with that, because there’s going to be new things coming up that you weren’t prepared for. You want to be prepared as you can.

 

Danny:I think as well with this one I thought you had some-

 

Kirk:There’s a sample diagram in there that shows-

 

Danny:A sample diagram-

 

Kirk:It actually says it’s a simplified diagram because even though there’s 20 or so blocks it can be a lot bigger in terms of what the process might look like on how you escalate to different levels of support, where the issue originated and what documentation gets updated in the end, if any.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Nice.

 

At least that’s a starting point or-

 

Kirk:Yeah-

 

Danny:an example of one for you.

 

Kirk:Yeah that came out of one of our migrations that we simplified it to generic sizes basically. It will be more complex than that but that might be similar to what you want.

 

Danny:Number 8.

 

Kirk:Yeah.

 

Danny:Archive strategy.

 

Kirk:Right, so a lot of time’s you’ll hear … It’s easy to just go out there and say, “You know what, our goal is to move from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013, and let’s just move it.” That’s fine, especially if it’s on for him, maybe that’s more fine, but if you’re going to SharePoint Online it’s a little bit harder. Why move things that just you don’t need? There’s always things that can go away and I know that as part of governance a lot of corporations will try to do things where certain sites have policies where data gets deleted over time. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that used well in the field, but it’s great if you can do that. There’s still bound to be site collections that you just don’t need anymore, or at least you don’t think you need. We talked about CASAHL tool, it’s going to tell you when the last time, and I think the Microsoft one might do this as well, when the last time a site collection was touched.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Kirk:You know if it hasn’t been touched in two years, or three years, well there’s a good chance you don’t need it anymore. By touched, maybe that means something was modified. Well, maybe people are reading the site and maybe they do need it. You want to understand what you want to keep and what you don’t and in the e-book I mention, “What is your criteria for archive or not.” Maybe it’s there’s no changes in the last two years or last six months or whatever it is, or maybe it’s based on size. If it’s really small maybe somebody created a team site and never really did anything with it, or created a blog site and they created one or two blogs. Is it really that important to keep that?

 

Understand what that criteria is and then come up with a process for archiving, and you also want to test your process for restoring. Maybe your archive process involves site collection back ups. You’ve got to come up with a way that tools have ways of archiving as well. Then you’ll want to test your restore process so that you feel comfortable and that your team that’s going to manage this going forward … They’ve got to be the ones that know how to do the restore. Someone says, “Oh, gosh we really did need ‘x’ document and that was over in this site, and we don’t have that anymore.” Someone can do the restore for them and get the document up.

 

Danny:I think up to this point we’ve talked a lot about SharePoint to SharePoint migrations. Funny when you were talking earlier about the inventory of what’s out there, one of the types of migrations we’ve been doing a lot of is the Jive to SharePoint migrations. That made me think that the trial version of the migrator tool doesn’t move inventory for you. It tells you what’s out there, so that sort of fits into the process that we use.

 

Kirk:Oh yeah.

 

Danny:Then you have the shallow pool and the deep pool which sort of tell you a little bit more, give you some more information about what’s in the environment. All these things pretty much applies to … Doesn’t really matter, it’s not exclusive to moving from SharePoint to SharePoint Online.

 

Kirk:I don’t think it has to be.[crosstalk 00:33:14] It’s a process and-

 

Danny:Yeah-

 

Kirk:it doesn’t have to be that specific to your technology.

 

Danny:Okay.

 

Kirk:One other thing when it comes to archive, or one other thing to think about is, a lot of clients will say, “You know we want to move to SharePoint Online, so let’s migrate our 2013 SharePoint environment there, but you know what, we’ve got some critical farm solutions that are in these certain sites, and we just don’t want to undergo the effort to re-architect those solution to get them to work in SharePoint Online.” Maybe that’s a good decision for you. That decision may be that you keep them in your current SharePoint, maybe 2013 environment, and then the other sites go to SharePoint Online. I call that a hybrid option-

 

Danny:Yeah-

 

Kirk:Where you keep some of your existing farm working and you move most of it to the new environment. Then you let that hit end of life-

 

Danny:Yeah, hit the end of life-

 

Kirk:and then you can get rid of it that time.

 

Danny:Yeah, just wait for the next time in which you really need to do a refresh with that line of business and then the time in which you decommission it and move it over to SharePoint-

 

Kirk:That’s right.

 

Danny:That sounds sensible.

 

So, last one. We’re here.

 

Kirk:We made it. Even though..

 

Danny:I wanted you to change this to, “consider ThreeWell resources”, but you wanted to have, “consider off-shore resources”. Why is that such an important thing for you to point out at this point.

 

Kirk:Yeah. Well if it’s a big migration you’ve got a lot of moving parts and a lot of data going across, so some things are going to be happening over and over and over again. While you can automate a lot of it, there’s going to be a human factor for a lot of it as well. We have used off-shore in the past, and you can use off-shore to help out with various aspects. One might be, as you’re starting your project and you’re determining that hey we can automate some of this, they could help you maybe with some of that tooling. Another would be, certainly, the level two supports. Maybe you’ve got a help desk staff but when it comes to SharePoint expertise you only have a handful of people and they are not going to be able to take all of those level two calls that are coming in. An off-shore staff might be able to do that. You can get some SharePoint resources obviously, that know some of these finer things within SharePoint such as, I mentioned, MasterPage tweaks that might have to occur-

 

Danny:Okay-

 

Kirk:for example.

 

That’s where they come in a fill those gaps.

 

Danny:Awesome

 

Kirk:They can also help with the triage process so as issues are maybe being reported not only by users, but but by the tool itself, they can triage those issues and say, “You know what, oh, this isn’t an issue.”, or “Oh yeah this is something big, let’s dive in further and see if we can fix this.”

 

Danny:Excellent.

 

You did it.

 

Kirk:Well, I’ll mention one other thing around the off-shore is … I’m not saying you should use them, I’m saying you should consider using them-

 

Danny:Yeah. Okay-

 

Kirk:We’ve had success with them in the past for sure. You want to consider the timezone differences, and that can be a pro and a con. For example, obviously timezone differences can be rough, say they’re in India and that’s 10ish hours different from Eastern time in the U.S. but it’s kind of hard to talk to them much during the day. That can be a problem, but the other side of that coin is that if you’re running these migrations, they can be doing things off hours while you’re not doing them. So you can be more of a 24 hour team when you have your team spread across the globe, to an extent. Then of course, maybe you’re a global company and you’ve already got resources all over the place, but if you don’t then this might be a nice way to kind of help your IT organization manage the process.

 

Danny:Awesome. Awesome.

 

So we are about at 10 minutes left here. If folks have any questions that they want to ask in the GoToWebinar interface, feel free to do that, and we’ll look through those. I’ll give you guys a second to do that. If there are any questions again if you go into that handout section of that GoToWebinar, you can download the PDF for this, so feel free to download that and share it with your colleagues.

 

We’ll also, I think I mentioned this the first time and not the second, that we will be sending out a recorded version of this so you can share that as well. ThreeWill have a podcast and actually this will go up as well as a podcast. We’ll have to just clip out the first part of it, or have a very long intro music.

 

Kirk:Yeah. Yeah.

 

Danny:Intro music for 10 minutes, some nice elevator music for 10 minutes-

 

Kirk:Yeah-

 

Danny:and then we’ll jump into it.

 

I don’t think I see anybody.

 

Kirk:Maybe we muted the questions.

 

Danny:I don’t think I muted questions. I hope not, I hope I haven’t muted questions.

 

Well, let’s do this. I guess if you had to have a conclusion to all of this, putting this together, what would be … Didn’t have time to listen to whole podcast, whole webinar, what would you say is a key thing to take away from this as far as preparing for a large and complex SharePoint migration.

 

Kirk:Be prepared is what I was about to say.

