Category Archives: Libraries and Lists

SharePoint 2010 Status Indicators

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Editor’s note: Follow contributor Justin Singer @dynamics_101

What are SharePoint 2010 Status Indicators?

Set a goal to increase sales in North America by 10 % in 6 months but don’t know how to monitor the up-to-date business performance? Want to increase employee retention rate but don’t know what to measure in order to improve it? Have all the data collected from your calling center but can’t visualize employee work performance? Status Indicator in SharePoint 2010 can help you solve these problems easily. Status Indicator can use any kind of numeric information to measure performance or progress against a set of targets and therefore allows you to visualize the real-time status of a process. This post explains Status indicator in details and shows you step by step how to create a Status Indicator in SharePoint 2010.

How can SharePoint Status Indicators improve performance?

Having said that status indicators are used to keep track of progress against its target, well-selected status indicators can actually help improve business performance. For example, utilization rate of a consultant is a key success factor to a consulting firm. If this value is measured, updated and shown on a Web page, the managers can monitor employee performance easily and the employees are encouraged to improve work performance. In order to utilize Status Indicator to improve performance, the manager needs to identify the most important factors of business success. Taking into the consideration of the source of the data, the calculation, the goal settings and data security, the manager needs to carefully design the indicator so that it addresses the key issues of an organization.

Data Source:

Indicator values can be selected from different sources of data. Depending on the source, there are four types of status indicator that can be created in SharePoint 2010:

  • Data from SharePoint lists: If you have numeric data stored in a SharePoint list, you can select, count, or aggregate the values in the SharePoint list to be used as an indicator value.
  • From Microsoft Excel workbooks: If you have a Microsoft Excel workbook stored in a SharePoint library, you can select the value in a cell from the Excel workbook directly as the indicator value. When the workbook data changes, the indicator value will be updated automatically.
  • From Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Analysis Services: If the indicator value is retrieved through a data connection with SharePoint server, this option should be selected. E.g. You can import a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) from a SQL Server Analysis Service cube
  • Manually Entered information: If you want to manually enter information to be used an indicator value, choose this indicator type. It is recommended for measuring process of one-time projects.

Data Security:

Data security is a key element to the success of using Status Indicator. Whether the status indicator contains sensitive information or not, to guarantee accuracy of the indicator, only authorized personnel should view or change the data. To protect data, there are several ways to set permissions in SharePoint 2010, such as setting permissions on a source list and etc.

Create a status indicator:

In order to create a status indicator, you first need to create a Status List or a Web Part with Status List. Here I’ll show you step by step how to create a Status List on a SharePoint site:

Step 1: Click Site Actions, then click View All Site Content


Step2: On the All Site Content page, click Create


Step3: From the Custom Lists column, click Status List


Step4: Enter the Name and Descriptions of the Status list and choose Yes to display the list on the Quick Launch bar, and then click Create


Now you can view the list from the Quick Launch bar and create new status indicator here:


Step 5: Click New and choose the status indicator type based on data source


Step 6: Enter the Name and Description of the status indicator. Notice the settings of status indicator vary depending on the type you selected. Here we will show you examples of Fixed Value based and Excel workbook based indicator.

  • Fixed Value based Status Indicator:

Manually enter Indicator Value:


  • From Microsoft Excel workbooks

    If you choose to create status indicator from Microsoft Excel workbooks, you will see the following box. To set the indicator value, first type the URL of the workbook. Note that the Excel workbook must be saved in a SharePoint library in the same site. Click the icon on the right side of the box to browse the site and select the workbook.


Click the icon on the right side of the Cell Address box to select the cell:


Step 7: Set the Status Icon rules. From the Better values are dropdown list, choose higher if the higher values are better and choose lower if the lower values are better. Enter manually the goal value and the warning value

Step 8: (Optional), In the Details Page box, enter the URL of the page that has detailed information about the indicator.


Note: you can also choose to set Update Rules if the indicator value is NOT entered manually


Step 9: Click OK


An indicator is created and listed in the Status List (named Employee Monthly Sales Details):


To view the details of the indicator, click on the name of the indicator:


Well done! You’ve just created a Status list and a Status Indicator on a SharePoint site.





