SharePoint – Quick! Tell me why you are doing it.

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I have seen many situations where the actual reason for “doing SharePoint” is something that gets asked long after its implementation (if at all)

Antony Clay wrote a brilliant piece on what the real vision is when companies start talking about using SharePoint. This was originally written as a guest blogger for Cloud2.

Antony has been kind enough to allow me to publish it here also…

The Board and the SharePoint Platypus

Did I say Platypus? Sorry I meant platitude…

Platypus are cool, cuddly and can, from what I hear, add value to any organisation and SharePoint project by giving them a warm fluffy feeling.

Platitudes are not so good, platitudes are a huge challenge for the board and your SharePoint project. Platitudes insight confusion, lack of direction and hinder the delivery of SharePoint business value to your organisation

The definition of a platitude is a word or statement that is:

“…too overused and general to be anything more than undirected statements with ultimately little meaningful contribution towards a solution…”

So what relevance does this have to your SharePoint project and engaging with your board? Well it all stems from vision: Most failing SharePoint projects I have witnessed or been involved with do not have a clear vision; in fact an alarmingly significant proportion of companies I have engaged with don’t have a clear vision!

The challenge for SharePoint projects and their visions are that it is this vision that the board hears about, it is the vision that should tell the story of the value that the SharePoint can or will deliver to the organisation and so if that vision is not strong and clear, the board will get mixed messages, the board “won’t get it”, the board will struggle to engage with the project and, in essence won’t give a damn.

Typical SharePoint project platitudes include some of these, do you recognise them? I thought so!:

    • “Better Collaboration” [better than what, fileshares, our competitors, why?]
    • “Be more social” [why do we need to be more social?]
    • “Take control of our information” [to what end, what if we don’t?]
    • “Improve efficiencies” [Company, department, me? By how much? What does good look like?].

That’s just a sample of platitudes that I see pinned to the mast as visions to SharePoint projects and in every case you can misinterpret, ask the question why and not understand how you measure and achieve that vision.

This is our challenge. In my experience a good vision serves three very valuable roles:

  • Defines the difference that the project will make in business terms
  • Enables us to align business requirements to the project Vision
  • Articulates to the board the value the project will deliver.

These three areas are all equally important and actually can all add substance and meaning to the conversations we need to have at board level.

Get a vision

Your first step to engaging the board effectively is to get yourself a vision. My absolute favourite activity for doing this is using ‘Cover Story taken from the book ‘Gamestorming’ (Gray, D., Brown, S., Macanufo, J., 2010). It is a great collaborative exercise if facilitated well, for defining your SharePoint vision, at a platform, project or even functional level.

Whatever the remit of an engagement, I always use this activity to ensure we all have a clear vision or goal to strive for during the engagement. As the activity is extremely collaborative, one advantage is that early on in the engagement I can gain an initial assessment of the dynamics of the stakeholders and whether they have a shared understanding of the goal. The activity also often unearths interesting insights into culture, personalities and the general dynamics of the group that I will need to work with and the organisation as a whole. In short, it can be a gold-mine of emergent value for you.

The exercise asks the participants to imagine that the project/initiative that they are working on has been successfully completed, actually it has not just been successful, but earth shatteringly awesomely successful! So much so that an international trade publication or Time magazine, have decided to run a full front-cover story on the project and the difference it made to the organisation and its customers!

On a whiteboard or very large piece of paper, in groups of 4-8, depending on the number of stakeholders, the participants build out the template I’ve sketched below using sketches, words, craft materials or post-it notes:

sharepointThe areas on the visual canvas are used to help derive certain ‘vision’ details and are defined as follows:

  • Cover – This is the front-cover and should contain the bold, hard-hitting story and perhaps images, that articulate the big story and the high-level difference that you have made delivering the project
  • Big Headlines – Here you convey the substance of the story, more detail, but still hard-hitting and usually aspirational key requirements or functional areas
  • Brainstorm – This area is used for ‘storing’ any ideas that don’t fit anywhere else, but quite often contains very interesting insights
  • Images – I tend not to use this for SharePoint Governance work, but the areas is meant for any visuals that help define your vision and the difference this has made
  • Quotes – This is really useful, what would people say about this great success? What do project members, business users, stakeholder or even customers say about what’s been delivered and the difference it has made?
  • Side-Bar – This area is for capturing the details; I encourage participants to use this area to come up with measures for the difference they have made articulated in %’s, $’s, £’s, time etc.

The resulting visual canvas is both beautiful, insightful and delivers a clear message, in the words of business stakeholders, of what they are trying to achieve. What you will also find is that as the group or spokesperson report back their ‘cover story’, they will be telling you a story. Actively listen and make copious notes, because as all great facilitators know, there is substantial value in what they say as well as what they have created.

When you are engaging the board, this vision is invaluable as it should really articulate the benefit, values and drivers for the project and you can and will continually refer back to it, as you steer your SharePoint project or platform towards its goal.

In my experience it’s what can make the difference between technology mayhem and SharePoint sanity!

Goal align to your vision

Once you have a clearly articulated vision defined in terms of ‘the difference it will make’, you can utilise another equally effective and disruptive activity in a range of scenarios to ensure the vision is effectively influencing your projects direction. It’s all about ‘Goal Alignment’ and it is a simple means of sense-checking what’s going on in a project:

“Ensuring that we are not delivering the wrong things really effectively!”

In my eyes, in order to truly reach the karmic state of delivering maximum business value, everything that happens in your technology platform and any subsequent projects must be aligned to directly or indirectly making a positive difference to your organisation. If it isn’t then don’t do it, or re-define it. Agile and lean approaches to manufacturing, technology and business, all strive to reduce waste, and however you’re implementing your SharePoint solutions, I think you should too. It may seem harsh or even verging on heretical to go around your projects telling people to stop what they are doing and move onto something else, but consider these common SharePoint ‘feature requests’:

  • Move the ‘Search’ box to the left-hand side of the screen
  • Animate the menu structure
  • Make SharePoint more ‘Social’
  • Have an information architecture based on our ever-changing organisational structure
  • Make the text flash if it’s important.

Seriously, do any of these actually add any value to your solution or to the business? The likely answer in all the cases above is no they don’t, so let’s stamp out this waste and focus on delivering the right things really well.

Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t have solutions that look good and exude a great user experience, we should; but let’s focus our precious resources on the things that really matter first.

This approach, albeit perhaps very annoying to the recipients, is relevant whatever phase or activity you are doing whether it’s coding a custom web-part, branding, creating a custom list, facilitating requirements, delivering training, managing on-going change or engaging with the board.

How do we achieve this project nirvana of just doing the things that matter and make a positive difference?

The answer is ‘Goal Alignment’.

Why? Fundamentally, this is a very effective approach to ensuring a shared understanding and allows you to question the value of what you are doing. If you already have a vision, then this is a simple validation technique:

sharepoint visionFor every programme, project, requirement or technical feature we can ask ‘why’ it supports the Vision, if it does, great; but if it doesn’t then we either need to redefine it or remove it from scope, as it must be waste, for this project at least.

This is also extremely powerful and useful when you’re talking to the board and gaining their trust and backing for your project. With a clear vision, any new requirements, ideas or projects the board may dream up you can sense-check it with them as to how it adds value to or supports the vision, if it doesn’t then it is clear and send a strong message as to why that ‘thing’ shouldn’t be pursued.

