Category Archives: Conference

Biggest SharePointers gathering European SharePoint Conference (UAE to Denmark) only 4 SharePoint ;)


Editor’s note: Contributor Mai Omar Desouki is a Software Consultant at Infusion. Follow her @MaiOmarDesouki

I have been thinking of what to write about my experience at the European SharePoint Conference… but I thought if I kept thinking I will forget and get busier and won’t write anything which is the way things happen a lot. So I thought I’d just write what I experienced and that will be more from my heart than being arranged in bullets. This is not a technical article anyway.

I was speaker at the European SharePoint Conference and my session was about “What’s new in the SharePoint Designer 2013” enjoy the slides

The European SharePoint Conference @ Copenhagen … was my first trip to Europe. It was a great experience, great adventure.. but no matter what, the best part was meeting SharePointers

The Conference was in a great venue, the organizers did really hard work to make it happen. THANK YOU AGAIN & AGAIN.

Please correct me if I am wrong but really this is the biggest SharePointers gathering I have ever seen. It was always Tech.Ed that had the big number of attendees and sessions but it was more than just SharePoint sessions. Now, this conference was for SharePoint lovers only ;)

Great sessions, Impressive keynotes.

Around 1500 attended, 78 sponsors and 90 sessions. They were SharePointers who really love this product and I found them all very helpful. They would volunteer to help you find what you need, solve your problem; try to find a solution with you and more.. and on top of that they are collaborative people. This has been my experience with most of the other conferences & events as well.

The ESPC dinner was a really amazing gathering, I was really happy to be there. I met people I’ve only followed on Twitter or Facebook or their blogs and some who follow me too. Meeting them in person was very nice and I hope to see them again soon.

One Impressive person I have been blogging with for a year but never met was Dave Coleman [MS MVP]. At the conference, I finally had the chance to say hi

As always, the best speaker ever was Raffel Lukawiecki and this time he had a keynote which was really valuable.

SharePointer Ladies: Agnes Molnar, Erica Toelle & Sonja Madsen were also there.

I actually met more and more people I never knew before but who are amazing and talented, like Mike Fitzmaurice; his experience was really apparent.

I call them my friends: Joel Oleson, Michael Noel, Paul J. Swider, and I hope Bjørn Furuknap doesn’t mind if I call him a friend too. He gave me lots of advice at the conference and I really enjoyed listening to him “I will do it, I didn’t forget“.

I will keep it brief so let me share some pics of some of the people I had the honor of meeting.

If you missed it try to go next year; to the European SharePoint Conference!

10 Ways to Make a Splash in the SharePoint Community

You may also be interested in: Find and Move Files from anywhere to SharePoint with Skybrary


Editor’s note: Contributor Wendy Neal is a SharePoint 2010 Developer/Architect for GreatAmerica Leasing Corp. Follow her @SharePointWendy

The new year is here, so it seems appropriate to publish some kind of "10 things" list. This year I’ll share ten things you can do that can help you stand out in the SharePoint global community.

I went from a virtual unknown in the SharePoint community to a prominent contributor in just over a year’s time. I joined Twitter in August of 2010; however I didn’t really start actively tweeting until summer of 2011. I started my blog in August of 2011, and I posted my first article to in December of the same year, just over a year ago. Since then I’ve amassed over 4,500 followers on Twitter, more than doubled my LinkedIn connections, contributed more than 15 articles to and, and have either spoken at or made plans to speak in the future at various user group meetings, SharePoint Saturdays, and SharePoint conferences.

I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but after more than one person that I spoke with at the SharePoint Conference in November asked me how I had risen up so fast in the community, it got me to thinking. Just exactly what had I done over the past year to get where I’m at today? Whatever it was, it worked and so I thought I would share it with you.

After analyzing some of the things I’d done over the past year, I put together this list of ten things that I believe really helped me stand out and get noticed in the community. Some of these efforts were calculated, and others were more things I just did for the benefit of myself but others noticed them. At any rate, I believe that all of these things combined helped me to make a giant splash in the community in a short amount of time:

1. Write good content

First and foremost, you must provide good content if you are writing for a blog or other website. I started my blog simply as a knowledge base for myself. Over the past six years working with SharePoint, there have been numerous challenges that have sometimes been difficult to figure out. Once solved, I wanted to remember how in case I ever faced that issue again. The key to writing good content, however, is not just hastily documenting what you did. You must research to make sure it’s the best solution, then thoroughly test it out, and finally write it in a coherent way that makes sense to the reader. There are a lot of bloggers out there and according to Bjørn Furuknap, unless you’re willing to spend the proper amount of time testing and researching your solutions before you write, you should just shut up.

If you do put forth valuable content, you’ll eventually be noticed by the owners of prominent SharePoint community sites and be asked to contribute articles for them. I’m not sure how Mark Miller found my blog, but it seems that once I started writing articles for his site, I started to get much more notice. And you don’t need to wait to get "discovered" either; simply submit your articles to sites and if they are good, they’ll get published.