SharePoint: Travel Arrangements in a Team Site

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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

In my previous post I realized that I did not have an example of data collection via Excel files, so here is one.

Are you on the receiving end of Excel files that you have to complete and return? Isn’t that annoying?

  • You have to open the file, enter the data, save the document on your PC, open email, pick file from your PC and then return it to the sender.
  • The sender has to spend lots of time on aggregating the different Excel files into one. He or she has to deal with changes.
  • Then you have to wait until the sender shares all information with you, as well as versions 2 and 3 etc. – if he or she ever does.

What was the situation?

Our HR team organized a global business development training several times a year, for a number of employees from all over the world. It was done in a central location. The training manager wanted to share preparation materials, as well as documentation and an evaluation for after the training, in a Team Site.

What is the solution?

The first step was to create a Team Site for the curriculum (calendar), the pre-reading material (document library) and pictures and bios of the attendees (picture library). After the training, the documentation would be added in another document library.

The training manager started saying “For our evaluation I always use SurveyMo…” but she stopped quickly when she saw the expression on my face.

I added a SharePoint survey to the site.

2013-09-13-TravelArrangements-02.pngThen she told me she was going to send out the customary Excel file to collect travel and diet details. She was not looking forward to that, because it meant a lot of cutting and pasting information. Then there were always changes to the schedules after she had completed and shared the consolidated file. Surely she could spend her time on better things!

So, in the Training Team Site we created a custom list with the relevant fields.

Now, with the introduction of the site to the participants she also sent a link to the Travel Arrangements list, where everyone could add (and edit) their own information. We added a “count” on various diet preferences, so she knew how many of which diets were needed. We showed people how to filter the data to find attendees from the same country or with a similar schedule, allowing sharing a taxi or meeting up before or after the event.

I showed the manager how to set an Alert and how to export the information to Excel.

The complete Travel Data Entry screen.

All entries, allowing people to see eachother’s travel schedule. Clicking on a person’s name shows all details, such as flight number etc.

Entries by dietary requirements. This was a useful view for catering.

After the training we created a template from the site to use for other instances of this training.

What are the benefits?

  • Sharing all documentation via a Team Site saves email traffic – there are no large attachments and everybody knows where the documentation is
  • The participants can manage their own travel schedule and can always see everyone else’s, allowing all kinds of interaction
  • The training manager saves time with the travel arrangements because all information is added to the list and she only has to export the information if she needs it as a document
  • Since we turned the site into a site template her next trainings will save her even more time because the configuration is done and the standard information is already in the template
  • The participants are being exposed to a variety of SharePoint functionality

Using a SharePoint list for the travel arrangements is only a small process change, but it is another example of how you can save time and effort with SharePoint.

How to Use Power Query for Excel to Query a SharePoint 2013 List

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Editor’s note: Contributor Alexandru Dionisie is an Internet Professional and Technical Writer. Follow him @AlexDionisie

If you want to extract all the data from a SharePoint List to an Excel workbook, an easy solution is to use Export to Excel. SharePoint allows you to export a Web Query which downloads that lists data into a spreadsheet.

Besides that, there is another way to extract data from SharePoint without the need to open a web browser and access the SharePoint site. It’s called Power Query for Excel and it’s designed to help by easing data import from a variety of sources. It allows us to model the data in different ways, like filtering and grouping before we import it into Excel. The Export to Excel feature allows us to do that, after we insert the data into the spreadsheet.

In this article I will use both methods to extract data from a SharePoint List and I will let you see the differences (some of them) between Export to Excel and Power Query.

Export to Excel

From the LIST tab click on the Export to Excel button.


When we run the Web Query, Excel asks us for permissions, in order to connect to an external data source.

Here we must click on Enable.


After allowing Excel to connect to SharePoint, all the data from the list is downloaded into a spreadsheet.


Microsoft Power Query for Excel

According to Microsoft:

 - Power Query provides an intuitive and consistent experience for discovering, combining, and refining data across a wide variety of sources including relational, structured and semi-structured, OData, Web, Hadoop, Azure Marketplace, and more. Power Query also provides you with the ability to search for public data from sources such as Wikipedia. -

Download Link | Power Query

From the POWER QUERY tab, click on From Other Sources and then choose From SharePoint List.