It’s much easier to say no to the board with your vision, a visual (goal alignment) and some post-it notes than just saying ‘No!’

Socialise your vision

sharepoint vision

Once you have the vision defined it’s time to socialise it, bring it forth in everything you are doing and make sure your aligned to it.

The visuals from the activity are very useful to replay in project documentation and display in project war-rooms, you’ll find that key pieces, statements etc. will resonate strongly with your business, use them, they are the voice of your business stakeholder and they are the backbone of your project.

It’s really important to not let these messages, this vision and your projects story to stagnate and the more it’s used the more it will take on its own life and increase in value.

The board need to be interested in your project, but for the most part they don’t really care about the technology and they’re not that fussed about what requirements you’ll be delivering.

What does matter is the value you’re project will deliver and the difference it will make to their business. The stories your vision can articulate and the messages it will reinforce are powerful ways of engaging and maintaining a strong relationship with the board and ensuring they are keen advocates for the delivery of business value through your SharePoint platform long term.

So for every project your deliver:

Hug a Platypus.

Engage your Board.

Stay away from Platitudes.

Build your own Vision.

Stay Aligned.

=============================================

The original post, at Cloud2, can be read by clicking here.

Productivity, Gamification and SharePoint 2013 – slidedeck from Christian Buckley

Christian’s slidedeck on productivity and gamification is certainly worth highlighting…

 

SharePoint and 5 Reasons

iDatix have recently posted an article on their web site titled “5 Reasons you are getting Shortchanged by SharePoint“. In it they raise some interesting points regarding some of the shortcomings of SharePoint.

Click here to see what they say…

Realizing True Records Management with Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – the Webinar

I’ve just signed up for a webinar that KnowledgeLake are holding entitled “Realizing True Records Management with Microsoft SharePoint 2010“. 

KnowledgeLake were gold sponsors at the SharePoint Best Practices conference that I went to in London earlier this year, and, I have to say, it was a top-notch event. I had visited KnowledgeLake’s booth and I’m curious about how good their product actually is.

So, it was with interest that I read the “Reasons I should attend“. These included the following:

  • LEARN how records management on SharePoint 2010 can lower cost and risk through transparent application of compliance policies and consistent disposition of content
  • DISCOVER why SharePoint will succeed in records management where other ECM platforms have failed
  • WATCH the demonstration of a document lifecycle in SharePoint: the capturing of paper and electronic files including email, application of metadata and classification criteria, search, retrieval, viewing and application of record declaration
  • RECOGNISE how to outline an enterprise approach for the implementation of SharePoint 2010 records management
  • HEAR the customer case study by MOEITS and how they are using SharePoint. The solution saved the union nearly $1 million and realised a return from their investment in four months.
  • CONTRIBUTE to the Question and Answer session

Now, the first reason seems to be pretty standard when describing the virtues of any content management system. As is a demonstration, as well as hearing a customer case study..(Just change the name of the ECM system.)

What really grabbed me by the short and curlies was the second reason “Discover why SharePoint will succeed in records management where other ECM platforms have failed“. Now, this is interesting…I want to hear about this secret sauce that McSharePoint has.

Reason 4 is also one that got my attention. Here the phrase “enterprise approach” really stood out. I’ve been involved with SharePoint since 2007, and, coming from an ECM background, it was very evident to me that SharePoint 2010 is now being hawked as a bigger beast. And this is not only in the “functionality” of SharePoint 2010, but also in other ways. There are more “enterprise-level” whitepapers out now, and the official Microsoft SharePoint training is focusing more on the “business-side” rather than just pure technology.

I’ve registered for the webinar. I’ll be taking notes, and will try and report back on my findings.

Reference Links

In SharePoint, where the heck do I fit in? ECM specialists in SharePoint

I’ve been very aware of something for awhile now…and that is “I don’t know where I fit in”. However, it wasn’t until recently when I read Nick Inglis’ blog post that I really came to realise that my “problem” is actually not an uncommon one.

In his post Nick comments that when he’s speaking at a SharePoint event, he often gets categorized under “Other“.

This is because (as he states) the SharePoint world doesn’t quite have a place for those who do work with SharePoint but in an ECM/ERM/Governance capacity.

The Salem Consulting Group have made a list of “plausible” SharePoint roles. I have listed them below, and have added a quick description in between parentheses. These include:

  • SharePoint Strategist (Complete business, and application knowledge. Has vision)
  • SharePoint Practice Lead (Subject Matter Expert with technical, consulting & strategic skills)
  • SharePoint Solutions Architect (Can translate Business requests into technical SharePoint solution)
  • SharePoint Technical Architect (senior) (Deepest technical understanding of SharePoint)
  • SharePoint Architect (Focused on the design, build, and configuration of the SharePoint platform and solution from a purely technical viewpoint)
  • SharePoint Infrastructure Architect (Responsible for designing and building multi-farm enterprise SharePoint architectures.)
  • SharePoint Search Architect (Familiar with taxonomies, folksonomies, etc. Can design & configure federated search solutions.)
  • SharePoint Information Architect (Has the knowledge/experience to design and build logical information frameworks)
  • SharePoint Farm Administrator (Manages the day to day administration of SharePoint.)
  • SharePoint Administrator (Looks after site collections, etc)
  • SharePoint Developer (A range of developer skills including .NET, C#, C++, Jquery and a wide range of other languages.)
  • Infopath and Workflow Designer/Administrator (Customer facing, and familiar with Infopath & Designer)
  • SharePoint User Interface Designer (Graphic designer for SharePoint who can create the user interface designs.)
  • SharePoint Business Analyst (Can interpret business requirements and offer a solution using the standard SharePoint services and features.)
  • SharePoint Programme/Project Manager (Project Management skills as well as fundamental technical understanding of SharePoint.)
  • SharePoint DBA (SQL) (Know how to manage the SharePoint SQL databases.)
  • Active Directory Administrator (Can set up the overarching security architecture).
  • SharePoint Workflow Specialist (For when using 3rd party tools for workflow.)
  • SharePoint BI Analyst/Architect/Administrator (Someone with specialist SharePoint BI skills include cube analysis etc etc)
  • SharePoint Integrator (Able to integrate SharePoint with other systems -SAP, Documentum, etc.)
  • SharePoint Mobile Specialist (Deep knowledge of Groove (2007) and SharePoint workspaces (2010) including the management and relay servers.)
  • SharePoint Trainer/Instructor
  • SharePoint User Adoption Specialist (Involved with the strategies of how to get the users to use the SharePoint solutions).

(Note – The original post (authored by Ian McNeice) from Salem offers a more detailed description of these roles. The link is at the end of this post.

In Nick’s post, he describes an “Information Professional“.

These are the people that have been busy developing models of governance … and have been driving forward the conversation about how SharePoint can be used as a “proper” ECM (and yes, maybe even ERM) system.

Looking at Ian’s list, I think the closest role that matches this is the “Information Architect”. This is the person who insists on maintaining a correct classifications, taxonomies, etc while has expertise in document management, version control techniques, data retention polices, publication and archiving practices.