2. Be active on social networks

Much of the SharePoint community is very active on the various social networks. Probably the most popular is Twitter. You can follow hash tags such as #SharePoint, #SP2010 and #SP2013 to follow conversations around SharePoint and find people to follow. Twitter is great for finding information fast. I don’t know how many times I’ve tweeted with the #SPHelp hash tag when I’ve had a question about SharePoint, and someone has responded promptly with an answer.

SPYam on Yammer is a new community that sprung up earlier this year after Microsoft announced their acquisition of Yammer. This is where SharePoint folks go to engage in longer, threaded conversations that they can’t do on Twitter. If you’re not currently on the SPYam network, you can join here.

In addition to Twitter and Yammer, you can join different SharePoint groups on LinkedIn and Facebook and partake in discussions there.

3. Do something bold and daring

Back in June I participated in the EUSP Hunger Games Challenge, where myself and four other SharePoint developers competed to see who could build the best RSS feed reader solution in SharePoint. We had only ten days to build our solutions, which sounds like a lot but keep in mind we had to find time to code outside of our full time jobs and family commitments that were already scheduled (Father’s Day, anyone?) It was very grueling and challenging, yet incredibly rewarding. I didn’t win the challenge, but I learned a lot and it was a ton of fun.

So you’re not a developer? No problem, there are other bold things you can do. Create a video tutorial series on a topic you have knowledge about and post it to YouTube; conduct an online webinar; or interview SharePoint professionals that you admire and write about or post videos of your interviews.

4. Become a speaker

Writing will only get you so far in the SharePoint community. If you really want to be considered an expert, you’ll want to start speaking at conferences. You can and probably should start out small, however. Consider starting out by speaking at your local SharePoint user group meeting, then at a SharePoint Saturday. These events typically have much smaller audiences and are great for getting your feet wet in the speaking world. After that you can submit abstracts to the various major conferences that are put on throughout the world.

Is the thought of public speaking daunting to you? Even the most introverted people can be successful at speaking. Bing or Google will find you many tips for overcoming nervousness and anxiety, as well as putting together great presentations. Also you can study the techniques of presenters you admire. I find myself doing this often when I attend conferences, taking the best parts away from the various speakers that I enjoy watching and visualizing myself implementing their tactics.

5. Emulate/copy other thought leaders

Everyone has heroes, role models, or people they admire. Growing up for me it was athletes like Walter Payton and Michael Jordan due to their incredible work ethic and fierce competitiveness. Many people aspire to be like the people they admire, and this holds true in the business world as well. There are many SharePoint thought leaders that have emerged who I admire very much. Some of these leaders include Dux Raymond Sy, Marc Anderson, Mark Miller, Christian Buckley, Laura Rogers, and Jeremy Thake, among others.

They say that imitation is the best form of flattery; I believe it’s the easiest way to attain a goal you wish to achieve. Why recreate the wheel when you can do what others did to get to where you want to go? I’m not saying copy or steal their content, or do exactly what they did verbatim; what I’m saying is do some of the same things they do: share and tweet great content, speak at conferences, create a video series, interact with them via social networks (but please be careful not to stalk!) Now you will probably never see me dance to Gangnam Style or sing SharePoint is Nice Nice Baby like Dux, however I do like how he makes himself approachable and available to anyone who has a question, which is something I can try to do.

6. Volunteer without expecting anything in return

There is a great book called "The Go-Giver" by Bob Burg and John David Mann which is basically a story about a man who was a real go-getter in the corporate world, who worked very hard and fast, but it seemed like the harder he worked, the further away his goals appeared. It wasn’t until he started to give, without expecting anything in return, that everything just started to fall into place and good things happened.

If you write, or volunteer to speak at SharePoint Saturdays, or participate in user groups, or spend hours answering forum questions with ulterior motives, you’re not going to get very far. However if you freely give of your time without expecting anything from anyone, opportunities will literally just fall into your lap. For example, I’ve been given free copies of software to test out, I received a press pass to attend a prominent SharePoint conference last summer, and I’ve had the opportunity to take on some freelance writing projects since I’ve been active in the community. I certainly did not ask for any of these things, and never even dreamed that these kinds of opportunities would arise.

7. Be active in local user groups and SharePoint Saturdays

A great way to meet other local community members is to attend, speak at, or volunteer to help at your local SharePoint user group or a SharePoint Saturday. I’ve had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Iowa SharePoint user group in Des Moines. I don’t make it as often as I’d like because it’s nearly a 2-hour drive one way. Perhaps a project for 2013 would be to start a user group closer to home.

I’ve also had the privilege of attending SharePoint Saturday Twin Cites twice - the first time as a volunteer and attendee; the second time as a speaker. I met so many great people and also learned a little about SharePoint while I was there. If you’ve never attended a SharePoint Saturday, I’d highly recommend it. According to the SharePoint Saturday website, "SharePoint Saturday is FREE, open to the public and is your local chance to immerse yourself in SharePoint!"

8. Be a reporter

One thing I enjoy doing when I attend conferences is to write reviews of some of the sessions I attend, or even report on the conference in general. It’s a great way to remember what I learned but also to share that knowledge with people who could not attend. I like how Jennifer Mason tweets real-time commentary from the events she attends. It’s almost like being there yourself.