Next, we must specify the URL to our SharePoint site.


One important step is about the authentication to the SharePoint site.

Here we can connect:

  • Anonymous;
  • Using Windows credentials;
  • Using MOS ID.


Because I have my Office 365 account connected to Office 2013, in the MOS ID section I just click on Sign In and I am automatically signed in.


In the below image we can see that the data is downloaded (101 KB when I took the screenshot).


In the Query Editor we can see the data from our SharePoint List.

Here we can:

  • apply a filter;
  • sort the data;
  • hide the formula bar;
  • etc.




To download the data from the SharePoint List, click on the Done button.

Now, in Excel we have the SharePoint data from the list.

On the right side we can see a settings pane.

In this pane we can:

  1. see the last update time and we can force a new data refresh;
  2. enable or disable the data downloading into the spreadsheet;
  3. load the data into PowerPivot.


Using the Load to Data Model option, the downloaded data is sent to PowerPivot and from there we can do some more advanced “stuff”, like:

  • create relations between this table and another one in order to create a PivotTable from multiple sources;
  • output a variety of visual data to your Excel worksheet.
    • PivotTable;
    • PivotChart;
    • Chart and Table;
    • Four Charts;
    • Flattened PivotTable;
    • etc.
  • use DAX (Data Analysis Expressions) to to create measures (an upgraded version of Excel formulas);
  • publish dashboards to SharePoint;
  • etc.


Account Information

At one of the above steps, Excel asked us to connect to the SharePoint site.

The POWER QUERY offers us the option that allows us to change the account or to delete the stored connection data.

From the POWER QUERY tab click on Data Source Settings.


If we click on Edit Credential, for the selected site, all we can do is sign out and sign in with another account.


In order to delete a site and its stored credentials, click on the desired site and then click on the Delete option.


We have to confirm the deletion, by clicking on the Delete option.


Now, the selected site was deleted along with the credentials.


SharePoint: Crisis Management in a Team Site

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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

Have you ever been involved in a product recall or another crisis? If yes, you will know that this is a stressful time! A recall is very important, it has to be dealt with NOW, and it has to be dealt with correctly to avoid risk, and all on top of your normal work. Everything that can relieve the stress is more than welcome.

What was the problem?

One of our larger countries had occasional recalls. It did not happen too frequently, fortunately, but it was a real hassle when it occurred. There was an official procedure, and many people from different departments and external partners were involved, lots of documents were being sent in various formats and versions. Since people were in a stressful mood, they did not want to spend time on thinking.

The briefing was:

  • make all essential information as easy to find, read and edit as possible (not everyone was Team Site savvy, especially the external partners, and everyone was hurried)
  • avoid sending documents and emails back and forth – but notification emails are welcome
  • have the option to archive the generated information for legal reasons and for learning
  • make it re-usable

What is the solution?

We have set up a Team Site collection, with a templated subsite for every recall. The subsite can be created from the top site by the process owner without any help from the intranet team – he has Site Collection admin rights, a rare gift.

The site is set up to deliver maximum info with minimal effort. The process owner only has to check and update the Team Members list which is in the template. The email addresses are displayed in the list so process owner can copy these and give access to all in one step.

Next to that, there is an ongoing Live Meeting to be used exclusively for emergencies. The access information is incorporated in the template.

The Homepage displays the essentials:

  • Announcements
  • Picture of the product and the problem, if it can be visualized
  • Last 5 documents
  • Actions assigned to me
  • Decisions taken
  • Links to set Alerts (all changes, immediately) to Announcements, Documents and Actions/Decisions
  • Content editor web part with information for the Live Meeting
  • Content editor web parts to inform people how to work in the site

First I created a sort of wireframe, to test if we could display all the most important information on one page.

Wireframe. The items in red contain the most important information.

We decided not to display two lists: the Evaluation (survey), which was only used at the end of a recall, and the Expense Declaration form, which was only used by a few individuals. The process owner will announce the path or link to those lists when necessary.

When a recall is finished, the process owner removes all users except himself and the designated legal person, and stores the site for the legally required period.

This is the final setup:

Recall Subsite Homepage

What are the benefits?