Being prompted by Nick’s post, and then looking through Ian’s post has certainly help me better “label” myself.

Prior to this, even though I have worked in the Document Management field for over 10 years, I could never find a way of describing my skill set to a “SharePointy” (is that what you call a SharePoint fan?). I can set up, and administer SharePoint sites. I can design user interfaces. I can set up farms, as well as write kick-ass documentation. But I could do more than that.

Thanks to Nick and Ian, I’m going to go and update my LinkedIn profile.

Excellent References

Post-move SharePoint site Comparison

Comparison sites SharePoint migration

Recently I’ve been involved with a client project that included moving some SharePoint sites from one web application to another as well, as moving document libraries from a top site to a sub-site.

While I work at the Business level (business systems analyst role), the move itself was done by client’s IT Infrastructure people. Fortunately they were smart enough to copy the content, instead of moving it. This was a brilliant idea, as it gave us the ability to have the original content still available.

Once the content had been moved the next step was to check that no documents had been missed. Now, the site owner (at the business level) had the best idea of what content would be stored in the doclibs, but as there were 64 of them, (some with 100 documents, many with documents in the thousands), doing a direct comparison was not easy. There was also the fact that the new locations had been “unfrozen” and people were uploading documents.

We investigated various ways to do a comparison. This involved creating special views for the docbases that would include only documents created before the “unfreeze” date, and then doing a screen by screen comparison. This was quickly deemed as not practical, and not handy, and bloody tiring.SharePoint comparison content doclibs sites

Then we tried exporting out the lists from the original location to spreadsheet, and then doing the same with the new location so that each list was in columns next to each other. And then doing a side-by-side comparison. This was definitely more practical, and we thought that it was a plausible solution. Until we discovered that for one of the doclibs there were 900 documents in the old location that were not in the new location.

Fortunately we came across a tool from MetaVis. The application suite of this product included a “Live Compare” feature. With this we were able to easily select one particular site in the left part of the screen, another site in the right screen, and then select the docbases that we wanted to compare. And then after clicking on the “Go and check the differences” button (it was actually titled “Compare Now”), we could see which documents were in the old location, and were not in the new location, and vice versa. This was great! And compared to manually comparing lists, was sooo much easier.

Meta Vis site comparison SharePoint

As well as any differences in content in the doclibs, we were also able to see small differences in other configurations. This was very handy.

Now – I know that the main functionality of the MetaVis tool is to do with migration, and architecting, but this “Live Compare” functionality certainly saved us a lot of time and frustration.  

#ECMJam 3 – SharePoint & ECM

Yesterday, the third #ECMJam was held. A lot of people were involved and it was a very interesting discussion about

the place of SharePoint in the world of ECM.

Bryant Duhon was the Jam facilitator. Check out his “Introductory” post here (http://www.aiim.org/community/blogs/expert/ECMjam-SharePoint-and-ECM).

There were a number of Questions that formed the basis of the discussion. These were:

Q1: Is there problem with #sharepoint expectations, marketing, or the product itself?
bduhon
August 11, 2011
Q2: #SharePoint / #governance — how to do it for real (in 140 characters or less!)
bduhon
August 11, 2011
Q3: Is there/has there been a backlash vs. #SharePoint? http://ow.ly/60GnJ
bduhon
August 11, 2011
Q4: What does #SharePoint do well ootb? What doesn’t it do?
bduhon
August 11, 2011
Q5 Can #SharePoint solve #collab and DM problems for larger companies, as well as smaller? Can/does it really scale?
bduhon
August 11, 2011

Each question raised some interesting responses.

With regards Question 1, there was a feeling that SharePoint was not quite an ECM application:

#ECMjam A>Q1 Sharepoint is no #ECM system when you take the #AIIM definition as reference
PROJECTCONSULT_
August 11, 2011
#ECMjam A>Q1 Sharepoint claims to be #ECM, but a lot of ECM vendors make money enriching SPS2010 with ECM functionality
PROJECTCONSULT_
August 11, 2011
Q1: There’s a problem with expectations! #SharePoint isn’t the be-all/end-all too many folks seem to believe.
steveweissman
August 11, 2011

Others pointed out that the problem isn’t with what the product, itself, can do, but with the “misunderstanding” of what SharePoint actually is.

Q1: IMO, SharePoint “problem” is not with product as much as with misunderstanding of what, why, where, how it can/should be used.
lehawes
August 11, 2011
Q1 Agree that SP does a lot and what it does, it does well. TCM is the big gap. #ECMjam
inoldland
August 11, 2011
Q1: #sharepoint is a platform, but was sold as a product. Leaves users spending $$$ to get what they were promised #ecmjam
danieloleary
August 11, 2011
Others expanded on this, and discussed what ECM should actually be, as well as pointing out that after the “purchase” of SharePoint, extra costs.
Q1 you can not achieve ECM with 1 product or a platform, SP still does not provide scanning OOTB #ecmjam + you need PM consulting & techserv
shadrachwhite
August 11, 2011
Q1 Saw recent data from a SP conf that for every $1 of SP license it sells, partners sell $6 of services. Underscore OOTB issue. #ECMjam
inoldland
August 11, 2011
Q1: So expectations are over-hyped and fueled by microsoft to make #SharePoint out as more than it is. #ECM #ecmjam
bduhon
August 11, 2011
Q1. As follow up to my previous comment, from my standpoint, people just seem to buy software as a panacea. Why not more plan 1st #ecmjam
bduhon
August 11, 2011
Q1. My theory, it’s from Microsoft, so folks believe it’s just going to be out of the box #ECM. #ecmjam
bduhon
August 11, 2011
And not just by Microsoft RT @bduhon: Q1: So expectations are over-hyped and fueled by microsoft #ECM #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011
Too hard, too long, too obvious! RT @bduhon: Q1. people just seem to buy software as a panacea. Why not more plan 1st #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011

Question 2 (SharePoint and Governance) was met with a unaimous response – PLANNING & CONTROL

