SharePoint: Get the business to own the content types

You may also be interested in: SharePoint-based solutions by B&R Business Solutions


Editor’s note: Contributor Ben Henderson is Manager of Sevices at Colligo Networks. Follow him @ben3003

On a recent engagement we were tasked with building out a content model that would satisfy departments involved in the first phase of a SharePoint implementation.

The primary aim of the process was fourfold:

  1. Brief candidates from all departments through an information sheet asking them to consider the types of documents they use on a day-to-day basis.
  2. Assess their current knowledge and ability through follow up interviews.
  3. Provide an example of what we are looking for.
  4. Provide them with a starting point to work from in order to build up the content model.

I am not saying that this is the perfect solution but I believe that there is a fine balance between handholding, and leaving them to sink or swim. This approach seemed to fit right in the middle of that and worked well with the strategy of the business.

Why did we take this approach really? It was basically because we felt we needed the business to own the content model.

If we had created it for them then there would have been adoption issues, push back, and inaccuracy in the information within the content model. But the issue with getting the business to own the content model is that they need to understand what a content model is. Something even IT Pro’s struggle to understand.

I have seen issues with the understanding of content types. The business likes to define content types as file types (doc, pdf, xls, jpg) and there is a big knowledge jump needed to go from there to full understanding of the concept.

One technique that we used with great effect is asking them to bring some files that they currently have stored and would say they were “business documents”.

An example of this was Invoice_for_Enron_Oct_2012_Final_Signed.pdf and gave us a great starting point to begin to explain how content types are built up.

Explaining that the content type is Invoice, and the other bits of information are properties that pertain to the invoice that was a great start to the conversation.

Perhaps try it with the documents you have saved on your desktop? Or do you use other simple techniques to share with the community?

SharePoint and the dreaded “D” word

You may also be interested in: SharePoint evolution conference 2013


Editor’s note: Contributor Nancy Skaggs is a SharePoint consultant based in Columbus, OH and has worked with SharePoint since 2008. Follow her @Nanskatoon

I’m talking about DELETE.

The prospect of something getting deleted from SharePoint can strike fear into the hearts of many users. So much fear, in fact, that they go to extraordinary lengths to try to make it so that no one CAN delete anything…. EVER. But think about it- SharePoint is not a catch-all or a bottomless archive. SharePoint is generally meant to hold active content that matters- in real time- to you and your colleagues. Sometimes people need to delete things. Sometimes people SHOULD delete things.

Don’t you know that SharePoint has your back? Use the tools at your disposal to ensure that you’ll never be the last to know when someone deletes a document or a list item, and give you ample chance to restore it if necessary.

1. Site Alerts

Don’t wait for someone to tell you (possibly too late!) they deleted something- find out about it immediately, as soon as it occurs! The most proactive weapon in your arsenal to stay on top of potential deletions are Site Alerts. When an alert email arrives indicating that something was deleted, you can see right away WHO deleted it and WHEN, and take appropriate action:

  1. Contact the user and ask them to restore the item from their Recycle Bin;
  2. If that person is unavailable, contact an administrator and ask to have them restore the item for you from the Site Collection Recycle Bin;
  3. Let it go and recognize a legitimate deletion.
Alerts let you be proactive vs. reactive, and greatly reduce the possibility of “permanently losing” items inadvertently or purposely deleted by users. Alerts can be targeted to only inform you when OTHERS do something- your own actions can be excluded. Alerts can be configured on whole lists or libraries, folders or individual items.

Configure an alert for Deletion Activity:

  1. Select the relevant item (library, folder, list etc.) and choose “Alert Me” from the Actions button of a list/library, or the item drop-down for an individual document, folder or list item.
  2. Under “Alert Title,” replace the default text with something more meaningful, such as “ALERT! Deleted Item in the Shared Documents Library”
    • The text entered here will be the subject line of every email generated by this alert, so make sure what you enter here is relevant and informative.
    • Otherwise you may not realize what the alert emails mean, thus defeating the purpose!
  3. Under “Change Type,” select “Items are deleted”
  4. Under Send Alerts for these Changes,” select the most logical option to further target the alert:
    • Most users find “Send me an alert when… Someone else changes an item” to be helpful.
    • This option excludes your own activity from the alert scope and only informs you when others delete items.
  5. Lastly, “When to Send Alerts” lets you tailor the timing of your alert emails so you can be made aware of deletion activity in the way you find most helpful:
    • Immediately: an email within 1-2 minutes of the delete action
    • Daily Summary: once per day “digest” of all deletion activity (allows you to set the time of day)
    • Weekly Summary: once per week “digest” of all activity (allows you to set the day and time)

Keep in mind that Alerts are result-driven- if no deletions occur in the relevant time frame, no alert will be sent.