You can also attend webinars put on by the community leaders that you admire (even if you already know the content that they are presenting) and tweet about it, or better yet write an article about it. Those that didn’t have a chance to attend can read about it later from an unbiased attendee.

Another thing you can do is retweet SharePoint events, conference sign-up requests, speaker calls, others’ new blog posts and articles, anything related to the community. You’ll become known as a trusted source of community information (in fact, you may even be mistaken for an organizer of an event or the author of the article you tweeted about from time to time).

9. Build your personal brand

At the SHARE Conference in Atlanta last year, I attended a session presented by Jeff Willinger that focused on how a person could build their own personal brand in the online world. At the beginning of the session he asked how many of us had set our LinkedIn headlines to "[My Title] at [My Company]." Almost all hands went up, mine included. He then explained how the headline should be a description of who you are, and not who you work for. After the session I changed my tagline to "SharePoint Architect, Developer, Evangelist, Branding, User Empowerment, Writer, Speaker." Shortly after that, I started to get many more connection requests.

I also think it’s important to make sure that all your social channels are consistent with regards to photos and information. For example, my profile pages for YouTube, SlideShare, About.Me, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. all use the same profile and background photos (where applicable), and my bio is very similar if not identical across all of them. I think of these profile pages as marketing or advertising pages for myself; and by taking the time to be consistent across all of them, it shows that I’m professional and thorough, and it lets people know exactly who I am.

Christian Buckley put together a great eBook titled Inside the SharePoint Community: 4 Strategies for Building Your Personal Brand that has tons of great tips for becoming more involved in the SharePoint community and building your brand. It’s great; I highly recommend reading it.

10. Comment on other blogs

This is one that I haven’t done as much as I’d like, and I’m going to try to do it more often in 2013. Commenting on another person’s blog tells the author that you liked their content enough to take the time to write a response vs. just clicking a button to share it on Facebook or Twitter. This seems to be somewhat of a lost art. Before social networks got big, this was probably the primary way to interact with bloggers and people in the community. I’d like to see more people commenting on blog posts in the future. It’s a great way to preserve the conversation surrounding the article, and oftentimes you can learn as much if not more about the subject by reading the comments.

Get started now!

If you would like to become more active in the SharePoint community, this list should give you some ideas to get started. Remember, even the veteran leaders of the community were unknowns when they started, so if you’re hesitant or don’t think you have much to offer, don’t let that stop you. Just jump right in, the water’s warm!

What are some other things you’ve done to contribute to or stand out in the community? Please share in the comments.

This article was originally posted on Wendy’s blog SharePointWendy.

#SPC12: Five Improvements in SharePoint 2013 for End Users

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


Editor’s note: Contributor Anthony Pham is a SharePoint solutions consultant for KWizcom. Follow him @spappcenter

At SharePoint Conference 2012(SPC12) two weeks ago in Las Vegas, Microsoft showcased SharePoint 2013 during the keynote session. The 2 hour session briefly covered all new features that had the audience applauding. To get more in depth information, I attended 14 of the 200+ available sessions.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite improvements in SharePoint 2013 for end users. I will follow up with 2 separate posts for IT professionals and Developers.

1. User Experience

The first noticeable improvement in SharePoint 2013 is the user experience. The look/feel is very clean and modern with the implementation of metro design principles. New improvements for the mobile experience are the ability to design sites to display on different device channels such as smartphones, tablets and desktop. My favorite improvement is the “Drag and Drop” feature which allows you to drag files from your desktop and upload to your SharePoint document libraries, is now supported. This does not require ActiveX and is cross browser supported!

2. Collaboration

Improvements to collaboration has given users the ability create discussions two ways using new templates called Community Site and Community Portal. These templates allow users to collaborate more fully because they can integrate social media feature such as mircoblog, newsfeeds and distributed cache services. These improvements to collaboration make it easier for users to stay informed about what’s going in the organization

3. Yammer

Yammer is a service used for private communication within organizations or between organizational members. Access to this service provides an organization with a variety of social tools that make it easy to collaborate and work together. Prior to SharePoint 2013, critics complained that the platform lacked enterprise social networking (ESN) capabilities. So in June 2012, Microsoft acquired ESN leader, Yammer for 1.6 billion and planned to integrate it with SharePoint on cloud hosting.

During SPC12, Microsoft showed off how Yammer provides a conversation layer to SharePoint and can actually be stored within it or SkyDrive Pro. The great thing about this is you’ll be able to preview, edit, comment, or follow items from within Yammer or SharePoint.

4. Social features

It is now really easy to invite people to a team site. There is a static social bar on the top right of every team site where you can click “SHARE” and enter the people you would like to invite. Beside it you can click “FOLLOW” to get status updates about the followed items in the newsfeed.

5. Workflows

In SharePoint 2013 the workflow platform is completely different than in 2007 or 2010. A new service is required to run these 2013 workflows called the Workflow Service Manager. There are a lot of enhancements to the workflow design interface and experience. My favorite addition is that “True stages” section has been added, which means that the workflow does not have to run only top to bottom order anymore. Loops can be created and “Go To” transition actions enable you to specify, based on conditions which stage you want to be processed next. You can set the loops to run a certain number of times, expressions and conditions.