 

If you can, take a look as this paper and read through some of the sections and see what rings true for you, and plan ahead. We’ve said it several times. It’s probably the top three, might be … Plan ahead, do a pilot and communicate. There’s others in there, they’re all important, but those are ones that I think are really important, and not necessarily in that order, but you want to give yourself the time to make it happen. You want to vet the process out and the tool out and the whole thing. You need to communicate with, not only site owners but also end users and upper management, and make sure that everyone’s on board with what’s going on. There’s several ways to do that communications, several times you need to be doing that communication.

 

Danny:Purely selfish question here, but people pull us into these types of engagements why? Is it just because we’ve done them before and can keep them out of the things that get them into trouble with the migration?

 

Kirk:It’s not part of people’s business to be doing migrations, so they don’t really need to have that expertise for something they’re not doing that often. It’s smart, if it’s big enough, to try and get help. So you’re not going to run into all the issues we’ve run into before if you have our help. There will be issues, I can guarantee that. If it’s large and complex enough there’s going to be issues that we’re going to have to work through, because every migration is different, but there’s a lot of similarities to them.

 

Danny:So once everybody is on SharePoint Online, what happens to our migration questions?

 

Kirk:When you’re not ready for it.

 

Danny:Then we move over to our portals practice and then to add them you can switch over to that-

 

Kirk:That’s right-

 

Danny:That will be a … I’m not sure that date’s going to come anytime soon as far as everyone moving over to SharePoint Online.

 

Kirk:Yeah, and that is one interesting thing. This doesn’t have to apply just to SharePoint Online, but I think a lot of this is when you’re moving to SharePoint Online it becomes more complex, because the tooling has to do more work. Once you move to SharePoint Online, the promise is, you shouldn’t have to migrate again. There’s not another version of SharePoint to migrate to, Microsoft is handling all of that for you underneath the covers. At the same time, there will be features that come and go and be deprecated over time I would guess. I haven’t seen that happen yet on SharePoint Online. I can’t think of one, but there will be the next InfoPath, PowerApps, or something, maybe that will go away. I’m not saying it’s going to, but hopefully it automatically migrates into it’s next thing for you, but there will be some aspect that I’m sure is going, but it should be a lot less from a migration standpoint once you’re in SharePoint Online.

 

Danny:Awesome.

 

Well, thank you for taking the time to put this e-book together.

 

Kirk:Sure.

 

Danny:And getting your thoughts down on paper. I know it’s tough. I mean, you’ve been really busy lately, and doing a great job on projects. Just appreciate all the hard work that you’ve been doing with migrations. It’s awesome. It’s amazing to see how quickly all the stuff is coming together.

 

Kirk:Thanks. Well there are several people that helped out. I know on the title page or something, it mentions reviewers or contributors or something like that. Several people helped out and I appreciate their help.

 

Danny:Absolutely.

 

I don’t see any questions. If not, I went ahead and put up … You’ve got my e-mail address up there, my phone number, feel free to drop me a line if you want to pick up on this subject and maybe go into something a little bit deeper that we didn’t cover with this. I can grab Kirk and we can set up a phone call. If there’s any other questions that you have.

 

Again, thank you. My apologies for about the first 10 minutes. I apologize about that, but thank you for hanging on and for listening. In a couple of days here you’ll see an e-mail from us that has a link to how to share this with others, so keep an eye out for that. Thanks again Kirk for your help with this.

 

Kirk:You’re welcome.

 

Danny:Thank you everybody for listening.

 

Have a great day and have a great weekend. Take care. Buh-bye.

 

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Kirk LiemohnLarge and Complex SharePoint Migrations Webinar
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Another ThreeWill Client Wins Best Intranet of the Year

Danny serves as Vice President of Marketing at ThreeWill. His primary responsibilities are to make sure that we are building partnerships with the right clients and getting out the message about how we can help clients.

Last year ThreeWill client Cadwalader was one of the winners of the Best Intranets of 2016.  Another ThreeWill client, Goodwill, has won the same award for 2017.

The user-experience research firm Nielsen Norman Group announced the winners of the Intranet Design Award for 2017.    Among the winners for Best Intranet was ThreeWill’s client Goodwill (Press Release).  The winning intranets were chosen by expert review based on design and usability from an international field of submissions.

ThreeWill worked with Goodwill to design SharePoint dashboards for managing and reporting on sales, people, donations, square footage and other financial information.  ThreeWill also performed a health check on their SharePoint environment . They were having some issues with their hosting provider and asked us to take a look at their farm and make recommendations for stability.

ThreeWill was referred to Goodwill by another client, St. Francis Hospital, based on our experience and knowledge of SharePoint.

ThreeWill, a Microsoft Gold partner based out of Atlanta,  helps teams work together better by building solutions on SharePoint using an agile process.

Learn more about Goodwill – http://www.goodwill.org/ .

Read more details and purchase the report here – https://www.nngroup.com/reports/intranet-design-annual/.

Contact us today about building an award winning SharePoint initiative for your company.

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Danny RyanAnother ThreeWill Client Wins Best Intranet of the Year
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Taking a Holistic View of FastTrack for SharePoint

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

Danny Ryan:Hello, and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast.

 

This is your host Danny Ryan speaking, and I have Tommy Ryan here with me. How’s it going, Tommy?

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s going well.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah? You having a good week?

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s a busy week. A lot of on-the-road traveling within Atlanta, not outside of Georgia. It’s been a busy week.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah, traffic was crazy yesterday. Wasn’t it? With the rain … It was yesterday or the day before.

 

Tommy Ryan:It was yesterday.

 

I was actually at a client location and we had to go to the basement, or the hallway in the middle of the building because of the tornado warning at two o’clock yesterday.

 

Danny Ryan:Let me see your socks. There you go.

 

Tommy Ryan:Here you go.

 

Danny Ryan:See, I’m getting a little crazier than you here.

 

Nice, blue. Some shades of blue and gray.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, I like it.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah, thank you. A little florescence again with me. Branching out a little bit.

 

Today what we wanted to talk about was taking a more holistic approach to FastTrack for SharePoint. I’m not going to say high level, I’m not going to say it.

 

Start us off with just, what is FastTrack for SharePoint and why are people looking at this now?

 

Tommy Ryan:FastTrack for SharePoint is a program to get people into Office 365 and it’s been around for migrating mailboxes into Office 365.

 

Just recently at the Ignite conference, they announced people being able to use Fast Track to move share point content to the cloud, [crosstalk 00:01:40].

 

Danny Ryan:Microsoft is going to help with doing the migration and, of course this is going to be for free, right?

 

Tommy Ryan:It is, it is. There’s maybe a couple caveats to that.

 

Danny Ryan:What’s the catch? It’s a good hook, free is always good, but … Give me some of the, “yeah it’s free, but”.

 

Tommy Ryan:I think Microsoft definitely wants to see continual adoption in the cloud. If people are getting their mailboxes up there, it’s going to be a richer experience if they get their share point content up there.

 

It’s a suite of applications that a lot of the services are giving you that ability to roll up different areas of Office 365 and a more comprehensive view.

 

We were talking about teams last week. If I use teams, I would like to have my file content available to me and my team. If you have that on [prem 00:02:46], that might be a challenge. It might not be feasible to use a tool like that.

 

I think it’s to the cloud and supporting that, so they’re anteing up by giving people the ability to cut down on the costs. When it’s free, I wouldn’t say it’s free … We can talk more about that. At the end of the day, it’s moving simplified content.

 

Whatever you have that’s “customized” or a little bit different than the standard flow of the migration process, you’re going to have to handle that out of band of that Fast Track migration.

 

Danny Ryan:So it’s moving file content over primarily? Is that what we’re looking at?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah. When they go through what’s included, they talk about what’s included at a site level, a list level, and an item level.

 

When they talk about sites, they say, we’re moving over the title, the logo, the theme … If it’s an out of the box theme. The standard navigation, your content types, site columns, pages, a limited member of web parts, permissions in sharing.

 

Some of the information that’s very basic, share point out of the box, that’s coming over with sites. Then list, it’s documents and items and views and content types and manage metadata. Then down at the item level, things like versions, up to five versions, and the permissions down to the item level.