To change the settings of any alert you create on a particular site, locate your name in the upper right corner and click “My Settings,” then click “My Alerts.”

You will see a listing of all Alerts you have created on that site, and can access settings to modify or remove them. This is another reason to use a good, meaningful Alert Title- so you can differentiate between alerts later!

2. The Recycle Bin

When it comes to reacting to deletion of objects, the Recycle Bin is your next best line of defense. Recycle Bins exist by user, by site- meaning for each separate site you access, there is a “personal” Recycle Bin unique to your activity on that site. Any securable objects you delete on that site go into the Recycle Bin under your name.

What about things other people delete?  You can only see and restore your own deletions. Only those in the Site Collection Administrator role and higher can see and restore objects deleted by others. Contact the Service Desk to log a ticket requesting that type of help.

Recovery options:  Once deleted, objects remain in your Recycle Bin for 30 days. They can be restored to the original location with just a click at any time during that period. Each time you delete an object from the site, you “re-start the clock” for a new 30-day window in the Recycle Bin. Once the 30 days expires, the item is no longer retrievable by you.

Items can also be deleted from the Recycle Bin itself. Any items deleted from your Recycle Bin are moved to the Site Collection Recycle Bin for the remainder of the original 30 day period. You must contact an administrator to find out whether it’s possible to restore anything after that time has expired.

Isn’t it true that “Nothing is ever really deleted?” This may depend on your workplace, bu not every object can always be instantly retrieved, even by admins. Don’t count on “We can always get it from the backup…” or “Everyone knows that nothing is ever really deleted...” These sayings get bandied about, but sometimes getting things back to “exactly the way they were before” is only possible via complex, time-consuming methods (and occasionally, depending on the deleted object, not possible at all).

Bottom line- don’t let things get that far! If you are really worried about deletion of items from a particular library or list, set up a Site Alert (see above) to let you know immediately when this occurs.

What objects can I restore?  Any securable objects you delete can be restored (a “securable object” is any object to which access can be controlled, i.e. lists, libraries, documents, folders, list items.) You can restore a list, list item, library, file, or a version of a file to its original location, as long as you have not already deleted its parent. Please note that deleted SITES are not subject to the Recycle Bin process and cannot be restored according to these methods.

Since Microsoft covers this well, I will simply display what they have already provided on this topic:

Securable objects bring all of their contents back with them:

  • When you restore any securable object (any object to which access can be controlled), it is restored with all of the objects that it contained when it was deleted.
  • For example: If you restore a list, library or folder, the restored version contains all of the documents and other items that it contained when it was deleted.
  • If you restore a file or other item that has multiple versions, the restored file or item includes all of the versions it contained when it was deleted.

Most objects can’t be restored if their container objects aren’t present:

  • If you delete an object and then delete the object that contained it, you must restore the container before you can restore the object.
  • For example: If you delete a file and then delete the library in which it was stored, you must restore the library before you can restore the file.
  • If you delete an earlier version of a file and then delete the current version of the file itself, you must restore the file itself before you can restore the earlier version.
    • Exception: An object deleted from a folder can be restored without first restoring the folder. The folder is automatically re-created in its former location, but now contains only the object that you restored.
    • Alternatively, you can also restore the folder manually from the Recycle Bin, in which case it’s restored with all of the contents that it had when it was deleted.

How do I find the Recycle Bin?  Your personal Recycle Bin link is normally found at the bottom of the Quick Launch (lower left); however, customized environments may not display the recycle bin OR may display it in another location. If you do not see a Recycle Bin link, contact your site’s owner or an administrator to find out why.

3. Custom Permissions

One of the most drastic responses to “fear of deletion” is to remove users’ ability to delete by changing permission settings. In SharePoint, user permissions are sets of permission actions bundled into overall permission levels. For example, the default “Contribute” permission level encompasses, by default, the ability to add, modify and DELETE- all 3 actions. If it’s decided (for good reason*) to “unbundle” that permission level and take the “delete” action away, it’s possible.Other than administrators, only those with Full Control permissions or above can perform such permission customizations.