If you are uncomfortable with these changes, the 2010 workflow platform has been carried forward too. You can keep the 2010 workflow experience by not installing and configure Workflow Manager. Working with SharePoint 2013 workflows will take some time to get used, however having the new capabilities will be worth it.

Reflecting back on SPC12


With an official announced 10,000 attendees at the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas this year from 85 countries and over 7000 watching live on the webcast and #SPC12 hash tag trending even with extremely poor Wi-Fi access during the week…this year’s SPC12 was a major hit!

The conference was sponsored by over 200 companies and if the 250+ sessions over four days wasn’t enough the expo hall was packed the brim full of vendors ready to pitch their latest add-ons to SharePoint.

The keynote focused heavily on the cloud throughout, I do understand that Microsoft marketing team need to push the future…but a quick straw poll as we drew the winning ticket for the Ducati we gave away on the AvePoint booth on Thursday afternoon proved that a good 95% weren’t even considering it out of the 1000+ waiting to see whether they were going to win.


The biggest push in the whole keynote in my opinion came from the announcement of 3 month "service updates" for SharePoint Online Office 365 tenants. There was no announcements of any changes to the on-premises 3 year release cycles with 2 service packs. This will obviously be the way to tempt organizations to Office 365 from on-premises which won’t be getting the new features for a LONG time after.

Microsoft wanted to make a big point by having all demonstrations on Office 365 from the Amsterdam datacenter to try and prove that geographically dispersed organizations can use one central tenancies.

The other key themes or "disruptive technologies" that Microsoft wanted you to "embrace" were "mobile", "social" and "the experience".


SharePoint’s mobile story to date has been very poor with a micro-browser rendering system best left to the deceased Blackberry platform. Comparing SharePoint collaboration workload competitors who have a strong mobile story such as Google Docs, Alfresco and, Microsoft were really having to make a splash in this round. The announcement of a Windows Phone 8 client which I am already using with our own internal Intranet from a social perspective is great! The information around a iOS and Android equivalent is also great news, although expect not all functionality to be on those devices as per Microsoft’s mandate to encourage Windows Phone adoption. The existing Office app for Windows Phone has proved extremely handy and the SkyDrive Pro integration will be a big hit for offline collaboration scenarios and finally nails what Groove and SharePoint Workspace tried to achieve in the last 6 years.

There was a light demo of a Windows 8 RT app for SharePoint expected early next year. It will be interesting to see how the SharePoint iOS vendor apps survive which stronger plays in this space in 2013.

SharePoint Social

The third thing for the audience to embrace was SharePoint social, not to be confused with Yammer, which I’ll get to in a moment. SharePoint social was meant to make a big splash 3 years ago and had plenty of excuses around it being two early 6 years when it launched to be compared to Facebook. Even 3 years later in 2010, the social platform was weak and barely used from sharing activity social effort. Microsoft tended to lean on "Discussion Boards", "Wikis" and "blogs" as social, which sadly didn’t get touched in 2010 and haven’t again in 2013. The new social in 2013 was demonstrated around the "Communities" site template with very light badge functionality and the new "follow" capability for documents, people, tags and sites. I believe the platform has the ability to be adopted now in 2013 by organizations, but still think comparing it to true enterprise social platforms it really isn’t there yet, but it’s a start.


It was great to hear that this wave had 4 times as many people focusing on user experience, and it does really show. They talked about how Office 365 is the "largest scale enterprise cloud service in the world", I guess all vendors claim this, it would be interesting to see how this stacks up against Google’s numbers.

It is always interesting to see what Microsoft think are the biggest experience changes and no surprises to see SkyDrive Pro, Site Hub, Team site updates, Apps, Search and oddly Outlook web access being showcased…which is not SharePoint whatsoever. This highlighted to me that the lines between Exchange, SharePoint and Office are blurring and questioned the reality of a SharePoint conference next year and maybe more of an "Office 365 conference".


There was a distinct divide in the keynote, with the Yammer team shoved awkwardly in the middle between two very strong "blue badge" Microsoft sections of the major themes and the new development model. I like the fact that their approach was different from the usual Microsoft "voice" but suspect next time we see them present they will be "neutralized".

The Microsoft team introduced the reasons for the acquisition was that Yammer are "the leaders in enterprise social" with the largest user base of 200,000 organizations in 150 countries in 24 languages and 85% fortune 500. They focused on Yammer’s "rapid innovation" pioneering new features based on user feedback and voluntary adoption watching analytical usage data to prioritize features.

The big question a lot of my enterprise customers have been asking is around the story of SharePoint social and Yammer and I was expecting it to be presented clearly. But sadly all they really announced was that Office 365 SharePoint Online customers could get Yammer Premium as part of their package and that there was already "integration" between the two. What disappointed me was that the integration has already been known as this was already in place before the acquisition.