 

Really good basic, if you set up share point and you did a basic team site and you ended up adding a couple items in a calendar and created some document structure and you really didn’t go further than that, then you’re going to be able to move a lot of that content over for free.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s great. There’s probably caps on the amount of content that Microsoft’s going to move over?

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, they cap it at 10 terabytes total. You get a half a gig per user. If you’re in the 10s of thousands of users, you’re starting to get into the terabytes of data.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice. Where do we fit into this? What do you see as the need occurring because of this? I look at this and say, okay this will get you part of the way there and could introduce some more pains involved with having your data … Having things in two different places.

 

What are you seeing … What’s the need that’s coming about because of this program?

 

Tommy Ryan:I think it’s that challenge that you face when you go into a migration and you start migrating and you get some of the content over into the newer version of share point, but you don’t quite get to the finish line and you have stuff left behind in your existing form.

 

That creates a disjointed experience for the user. It’s even worse when you’re talking about Office 365 where you don’t want to have just a couple of your sites over there and then people having to go to totally different locations and have a totally different user experience as they get content from on prem and in the cloud.

 

There’s going to be situations where people will leave stuff behind on purpose. It might be full trust code, and they don’t want to put the effort into porting that into a cloud-based model for the app that they built.

 

Some of those things will purposely be left behind, but you want to get as much of that content over. Also, at the end of the day, the remediation that will need to take place is not “covered” as part of this program. The remediation is up to the end user.

 

There is an assessment that will give you a sense of what that will be, but you’ve got to have a plan to address that so when that content gets over, you’re addressing things like running work flows, you’re addressing things like did I use custom list forms, did I have [infopath 00:07:30] forms.

 

It’s great if you move all the data over there, but if your user interface was in infopath form, you’re going to be in a bad place. You’re going to have to think about, well what do I do now that those infopath forms didn’t come over. Do I need some help with someone getting them over or do I need to go and create some light weight UI on top of those lists and share points?

 

Danny Ryan:Remediation is going and trouble shooting when there is issues? Or is it checking to see that all the content moved over? Is it a combination of those two?

 

Tommy Ryan:From my understanding, it’s things that have failed in the process of coming over. There’s going to be logs … At the end of the day, the customer is going to have to go through and figure out how do I handle something that didn’t migrate over 100 percent.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay, great.

 

What else would you have to share with somebody who’s trying to fill out what needs to occur when you’re using Fast Track?

 

Tommy Ryan:I think we’ve talked about migration in the past. One of the things that’s a key thing to think about and plan for and implement is a communication plan.

 

All the communication that occur when you’re moving someone’s cheese … I think that’s something that … Microsoft will give you some guidance on that, but it really is going to be up to the customer to make sure that there’s a solid communication plan, and just coordination around who gets involved when so you can have a successful migration.

 

What are site owners doing? What are their responsibilities pre and post-migration? How do they help with the remediation, making sure that people know when this is occurring and have a sense of what is their backup plan during that time of migration? How do they keep continuity of service of the sites that they use and share point?

 

Understanding which sites are mission critical. You have, maybe some white glove-type service around those sites so you’re not interrupting what’s making money for your company.

 

Danny Ryan:This Fast Track for share point is a limited time offer from Microsoft as well, correct?

 

Tommy Ryan:It is. It’s pretty fast timeline, maybe that’s why I call it Fast Track. Get on the track quickly, it’s going fast.

 

Danny Ryan:The train’s leaving.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s actually ending the end of March, so you have to get started by then. For folks who are thinking about taking advantage of this, it’s something that you want to start getting in motion today.

 

Danny Ryan:I guess we work alongside with the Microsoft teams. They would contact Microsoft, and then we would be basically another third party that’s involved with this just to make sure that the overall effort is a success.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right, yeah. We get the account team involved and make sure they can get down the process to qualify and get on the list to be Fast Tracked.

 

Danny Ryan:I imagine this is for more complex environments and larger organizations are probably the people who would want to have this type of service?

 

Tommy Ryan:I think it’s a variety. I think you might find people, if they have a very simple environment, Fast Track is going to have a higher coverage of that migration.

 

The one’s that have more complicated environments … Yes, it’s important to probably put more effort into planning around it, for the more complex environments because of the nature of larger organizations that depend on certain functions within share point that you’re not interrupting their services.

 

If it’s a complicated environment, that migration time line might be extended with remediation and all the things you need to do to be successful with it.

 

I think both can take advantage of it, it’s just a matter of how much help you need along the way. The more complex it is, the more planning and assessment and implementation services you need to augment that Fast Track effort.

 

Danny Ryan:One of the things I like about helping folks out with migrations is it’s typically a one-time thing, and why go spend all the time trying to learn about migrations when you’re just doing it once?

 

It’s good for you to engage an outside organization to help you with it, because they’ve seen other environments, they’ve done it before … Why spend so much time learning lessons how to migrate when you’re just going to do it once.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right, yeah. I wish the program was around longer because we’re ramping up on this and we have a few customers that are down the path with this Fast Track program. We’re kind of having this podcast now to let people know that it’s out there and kind of that awareness.

 

We’re getting the experience around how they get the most out of a Fast Track offering.

 

Danny Ryan:I’m sure if it’s successful … I can not say successful this morning … If it’s a successful program, Microsoft may look at extending it, and that could always happen.

 

Tommy Ryan:Sure, right. There’s nothing like a sense of urgency though, so that’s probably a good plan to say it’s going away soon so jump on board.

 

Danny Ryan:It’s a good tactic, yes. Absolutely.

 

Thank you, Tommy, for taking the time to do this. I know you’re really busy and I appreciate you sharing some of the things that you’ve learned recently.

 

If you are one of those customers whose engaging Microsoft for Fast Track and you want someone else to help you more with a comprehensive plan and really reduce a lot of the risk involved with these project, please reach out to us.

 

Come to ThreeWill.com. Click on contact us, and we’d love to talk to you more about helping out with this particular type of project.

 

Thank you so much for listening and have a wonderful day. Bye.

 

Tommy Ryan:Bye.

 

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Tommy RyanTaking a Holistic View of FastTrack for SharePoint
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Common Challenges of SharePoint Adoption

Bruce is the Vice President of Delivery for ThreeWill. Bruce has over thirty-five years of extensive experience and proven success in IT Professional Services Management, COTS Product Development, Application Management and overall Financial Management.

Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and today I have Bruce Harple here with me. Bruce is the VP of Delivery. Welcome Bruce.

 

Bruce Harple:Hey, good morning Danny.

 

Danny Ryan:How are things going?

 

Bruce Harple:Going great. Glad to be here.

 

Danny Ryan:We’re on take two. My Mac blew up. Hopefully that will not happen again here but if you don’t mind we’re just going to go back through and redo … We’re going to relive the last ten minutes of our life.

 

Bruce Harple:Let’s do it. Let’s do it.

 

Danny Ryan:You’ve got a really important topic for us to cover which is about adoption and that really adoption is about having a successful intranet and a successful portal. Let’s start off with some of the common challenges that you see out there when we are talking with customers.

 

Bruce Harple:Yeah, that’s great Danny. We’ve been really doing a lot of portal work with our customers, a lot of intranet portal work. Also, we do extranets where customers who are wanting to reach out to either their clients or their vendors. There is a number of challenges that I see where customers talk about their portal failing or low adoption rate for their portal, so there’s a number of challenges that are a common thread across many of our customers.

 

Probably the number one challenge, number one problem is, I call it findability. Employees will come to the portal they’re looking for a document, a specific piece of content, and they can’t find it. If it’s not two or three clicks away they get frustrated and they give up. I do that when I’m on external sites and I’m looking for content or something and I can’t find it and I get frustrated and I throw my hands up and I give up as well.

 

Danny Ryan:It’s one of my biggest challenges. I know when I get up in the morning I can’t find my keys anywhere. Findability is a key problem.

 

Bruce Harple:It is a problem for sure. Some of that’s just where this kind of … We’re all mad-dashing against time and we’re all looking for quick answers, quick information, and if we can’t find it quickly we move on.