BE AWARE: there is a right way and a potentially wrong way to do this. If you pick the wrong way, you might wreak major havoc on your site. Do not take this course of action lightly. Please contact an administrator to learn how to correctly configure Custom Permissions and evaluate whether it is truly what you need.

*Ask yourself- WHY is removal of the delete action seen as necessary? Educated users will be less likely to delete in error; use of the Recycle Bin and site alerts will give you the tools you need to take care of any erroneous deletions. So think long and hard about how to manage your site and your users before taking this step.

5 Steps to Enhance SharePoint 2010 Approval Workflow

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Editor’s note: Contributor Bobby Chang is a SharePoint Consultant. Follow him @bobbyschang

In my previous post, we discussed the shortcomings of SharePoint 2010 Approval workflow. Though empowering and convenient to use, the out-of-box workflow lacks a user-centered experience. To quickly recap, I highlighted five limitations in particular:

  • Inability to specify workflow condition
  • Potential governance concern
  • Vague email notifications
  • Due Date Duration not accounted for
  • Rejected document marked as “Completed”

Fortunately, through SharePoint Designer (SPD) 2010, you can extend the approval workflow process. This post outlines how to configure the approval workflow using the SPD workflow designer. Though it’s certainly not the only way to customize approval workflow, I find myself coming back to this similar framework when implementing approval processes.

Step 1 – Expose “Start Approval Process” action in workflow designer

  1. Open SPD 2010 and create a new List Workflow for your Document Library
  2. Click Action in the ribbon. Then select “Start Approval Process” under the “Task Actions” heading

  3. Click on “these users” to set the approval designations
  4. The next screen you’ll see mimics the Approval Workflow design form in the UI. Fill in the appropriate approval details. (Note: You can add multiple approval stages by clicking this icon and selecting “Insert Assignment Stage”)

  5. After clicking Ok, you’ve completed the 1st step. Click on “Approval” to start configuring the details of the approval workflow.

  6. Optional Step

    For every approval action you utilize in SPD, SharePoint creates a custom Approval Site Content Type. In other word, if you create 5 approval actions through SPD, you’ll end up with 5 different Approval Content Types (see screenshot below). So, it’s a good idea to rename the Approval Site Content Type and match your workflow name. Renaming to “Approval – Team A Proposal Draft,” for example, would provide better context and probably serve your well in the future.

Step 2 – Update email notification for the requester

  1. Click on “Change the behavior of the overall task process” in the Approval editor page

  2. Find the Step “When the Task Process Starts”
  3. Then click on the Action “then Email Workflow Context: Initiator”

  4. Change the subject line to something more descriptive
    Otherwise SharePoint would send an email with a generic subject line, i.e.: “Approval started on.” To change the subject, click on icon and replace [%Task Process: Process Name%] with something easier for your team to relate to, i.e.: RFP Approval, Draft Report Approval, etc.
  5. Clean up the email body. Below is a screenshot example of my change:


    The following Data Sources and Fields were kept same:

    • [%Task Process:Item Title (Unencoded)%]
    • [%Task Process:Item Title%]
    • [%Task Process:Participant List%]
    • View the status of this workflow
      • URL is the same
      • Changed label to “Monitor the status of the approval here”

    The following Data Source and Field were added:

    • [%Workflow Context: Initiator%]
      • Data Source = Workflow Context
      • Field from source = Initiator
      • Return field as = Display Name

Email as end result of Step 2:

Step 3 – Update email for approver(s)

  1. Click on “Change the behavior of a single task” in the Approval editor page

  2. Find the Step “When a Task is Pending”
  3. Then find the Condition “If Current Task: External Participant is empty,” and click on “Current Task: Assigned To”

  4. Clean up the email body. Below is a screenshot example of my change:

    The following Data Sources and Fields were kept same:

    • [%Current Task: Title%]
      • This value comes from the Title field in the Select Task Process Participants screen (see #4 in Step 1 above)
    • [%Workflow Context: Initiator%]
    • [%Task Process:Item Title%]

    The following Data Sources and Fields were added:

    • [%Current Task: Assigned To%]
      • Data Source = Current Task: Approval
      • Field from source = Assigned To
      • Return field as = Display Name
    • [%Current Task:Due Date%]
      • Data source = Current Task: Approval
      • Field from source = Due Date
      • Return field as = Short Date
    • Access approval form in SharePoint
      • To create hyperlink, highlight the text then click this icon
      • Assign [%Current Task:Form_URN%] on the address field:
        • Data source = Current Task: Approval
        • Field from source = Form_URN
        • Return field as = As String
      • Click OK a couple of times and you should see the following below. Then click OK.