After the first recall that was managed in this new setup, all team members were very positive:

  • The Alerts mean that people receive many emails, but smaller in size and they do not need to be stored, since the actual information is in the site.
  • The Alerts ensure that everyone receives the same information – nobody is accidentally left out of an email.
  • Sharing everything in one Team Site creates one official version-controlled dossier instead of various personal ones. This saves everyone time and stress and creates confidence.
  • The Live Meeting allows people to discuss anytime from anywhere, saving time and travel. (especially since you need to meet at least once a day)
  • The evaluation survey and the expense declaration are now online, and no longer in individual documents. This saves time in aggregating the results, and creates instant transparency.

This is in fact a very simple setup, without any complicated lists or workflows. The most time-consuming part was making sure that a new subsite copied everything correctly, so it was ready to use instantly. I had to make some sacrifices, e.g. display the lists and libraries and train people to set an Alert, rather than displaying the direct links to the alert pages. But because it is tailor-made for the situation and can be used almost instantly, it is a real time- and stress-saver!

Further improvements are possible, like using an Issue List for the required log, but at the time it was too complicated for the users.

Have you used Team Sites in a similar way? Please share your examples!

SharePoint: High Tea in a Team Site

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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

Earlier I had shown you some examples of external business partners being able to read (New packaging requests), or edit (CRM) list items in a Team Site. This time I would like to show you an example where an external partner creates the new item. Not because that is technically very impressive (although it means a lot of testing from a home PC and a test account with no admin rights), but because it shows once again that you can do this type of thing in SharePoint, without having to invest in another tool with a different interface, different support model and what not.

What was the opportunity?

Since this was a new process rather than an existing inefficient process, let’s use another header text2013-07-26-SharePointHightTea-02.gif.

The company I worked for was exploiting coffee & tea stores. It was a logical step to use an External Team Site for communication between central management in the company and store managers and employees.

We started with sharing information top-down, such as manuals, promotion information, recipes etc. Later we asked store managers to confirm (in the Team Site) that they had received their promotion supplies and we installed a discussion board for all employees to add recipes and other suggestions etc.

Next was a promotion where consumers could enjoy a High Tea in our stores. Since stores had limited capacity for High Teas the consumers had to make a reservation, and that was done via an external call center. And guess where the call center collected these reservations? Indeed, the same Team Site.

It was meant to be a temporary solution. Management did not want to invest in dedicated software before knowing if promotions which included a reservation would be a success. And while using the Team Site, everyone involved could learn what they really needed from a reservation system, allowing management to prepare a much more realistic briefing to software vendors.

What is the solution?

We used a Custom List to capture store, customer name and telephone number, number of visitors, date and time. We created a number of views, such as grouped by Store Location and a list of Today’s reservations. We added a sum of the visitors so the call center knew how many places were left on any given date and time, and the store employees knew what they could expect that day.

Central management set an Alert (Added Items, Daily Summary) to keep track of the reservations, and therefore of the success of the promotion.

New Reservation Entry Form

High Tea Reservations (Today and later, only), by Location

What are the benefits?

  • The promotion was a big success, and while that was of course not due to the Team Site, it meant there were many reservations being entered into the system. The call center did not report one single issue with the “reservation tool”.
  • Store employees had a good overview of the number of reservations, so they knew what was expected of them. They could also see other stores’ reservations, so they knew how succesful the promotion was. This transparency was much appreciated.
  • Central management could monitor the reservations as they were added, and was able to do a good analysis on the preferred locations, dates and times, which helped them plan new promotions.

This might have come as a pleasant surprise for them, but not for us. We know how easily these things can be done in a Team Site2013-07-26-SharePointHightTea-05.gif!

SharePoint: How to Win Space and Not Alienate People - Part 2

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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-07-14-SharePointSpace-Part01-01.jpgHere is the first part of this post, ”How to win space“.


1. Talk to your site and content owners.

Contacting the site owner about their content is always a good idea. As said before, they may not even know

  • that they own this content
  • that versioning is enabled and in which way
  • how versioning works
  • that their workflow actions are logged in files which may grow very large
  • what the policies are

It is also a good way to

  • get to know them
  • let them know that you are willing to help or train them
  • inform them about your guidelines and policies

In general, I have found most site owners to be quite accomodating to my proposals to delete or archive content or reduce versioning. As long as I explain why this is necessary, and help them to do this as painlessly as possible, we always find a satisfactory solution. Sometimes that solution is putting the word “archived” behind the site title, or leaving things as they are for the time being so they have time to think. But it shows them that their content is being monitored, and that generally sets them thinking.