 

Danny Ryan:Yes.

 

Bruce Harple:Findability is key and number one. Another one is lack of ownership. It’s lack of an executive owner, a champion of the portal. Someone that can create the vision for the portal and ensure does it really support the needs of the business. Really just having content owners and providers. If your content isn’t current, it’s not fresh, and there’s people that aren’t taking ownership of that, then it becomes stale and irrelevant and people won’t use it. The ownership is another key issue and problem we see out there.

 

Danny Ryan:On the organizations who are doing this really well, they sort of see their intranets and extranets as a key way of communicating their brand, and also a key way of communicating what their culture is as well. You can really look at it a couple different ways, but for us, if you have … We’ve got a very open culture here and so there’s a lot of sharing on Yammer, there’s a lot of document sharing so it’s very open. I think it sort of speaks to, and it’s probably, depends on the organization, but you have different people who sort of own what the intranet and extranet is.

 

Bruce Harple:Yeah. A key point, Danny, is the ownership … You obviously want that executive ownership, but you also need to have that individual ownership so everybody in the organization has to take ownership. The whole organization owns the content in that portal and everybody’s got to be willing to contribute to it and obviously everybody wants to consume, but everybody’s got knowledge to share. Everybody’s got information that can value other parts of their organization, other parts of their teams.

 

Danny Ryan:Great. What’s the next challenge?

 

Bruce Harple:The next one, I kind of grouped these two things together, it’s relevance and reliability. That’s just saying that if you’re not constantly looking at your intranet, your portal, if the information and content out there is not current, if it’s not relevant to what I do, that content’s not helping me sell products and services to my customers, if it’s not helping me deliver products and services to my customers, it’s just not going to provide the same level of value to me. It’s got to be relevant to what I do, it’s got to be relevant to how I am delivering goods and services to my customers, and it’s got to be reliable. If content becomes old, stale, outdated, or that content is in 5 different places in your portal and that content’s different in all 5 of those places, how do you know which content, how do I know which document is the document that I should really rely on? That is a huge problem, that relevance and reliability, making sure that I trust what’s out there. If your organization doesn’t trust the content, they’re not going to go use it.

 

Danny Ryan:This is where it leads to, and I know I sometimes fall into this pattern, which is if you’re not sure then you start emailing the document around and then you really get out of whack because the latest version of the doc is in somebody’s email. You have to have the discipline to keep pointing people back to the intranet and saying this is the record of source. This is where you want to go to for the latest version.

 

Bruce Harple:Absolutely. Some of that kind of goes to my next challenge. It’s one thing that I think a lot of people overlook, and that’s just understanding your culture. How does your culture collaborate? How do they share information? How do they share knowledge? That’s huge in trying to understand. The intranet portals today have a lot of capabilities, but you’ve got to understand, of all those capabilities, which of those really met best to the culture of your company and what people are willing to do? Do you have a social culture? Are they the Twitter generation? Are they in the news feeds and activity feeds and things like that? Understanding your culture. Then if there’s things you want to move them towards, you’ve got to understand, how do I do that incrementally and take small steps towards changing that culture to be a more collaborative type culture?

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah, some of the larger companies, they’ve got multiple generations. They’ve got folks who are the older generation that might are used to picking up the phone to collaborate and then you’ve got … I think I’m part of the email generation. I don’t know if I want to call myself that, but everything’s done through email because I have a track of … I know when what was said and all that good stuff. I’ve got my outbox and ways of managing what commitments I’ve made and all that good stuff. Then you’ve got the activity feed driven younger kids, younger punks, that are so disrupt driven. Whatever’s the latest thing is the latest thing and that’s what I’m working on and it’s very interrupt driven.

 

Bruce Harple:Absolutely. In the next challenge I talk about, I call it governance. I’m always amazed at how many customers don’t have a governance plan in place around their portal. It really kind of governs how do we provision content into that portal, how do we use that portal to support our business? It’s key because the good news about a lot of these portals in today’s world is it’s very easy to add content and it’s easy to get to that wild, wild west mentality where there’s community sites, project sites, department sites set up all over the place and they’ve all got their own unique look, feel, brand, so instead of having a company look, feel, brand, and way to find information, it becomes very functionally departmentalized. Some of that freedom you want to allow, but you really need to have that governance plan in place because that’s going to drive that findability, that relevance and reliability aspect of this.

 

The last challenge and thing to talk about is, I call it inspection and adaption. One of the things that we see with portals and intranets today is that people build them, they get them populated, they get content out there and then there’s no ongoing care and feeding. There’s no kind of assessment of what kind of usage is occurring on the portal. I call that inspection and adaption.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s not like the Boston version of adoption. Is that adaption? Adaption?

 

Bruce Harple:I like that.

 

Danny Ryan:You are saying adaption?

 

Bruce Harple:I am saying adoption.

 

Danny Ryan:Adoption. Oh my goodness. You’re saying- okay, good.

 

Bruce Harple:I am saying adapt.

 

Danny Ryan:Go ahead. Sorry.

 

Bruce Harple:It’s really that kind of inspection, kind of inspecting the usage, inspecting value, assessing that value, and then adapting the content, adapting what’s out there to the business. Businesses are going to change too. The parties and the business are going to change and you need to keep that content, again, relevant, reliable, and findable. Those are the key challenges.

 

Danny Ryan:I’m going to be stuck on Sharepoint Adaption. Next, what do we have up next?

 

Bruce Harple:Really, next we just talk about how can people begin to think about addressing some of these challenges that we see.

 

Danny Ryan:Cool. How do they do that?

 

Bruce Harple:The first thing I’ve got is to really create a vision for your portal. It sounds simple but it’s really important, really critical, that you have that vision. I think of Steven Covey, precept of, kind of begin with the end in mind. If you don’t know where you’re going you can’t build a roadmap to get there. That vision really needs to convey the overall importance and value of the portal to the business. It should be supported with some specific objectives, and really some simple metrics that really assess the value of the portal to the business. A lot of people, it’s build it and they will come. That typically doesn’t work in the intranet business. You really need to make sure that everything you do through that portal is supporting the business somehow, is driving value to the business, is aligned with the business. That vision should support that and every time you do something to that portal you should really look at that vision stuck on your wall and say, “Am I supporting the vision? Is it supporting the end state of where I want to get to with my portal?”

 

Danny Ryan:Very nice.

 

Bruce Harple:That’s the first thing in addressing some of these challenges and the other is just overall ownership of the portal. There’s two parts to that. Some of it is having that executive level champion or owner of the portal. I think that’s key because you’re going to look to that person to make sure that that portal is aligned to the business like I talked about with the vision. Are we really aligning the usage of this portal, what we’re trying to accomplish with it, does that support the business? Is it meeting the needs of the business? This needs to be someone that’s really passionate about capturing and sharing the IP of your organization, and really passionate about driving that culture of collaboration. To me, that’s what a portal is all about. It’s about establishing that culture of collaboration, sharing knowledge, sharing experience, and just trying to look for how can we better sell and deliver to our customers?

 

Danny Ryan:I look at us and the reason why I think we do a lot of collaboration here at ThreeWill is because Tommy does a lot of collab- It’s from the top, and we do have some … We’ve got lots of clients that we end up finding out that the CEO is involved in this because of really, the communication aspect of this. If I’m going to get my organization to work together, we all have to be on the same page.

 

Bruce Harple:Yep. Absolutely. The other aspects of ownership are finding those content providers. With any portal there’s content providers, content consumers. Everybody wants to consume content. It’s always hard to get people to provide content. Some of that ties back to culture, which we’ll talk about later. Really, I think it is important at some level to identify those content providers, those content owners who could be responsible and held accountable for keeping content fresh and relevant.

 

Some of it too is driving down to individual ownership. Everybody wants to consume content but I think the organizations have to look for how do we motivate, how do we incent individuals to provide their content, their knowledge, their IP, as it relates to how we sell to our customers, how we deliver to our customers. You’ve got to figure out how to get that down to the individual level to where there’s individual ownership and people want to contribute and people feel good about doing that.