Email as end result of Step 3:

    Step 4 – Update rejection notice

    1. Click on “Change the behavior of the overall task process” in the Approval editor page

    2. Find the Step ““When the Task Process Completes”
    3. Find “Set workflow status to Rejected.” Then click below “Set workflow status to Rejected.”
    4. Update email subject line to denote rejection:
      • Add “Set Workflow Variable” from Action on the ribbon

      • Click on “workflow variable” then select “Variable: CompletionMailTitle”
      • Click on “value” to assign a rejection tagline to be displayed in the email subject line
        • Access the String Builder by clicking this icon
        • Use the word “Rejected” combined with brief info about the rejected file
        • E.g.: “REJECTED – Draft Report: [%Task Process:Item Title%]“
          • Data source = Task Process: Approval
          • Field from source = Item Title
          • Return field as = As String

    5. Update email content to denote rejection:
      • Click under the action you just created to add another workflow action
      • Click “Set Workflow Variable” from Action on the ribbon
      • Click on “workflow variable” then select “Variable: CompletionMailReason”
      • Click on “value” to assign a rejection message to be displayed in the email body
        • Access the String Builder by clicking this icon
        • Include the word “Rejected” along with some context about the rejected file
      • At this point, your set of Rejected actions should look similar to the following

      • Scroll below and click on the last action – “Email Workflow Context: Initiator” under “Else”

      • Clean up the email body
        • Remove the first line. Otherwise, the words “Approval” and “Completed” will be included on the rejected email
        • Make sure you keep both [%Variable: CompletionReason%] and [%TaskProcess:Consolidated Comments%] because they provide the rejected status and comments from the user(s) who rejected the file
        • Everything else is optional. Please feel free to redesign as needed.

      Email as end result of Step 4:

      Step 5 – Update notification for approved files

      1. Similar to Step 4. Only this time, we’re configuring the email notification for an approved document
      2. Click on “Change the behavior of the overall task process” in the Approval editor page
      3. Find the Step ““When the Task Process Completes”
      4. Find “If Variable: IsItemApproved equals Yes” then click below “Set workflow status to Approved.”
      5. Update email subject line to denote Approval:
        • Add “Set Workflow Variable” from Action on the ribbon
        • Click on “workflow variable” then select “Variable: CompletionMailTitle”
        • Click on “value” to assign a rejection tagline to be displayed in the email subject line
          • Access the String Builder by clicking this icon
          • Use the word “Approved” combined with brief info about the approved file
          • E.g.: “APPROVED – Draft Report: [%Task Process:Item Title%]“
            • Data source = Task Process: Approval
            • Field from source = Item Title
            • Return field as = As String
      6. Update email content to denote Approval:
        • Click under the action you just created to add another workflow action
        • Click “Set Workflow Variable” from Action on the ribbon
        • Click on “workflow variable” then select “Variable: CompletionMailReason”
        • Click on “value” to assign a rejection message to be displayed in the email body
          • Access the String Builder by clicking this  icon
          • Include the word “Approved” along with some context about the approved file

        • At this point, your set of Approved actions should look similar to the following

        Email as end result of Step 5:

        And there you have it! Five steps to get you started with enhancing the approval workflow. We focused mostly on emails, but there are still other system generated emails that you can configure. Furthermore, there are a slew of other functions that you can explore, e.g., Task Form Fields and Task Outcomes to extend the approval capability even further. I hope this post will get you started in the right direction.

        What SharePoint 2013 Features Are The Most Exciting?

        You may also be interested in: SharePoint-based solutions by B&R Business Solutions


        Editor’s note: Contributor Sean O’Leary is the Senior Manager of Global Communications for Metalogix Software. Follow him @metalogix

        It’s award season, and it’s SharePoint 2013 capturing everyone’s attention on the Red Carpet.

        Anyone who works with SharePoint has likely been consumed with talk about SharePoint 2013, especially since SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas. The buzz built slowly over 2012 and has reached a boiling point in recent weeks as the new version moves closer to a general release. There was little doubt SharePoint 2013 would draw interest, but it has to be surprising to see the level of interest.

        This fact was confirmed in the results of the SharePoint Content Survey, which was conducted at SPC 12. Of more than 100 SharePoint and IT professionals surveyed, from both the public and private sector, roughly 60 percent said they were planning a SharePoint 2013 upgrade within the next year. The results made the SharePoint and IT media take notice – CMS Wire led off an article with that fact and got the social SharePoint community talking.