#ECMjam A>Q2 #Sharepoint governance needs good planning and administration esp. in distributed environments
PROJECTCONSULT_
August 11, 2011
4 characters: P-L-A-N. 5 characters: T-H-I-N-K RT @bduhon: Q2: #SharePoint/#governance: how to do it (in 140 characters) #ECM #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011
#ECMjam Q2-You can define segments of SP with different technical restrictions to assist in governance (e.g. size quotas for team sites)
DerekPunaro
August 11, 2011
Q2: #sharepoint governance must be both centralized and distributed. Policies set by org, solution design by business units. #ecmjam
lehawes
August 11, 2011
#ECMjam A>Q2 Viral, uncontrolled installation and usage of #Sharepoint is the death of every information management governance!
PROJECTCONSULT_
August 11, 2011
One of the advantages of SharePoint is that is puts the administration, and “growth” of a site into the hands of the end-users (empowers). But this is also a disadvantage. Sites can expand and spread “virally”. The discussion touched upon this.
Q2: Governace requires planning up front and RIM on the back. Can’t be done with a full featured ECM #ECMJAM
incontextmag
August 11, 2011
Q2 @piewords “Viral w governance can work.” Sort of like a organizational social media policy? #ECMjam
inoldland
August 11, 2011
More involved but yes RT @inoldland: Q2 @piewords “Viral w governance can work.” Sort of like a organizational social media policy? #ECMjam
piewords
August 11, 2011
Q2 so how do you explain governance to an end user and get them involved? Easy to say, hard to do #ecmjam
danieloleary
August 11, 2011
There, and in CIO office (and in Redmond?) RT @bduhon: Q2. So #governance is where a hammer is needed? #ECM #SharePoint #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011
Q2. So, @danieloleary @jessewilkins: #governance is where a hammer is needed? #ECM #SharePoint #ecmjam
bduhon
August 11, 2011
The discussion surrounding this question ended with a few good points that summed up the use of governance in a SP environment. It is useful, but needs to be applied sensibly.
So what kills #SharePoint? RT @incontextmag: Q2: SP doesnt kill governance. People kill governance. #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011
Q2: SP doesn’t kill governance. People kill governance. #ECMJAM
incontextmag
August 11, 2011
(Answer) So what kills #SharePoint? Governance! (sometimes) RT @incontextmag: Q2: SP doesnt kill governance. People kill governance. #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011
Question 3 (Is there/will there be a backlash against SharePoint) was very much related to expectations.
Only against over-inflated expectations. RT @bduhon: Q3. Is there/will there be a backlash against #SharePoint? #ECM #AIIM #ecmjam
lptacek
August 11, 2011
#ECMjam A>Q3 #Sharepoint is already outdated compared to mobile and apps
PROJECTCONSULT_
August 11, 2011
After 10 yrs? Seems to me we should have seen one already. <Q3. Is there/will there be a backlash against #SharePoint?> #ECM #AIIM #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011
#ECMjam A>Q3 #Sharepoint is too complex in relation to consumerisation of #collaboration & #ECM
PROJECTCONSULT_
August 11, 2011
Q3: There surely is a @sharepoint backlash, but it’s misguided, because it’s based on the misunderstandings we discussed re: Q1. #ecmjam
lehawes
August 11, 2011
Q3 Backlash will come only if SP doesn’t deliver value. Same reason there’s backlash against anything. (Apologies to Susan Faludi.). #ECMjam
inoldland
August 11, 2011
Q3: SharePoint has a place, but it’s not a mass market tool. It won’t ever be the Facebook of ECM #ecmjam
danieloleary
August 11, 2011
In the end, this comment was made:
Q3: The problem is that they market it as ECM but ECM is a category and no one product is all ECM. #ECMJAM
incontextmag
August 11, 2011

But someone pointed out:

Only in our circles; elsewhere they promote other stuff (eg, collab) RT @incontextmag: Q3 The problem is that they market it as #ECM #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011

Question 4 discussed what SharePoint did well, and what it did not do well.

While this question didn’t generate the same discussion as others, there were some interesting comments.

The “does well” comments included:

Q4 SP does sharing, collaboration and portals very well OOTB. It does not handle high-volume, transactional stuff well. #ECMjam
inoldland
August 11, 2011
Easy way to share Office docs. Replacement for file shares. RT @bduhon: Q4: What does #SharePoint do well ootb? #ECM #AIIM #SP2010 #ecmjam
lptacek
August 11, 2011
Q4 – Collab & portals are good. Governance, transactional content, capture weak. #ecmjam #ecmjam
mtwessel
August 11, 2011
#ecmjam Q4: Good: Basic document management. Huge improvement over shared drives. Bad: Dependent metadata and field validation.
DerekPunaro
August 11, 2011
Q4 SEARCH! In 2010 they nailed it, wish every platform was as functional #ecmjam
danieloleary
August 11, 2011

Whereas, the “does not do well” included:

Q4 SP doesn’t do BPM well. Managing docs from outside an org’s four walls that need to be processed. #ECMjam
inoldland
August 11, 2011
Q4: Doesn’t physical records management, BPM, transactional content management, scanning & capture, archiving & library services #ECMJAM
incontextmag
August 11, 2011
Q4 – Weakness: Seen many orgs empower depts to make their own teamsites, but result is too many silos and no enterprise governance #ecmjam
mtwessel
August 11, 2011
Q4: SP default is to store as blobs, inflating the DB, but if you do much you need a SP work around. #ECMJAM
incontextmag
August 11, 2011

Question 5 asked “Can SharePoint solve collaboration and DM problems for larger companies as well as for smaller?

Generally it seemed that while SharePoint was useful for a small company, the administration, and maintenance requirements were too high to make it practical.

#ecmjam Q5 SharePoint has always been able to scale the difference is it puts it in the users hands front end, versus other ECM backend
rileybeebs
August 11, 2011
#ecmjam Q5 so scaling requires more planning, but absolutely can scale for large companies
rileybeebs
August 11, 2011
Q5 the time to live and staffing requirements are too much for small business, #sharepoint is a better fit for larger orgs #ecmjam
danieloleary
August 11, 2011
#ECMjam A>Q5 #Sharepoint can solve DM problems in smaller orgs but is some overkill in regard to admin
PROJECTCONSULT_
August 11, 2011
Q5 no 4 SMB’s. lack time and IT resources. rely on specific OOTB and references to their biz/problems that dont exist #ecmjam
SteveatFB
August 11, 2011
Q5: Technically (performance, scaling) Yes, but for the features and manageability No. #ecmjam
Tomkan
August 11, 2011
The discussion also touched upon the scalability of SharePoint, as well as its use in the Cloud.
Short ans: yes. Better ans: yes, but, with “but” = may require 3rd pty apps RT @bduhon: Q5 Can #SharePoint really scale? #ECM #AIIM #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011
Q5 the best way to scale sharepoint is to run in the cloud #ecmjam
shadrachwhite
August 11, 2011
What kind of cloud? Cloud cloud or VM? RT@shadrachwhite: Q5 the best way to scale sharepoint is to run in the cloud #ECMJAM
juliecolgan
August 11, 2011
#ECMjam A>Q5 #Sharepoint as Office365 SaaS might be the solution for SMEs
PROJECTCONSULT_
August 11, 2011
@bduhon q5 Not yet. There is promise for the future for SP for SMBs with Azure and the future cloud platformed SP in dev. #ecmjam #AIIM
nickinglis
August 11, 2011
Q5 Wondering if performance is an issue as SP scales (when it does). #ECMjam
inoldland
August 11, 2011
#ECMjam Q5: We’re 26,000 people. SP scales, but it needs careful focus and planning.
DerekPunaro
August 11, 2011
Q5: hmmm. Scale in what way? functionality … no. of users … geography … ? #ecmjam
steveweissman
August 11, 2011
So it was  a very interesting discussion with a lot of interesting comments.

For a read of the actual tweet stream, click here (http://www.hashtracking.com/fast-report/?hashtag=ecmjam)

SPX Series – A little bit of history

This is part of the SPX Series

Previous post: SPX Series – SharePoint eXperience – (aka SPX) – Series Introduction

First off – I want to explain that I am, in no shape or form, an SPX “expert”. I’m just a guy who has been using SPX since it was first released. I’m not a coder, so can’t tell you all the cool ways that the web parts can be tweaked, or made to dance. I am able to share with you some of the “lessons learned”, and tips . that I have picked up over time. Some of what I write might be incorrect. Please feel free to let me know if that is the case.