 

Danny Ryan:Great.

 

Bruce Harple:Kind of creating that vision, defining that ownership, those kind of … That applies across all those challenges.

 

Danny Ryan:What’s up next?

 

Bruce Harple:The next thing I’m going to talk about was that concept of findabilty. How do I enable people to quickly come in and find the content they’re looking for, find the information they’re looking for? There’s several pieces to that. One is just looking at what we call the information architecture. How do you structure all that content on your portal and how do you navigate that portal? There’s a couple of ways people come into portals to look for content. One is through navigation, through hitting links on pages, and the other is then through search. Those are the two key things is that site structure, that information architecture, and then search.

 

Then kind of associated with search, we think it’s really important that you develop that corporate taxonomy. A corporate taxonomy is just how you describe the things that are important to you. It’s tagging. It’s the metadata. How do I describe a document that I upload? How do I describe a video that I’m going to put on my portal? Then that metadata can be used in searching for that content, helping people find that content.

 

The overall search experience is so critical, because that’s the way that most people are going to find that content through that search bar. Like any website you go to, the first thing you’re looking for is that little magnifying glass and you’re going to key in what you think in your mind you’re looking for and that’s how you’re going to try to find that data.

 

Danny Ryan:We’ve been so trained by free text search, the Google search of just … Your expectation are so high of that I think on the public internet that you expect the same type of experience internally as well.

 

Bruce Harple:You absolutely should have the same experience. That Google search experience that you have on the external face on public websites, you should have that same experience inside your intranet portal.

 

Danny Ryan:Our solution is to put a Google device inside their organization, is that what we’re proposing here?

 

Bruce Harple:There’s several things, and I’m just going to rattle these things off. There’s a lot behind them, but the kind of things we look for establishing as part of your search experience or search verticals. How do I verticalize the content in search? I can search everything, I can search people, I can search for specific types of content, the other search refiners, so when the search result comes up, how can I refine that search by document type, by person, by date, by one of those metadata tags I talked about.

 

There’s different ways to present search results, so you might want to present a people search result in a way that if I mouse over that person their profile pops up.

 

Danny Ryan:In a little animated gif where they’re dancing or something like that?

 

Bruce Harple:A little animated gif where they’re dancing, whatever the avatar they have …

 

Danny Ryan:That’s the kind of intranet I want.

 

Bruce Harple:Or like for video, if I mouse over a video, I want to see the video playing for me. That’s important. Things like you expect with any kind of search engine is being able to influence search relevance, search suggestions, best bets. All those things are so important. I have this throughout this whole thing.

 

The other thing with search is that inspection and adaption. Somebody needs to be paying attention to how are people searching. With that you can begin to tune your search experience for your organization. You can’t just expect it to always work and always get better, you’ve got to manage that. You’ve got to expect what people are doing.

 

Danny Ryan:I actually track on our public site. I track what people are searching for. It gives me good input for, maybe I need to change something in the menu structure or something along those lines.

 

Bruce Harple:Yes, exactly.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice. What’s next?

 

Bruce Harple:Next, again, is relevance and reliability. I kind of group those two things together. Some of that is around reviewing metrics. It goes back to, again, I’m going to use those words, inspect and adapt. It’s really kind of looking at metrics, looking at Google analytics if you have that wired into your set which we recommend, looking at site analytics, search analytics, content aging. It’s all those things, so really it’s paying attention to what’s out there, how relevant it is, how current it is, and making those adjustments.

 

I think the other things is looking at ways to leverage site or page templates. People create new team sites, new community sites, new department sites. There’s a template that’s being followed so there’s a consistency, so as people navigate though that portal they’re not going to some team site, some project site, and try to figure out where content is stored and how it’s organized, you’ve got a consistent way you can apply a template to every different type of site you might provision inside a portal.

 

The other thing I kind of call out under relevance and reliability is, I’m saying conduct an annual portal retrospective. That means once a year you sit down and really kind of revisit your vision, revisit your objectives, because the business has changed. We do retrospectives on projects and we ask three questions, what should I continue doing, what should I start doing, and what should I stop doing? I think that applies to an intranet portal or an extranet portal. Once a year you should stop and ask those three questions about that portal, and again, fine tune what’s happening with that portal.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice. I like it. I like it. It’s almost when you were talking about that I was thinking, wouldn’t it be nice if we went around to our clients and did an annual …

 

Bruce Harple:We have a new service opportunity right there, Danny.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s just what we need is another service opportunity.

 

Bruce Harple:There you have it.

 

Danny Ryan:All right. Bring me to the finish line here. We got a couple more left, right?

 

Bruce Harple:Yeah, a couple more things. Let’s talk a little bit more about culture. Again, I just think it’s so critical to really understand your organizational culture, especially as it relates to collaboration, communication, and knowledge sharing. Ask yourself, do I have a social culture? Will they participate in activity feeds, discussions, news feeds. Are they-

 

Danny Ryan:Nude feeds?

 

Bruce Harple:News feeds. That would be a good one.

 

Danny Ryan:I’ll leave that one alone. Next? Go ahead, sorry.

 

Bruce Harple:Some people have fun with that.

 

Danny Ryan:I’m sure some people do. I’m sorry, go ahead.

 

Bruce Harple:An example is, there was a CEO who had a news feed of his own, like a blog post, and occasionally, just to see if people were paying attention and engaging with him, he would put a post out early in the morning and say, “First person that responds to my post …”

 

Danny Ryan:Gets a raise.

 

Bruce Harple:“… Gets a raise.” Exactly. They were just things like, “Have a gift card,” so “You’ve got a 50 dollar gift card, first person that responds to my post, I have a gift card sitting here for you.”

 

Danny Ryan:Engagement shoots fires up.

 

Bruce Harple:You can have fun with it as it relates to the social aspects of it. You just need to really think about how do people share documents? How do they collaborate around documents? Is that part of your business model? Really trying to see how their project teams interact and engage. How do they work together? Do they collaborate around a project set of some kind, a group of some kind? What are they willing to do, what are they willing to share?

 

I think so, you really have to end up mapping your culture to the capabilities of your portal, especially as it relates to social features, document sharing, document collaboration, notifications alerts, those kind of things. What will your culture accept? What fits that culture?

 

Danny Ryan:Then, bumbadumbum, everybody’s favorite subject …

 

Bruce Harple:Everybody’s favorite subject, governance.

 

Danny Ryan:Don’t you use that word around me. Don’t you point that word at me.

 

Bruce Harple:To me it’s simple. I just develop a governance plan. You need to have one. Identify ownership, assign accountability, and again, I got the inspect and adapt here with this one. It’s like, governance, you need to look at our governance plan once a year. You’ve got to pay attention to that because governance should drive that inspection and adaption. It should drive some accountability for how your portal is governed, how it’s kept current, kept relevant, et cetera.

 

Danny Ryan:If you don’t have one we have templates, right?

 

Bruce Harple:We have templates, absolutely. The last thing, Danny, is just to make it fun and engaging. It’s got to be engaging, it’s got to be fun, and you can do that if you’d like customers to have fun with their portals and make it fun, make it engaging. It doesn’t take a lot to do that. Then you have CEOs that make it fun and engaging too in the way that they engage with their team. That’s it.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s awesome. Thank you for taking the time to share this. I know this is really important. It’s just great you’re on so many different projects and working with so many new clients and prospects that I really appreciate your input on what you’re seeing out there, so thank you for taking the time to do this, Bruce.

 

Bruce Harple:Absolutely. We have a lot of passion around building portals that are successful, and to us success, it’s the adoption. It’s portals that are really used and where organizations are getting value out of those portals. That’s so critical and a key part of what we do is we work with clients on their portals, really trying to make sure that we’re looking at these challenges and addressing them and that they’re partnering with us to help us do that.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s great. Thanks so much everybody for taking the time to listen and have a wonderful day. Thank you. Bye-bye.