        There has been a lot of discussion around SharePoint 2013 in general – but what are the specific features creating buzz? In the survey,  respondents could choose between 8 new, much-discussed features and choose which would they be most likely to deploy in SharePoint 2013 – they were allowed to pick more than one:

        Clearly, mobile device support was the clear leader as most anticipated feature and it comes as no surprise. Our entire world is becoming mobile, as anyone who uses a smartphone or tablet can attest – especially those of you reading this right now on a smartphone or tablet. The pace of business is constantly speeding up and, with SharePoint established as the standard for knowledge sharing and collaboration, it needs to keep pace.

        The next two on the list – New MySites and New Community Sites – play into the growth of SharePoint across the enterprise. With content growing at 75% per year and adoption usually organization-wide, these sites serve as way to better serve different departments and businesses cases. Throughout the history of organizations undertaking SharePoint upgrade projects, moving and reorganizing sites has been a common theme and one that will continue through SharePoint 2013.

        On the flip side, it was interesting to see less than 40% of respondents say they would be most likely to deploy microblogging or activity feeds – the much-talked about new social features in SharePoint 2013.

        There are a couple possible reasons for this. The first could be the wording of the question – even if social isn’t the main reason for upgrading to SharePoint; it could certainly be an added benefit after the move.

        The other possibility is that organizations will eventually roll out social features, but not immediately after making the move to SharePoint 2013. We have seen organizations of all sizes show a reluctance to immediately jump on board with social media – from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram – until it is established. There will always be early adopters, but will many take a wait and see approach?

        The main survey takeaways are ones you probably could have guessed before reading – people are excited about upgrading with mobile device support driving the most interest. What you probably didn’t realize is that 60% of SharePoint professionals want SharePoint 2013 now – or at least very quickly.

        To view the full survey results, please click here:

        5 Limitations of SharePoint Approval Workflow

        You may also be interested in: O’Reilly - SharePoint 2010 at Work


        Editor’s note: Contributor Bobby Chang is a SharePoint Consultant. Follow him @bobbyschang

        The Approval workflow in SharePoint has been helping teams automate business processes since the days of MOSS 2007 and WSS3.0. It is the most commonly used workflow and since it’s pre-built, SharePoint has done the heavy lifting so your setup time is greatly reduced. However, the Approval workflow can be a bane to many. On one hand, you can be up and running with just a few clicks; on the other, the out-of-box user experience may not be very intuitive for the users.

        There’s certainly more than one way to skin this cat, but I find myself repeating a similar series of steps to enhance the experience. I look to document these steps before Microsoft officially upgrades my SharePoint Online environment to version 2013. I hope that, in the process, this post could also be useful to other SharePointers.

        Before diving into the proposed solution, let’s first breakdown some of the challenges. Here’s my personal Top 5 Limitations of the SharePoint Approval Workflow:

        1. Inability to specify workflow condition

          Applying workflow through the browser only provides you with the the option to either start the workflow automatically or start it manually. You can’t conditionally design a parameter around how the workflow starts. For example, if you want the workflow to run only when a specific type of file is uploaded, you can’t do so through the browser.

        2. Potential governance concern

          Users, who can manually start the workflow, can also change the workflow’s rule and designation. When teeing up a document for an approval, SharePoint allows for ad-hoc updates to the workflow logic. Almost every makeup to the workflow (approvers, deadline, etc.) is up for grabs to everyone who has access to run it manually. This open-ended structure leaves you at the mercy of your users, who can accidentally (or not) change the most fundamental elements of the approval, thus altering the orientation of your business processes.

        3. Vague email notifications

          The auto-generated emails from the Approval workflow often lack clarity. Upon receiving the email, users may not know how to move forward because the emails have duplicated info, ambiguous messages, and most importantly, unclear instructions on how to approve the document. Users would be notified to “Perform specific activities required” without any other context.

          Outlook integration feature – which could open the approval form from the email and is actually very helpful – gets lost in the mix because the language in the email makes no reference to Outlook. Users are simply instructed to “Use the Open this task button” – a “button” that’s located at the top of the email and is very easy to miss, especially in the Outlook preview pane.