Only in a few emergency sitations have I deleted versions or an enormous history log file without informing the site owner beforehand. (But I exported the log file into a spreadsheet before deleting it, so the history of the process was kept)

Of course it is better to prevent storage issues than to fix them. Here are some tips to do that:

2. Design new sites for the future.

When setting up a site, ask the owner how their content will grow over time, so you know if they (and you) are likely to run into problems. Perhaps you need to set this up in a new site collection, or limit versioning from the start, or teach them how to clear their log files on a regular basis. Your site owners will be grateful for your “planning ahead”.

3. Have a content management vision and policy.

It helps if there is a clear content and content storage vision. How long do you store content before archiving it? Do you allow video’s and “raw” pictures in your document and picture libraries? In which format do you store documents that need to be archived for a long time?

This will help you guide people to the best possible solution. However, the Intranet Benchmarking Forum recently found that more than half of major organizations do not have a content strategy in place.

4. Promote your SharePoint intranet as a dynamic working tool, not as a static archive.

This means you have to keep instructing users on how to manage their content and how to decide when something has to be archived elsewhere. I have heard from peers that any team site that has not changed in 3 months is auto-archived. Everyone in that organization knows that SharePoint is for collaboration and projects, only. That needs communication, policy … and an archiving solution of course. It may need to be on your list for the next version of your SharePoint intranet!

How do you manage your site collection for sufficient storage space? All tips and tricks are welcome!

SharePoint: How to Win Space and Not Alienate People - Part 1

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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-07-14-SharePointSpace-Part01-01.jpgAll my SharePoint life I have been fighting with storage space. Not only because of limitations in storage capacity and because full sites can be slow and hard to back-up and restore, but also because old content clutters sites and search results. That is why I wrote “It is time for intranet spring cleaning” last year.


This is how I remove clutter, also known as ROT: Redundant, Outdated or Trivial content, from my site collections. Any other suggestions are very welcome!

1. Check Storage Space Allocation on a regular basis.

This will give you the information needed for the next items.

2. Create (personal) monitor views for the largest document libraries and lists.

My “Monitor view” shows Name, Created, Modified, Modified By, Size and Version. It is sorted on Size Descending and has no folders.

This gives me an idea of the largest items, items with many versions, if this library or list is still actively used, and by whom.

3. Challenge sites that have not been changed for a certain period.

Sometimes a site owner has forgotten that he or she owns this site; sometimes they do not know they have inherited it from their predecessor.

Perhaps the complete site can be removed. Perhaps parts can be deleted, compressed into a ZIP-file and re-uploaded, moved to an online archive or written on DVD.

Clearly mark all archived content as “Archived” (and preferably with a review date), to manage expectations.

The “certain period” varies from 3 to 12 months, I have learned from others.

4. Check and challenge versioning.

Most lists and libraries are fine with no or limited versions.

I can imagine you want a few versions in case you make a mistake, or want to see some history, but unlimited versioning is only necessary in very few cases. I cannot imagine that anyone will ever go back 43 versions, especially when there are no version comments!

In general, 5 or 10 major versions will be sufficient.

If you have a review process, and/or use approval on your list or library, minor versions may be required.

Be aware that you cannot limit the number of minor versions: you can only specify the number of major versions that you allow minor versions on. I often set that to “1′ so if you publish a major version, all previous drafts will be removed.

My preferred version settings when major and minor versions need to be enabled.
Please read the text behind the 2nd checkbox carefully!

If you see that people are mainly using minor versions, ask them why. Perhaps they do not understand how versioning works or they have not agreed on a proper process within the team.

Documents that have not been edited for some time, and archived documents, seldom need their versions. Unfortunately there is no way to quickly remove them. If you limit or disable versioning in the list or library, the excess versions are only removed when you edit the item. But a workflow will do it, or you can do it manually. It is very rewarding to remove 500 MB of versions from one document!