And, where possible, if there are other resources that explain something better than I can, I’ll point you to it.

So without further delay I will launch into today’s SPX post…”A little bit of history“.

SharePoint

In 2007 Microsoft introduced SharePoint 2007.

As well as providing the ability to store content in its own repositories (doclibs, lists), it also provided web sites that could be populated with web parts that allowed users to interact with internal content (lists and SharePoint repositories), as well as external content. This included other LOB enterprise systems (such as SAP, Siebel, etc). There was no native way to connect SharePoint and Documentum though.

Wingspan

A company called Wingspan had also developed technology that provided Web Services connectivity to Documentum.  This consists of the Docway Server, and Docway “Portlets”, (and for SharePoint – Webparts), and allowed for single sign-on,  cross-docbase browsing, as well as the ability for users to access, create & update content from a Portal.

SPX

CSC’s FirstDoc, provides a layer that sits on top of Documentum, and allows for compliance with many of the Pharmaceutical regulatory requirements imposed by the various regulatory authorities (FDA, EMA,  MHRA, etc.)

Using Wingspans technology, CSC (or, at the time, FCG), were able to create special webparts that allowed users to interact with their FirstDoc system from a SharePoint Portal. These offered about 85% percent of the functionality provided by the native FirstDoc application.

4.3

The first version was released in the 2nd half of 2007, and had the moniker “version 4.3“. This was to keep the version inline with the (then current) version of FirstDoc. It was compatiable with version 5.3 of Documentum.

There were 17 webparts available. These included webparts for browsing cabinets, listing the logged-on users checked-out documents, displaying the Home Cabinet, an inbox webpart, an very handy object-view webpart that could be configured to display one particular folder, or cabinet), an also handy query-view webpart that allowed content to be displayed based on a query, as well as an assortment of other functional webparts, and administration webparts.

Each web part offered a user the ability to further interact with an object via a context menu that showed extra functionality depending on the type of object that was clicked upon.

This first version was an excellent step towards greater flexibility in creating interfaces for users that better matched their daily work style. For the 80% of users who rarely log into FirstDoc, it provided a quick and easy way to get to specific documents. Links to specific documents could be sent via e-mail, and when a user clicked on it, the document would automatically be opened, without having to go through a process of logging into a client and searching for a document.

But there were also several shortcomings. There was the 20% of hard-core users that quickly discovered that there was still a lot of functionality that was not available. Also the SPX interface did not offer the same flexibility that WebTop did. You couldn’t easily change the columns that you wanted displayed, the search functionality when compared to the WebTop search was very limited, and the way of interacting with the documents was different. The context menu was not found in WebTop.  Performance was also a bit sluggish especially when using the webparts over a WAN.

To be fair, CSC were also restrained by the limitations of the underlying Docway technology.
(However, Wingspan have been making continual improvements to their technology and CSC have been able to take advantage of this).

5.0

CSC listened to the concerns that the hard core users (as well as the administrators) were having. Version 5.0 of SPX was released in the middle of 2008, with Product Alias Search functionality, the ability to limit search results, and also the ability to add multiple documents to a workflow. Version 5.0 was also compatible with Documentum 6.0

6.0

Then later that year, version 6.0 was released. This was based on Documentum 6.5, and an upgraded version of Docway(6.1). It had been designed to be backwards compatible (with configuration, it could work with version 4.3 of FirstDoc). This allowed SPX to work over multiple docbases of different versions. As well as this, the Inbox and Query webparts were tweaked so that values could be automatically passed on the URL. Menu selection was made configurable. A quicklink capability was added that allows a link to be configured that will launch FirstDoc functionality, and the ability to View Relationships, and Audit Trail reports was added.

6.1

Then, in the later part of 2009, version 6.1 was released with even more functionality – Virtual Documents could now be viewed, multiple files could be imported, a new :”My Views” webpart was available, as well as the ability to view the Workflow Status report. Importing related documents was now, also possible. A version 6.1.1. was also released but this was a correction to a limitation that was previously believed to be uncorrectable.

6.2

In 2010, version 6.2 and 6.2.1 were released. The only difference was that 6.2.1 was certified for use with SharePoint 2010. Both versions also used Docway 7.0.  And there was a bundle of new features and functionality. These included: the ability to register interest, the availability of the WebTop Search app as a webpart, a single-box search (“Google-like”), Saved Searches, the ability to display custom properties in the web parts, clipboard tools, subscription notifications, as well as other functionality.

Future

CSC are working on the next release of  SPX, and it looks like they’ll be adding even more functionality to close the gap between SPX and WebTop.

FirstDoc doesn’t have its own client application – it extends the functionality of the EMC Documentum native client – “WebTop”. EMC has announced that they will be phasing out this out sometime soon.  As a result CSC are dedicated to ensuring that SPX is ready to be a replacement.

So – that’s the end of my “A little bit of history” post. If have made mistakes anywhere, please feel free to let me know.

Comments on “The Problem with Shared Network Folders”

Adrian McGrath recently wrote a post calledThe Problems with Shared Network Folders“.

It’s a great post, and Adrian is someone that I have a lot of respect for. He’s a smart guy, and I learn a lot from him. In the post (read it here ), Adrian discusses the disadvantages and limitations of using Shared Network folders.

These include:

  • Duplication of documents and confusion as to what the latest version is
  • Complex file and folder naming conventions 
  • Lack of consistent folder structures 
  • Redundant documents 
  • Ineffective search
  • Inaccessibility of information
  • Lack of subscription and notification
  • Limited ability to synchronise documents offline
  • Inability to cross reference and relate documents
  • Lack of document governance and control
  • Compliance, Risk & Legal Admissibility 
  • Impeded collaboration
  • Storage and maintenance costs

In essence Adrian is correct. Using Shared Network drives does have limitations, but in the spirit of debate, I’d like to make a few comments on what he says.

Duplication of documents and confusion as to what the latest version is.
Complex file and folder naming conventions
Lack of consistent folder structures
Redundant documents

These are all indeed real problems. Are they inherent to Shared Folders? Not really – these can also happen with Document Management Systems.

Governance plays a large part in ensuring that these sort of things do not happen. Information Architecture is critical in ensuring that a suitable structure exists, defined by folder, and metadata, so that every document has a correct location.

However, this does require enforcement. Without enforcing such a system, even EMC systems can end up overly complex and with duplicated (and therefore redundant) documents. A lot of these systems, however have de-duplication functionality built-in (Documentum), and, if not (SharePoint), there is often a third-party tool that will do this.

Ineffective Search

Can’t argue with this. Unless some sort of indexing application is implemented, searching will be very inefficient.

There are many applications that allow Shared Network folders to be indexed. These include applications such as Google Desktop, Windows Search, X1, etc. SharePoint, also, has the ability to index information in file shares, as well as making the search results a little bit more meaningful.  

Inaccessibility of information

Adrian is definitely right here. Most (if not all) companies are quite strict with their network security. Users are not able to make ad-hoc changes.

However this can also occur in an ECM system depending on how much “freedom” a user has. I have seen some situations where, because the security policies in the ECM system were so strict, that users have resorted to exporting a document to a file share, so that it can be shared with others, or worse, e-mailed to an external party.