        4. Due Date Duration not accounted for

          There are 2 ways to set approval due dates – you can either assign an actual due date or specify a duration of the approval task. For the most part, the preference should be to set deadlines by duration so you don’t pin yourself down to one particular due date for all documents. Furthermore, should enough time pass by and your due date is in the past, SharePoint will display an error message to the user initiating the workflow.

          Unfortunately, if you were to assign a due date by duration, the approval workflow would not account for it. The system generated email would simply assign your due date with “None.”

        5. Rejected document marked as “Completed”

          I saved the best for last, because this one trips me up the most. Receiving an email from the SharePoint library with a subject line of “Approval has completed” does NOT necessarily mean that your document has been approved. Your supervisor could very well have rejected your document and as long as all the required tasks are done, SharePoint deems the workflow as “completed.”

          The body of the email doesn’t help the cause either by repeating such words as “approval,” “successfully,” “completed” to further mislead the user. Only if you were to look carefully, would you see 1 mention of the rejection buried in the middle of the email content. A definite flaw from a user experience design perspective.

        Despite these challenges, I still believe that there are a lot of business values provided by the SharePoint Approval workflow. Thankfully, there are a few simple ways to overcome these shortcomings and I look to document these steps on my upcoming blog post.

        Do you have other challenges with the workflow that’s been plaguing you? If so, please feel free to share your experience. Hopefully we can all compare notes on the implementation work-around and be more productive at the other end.

        30 in 30 Interview: John Morgan - Real Engagement with Influencers and Their Networks


        There’s nothing quite like the feeling of having an internationally recognized evangelist or industry influencer as part of your inner-circle of relationships. How is that relationship built? How do you establish trust within the relationship?

        John Morgan helps entrepreneurs position themselves as leading authorities in their industry. In this discussion, John and I talk about how to create real relationships with industry Influencers. How do you reach them and truly engage them in a discussion? This is becoming more important as the street noise gets louder and relationship ties become weaker. Have a listen…

        Listen to the discussion:

        Discussion Highlights
        00:30 What is an ‘Industry Influencer’
        02:30 How do I find industry influencers
        04:05 Physical relationships vs virtual relationships
        06:15 Creation of Influencer networks
        07:45 Developing trust based relationships
        10:10 How to build Influencer engagement
        14:55 Action strategy for engaging an Influencer

        People Mentioned
        DJ Waldo, Scott Stratten (UnMarketing), Bob Burg (The Go-Giver), Michael Wu, Jeff DeVerter, Seth Godin,

        External Resources
        About John:
        Web Site:
        Book: Brand Against the Machine

        External Collaboration in SharePoint Online 2013

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        Editor’s note: Contributor Jasper Oosterveld is a SharePoint Consultant at Wortell. Follow him @SharePTJasper

        I have seen the future and it’s SharePoint Online 2013. I am not totally biased because I love Office 365. A lot has changed since the BPOS days. SharePoint Online 2007 was a start for Microsoft in the Enterprise Cloud business. The platform was descent and many customers were able to create Intranet portals. There were some issues such as no search over multiple site collections and no My Sites. The next step was Office 365 and SharePoint Online 2010. The gap with the big on premise brother became even smaller. A couple years later we get another update: SharePoint Online 2013 and the gap is almost gone. The new online version comes with a set of features that enables external collaboration with customers or partners.

        Project Site

        The project site is a new template within SharePoint 2013 and comes with an amazing set of new collaboration features:

        • Newsfeed
        • Timeline
        • OneNote Notebook
        • Site mailbox


        The newsfeed can be used for private messaging between internal and external users. The posts are only accessible for users with at least read permissions. Through the integration with the My Site, the internal users are always up-to-date. The posts appear in the central My Site newsfeed and users are able to post and respond from the My Site to the sites newsfeed.


        Every project task can be presented in a clear overview through the timeline feature. The internal users can view assigned tasks from Outlook, SharePoint and Project Server in the My Site.

        OneNote Notebook

        OneNote is a popular application for creating notes. The project site delivers an empty Notebook that is perfect for creating notes about the project. The users can connect the Notebook with the local OneNote application or edit in the browser with the Office Web Apps. The external users don’t require a local installation.

        Site mailbox

        The site mailbox provides a dedicated e-mail address and inbox for the project site. You can centrally archive all related project e-mails. Users are also able to send e-mail messages to any recipient.

        Office Web Apps

        Office Web Apps were introduced with SharePoint 2010. They allowed you to open and edit Office documents in the browser. This is a helpful feature for users without a local version of Office because now they’re able to view and edit Office documents! The 2010 Office Web Apps even made it possible to co-author OneNote and Word documents in the browser with multiple users.