 

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Bruce HarpleCommon Challenges of SharePoint Adoption
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Envisioning Session at the Atlanta Microsoft Technology Center

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and I’m here with my co-host Tommy. How are you doing?

 

Tommy Ryan:I’m doing well, Danny.

 

Danny Ryan:Great. It’s a Friday.

 

Tommy Ryan:It is a Friday. It’s becoming a pattern.

 

Danny Ryan:This is.

 

Tommy Ryan:We used to do these on Thursdays. Now it’s Fridays.

 

Danny Ryan:It’s fine. Hey. That’s not a problem at all. Yesterday you were at the MTC, otherwise known as the Microsoft Technology Center in Alpharetta, Georgia.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yes. Yeah, it was a good experience.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s been a while and I’m kind of excited to do it again soon.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice, nice, nice. Let’s just talk about that. What was the overall, what was the purpose of doing this in the first place.

 

Tommy Ryan:Well, we were working with a customer that we implemented SharePoint for them back in 2008. They’re still on SharePoint 2007 today. We help them get their site structure in place, think about what are the right kind of divisions of knowledge and and who can lead that knowledge and get some extra network for them.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:Worked until 2009 and they hired a SharePoint engineer and we help that SharePoint engineer get on their feet and be successful within the organization. Over time it was an investment in the platform and they’ve recognized that and they’re back into reinvesting in the platform. So much has changed since the time they got into SharePoint and started trying to grapple with the value of how that applies to their organization and it’s been stale so that time frame from 2007 to what SharePoint is today and Office 365, it’s changed quite a bit. There’s a lot to absorb a lot to learn and we thought this would be a good first step in the journey together to talk about the art of the possible and what makes sense from an adoption and roadmap strategy for them with SharePoint.

 

Danny Ryan:This is what, it’s called an envisioning session? Or what is it.. does it have some sort of general name to it as far as what you did yesterday.

 

Tommy Ryan:You know we use their envisioning center as a part of this engagement and I’ve heard them called architectural design sessions.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s really a visit to the MTC and this is kind of the first interaction that you can have.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:With the folks there and then from there you can take different paths and you do things like proof of concepts, using the labs there.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice.

 

Tommy Ryan:Work with different people of expertise. We had kind of the general show of what is Office 365 and productivity and then we also, at the end of the day, dug deeper into Windows 10 and mobility, because this organization deploys mobile devices to some of the largest airlines and significantly large companies.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:In the US and over the world. They wanted to get a sense of what is the strategy for packaging and deploying to new devices to essentially get those prepared to go to the field.

 

Danny Ryan:So they have a script that they somewhat want to go through as far as a high level and then you can start to dive into some deeper details in certain areas then, it sounds like.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right. The agenda for the day was introductions, who are the players that are here for the conversation and then they gave us kind of an overview of the platform, priming us. Actually before that they went through: what are the challenges? why are you here? how can we help? We had a session before and we had a prep session before that day.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:That was to revisit that with a larger audience, everyone that was there from Stratix to chime in of what their expectations were, what their challenges were that we could address on that day. After getting that bass line we went into the envisioning center and inside that envisioning center we went through the experience of someone using the platform from personal use all the way through collaboration and using the different channels of communication with an Office 365 like Skype, Office 365 groups and Yammer and the whole gamut.

 

Danny Ryan:And Hololens.

 

Tommy Ryan:Well. They didn’t. We actually asked about that because they took us for a little tour around the center. There were Surface Hubs and they want to have a Hololens and they’ve asked for one so they’re hoping to get one soon.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice. That’ll be interesting to see that. You were mentioning, as far as who is it from the client that comes. Is it a group of five people, ten people. How is it decided who comes from the client.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s people that are going to have a voice and how are they going to accomplish getting the most out of the platform.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:It was very heavy IT centric. You know, the CTO of the organization or the CIO of the organisation was there along with the director of IT person and the actual lines of business within the organization that are running more technical type operations and even a network administrator.

 

We had a variety of people really in the IT organization but this is a very IT centric type of service they provide so they are customer-facing, people that are making sure that they’re using the right technology to solve the problems they have with their customers.

 

Danny Ryan:We were talking about, as we were preparing for this podcast, you’d mentioned what I call. What I call. In Boxborough where having multiple inboxes or multiple ways of people contacting you. Were there a lot of different… Was that conversation had yesterday or just all of the different ways that, “Okay now I’ve got ten different ways of contacting a colleague and I spend my morning trying to figure out how to.” Was that addressed for what happened?

 

Tommy Ryan:I don’t think that was addressed head-on but the nature of this group was a little bit a reservation around all these different communication channels. They’re coming from a world of really email and SharePoint and Sharepoint that today, is not used very well.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s really just email and then they’re introducing Skype and there was a comment in the group of someone getting spammed internally from Skype, that is as soon as Skype is turned on, that became more of a distraction than a benefit for them in getting things accomplished. That’s probably one of the things that was going through their head the most is one, how do I secure content well. That’s a typical IT type of thought process of, how far do I take it, am I protected against malicious activity or accidental activity. Like sending something out in an email to a customer when you think you’re sending it internally so if you have confidential information, maybe a policy that would prompt you to say, “Are you sure you want to do this, because this is confidential information, do you want to send it externally.

 

The whole absorbing everything that was there from Yammer to Office 365 Groups to Skype to OneDrive to SharePoint to Exchange. All those, and Delve. They even exposed Delve to them. Those were things that you just feel like, “Well, gosh, I’m just an email today. DO I really need to participate in these other work streams, these other channels of communication.” I don’t think there was an answer there but one of the things that is kind of common is that one place that you can thread it through is email.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah.

 

Tommy Ryan:When you’re looking at Yammer, when you’re looking at Office 365 Groups, those things you can tune it a little bit to determine how much you want to be pulled in to all the activity that’s happening within your organization.

 

For example, Yammer, maybe you don’t want to stay in touch with what’s in Yammer but if someone wants to pull you in they can @ mention you and you get an email. For Office 365 Groups you can be a member of that group and decide not to subscribe to the updates.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:Depending on how important these channels of communication are to you, you tuned in appropriately. That takes work. There’s a fine balance of how you might configure it to be out of the box for the typical user. It defaults to something that fits the culture of the organization, and that was a theme from the CIO of, we need to look at what is our culture and how do we want the platform to support that culture.

 

Danny Ryan:Neat. That’s good that he’s thinking about it that way.

 

Tommy Ryan:Oh, yeah.

 

Danny Ryan:That’s really great to hear. What else. Were there any other themes that sort of came up that sort of stood out from yesterday.

 

Tommy Ryan:What I.. was not surprised, but it was interesting to see the emphasis on Office 365 Groups.

 

Danny Ryan:Oh, okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:We’re really grappling with that internally. For example, we have a sales site inside of SharePoint where it’s got a document library and it has that sales content. It’s that one place you can go to go get that sales content.

 

You might not want to make that public to everyone in the organization, so it gets tricky in terms of how do I be collaborative around that content and also keep it secure. We’ve been kicking the tires with Office 365 Groups and with Office 365 Groups, it’s a more collaborative experience, you can kind of set who are the people that are a part of this pursuit. We’ve talked about after that pursuit is done then you can move that content into it’s record repository. It’s that one place to go, but that takes a little bit of automation. We’ve decided to keep it simple and just work with the sales site.

 

We are continuing to find what are those areas that Groups apply, because it seems like, when you look at the road map, there’s just a ton of updates to Office 365 Groups. You have to say Microsoft really believes that this is going to be big for us. I’d look at it as kind of the equivalency to social groups in Jive. We’ve got that experience of Jive where you had sites and you had groups. Sites had that hierarchy and groups was flat. Groups really were self organizing places that you could go to create and collaborate. This world, I think, Microsoft is jumping on this bandwagon of kind of user driver social content generation, where we don’t want to have to go through IT to go set that up and that makes IT nervous because where’s the structure.

 

At the end of the day, this environment at this customer, they had control and they put control over this environment and it didn’t flourish. How can you allow for environments to be empowered to collaborate. I think Groups is trying to strike that chord.