A good governance model helps to reduce this, as does training. If the users are aware of why something is enforced then there is, often, a better chance of compliance.

Lack of subscription and notification
Limited ability to synchronise documents offline
Inability to cross reference and relate documents

No arguments here

Lack of document governance and control
Compliance, Risk & Legal Admissibility 
Impeded collaboration

I’ve mentioned governance in my comments above. A good plan is required to ensure that documents are not haphazardly placed in seemingly random locations. And, as Adrian mentioned, Most ECM systems provide an audit trail keeping a record of the “actions” upon a document (when a document changes status, etc).

However, this is only effective for versions of the documents that are within the document management system. Once it is outside of the system (a user exports, or e-mails, a document) there is no audit trail. (Often this is done to collaborate with someone who does not have access to the ECM system.) This can create compliance issue. Again – good training, and governance, helps to reduce this risk.

Storage and maintenance costs

As Adrian mentioned, the amount of storage space required in a file share can be quite high, as users store more, and more content. And he is correct that because of the scattered nature of such content, this leads to inefficiencies.

ECM systems tend to handle the storage of content in one of two ways:

  • Content is stored in a file system on a hard drive. Usually the content will have some meaningless name, and might also be encrypted. Metadata about the content (including it’s location) is stored in a  database. Access to the content is via the CMS (native interface, or API).
  • Content, and metadata, are stored in databases. The content is usually stored as a BLOB.

If the ECM system is configured to keep create a version every time a document is checked out, and then checked back in again, the number of “duplicate” versions can increase quite quickly, thereby requiring extra space. Of course, setting a lower limit for the number of version kept can help reduce this. Configuring the system to purge all minor versions of a document (e.g. 0.1, 3.2, etc) when a major version (e.g. 1.0, 3.0) is created also ensures that disk space is kept to a minimum.

Keeping documents in the database as a BLOB also presents extra maintenance. As with a file system, the databases can grow exponentially. Often extra work is required to ensure that the database still performs efficiently.

Conclusion

I am convinced that to be able to keep content in a system that allows adding meaningful metadata, auditing, security, document life cycles, and workflows, is critical if a business needs to track, control or route content. Often these activities will exist to match the requirements of a business process, and to make it more efficient.

However there are a few situations where using a file share is still of value.

In my next a later post I will go into this more…

Is Microsoft a Religious Experience?

A Tweet by @pelujan the other day started me thinking. The tweet was:

I responded to his tweet because I do remember “workflo”. It was something that FileNet developed back in 1985. I admit that this was indeed 10 years before I got into IT (having spent those 10 years doing stuff in laboratories), but I was very aware of it as it played a big part in a lot of their technology.

In fact, my first introduction to ECM was PC Docs, and also FileNet’s early Content Management application “Saros Mezzanine”. This was followed by their Image Management Services application running on an AIX system. It stored scanned images on WORM disks in an OSAR unit, and had a robotic arm jukebox. It was a bloody impressive , but also daunting, system (especially when you are new on the job, and you’ve been told to support this system at a very hostile client site).

Over the years I got more an more involved with FileNet and their products, getting to know the idiosyncrasies of each one. I worked as a consultant, and each client had its own unique requirements, environments, and situations.  Very often I would go home  at the end of the day feeling beaten up.

At the end of 2006 I moved into a position working with Documentum, and quickly after, SharePoint. However, this time, I was the client, and so if something didn’t work, someone else was responsible for “fixing it”. This gave me more time to think about the potential of the systems in terms of the industry I was now working in. I actually went home feeling a lot more relaxed.

Now, the one thing that always struck me, when I was working with FileNet, was that, compared to a Microsoft product, there was not a lot of material available. The majority of what you learnt came about through personal experience. You were on the battle field getting the scars. You felt that you had “earned it”.

Of course, there were forums available, and FileNet themselves had a great store of answers to questions, etc. (I used to trawl their partner site just to pick up nuggets of knowledge). Documentum (now EMC) have the same thing which I still use.

At the end of the last century (gawd – that sounds awful) I got my MCSE, and have kept up to speed with Microsoft technology since then. In 2007 I developed a Portal site that hooked into Documentum, and then, having got some scars with that, I got my SharePoint 2007 certification.


Is Microsoft a Religious experience?

Now I am trying to build up my knowledge of SharePoint 2010. This time I’m trying to take a more business application view of the technology. I did AIIM’s SharePoint Master course, which gives a more “real” view of SP2010, especially with regards to Document Management. (See this post, and this one.) However, I realise that it’s still handy to have the MS certification under my belt, so I am working towards Microsoft SP2010 certification also.

I’m don’t want to pay for a course, and so I’m using the over-abundant resources that can be found on the internet (white papers, MS videos, MS learning material, etc). The more material I cover the more I am aware that the same message is being thrown at me – “how great SharePoint 2010 is”. (I’m not going to get into a discussion regarding this, as this has been covered by multitudes of blogs and forums on the internet).

The fact is I find myself slowly, (and blindingly), convinced. I’ve started chanting the mantra, and doing the dance.

Microsoft has produced so much stuff on their latest “shiny object”. It’s amazing. There books, videos, whitepapers, forums, faqs, technet articles, etc, etc, etc. There is also a conference/user group/gathering for the devout, almost every second week. And there are “evangelists” – people who spread the Word.

Got to admit, I am going to one of these conferences in April – the Best Practices Conference, being held in London (#bpcuk). The US one has just finished, and I was following the tweet stream (#bpc11). The funny thing was – I got to the point where I was “religiously” checking on the progress of the conference, and the activities of the participants (albeit the more “tweetal”  – think of the word “vocal” but in terms of tweeting – amongst them). And I found myself just wishing I was there, wishing I was with these people and seeing, and sharing, what they were. (Quick – slap me!)

I never got this “ecstatic feeling” with FileNet. It was all mud and barbed wire. You were earning your stripes “old school”. And even though I have attended the Documentum user group conferences (Momentum) for a few years now (which is one of the high-points of my year – have only missed one over the last 5 years), I’ve never felt the (illogical, zealot-like) fervour that I am starting to experience now.

Related Links

http://geekswithblogs.net/SoYouKnow/archive/2011/06/14/is-the-sharepoint-community-past-its-prime.aspx

SharePoint “Upgrades” and discovering a small compatibility issue.

Recently a friend of mine was working on creating a Document Management portal.

That is, he was using SharePoint as the user interface, and was populating the pages with web parts that would allow the user to interact with a back-end document management system.

He had built up the Portal using SharePoint 2007, and had created several sub-sites that contain web parts that were relevant to the requirements of specific groups of users. He had run some informal testing and had confirmed that the web parts were offering the business users the functionality that they required. He had also spent some time on the design of each page. He was using a standard master page  so that each sub-site had the same look and feel, but had made small tweaks to each page so that the presentation of the web parts was optimal.

Then he wanted to move the system to a SharePoint 2010 system. Fortunately the Portal site was not yet in use, and nothing extra, or unknown, had been done to the sites, so was pretty sure there wasn’t any customization. However he wasn’t sure what the best way to get his Portal from 2007 to 2010. So he called me.

We had a look at the options:

  1. In-place upgrade,
  2. Database Attach
  3. Build the site from scratch.

SharePoint 2010 had already been installed on a new, suitably spec’d server, so an in-place upgrade was not an option.