        Easily integrated in SharePoint Online 2013, 2013 Office Web Apps are a major improvement. Apart from editing and co-authoring all Office documents in the browser, there’s a document preview available. Just click on the three dots and a preview appears. By double clicking the preview, you can zoom in and out. You can quickly decide if this is a document you are looking for. This will save you a lot of time because you don’t need to download the document first.

        There are more options:

        1. Download a copy (right click)
        2. Print to PDF
        3. Document Embedding
        4. Share
        5. Follow

        The third option provides an iFrame code. This code can be used to display a preview of the document at another location.

        Invite and Share

        Inviting internal and external users has never been easier. How does external sharing work? There’s not much difference from internal sharing; only now just enter an e-mail address. Please be aware of the following: a contact with a different e-mail then a Live ID or Hotmail has to register with Microsoft. Please use the following URL:

        The registration is one time only and after this the external users can login to SharePoint Online 2013 with any e-mail address. This is a huge improvement because the previous version only supported Live ID and Hotmail addresses. Inviting external requires no additional licenses!

        Do you have a project proposal that has to be read by external project members but you don’t want to provide access to the project site? No problem at all. SharePoint Online 2013 provides the ability to create an anonymous link. The link can be removed at any time.

        Requesting Access

        An external project member requires access to the project document library. Normally an e-mail would be sent to the owner of the site. SharePoint Online 2013 comes with a new model for handling access requests. Through a dialog box, the external project member can send a message and the owner can respond. A dialogue starts and at any moment the owner can approve or deny access.


        Collaborating with external users has never been easier. SharePoint Online 2013 provides out-of-the-box features to get you up and running as soon as possible. The project site template comes with a set of components that prove to be very useful in project scenarios.

        30 in 30 Interview: Jeremy Epstein - The World’s Most Social Brands


        Jeremy and I worked together on a campaign a few years back that made internal employees of a company responsible for the messaging that was coming out of the back office. Secretaries, HR, accounting, finance… all were responsible for disseminating information to everyone they touched as part of their everyday work process.

        Listen as Jeremy gives some examples of how this works and how you might incorporate the ideas into your company. He is extending some of those ideas as he works daily with some of the largest brands in the world: Samsung, Sears, Virgin America, Dell, Cisco. His new eBook, "Best Practices from the World’s Most Social Big Brands", is available for download on his site.

        Take a listen, download the eBook and then start creating your own, internal social campaign.

        Listen to the discussion:

        Discussion Hightlights
        00:10 Internal staff responsible for external marketing
        03:50 25 most social enterprise brands (eBook)
        05:45 Series ‘B’ funding for $15M for Sprinklr
        07:00 Three to five year vision for social media and corporate integration

        External Resources
        About Jeremy:
        The World’s Most Social Brands (download):

        How to Create a Calendar Overlay Using Custom Content Types in SharePoint 2010

        You may also be interested in: SharePoint-based solutions by B&R Business Solutions


        Editor’s note: Contributor Adam Quinn is a Senior Information Architect at the American College of Physician Executives. Follow him @lucidpiper

        I recently was tasked with creating a new SharePoint Calendar to capture a variety of different events for my organization. They wanted to visually see differences in a calendar view, so I opted to use the Calendar Overlay option (using SharePoint 2010), and create multiple content types for each of the different types of events since many events had to capture unique information.

        As I journeyed down what seemed a fairly straightforward path, I encountered a variety of roadblocks to which I had difficulty finding the answers including having duplicate titles for each event in calendar view. This prompted me to write this post on how to successfully set up a single Calendar that uses different content types and have them display using the calendar overlay function. This is mostly an OOB approach which optionally requires use of SharePoint Designer 2010.

        First and foremost, I documented what my content types were going to be. I established what base metadata was required across all events, and made a “Base Event” type based on the OOB Event content type. I also added a couple of custom site columns to use in these content types.

        As a side note, I initially went down the path of using an “Item” as my base content type instead of an “Event”, mainly because the Event CT includes the “Workspace” option; I was unable to find a way to hide that field from users (something we did not want to use) – however after further investigation I discovered how to easily hide this field using SharePoint Designer (see Appendix below). If you do want to use this field, use of SPD is not required.