 

There’s a lot coming together with it, it’s every part of the platforms coming together when it comes to Office 365 Groups. You’ve got the email component with conversations, you’ve got a calendar that’s tied to that group. You have a OneNote that’s tied to that group. You have, really, a SharePoint site that is exposed as almost like a OneDrive repository for files. You’ve got Planner, and Yammer is coming soon. That should be anytime we should start seeing Yammer.

 

Danny Ryan:So there’s Yammer integration with Groups as well.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right, right. You almost see every facet of Office 365 comes together with a group, and so what I see it as is a way to take a group of people and provisioning everything that has to do with the platform concentrated around this community.

 

It you need to do something with Notes it’s exposed to you in a simplistic way. If you need to store some files, it’s exposed to you, not as a full blown SharePoint site, but it looks just like a OneDrive site.

 

Danny Ryan:It reminds me of a security context.

 

Tommy Ryan:It is a security context. It’s working in security context. Kind of the other side of that spectrum that, yeah, there’s a lot of great things with that, now it becomes a lot of extra containers that are flat and have no structure to them. They’re flat.

 

How do I go back and look at sales content for a particular customer. I would like to go to the sales library, go down into the customer and then go into the project.

 

Danny Ryan:Yeah.

 

Tommy Ryan:And find that content. Now I’d have to go look for it in a flat list of groups.

 

With anything there’s pros and cons and you have to see how does that play into your organization, in the culture of your organization and how you get work done and how you can discover content over time. Is it more important to have it highly collaborative. Is it more important to have it highly structured. Sometimes those things conflict with each other.

 

Danny Ryan:Awesome. This is something it sounds like we do with some of our existing clients and something that if they need to take a look at what’s out there, you set this up and it’s a day long? Or how..

 

Tommy Ryan:It was a day long exercise.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:We work with the Microsoft account manager.

 

Danny Ryan:Is their account manager there with you during the day.

 

Tommy Ryan:Ideally they’re there with you, but the size of this account they have the group of partner account managers that are in, I think, North Dakota or somewhere out there in the Midwest.

 

Danny Ryan:Okay.

 

Tommy Ryan:That they had to participate over the phone. They want to partner there, they want the account manager there and then the customer.

 

Danny Ryan:Awesome. If folks are looking for this, this is something it sounds like it’s a good experience for them. If they want to reach out to us to have us participate in it. I imagine we’re just sort of sharing some of the things that we’re seeing in general with our clients and adding in, probably. Chiming in every once in a while.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yeah, we do that. I looked at this as a way to say, this is a great service for customers of Microsoft. Let’s go in and get immersed in that. It plants a lot of seeds and then let’s step back and say, “Okay, what do we want to take forward from that. What’s resonating and what do we think is the most important things to do this next year.”

 

Danny Ryan:We were talking before about creating Roadmaps.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right.

 

Danny Ryan:This sounds like something that’s probably not a bad thing to do for the Roadmap.

 

Tommy Ryan:It’s feeding into the Roadmap. It’s definitely, we talked about Roadmap and you said before, we get into the nitty gritty of that. Let’s hear the story from Microsoft.

 

Danny Ryan:Good. I want to start promoting our twitter handles. Your twitter handle is @tommyryan?

 

Tommy Ryan:@tommyryan, yes.

 

Danny Ryan:See, you got it early on. I’m @dannyfryan. The F for Francis.

 

Tommy Ryan:That’s right.

 

Danny Ryan:If folks are interesting in things that Tommy is up to, please follow him on Twitter @tommyryan.

 

Tommy Ryan:That’s right. It’s all together, no hyphen, no dash, no period, @tommyryan.

 

Danny Ryan:Excellent. You’re tweeting every once in a while, right? Or you’re retweeting my stuff every once in a while.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yes.

 

Danny Ryan:Thank you.

 

Tommy Ryan:I go into cycles but I would say within a month I’ll be tweeting a couple times and sometimes within a week I’ll be tweeting ten or fifteen times.

 

Danny Ryan:Excellent. Excellent. Well thank you for taking the time to share what happened yesterday. I appreciate you spending this extra time with the client, it’s nice.

 

Tommy Ryan:Sure.

 

Danny Ryan:Very good. Thank you everybody for taking the time to listen and please drop by ThreeWill.com if you’re interested in doing one of these envisioning sessions at your local, well, local. It’s your Alpharetta MTC. I don’t know if we’re going to be going to any other cities to do this. If you’re in the Atlanta or Alpharetta area and are interested in doing this just drop by our site and hit us on the contact us page and we’d love to talk about heading out there with you.

 

Thank you so much for taking the time to listen, thanks again Tommy.

 

Tommy Ryan:You’re welcome, Danny. Thank you.

 

Danny Ryan:Have a wonderful day. Bye bye.

 

Tommy Ryan:Bye bye.

 

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Tommy RyanEnvisioning Session at the Atlanta Microsoft Technology Center
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How to Make a SharePoint Roadmap

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

Danny Ryan:Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan and I’m here with Tommy Ryan. How are you doing Tommy?

 

Tommy Ryan:I’m doing good Danny.

 

Danny Ryan:Great to see you.

 

Tommy Ryan:Yes, it’s a Friday not a Thursday.

 

Danny Ryan:Not a Thursday. And you still wore fancy socks I see.

 

Tommy Ryan:I did. And I don’t see your socks. You said you’re going to get some fancy socks.

 

Danny Ryan:I wore them on Thursday, that’s what I did. I did get some for my birthday from Kailey. We picked out some pretty fancy ones.

 

Tommy Ryan:How do you like them?

 

Danny Ryan:They’re nice. It’s a little different. Used to trying to take socks and match them up with my wardrobe or match them up whatever. And now I just don’t care. Just throw theme on. It’s got all the colors. Who cares? Just wear it. But they’re fun. I like it. At least it’s a little bit of a way of relaxing and wearing something little different. It’s cool.

 

Let’s talk about today SharePoint Roadmaps. I guess you’re coming off of some conversations with clients about Roadmaps. What do we typically do when we’re talking … What is a SharePoint Roadmap, let’s just start with that.

 

Tommy Ryan:When we work with clients with do product backlogs to envision what the customer needs to do. When we look at that, that’s usually on a project by project basis. We talk about a need, we scope it out, we deliver against that, and then some day in the future we might reengage to do the next thing. A Roadmap is kind of looking out in advance and saying what is the chain of projects or chain of phases, milestones, that need to be achieved as it relates to the use of SharePoint and the organization.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice.

 

Tommy Ryan:It allows some big picture. It allows to paint what the future is going to look like and not get anxious about I want to be able to do this. Yes, we’re going to do that but that’s in the 2nd release of the features that are coming out on the Roadmap.

 

Danny Ryan:And probably who is doing SharePoint right? It’s sort of like my philosophy I think I heard it originally from someone from Jive Software, which is your website is never done. Your SharePoint is never done. If you’re thinking of what am I doing next an where are we? There’s always ways of getting more out of it and talking about what the future is going to look like with it.

 

Does this tie into, I guess you’re talking about organizationally, what are some of those objectives in the next couples of months, 2 years, and trying to fit in where SharePoint goes to those objectives?

 

Tommy Ryan:Definitely. This organization they’re financial based institution that has a lot of contracts, a lot of documents that tie into the assets that they manage. They have a certain way, a certain taxonomy for how they describe that type of information. They’re going from being on file shares to going to SharePoint, and they’ve tried SharePoint 3 different times. This time the 3rd or 4th time is going to be the charm.

 

Danny Ryan:4th time is the charm. If they would have brought us in for the 3rd time …

 

Tommy Ryan:It could have been done earlier.

 

Danny Ryan:Probably save some money too. That’d be nice.

 

Tommy Ryan:There’s some aggressive goals. This organization really has some bright individuals that know what they want and there’s a lot of things that they want to accomplish. There’s also a certain, I would say, timidness to saying is SharePoint going to do this? And we want to not bite off more than what we can chew. Taking a Roadmap approach and having certain releases over time versus trying to crunch that all into one project, one release, we’re allowing the organization to go after what’s the highest business value of what makes sense in terms of their adoption level of the platform and go after those things. Measure that success, come back, and go after the next thing, and have a view of what that next thing is.