The Yammer guys focused on distinct features to integrate were the "enterprise graph", "post to yammer" in the SharePoint ribbon, "yammer search" within SharePoint search and embedding a document reference from SharePoint in a yammer post. Near futures touted were integration with SkyDrive Pro and Office Web Apps.

Their basic roadmap discussed an "open graph", more web parts, and integration with Dynamics (which was shown at YamJam the week earlier). Deeper integration will tackle the concerns around a unified feed, tighter integration with documents and seamless identity integration. They also went on to discuss how they would hook into all of Office 365 from Skype, Lync through to Outlook and Exchange…."faster than you might expect from us". From this I would read that "SharePoint social" at best will be a little brother not focused on anymore and that Yammer will be the true enterprise social focus at Microsoft. The biggest facepalm moment of this was from discussions with various people at ask the experts is that Yammer will be "cloud-only" so for a lot of organizations out of reach.

We have been evaluating Yammer internally and to be honest have found that even it isn’t fully baked and the Windows Phone app is barely usable which is a key to the social enterprise.

There are way too many overlaps between SharePoint social and Yammer right now and although Microsoft promise a more unified story, from my experience, don’t expect it in 2013 if they can’t even talk marketing slides yet. You can follow, like, post statuses, view activity completely in isolation of each other and there is no mechanism to see both in one stream. In my opinion, this is going to confuse the hell out of end users and so the best approach I can recommend for now is to pick one and shut the other off the best you can. The easiest one to switch off is obviously going to be Yammer as it’s completely separate. Switching off SharePoint social is not a big tick box, it’s going to take a lot of custom CSS hacks and master page tweaks for sure.


The innovation focus through the keynote and the sessions during the week were that SharePoint 2013 was “built from the cloud up” and you can see this when looking at the feature comparison between Office 365 SharePoint Online and SharePoint on-premise. And as discussed with the 3 month cadence of SharePoint Online they were “recommending you move to cloud for new experience”.

The upgrade story has got better this time round which obviously was for the benefit of them with Office 365 existing tenants and also on-premises customers. But don’t be fooled by how easy they say it is, expect the same experience as last time if you have customizations and not just a vanilla content database that can be moved to any old farm.

The main improvement from innovation aspects is the announcement of the performance improvements with “40% efficient use of bandwidth” due to “4x image compression” with one example used of the ribbon going from 400kb to 100Kb. They also quoted SQL being 50% faster due to enhanced stored procedures.

The shredded storage focus in the keynote around growth of content databases in average collaboration load being less compared to 2010 due to it storing deltas is a true fact, but if you attended mine and Dan’s session you would have also seen that with it comes a big performance hit from user experience. More details on this to come from me in the future on this and the differences between it and RBS + de-duplication technology.

I have to hand it to them from an innovation aspect on the new app-model with the ability to essentially build your app in php, perl, html5, or whatever and host it wherever and it be able to hook into SharePoint 2013 via the oAuth model if using SharePoint Online. They’re betting on the fact that existing developer ecosystems will start building integration into SharePoint, the market place is looking pretty quiet at the moment but I expect that to grow faster once SharePoint Online is in production with 2013 with all its tenants and demand starts to be driven.


I had two sessions at SPC12, one with Dan Holme focused on IT Pro story on-premises and what’s new which received very good scores from attendees and a vendor session with Dana Simberkoff around Governance and Compliance mapped to hybrid scenarios which also received above average scores. So I was personally very happy with my week! If you were unable to attend these sessions whilst you were at the conference because you were too busy, please log into MySPC and check them out!

Chris Givens has written a great little PowerShell script to pull down all the SPC PowerPoint and MP4 files which helped me grab it all and dump it on my Surface RT to watch on my many flights during my travels! Learning heaps already and encourage you to do the same as pretty sure you didn’t get to 250 odd sessions at the event itself with 8 running at once most times of the day! Note you need a MySPC login with access to sessions to get this content.

What wasn’t answered all week

For me, other than what I’ve already discussed around Yammer, some things I came away with that weren’t answered in a public forum were the release cadence for SharePoint on-premise…if our bleeding edge cloud friends get shiny new things every 3 months…when can us on-premise guys get them? In general there seemed to be a lack of theme around on-premise, and my discussions with a lot of people though out the week was that it was disappointing due to that fact.


Keynotes are always a tricky thing, especially with a room loaded with press, MVPs, office 365 customers and on-premise customers. I think overall it was a great keynote and tip my hat to those involved for a job well done. As for the conference, it astounds me how smoothly the week ran, the unfortunate Wi-Fi issues were out of their control and I spoke to a few that were seriously doing EVERYTHING they could to rectify it.


I had a great week, although extremely busy representing AvePoint and my community commitments and didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with good friends in the community. I did however get to have a few minutes one on one with Jon Bon Jovi before the SPC12 attendee party started, Jon is a huge hero of mine and I’ve seen him over 10 times and been backstage once before but unfortunately didn’t get to talk to him. So getting a chance to chat to him made my week to be honest!

SPC12: Day 4 - Summary of Reducing Organizational Risk Through Effective Information Management


Editor’s note: Contributor Frederik Leksell is a Consultant for Accigo AB. Follow him @LetsTalkGov

Paul Olenick, presenting.