We examined the database attach method. This would involve making a backup of the 2007 content database, restoring it in the new SQL Server installation on the the new server,  This sounded like a good option. The only thing we were worried about was the third-party we parts (the ones that hooked into the third-part document management system). We weren’t quite sure how these were going to respond.

We considered the third option – building the site from scratch on SP2010. This also introduced new challenges. Could we migrate the default. master from 2007 to 2010? I knew that 2010 didn’t use default.master, but now used v4.master. What impact would that have? We also had the ribbon to contend with, as well as the “Tags & Notes”, and “I like it” buttons.  (The sites were meant to be static, offering only the ability of users to work with their documents. It was not meant to be a “social” site.)

One other benefit of an in-place, or database attach upgrade, was the fact that SharePoint 2010 offered a “Visual Upgrade”. That is, the 2007 look and feel is maintained, and there was the ability to “preview” how the sites would look in 2010. Once you were happy with them, you could make the changes permanent.

This would have been nice, but, because of the fact that we wanted to make sure that we could document how the Portal was built up, we decided that option 3 would be the best option.

So – the decision was made. The first step was to install the third-party web parts. And this is where it got interesting. We were using the latest version of these web parts that were SharePoint 2010 compatible, so we thought there would be no problem.

Except there was one small thing…

The third-party web parts were designed to use WSE.  WSE, or Web Services Enhancements, is an add-on to the .NET framework that offers improvements to security and communication. It was released in 2005. The SharePoint server had been installed by another department according to a “standard”, and this included WCF, or Windows Communication Foundation. WCF was brought out as the “next-generation web service/interoperability framework”.

So here was the question: Do we get the department that installed the SharePoint server to uninstall WCF, and install WSE? Or do we ask the vendor to test, and certify that their web part technology will work with WCF?

Removing WCF and installing WSE would have very little impact to the overall scheme of things (the server was not being used for anything else), BUT it would mean a non standard installation.

On the other hand, the vendor has stated that their application was compatible with SP2010, and one would assume that it would be designed to use the newer WCF component.

Currently the discussion is going back and forth between the two options.

One thing though, this small compatibility issue wouldn’t have become quite so obvious if we had not decided to build up the Portal from scratch.

Related material:

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Getting Lost in a Wild SharePoint Site

In this post, I want to tell you about a unexpected,but interesting journey I have made.

——————–

Recently I was asked to help “trim” a SharePoint site that had become overly complex. The site was going to be migrated to a different domain, and the goal was to tidy up the site.

On first glances the site look harmless.

But once I started delving deeper, I could see that it was a jungle of sub-sites, interlinked in a strange M.C. Escher way.

To really get to understand how everything was connected, I decided to map it all out.

Using MindManager (it could have been any mind mapping tool – or even pen and paper), I started with the top site.

The beginning was easy, the path was clear. Things were

L O G I C A L.

Then as I got deeper, things started getting more complex. And, now and then, there were tricky little bits where I SharePoint Governance plan viralwould follow a path and suddenly find myself in a totally different area, feeling disoriented. Fortunately with the use of a good compass and a ball of string I had been unravelling as I went along, I was able to find my way back.

I made notes, I took photos, and  I saw some amazing things. (Unfortunately, my camera was damaged when I tripped over some metadata in one of the fields, so you’ll just have to take my word for it).  Slowly, over several days, I was able to map out the site (and sub-sites, and sub-sub sites).

The map was big, with lots of colorful lines showing relationships between the various parts, as well as highlights and comments. When you looked at it at its original size, it looked like some strange alien exoskeleton. It was not until you increased resolution that you got to see the fine workmanship.

My “client” was impressed with what I had done. The didn’t have MindManager installed, and when I tried to create a flash, or PDF version of said map, MindManager bailed on me. Thank goodness for the MindManager Viewer. At the time of writing, this had not been installed. I’ll know when it has been…I’ll hear lots of “Oohs” and “aahs” and other sounds one makes when one is impressed with something.

SharePoint map governance Note – artist’s rendition


Site Mapping Tools

Now, it may be that there are tools, or applications, out there that will achieve what I did, automatically.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

New & Classic – Ways that SharePoint & Traditional ECM systems can play together

In this post I look at some SharePoint-ECM Integration scenarios.

————————————————

The AIIM SharePoint Master course material that I am studying at the moment presents 4 scenarios about how SharePoint can be used alongside, or integrated with, traditional ECM systems.

These are:

1. External Storage Provider

In this scenario, SharePoint is used to manage indexes, metadata, user presentation, etc, and the ECM application manages content storage/retrieval

2.  External Repository of Record

In this, all content is managed in SharePoint, until it is declared a record. Then a copy is pushed into the ECM application, where it can only be accessed by Record Managers. SharePoint provides the user interface where documents are created, and edited. The ECM application handles the security, record retention, etc of the document once it has the status of a record. Content only gets into the ECM app via SharePoint.

3. Cooperative

In a cooperative scenario, all documents are created in SharePoint, where they can be edited, etc. The ECM system  is used to manage and control documents that have the status of a Record. Unlike the External Repository of Record scenario, in the Cooperative scenario, content can only exist in one system at a time.

4. Portal

In this scenario SharePoint acts merely as an interface into the ECM app. All documents are created, and managed there.

In researching this further, I came across  Andrew Chapman blog “Never Talk When You can Nod“. In it he covers the use of SharePoint with existing ECM systems a lot better in his .

Andrew offers 8 scenarios. I won’t regurgitate all of what he has written (you can read the posts yourself – see link at the end of this post), but I do want to summarise his 8 scenarios, and discuss where the AIIM scenarios match. (Andrew has got some really cool images on his post that visually represent each of the 8 possibilities beautifully. I’ll use this as well, but remember, they came from his site :-)

Andrew Chapman’s 8 Reference Architectures

——————————————————————–

1: Keep Systems Separate, Restrict Usage.

 

1: Keep Systems Separate, Restrict Usage.

Content is moved manually from SharePoint into the ECM application.

2: Loosely Coupled Solution

2: Loosely Coupled Solution

Content is moved from SharePoint into the ECM application based on some rule, or event.

3: Use SharePoint as a Portal Container

3: Use SharePoint as a Portal Container

SharePoint uses Web Parts that allow content from the ECM application to be seen, and at the same time, other Web Parts that allow the user to interact with content in SharePoint.

4: Passive Unification in Web Part

4: Passive Unification in Web Part

SharePoint contains Web Parts that allow a user to see content from both the SharePoint system, and the ECM system. This is from within the same Web Part. The user is unaware that the documents are located in separate systems.

5: Active Unification

5: Active Unification

Similar to Architecture 4 except that in this Architecture, the user is able to perform more complex operations with the content (managing versions, attaching objects to versions, etc).

6: Passive Back-end Aggregation

6: Passive Back-end Aggregation

An aggregated view of all the content stored across all libraries in created in the ECM. This aggregated view could then be used to make security decisions, perform risk analysis, monitor file usage, etc.

7: Active Back-end Aggregation

7: Active Back-end Aggregation

All content is aggregated from SharePoint into the ECM system where it is managed, and controlled.