 

With our organization we know that things change, but it’s good to have placeholders of this is where we’re going to go next. Do we have better ideas or switch those out. But at least it allows us to get a sense of what’s coming. What kind of budget do we need to accomplish those types of goal? And how far do we need to spread these things apart to allow the organization to finance it? To be able to adopt it and absorb it as an organization.

 

Danny Ryan:This is getting to be the time of the years where folks start, actually they’ve already started, asking for budgets cost on things for the upcoming year. And somewhat trying to evaluate projects. Where I think a place where I typically, going into the fall, do a lot of t-shirt sizing. We’re just sort of saying this sounds like it’s a 100k project or something where …

 

Tommy Ryan:They can make a decision.

 

Danny Ryan:They can make a decision. It’s just a high level rough order magnitude so that they can say well maybe this is too big of a project, or we could fit a couple of these in next year. Just so that they can start making some decisions on priority for the next year, or what they’re going to do the next year.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right. And this is in that same vein of they’re trying to begin with the end in mind of where they want to be and that might not be something they can accomplish in 1 year. Our Roadmap, not only does it lay out what are those time frames where things are going to get done, but it has the detail of all that backlog that fits into each of those releases, and it has corresponding budget. That way there’s a heads up and an understanding of what is the commitment to get there. This particular organization they integrated not only doing the development effort or the configuration effort of SharePoint, but also the aspects of training and ramping up the organization, and sustaining that solution in between the times that we’re building the next release.

 

It really is a full vision what do we need to do to be successful and not just take it from a standpoint of I need to do this type of thing inside of SharePoint and do that in a couple months and then think that SharePoint is going to be successful by just going after one project.

 

Danny Ryan:This seems like it’s probably, especially for larger organizations, the IT organization itself is trying to come up with a Roadmap. It’s got these different technologies or different areas that they could focus in on. Where we typically come in and is helping on the things that are SharePoint related because of our experience and background. But there’s certain organizations where that’s a key part of where they need to go, and it’s a big part of where they need to go. But in the end a lot of these estimates and projects they’re being weighted against other things that they could do as well. And they’re trying to decide do we move forward?

 

I was actually having conversation with someone this morning at a client site where they were this year we’re going to be focusing in on this on SharePoint, next year we have this ERP project. They’re trying to fit in these projects as far as where they go and what they can take on as an organization. It’s sort of interesting to also see it not just everybody is just doing SharePoint, but that’s 1 component of an overall IT budget and helping them make good decisions with regards to SharePoint, at least.

 

Tommy Ryan:Right. You’re looking at it at macro level where when we look at a product backlog for a particular project as we’re sizing things and saying this is so big, this is so big, and it’s got that shopping cart of all these features. Within that project they’re trying to decide what get done what doesn’t get done. And then when you look at it at the macro level of this is the overall project cost compared to other projects in terms of their cost, they can make that decision, what order do these things go?

 

Danny Ryan:It sounds like a portfolio management type problem where people are weighing one project versus another. But I think a lot of what you do in a product backlog probably could be applied to it at that level.

 

Tommy Ryan:Same principles.

 

Danny Ryan:I wonder if a lot of people are doing it if that’s what typically folks do.

 

Tommy Ryan:Also, sorry Dan, also that concept of estimation when we’re in this time of the year a lot of people are preparing for those budgets, we do a lot of raw estimates where got at a higher level. You might even say at the feature group level where you’re saying I need to import data, export data, I need to update my UI. We go after those types of product backlog to come up with a high level budget, which is different than a say project level budget that we’re going to get the funding, and commit to, and go after. But it’s more from a decision making standpoint. One organization we’re working with they have 3 or 4 different SharePoint migrations and we have to estimate at a high level what are those efforts so they can look at it and say do I do them all together? Or do I do them 1 after another and spread it out across a couple years.

 

Danny Ryan:Nice. Is doing the Roadmap with them, is that part of an engagement? Is it something we do for free? We just do it for existing clients? How does that work?

 

Tommy Ryan:Most of the time it’s part of an engagement. If there’s a client that’s looking to engage us to set the vision with them, to understand what they’re trying to accomplish, and lay that out in a Roadmap. It really is an analysis type engagement where we’re going through that and the Roadmap is an output of that. Also, we take the time to do a high level design type document. We’re not really big into a lot of documentation, but we find that a high level design document allows us to say we’re trying to go out this far, and so what needs to be put in place as the foundation to get there? Or what things do we need to take into consideration along the way knowing that we want to reach this ultimate goal.

 

That analysis engagement is going through and vetting out a lot of the early backlog, really understanding the business so we’re applying the right parts of the technology to support the business. And getting a better understanding of that organization’s maturity level of embracing the platform, so we are going after the right things at the right time. That is typically not like a traditional project estimate. It really takes a lot of commitment and time from ThreeWill and from the client. That could happen in a matter of weeks, it could go as long as a month or so.

 

Danny Ryan:We’ve done longer analyses like that.

 

Tommy Ryan:We have. It’s funny, I think our organization gets antsy with some of the times that we do these Roadmaps because we love to implement, so there is a little bit of we’re pulling back on the reigns and saying let’s take some time to really understand what this organization is trying to do. That’s a good investment. Not all customers really think in that perspective. It’s amazing. The customer that I just came from in retrospective we were talking about how did things go. It’s amazing how small that organization is and how committed and how much they went in to investing into a Roadmap, which you would think you’d see in the multi billion dollar companies. But this organization is just serious about being successful.

 

Danny Ryan:It sounds like they are well on their way to being a multi billion dollar. They’re making good investments it sounds like. That’s great. I know for folks who are listening, if you’re just looking to get a estimate on a project for upcoming year go to the website you’ll see free estimate. That’s something that I work with Bruce on, so if it is something we want to give you the information you need to make a decision about is this something worth going after or not. That’s something, just reach out to us and we can work together with you to come up with what that high level estimate will look like. That’s what I do often.

 

Anything else you want to add about Roadmaps?

 

Tommy Ryan:They’re pretty simple. At the end of the day it’s coming up with that high level plan of where you’re trying to go. The neat thing about going through this is we’re excited about doing these Roadmaps because we can bring in our experience of what we see people doing with SharePoint and that art of the possible. It gives you a little bit of time to dream and put some reality behind that dream versus just going in and getting 1 problem solved. Sometimes that’s the right thing to do. You’re not really in that level of wanting to go after a Roadmap.

 

But if you’re struggling with being successful with SharePoint, I think sometimes it means you need to step back and have that envisioning and set that Roadmap so you can paint the picture. Because a lot of success with SharePoint is not the technology it’s the communication and the role out of the vision that you’re getting everybody on the same page to say what’s the value? If you’re trying to just purely do it from technology, we see those are the ones that struggle. Where it’s just putting technology and the amount of stuff that you do. Sometimes it’s less stuff and it’s spacing it out and having the right pace.

 

Danny Ryan:It’s funny, when you first mentioned Roadmap I thought we were going to talk about the Office 365 Roadmap and how that’s used. It gets into you call it a Roadmap, it’s just sort of a plan of what is going to be released in the future. It’s still very near term as far as what things are coming, what they’re working on, what’s coming. This is more of, as you were saying, it’s not just the technology it’s looking at more of a comprehensive look at what you’re doing.

 

Great. I love that we’re doing this for folks. I love that it sounds like people are getting a lot of value of what we’re doing with the Roadmap. Continue on, I’ll work with you to get some stuff definitely out on the website, more about this, and I appreciate you doing this.

 

Tommy Ryan:Sure. Thanks, Dan.

 

Danny Ryan:Thanks everybody for taking the time to listen. Have a wonderful day. Take care.

 

Tommy Ryan:Adios.

 

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Tommy RyanHow to Make a SharePoint Roadmap