Okay, so this is the last day of SPC12. Some of us were at the Axceller party the day before, which was a very good party!

But now we will focus on the session at hand. Paul is talking some about how risk management can lead to wellness and success.


  • Define it
  • Apply it
  • Wrap it up

Information Management

It comes in, it comes out, it grows, and it rests. We want to do something with it: React, Proact (iv), Find, Safe Keep, Rely. We are not just talking about documents, but also people and other context.

The IT View is: Policy, Metadata, and Search.

Paul is now describing what all of these are. It seems a little naive as most people in this room already know what it is. Information management is not a list of features Paul says, yes that is correct. It’s more about reaction to data or how to get data reacted on.

  • React, Tools: Metadata
  • Proact (iv) Tools: Policy, Metadata, and Search
  • Find Tools: Search, Metadata
  • Safe Keep Tools: Policy, Metadata
  • Rely Tools: Metadata

Obvious stuff

  • Audits: Legal, Financial
  • Compliance: HIPPA, Affordable care act
  • Data security, Permissions, e-mail, print

Not so obvious stuff

  • Ineffectiveness.
  • Fundability.
  • Incorrect processes.
  • Inability to react.
  • Frustrated information workers.
  • Lack of transparency.
  • Loss of IP.
  • Productivity leak.
  • Loss of revenue.

Some of this probably applies to most organizations; it’s a good point as to what happens without IM.

Hidden Risks

Can’t: React, Proact (iv), Find, Safe Keep, Rely tec… Paul didn’t speak much more about this. Instead we went to a demo.

eDiscovery can make snapshots of lots of data from a search query. It can be used when you have a legal audit. SharePoint has this out of the box. It’s a very good feature in fact, I like this and it really gives business value if you have structured data.

With the auditing policy on you can create reports on document changes etc. Paul didn’t talk much more about this, just explained how much he helped companies save money with this.

Now it starts to get a bit more technical, let’s see if Paul can keep it a business track.

Example 2: Inability to visualize data

Data outside SharePoint in silos that are related but they could not be connected…By using search crawling they made a unique record that could help FAST search to crawl different file servers and relate data.

Hmmm, don’t know if this is correct since I don’t have the technical skills in this area.

Points that you need, a Foundation

  • Focus and define high-level business value
  • Everything should have a specific outcome
  • Know your audience
  • Find consensus and build form there. (Org buy-in)
  • Identify and quantify risk
  • Identify and quantify opportunities
  • Determine project scope
  • Build your buy-in

His point here is don’t talk to the CIO, talk to the business. It’s very good that he tells everyone that, it’s a big plus!

Conceptual, not technical

  • Fear of impending business.
  • Fear of automation. This is something I have felt as well, also when talking about integrations.
  • Resistance from end-users.
  • Getting into the weeds.
  • Failure to gain consensus.
  • Understand how to quantify risks.

Wrap it up

  • Stay business focused.
  • Focus on opportunity and revenue.
  • Metadata is the fuel that drives automation and search, surfacing info.
  • Challenges will be organizational, not technical.

Some very good point here!

Now I need to get to the next session, so no more about this right now. I will create an article, later on, filling in all the gaps.

SPC12: Day 3 - Summary of Planning for the Lifecycle of Your SharePoint 2013 Website


Editor’s note: Contributor Frederik Leksell is a Consultant for Accigo AB. Follow him @LetsTalkGov

Geoffery Edge, presenting.

The session begins with an image on a disgusting toilet in the woods, saying you just want to go here if you need to. It’s the same with websites, bad content and navigation gives the same effect.

Get people to engage, make UX work and information architecture to work.


  • Project planning
  • Design roadmap.
  • Build roadmap

Project planning

We are looking at a new website here. We want to get people to stay at the site, and have a good number of visitors and have many page views.

The need for social media is important. Very good points, now let’s hope that he delivers some smart things.;-)

Waterfall project vs. Continuous project with governance. Very good! User feedback seems to be the big thing to get your website in good shape and build on.

The Team has to have lots of different people with different expertise. Mainly what I believe an intranet needs as well. Developer/web and SharePoint, Infrastructure, Business analyst, PM, UI designer, UX expert, Content strategist, Graphic designer. Last but not least a business sponsor.

3 things:

  • Site UX/Branding
  • Infrastructure
  • Content and workflows

All this is a web site…

But IA is most important, and you need to do this first, exactly what I believe in! When you have IA then you can start wireframes followed by design and functional prototype. Create meta data based on Mapped IA, pretty smart!


You need to choose what is most important, content or branding? Create wireframes to see your design and UX. MS has an expression tool for wireframes. I didn’t know this…

Make your modifications in the wireframe until you are satisfied with IA and UX. Then start your design comp. Create a functional prototype with design manager. Use your tools of choose to do the HTML site.