        Once I had my base event type defined, I used an Excel spreadsheet to document the fields and map out additional Content Types using my “Base Event” CT as the parent:


        Working with my stakeholders, I used this core content type to start the conversation and then defined what additional fields were required for the other CTs. At the end of this exercise, I documented 7 custom content types to use in this calendar using the format above. This provided a great reference when I was actually creating the new content types and greatly helped to confirm with my stakeholders that we’re capturing the correct information.

        I then used my worksheet as a map to create the Content Types:

        Site Actions->Site Settings->Site Content Types->Create

        Give each CT a unique name and description. For my Base Event I used the Event as the Parent Content Type. For all other custom content types, I used my Base Event as the Parent Content Type:


        Once all the content types are configured, create your new Events Calendar:

        Site Actions->More Options->Create Calendar

        Go into the List Settings to add the new content types and configure views:

        Calendar Tools->Calendar->List Settings

        Under Content Types, select Add from existing site content types. From here you can add multiple content types to include in your calendar:


        By default, the calendar uses the Event content type, which I did not need as I had created my own custom Event CT. To remove this after adding your new CTs, you can delete the OOB default from this calendar by clicking on the Event CT in List Settings, and selecting Delete this content type. You can also use the Change new button order and default content type to establish your new default and configure the order your content types will display to your users.

        Create Custom Calendar Views

        Now that your content types have been added, you’ll need to create a custom calendar view for each content type that you want to have displayed in the calendar overlay.
        Scroll to the bottom of the List Settings page and select Create View->Calendar View

        Provide a unique name that maps the view to one of your content types (i.e. Webinar Calendar). The Audience should be set to Public View. You will also want to make sure each calendar view for each content type mirrors each other using the same settings (example below):


        You then need to provide the filter criteria to only show this content type (example):


        Once finished, click OK to save the view. Go through this same process to create a new Calendar view for each of your content types.

        After all of your views have been configured, you can now apply these views to display as a calendar overlay. Exit the List Settings and go into the base Calendar View (the view that was created by default when you created your calendar). In the left column, click on Calendars in View:


        Select New Calendar to add as an overlay (Note – you will want to enter the overlays in the order you want them to be displayed on the main calendar page – these cannot be re-ordered once created). Name this calendar the same as your view (i.e. Webinars). Select a color to represent this calendar in the main overlay. Then enter the URL of the site where your list lives (not the list itself), and click Resolve. This will populate the drop-down fields with available lists and views based on the site listed in the Web URL field. Select your appropriate List and View:


        Repeat this process for each calendar view you want to have rolled up in the main calendar overlay, giving each Calendar a unique color. Once completed, you are ready to start entering data in the calendar – however, as you’ll notice with this configuration, this will likely create double-entries in the calendar overlay. This can be easily remedied by placing a filter on your primary Calendar view:

        Go to your main Calendar View. You’ll notice now under “Calendars in this view” all the additional calendars that have been added. Note that clicking on these calendars will filter the calendar to just show that particular view for end users:


        From the main view dropdown (or under Calendar Tools) select Modify this View. Make sure the criteria defined in this view matches what you’ve defined in the custom calendar views. Under Filter, you want to set the following criteria to weed out the duplicate entries:


        Yes, leave that field blank. As this calendar uses only content types you’ve defined, this will remove the duplicate entry issue. Save the view, and now you should be good to go!


        Appendix: How to hide the Workspace option from Event content types using SharePoint Designer:

        So you’ve got your custom content types defined for various events, but you don’t want your users to be able to create a new workspace site for every event they create. In fact, you just don’t want that option at all! This is easy to remedy, but requires SharePoint Designer to do so.

        From any view in your calendar, select List Toole->List in the top toolbar. In the Customize List section, select the Edit List function:


        This will open up your list in SharePoint designer (may take several seconds). Once it loads, your content types will be listed in the bottom box of the left column:


        Click on the name of one of the content types you want to remove the Workspace column from (i.e. Webinar). In the Customization box, select Edit content type columns. This will display a list of all the columns included in your content type and note what is required, optional and probably include several Hidden fields. Find Workspace under Column Name and select it to highlight the row (notice that Property value = Optional). Click on Optional once while the row is highlighted to trigger the dropdown selection, and select Hidden. Make any other changes you require, and then X out of the main window, which will prompt you to save your changes.

        Use the Navigation (far left column) to drive back to your Calendar (under Lists and Libraries) and repeat for all other content types that you want to hide this field from. When finished, you’ll find when your users select a content type to add to your calendar, this option is no longer visible.

        I hope you find this information helpful!