8: Synchronized, Intelligent, 2-way Shortcutting

8: Synchronized, Intelligent, 2-way Shortcutting

As with Architecture 7, all content is transparently moved from SharePoint into the ECM system. However in this scenario, users can still act upon the document directly from SharePoint.

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As you can see, Andrew Chapman has put a lot of thought into the various possibilities of SharePoint and tradition ECM systems working together.

Looking at what the AIIM SharePoint course material mentions, and comparing it to Andrew’s various architectures, there are close correlations – the AIIM scenarios match the first four of Andrew’s Architectures, with the last four describing variations on the Portal concept.

Andrew Chapman’s post: Eight Reference Architecture Organizer

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The Wingspan Connection – getting SharePoint & Documentum to talk to each other

This is just a short post.  Just want to show an overview of how Wingspan components  allow a user to access their Documentum documents from SharePoint.

wingspan spx sharepoint documentum firstdoc emc

Taken from Wingspan Documentation

Here you can see that there are two main components:

The DocWay UI is a collection of Web Parts installed on a SharePoint Server .

The DocWay Server comprises two components that are always installed together even though they function independently.

  • The DocWay Web Service provides Search, Content Management, and Workflow services.
  • The DocWay Content Transfer Service (DocWay Transfer Service) provides transfer of content between the user’s desktop and individual Documentum Docbases

So, basically, what happens is:

  • A user logs into their SharePoint site that contains Web Parts supplied by the DocWay UI.
  • These Web Parts display meta-data gathered by the DocWay Server about content stored in the Documentum Docbases.
  • Should the user transfer content between their local storage and a Docbase, the transfer is made by the DocWay Transfer Service, bypassing SharePoint entirely.

Included Web Parts for End Users

  • Home Cabinet
  • Subscriptions
  • Checkouts
  • Recently Accessed Files
  • Inbox
  • My Workflows
  • Virtual Folders
  • Repository Browser
  • DQL Query
  • Object View
  • Search

Included Web Parts for Administrators

  • DocWay System Administrator
  • Menu Designer
  • Component Administration
  • Web Part Group Settings

Included Web Parts for Developers

  • DocWay Diagnostics
  • AJAX Call Viewer
  • HTTP Request Inspector
  • System Information

Wingspan produce several other products that allow integration between Documentum and SharePoint. One of these is eResults that I have posted several times about in this blog (see Tag Cloud).

Related Posts

The 12 Networking Truths as applied to SharePoint (according to Bill)

As described in a couple of my recent posts, I have been attending AIIM’s SharePoint Master class in London.

The tutor was Bill English from Mindsharp. Someone I was honoured to meet.

In the beginning of the course Bill mentioned “The 12 Networking Truths”. These were originally documented in RFC1925 in 1996.

Bill has written a post where he has fitted the 12 Truths to SharePoint. You can read it here: http://aiimcommunities.org/sharepoint/blog/12-networking-truths-applied-sharepoint-0. Bill has a great sense of humour.

And…to see the original RFC, goto http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc1925.html

AIIM SharePoint Master Course – Day 2, 3 & 4

Day 2 was the second day of the Practitioner’s part of the course. The day was very similar to the previous day – we covered the course material, which Mr English interspersed with real world examples, along with “Bill’s take” on a particular subject. The members of the class also contributed with their own experiences.

To summarise, on Day 1 we covered:

  • Product
    • Core Capabilities
    • Components and Parts
  • Function
    • Records Center
    • Document Libraries
    • Imaging & Capture
    • Report Management
    • Forms Design
    • WCM/Sites
    • Workflow & BPM
    • Email Management
    • SharePoint & MS Office Integration

On Day 2, we covered:

  • Design Elements
    • Content types
    • Classification
    • Search
    • Workflow
    • Communities
  • Infrastructure
    • Architecture
    • Governance
    • Site Provisioning
    • Admin & Maintenance.

The Practitioner’s course gave a good overview of the capabilities of SharePoint 2010 within the framework of content and records management. The people attending were made up of consultants, Record Managers, Business Managements and similar. When necessary Bill would delve into the technical realm of specific parts of SharePoint 2010, but this was not frequent as the course was not a technical one.

On Day 3 we started the Specialist course. The class was smaller as several people had only been attending the Practitioner’s part.

The material covered for the Specialist course included:

  • Assess
    • Information Gathering
    • Strategy
    • Business Case
  • Implement
    • Customisation
    • Integration
    • Migration
  • Sustain
    • Change Management
    • Test, train, sustain

Initially I felt that a lot of the material covered in the Specialist course could be used in any ECM decision making process.

However, upon re-reading the material I see that it is applicable to SharePoint, in the sense of deciding whether SharePoint is actually the best solution for the business needs, as well as outlining SharePoint strengths and weaknesses. Many useful assessment and decision making strategies tools are described.

Much of what was covered in this course, was of a “dryer” nature (i.e. more conceptual) than in the previous course, and this would result in a slight drop in the attention, and enthusiasm of everyone.

Because many of Microsoft‘s definitions, or descriptions, do not quite match the global “standard” definitions/descriptions found in the Industry (in Records Management for example), often there would be healthy discussions. The specific functionalities of SharePoint were often questioned and the “intended purpose” of such functionality was debated. These times were really valuable, as everyone present had a good understanding of “real” Records Management.

At the end of the course we were presented with an 8 page Case Study. There were three assignments that, because of their group nature, were to be completed during the course, with a third assignment that needed to be done outside of the course, and then presented to AIIM. This, along with passing an online exam are requirements for achieving SharePoint Master Certification.

I felt that two days was not long enough for this course (especially if done in a class). As mentioned in my post on Day 1, the value of doing such a course in the classroom is the ability to ask questions, get feedback on comments, as well as expanding on topics through describing “real-world” situations. This requires extra time, and often we found we were racing through the material, so that we would have enough time for the Case Study assignments.

However, besides that one comment, I really enjoyed this course, and was happy with the material covered. As mentioned, the AIIM SharePoint Master Class is not a technical course, but one designed to describe the concepts and technologies of SharePoint as well as the best practices for implementing SharePoint. I think the course achieved that.

Upgrading a Master Page from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010

Graphic which hints to Microsoft Windows

Image via Wikipedia

I’m reading through “Beginning SharePoint 2010 Administration” by Göran Husman and Christian Ståh, and published by Wrox. I found this interesting tip.

If you are going to upgrade a Master Page from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010, then it is important to:

  • Add two new place holders
  • Remove three controls.

This is because of the new functionalities, as well as functions that are now included in the ribbon.

New Place Holders

The Top of the Quick Launch menu

< asp:ContentPlaceHolder id= “ PlaceHolderQuickLaunchTop ” runat= “ server “ >

The bottom of the Quick Launch menu

< asp:ContentPlaceHolder id= “ PlaceHolderQuickLaunchBottom ” runat= “ server “ >

Controls that need to be removed

Publishing Console

< PublishingConsole:Console >

Site Actions Menu

< PublishingSiteAction:SiteActionMenu >

Sign-in and log-in control

Welcome

For more information refer to: “ How to upgrade an Existing Master Page to the SharePoint Foundation
Master Page
” at Microsoft MSDN (http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/
ee539981(office.14).aspx
.