Social media Strategy

Social integration and social design. Social integration is Facebook, but I think twitter, LinkedIn and others also are important. Facebook is more private then business. To get FB into a site you can use an app model in SharePoint.  In the content editor MS added a FB app from the SharePoint store. The Facebook integration can take the meta data from the site/page and post that to Facebook. This is standard on WordPress which is what I know…

Social design

Designing your site to be social… Trip advisor uses FB integration to see where your friends have traveled. You can see what others think and what others have written about it.

Mobile strategy

A strategy to deliver a good experience to any device and browsers. Responsive design is what’s hot today. Personally I love responsive design ;-)

You need to think about what applications you use. You can’t add old flash stuff as then they won’t work on all devices. And you can’t use all HTML5 and CSS3 as then it won’t work in IE7 and 8.


Regarding SP2013 New WCM concepts, you need to think about how you use them. You can use search driven publishing model and that will also integrate with Dynamics eCommerce. Then it gets cool! ;-) We use search to create navigation, pages, recommendations on topics etc. You can even use this indexed content outside SharePoint.

Translation services are available but you still have to use a human to make it good language ;-)

Recommend things to look at depending on which user it is that sees the page. If they have connected with FB then you can see that the user is 44 years old and comes from Sweden etc… And based on this you can choose what you want to show.

Web Analytics

Webtrends, Google analytics. Apparently there is an app for webtrends. I guess there will be one for Google analytics as well.

This is, in short, what the session was about. I am sorry I didn’t have time to add my own reflections, but the session was very fast paced. There is also not a lot of time in-between sessions. So this will have to do.

SPC12: Day 3 - Summary of Achieving Organizational Buy-in to Transform Your Enterprise


Editor’s note: Contributor Frederik Leksell is a Consultant for Accigo AB. Follow him @LetsTalkGov

So, this is my third session of the day and it’s all about organizational buy-in. Let’s hope that I can get some good stuff out of this.

Adam Levithan is presenting this session. His belief: why code when you can click.

The first question of this session is: Why are you here? People are saying that they have problems with buy-in due to culture etc.

The next question; what will you get out of this session? Shortcuts; strategies, new job; his spin on this.


  • Understand Context
  • Identify Value
  • Create Buy-in


Context is priceless as it is for me (If it is for me). It’s true without good content you don’t bother looking at it or even trying to find it.

Adam says that context is in the branding of a site, just because it’s aimed at me. I would say if it were my site and my personal brand, then I would think so, but if it’s another brand that I don’t care about then it’s totally useless. (this can be discussed ;-)

Adam talks about what the different roles are in the organization. The managers just work to get their own things done, not knowing what other managers really do, and maybe not knowing what their staff is doing either. The staff does the work and reports up. They want to solve problems that they see in the organization; with or without technology I would say.

So we see things differently and we do things in different ways to accomplish our tasks.

Identify Value

Let’s try collaboration, YEEE (Failure) No clear business needs, luck of engaged stakeholders, bad experience, and large growth of site. He calls it mad mess :-)

Business development has to be measurable, the examples are kind of strange and not very easy to follow, so sorry for lame text here… According to Adam, business value is having all tasks gathered in one place, having a shared calendar, and shared documents. This is a bit naive; I would say this does not solve a business need. According to Adam, the business value is that they collaborate. Well, that could add some value but not very measurable. And it’s a small value in general.

HR uses an InfoPath form to allow employees to request salary increases. It’s an application, but does it really work that way in an organization? Not from what I’ve heard!

So what he’s saying is that features can give business value. But you need to know what business goals you want to support. You can’t just add features to hope they give ROI. But this is my view…

Next thing that gives value according to Adam is sharing. Yes it can speed up the job, but the end users need to change the way the work before this can start working. It’s all about change, the intranet or collaboration site needs to be their daily living place. Don’t you agree?

The following is a summary of this part of the presentation. It’s not exactly what he talked about, but close to it:

  • Organize; centralize communication and documentation, “questionable.”
  • Discover; Connect with people, easy ways to find information and people
  • Build; Customize look and feel, business processes

So this was supposed to identify value, but he has not said anything about identifying value. Instead he has spoken more about how to use features to try and get some sort of value. I may be optimistic, but that’s how I am.

Create Buy-in

  • Align the value
  • Prioritize the features
  • Publicize a roadmap

Different needs:

I get to see the list of things that was created with the different features in SharePoint. Mapping needs to parts of the organization like CR, IT etc.. Then you Map the needs to the features SharePoint has. Then you prioritize them all.

I’m sorry to say, but this sounds all wrong, we don’t look for features we look for real business value, we don’t invest in SharePoint to map our needs to the features!

But to continue, we then should communicate what we do, and show a roadmap that says that we should increase functionality based on feedback… Adding more features. The biggest problem is that when you do this you get the single persons feedback, and that doesn’t necessarily give value for more than one person.

My conclusion is that he is aiming in the wrong direction.

SPC12: Day 3 - Summary of Creating Your Brand in SharePoint 2013 On-Premises or in the Cloud


Editor’s note: Contributor Frederik Leksell is a Consultant for Accigo AB. Follow him @LetsTalkGov

So, this is day 3 and I attend my first developer session (Creating a brand), looking forward to see how much developing it is, or if it is more of configuration. I’m sitting behind a Norwegian team called Evry, it’s easy to see as they have branded shirts on ;-)

My question before this session starts is: will this be about themes or Design manager? (If its too much code, then I am screwed ;-) Phew, they say that it will not be that much code.

Randy Drisgrill and John Ross are presenting the session; they are both MVP’s, which seems to be important;-)


  • Intro Branding on premise and online
  • Low Effort branding
  • Medium Effort branding
  • High Effort branding
  • SharePoint Online


The talk is about branding, in the correct sense, showing MS logos that have changed during the years. Branding applies to all your companies marketing and websites. Website branding is images, logos, css etc. There are two plans, different branding, Small business plan and Enterprise plan. It is interesting to see that MS has different ability’s on branding in the different plans.

Their approach to branding is Low, Medium, High and apparently there is lots of change in the Medium Effort. It’s the design manager that helps out to do more in medium Effort.

Low Effort branding

  • Page editor in SP 2010 is pretty much the same as in SP 2013, still have ribbon etc. where you can add video, images web parts etc.
  • Pretty much what I usually say is that content publishing is important to get branding to look nice and have a good UX.
  • Composed looks, the themes have evolved and enable you to do themes with custom images and colors, master page etc. My observation is that the default themes are pretty ugly ;-)
  • It actually looks a bit like editing a WordPress theme, but with less functionality, you choose your theme location, image url’s, master page url etc…
  • You can choose what fonts can be available in the editor. I’m not sure that it’s useful, but it is an option.

Medium Effort Branding

  • Design manager is part of the medium effort branding. The design manager can be found in the site actions, but you need to have publishing activated on the site.
  • Basically you get your HTML and CSS uploaded to the design manager and you apply SharePoint objects like search. SharePoint designer is just optional when using design manager.
  • You can use whatever web tool to create your branding, notepad, Coda etc.
  • Both the master page and the page layouts can be edited with your web tools.
  • You can use the snippets gallery to get your navigation, breadcrumbs, search boxes, title, logo etc. into the HTML design.
  • You just copy the snippet code from the snippet gallery into the HTML code, add your own CSS and branding to it.
  • All this can be done in a sandbox solution which you can later publish.
  • In your master page gallery folder you can create a subfolder to your branding. Keep it nice and tight so that it is easy to understand and manage. Good practice is to document what you do as well; you may need it if your servers crash.
  • Publish version of the HTML file, before you start adding your snippets, when you do this you get a master page in the theme folder.
  • Now you can go in to the snippets gallery and change the options on the snippets you like to have, copy the snippets code and add to the HTML file in the place you want it. When you click save, the html file will update the master file automatically. Pretty sweet!
    (What you have to remember is that you need to brand all the site templates that you use. If you don’t you will get an unbranded page when you search or similar.)
  • CSS, can be applied with a script editor web part, or add it to you master page. Also the design manager applies the CSS automatically.
  • They show us some CSS tools, like F12 developer, Firebug for Firefox etc. I usually use them all to make sure the site works in all browsers. What is nice with Firebug and other tools is that you can change the CSS on the live site and see what the effect will be. When you have it right you can just copy it into the CSS file.

Full Effort branding

  • Planning for full branding is more about governance of branding. You need to have vision, documentation, test specifications and a strategy for branding.
  • You need to remember that SP foundation doesn’t have design manager. Also remember that when you brand collaboration sites, then MDS is on. But when you edit with design manager it turns that off. So if you want MDS to get up the speed you need to create your brand the traditional way.
    (The content search web part can now be branded with HTML/CSS/java scripts.)

SharePoint Online

Public facing sites in Online are different, they have added ribbon tools to do things faster online like change the footer text etc. just to speed up a bit.

SPC12: Live from Las Vegas


Leading up to SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas, we are featuring some of our contributing authors and what they will be doing at the conference.

Editor’s note: Contributor D’arce Hess is a SharePoint Developer at PixelMill. Follow her @darcehess

Things are starting to heat up here in Las Vegas as developers, end-users and all things SharePoint start to arrive for the highly anticipated start of Microsoft’s SharePoint Conference 2012 being held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV.

The registration for the conference has already reached 10,000+ setting a new record for attendance for the event. With a wide array of seminars, vendors and the after-hours events, there will be no shortage of networking opportunities and experiences to last for years to come. With the up and coming roll-out of SharePoint 2013, many of the participants are gearing up for the next generation of SharePoint technology. Are you ready?

Are you coming to SPC? If so, remember a few simple rules to surviving Las Vegas, coming from the one who lived there twenty years;

  1. Drink lots of WATER! There are many events and you will become dehydrated. Alcohol does not count.
  2. Take a picture of your room number and which tower you are in. After a long day, you will forget.
  3. Bring extra cash for cabs, drinks or any miscellaneous items you may want. ATM fees at the casinos are well over $5.00.
  4. Have fun, but remember that the saying “What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Vegas” only counted before the invention of Twitter, YouTube and cell phones with cameras. In other words, don’t do anything you wouldn’t feel comfortable with the whole world knowing.