5. Move content to another site collection.

This is not an easy solution. Users will resent that their content is going to live elsewhere, and that all links and favorites will change. On the other hand, you can promise them more room to grow and less nagging to clean up if they move :-).

The least painful moves are

  • using the new site collection as an archive location
  • using it for new initiatives

6. Empty your recycle bin prematurely.

I do not think this is a good practice, but it is a useful emergency measure.

Do you have other tips & tricks to free up storage space? Please share!


This will be published next time!

How to organize your meetings in SharePoint with OneNote

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Editor’s note: Contributor Gene Vangampelaere is a SharePoint architect at Howest, University College West Flanders. Follow him @vangampelaere

In our organization we use a lot of meeting workspaces. Now, Microsoft has announced that the meeting workspace template will no longer be supported in the future. In SharePoint 2013 you can no longer select the meeting workspace template when you create a new site. The old (migrated) sites will still work.

How can you organize your meetings now? Well, you can use OneNote and a combination of a few lists. Let’s start.

First you create a new empty site (site actions > new site).

In this site you create a new custom list with the name “Meetings”. This list only has to contain one column: Title. In this list we will keep track of all the meetings on this subject.


Next, we create a document library where we will store the OneNote notebook. To create a new notebook you launch OneNote and create a new notebook.


When you create a new notebook make sure you save it to the newly created document library on your SharePoint site.

Now it’s up to you to organize the notebook but I prefer this approach:

  • create a new section for each meeting instance
  • create a new page in a section for each meeting agenda item
    • you can create additional pages and use the subpage option to arrange the page under the meeting agenda item page.


In the SharePoint site I also create a list “Agenda” where everyone (depends on the permissions, of course) can add agenda items.

This is how we organize our meetings nowadays.


SharePoint: The Key and the Team Site

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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-04-12-KeyTeamSite-01.jpgIn my job (helping business users to use their SharePoint environment as well as possible), I am always looking for good metaphors to explain functionality. This is the first example “from the household” to explain SharePoint to end users.

List/library permissions.

As described earlier, people really like limiting accessibility to their content. However, they often do not understand the implications. Site Owners generally understand the “Owner-Full Control”, “Member-Contribute” and “Visitor-Read” sets of roles and permissions. But when it comes to a list or library within their site that needs different access, things get complicated. Common issues are:

  • They forget to remove groups, so everyone can still read everything.
  • A new owner does not know the list/library has different permissions and does not understand why the audience can not see a certain list/library. Or worse, they see something that (s)he does not!
  • They forget that permissions are no longer inherited, so adding a group to the site no longer means that group automatically has access to the secured containers. You have to give them access to those containers as well.
  • A new group is being created with access to only one library or list. This new group gets an “access denied” message when they try to enter the site.

Which key(s) do you give your team site users?

Giving access to a team site is like giving a key to your house. You give your groups the key to your front door. Once they are in your house, they can access most rooms freely. Everybody will understand that one or two rooms will be locked, where only the Owners can go.

Do you ask people to enter the room via the window?

But it is a little strange when all doors are locked and you can not go any further than the hallway and one room, or when you are asked to enter a room via the window.

In other words, giving people access to just one list/library on your site is not the best idea:

  • If you want people to only see one list or library, it means you have to lock down all other lists and libraries. Do you really want to maintain all that?
  • Alternatively, you can ask them to enter via the direct link to the list or library. But that is like asking someone to enter via the window. Not very easy, always suspect and not exactly welcoming.
  • And of course those users will never learn the context of your site.

My suggestion for these situations

  1. Think how much of a problem it really is, to keep your site read-only for those people who need access to one library/list only. Chances are, they do not really care to go to the rest of your site, anyway.
  2. Restrict permissions for a list or library only if it is for one or two lists/libraries and for a smaller audience than your site, e.g. the Owners.
  3. Always mention any special permissions in the description for those lists/libraries to remind you this list/library is different.
  4. In all other cases, rethink. Perhaps a different site or a subsite are easier to understand and maintain.

What do you think, would this be a good way to explain about issues with list and library permissions?

My inspiration for metaphores have been:

If you know any other good examples, please share!

SharePoint: No more meeting minutes!

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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

When I visit “collaborative” sites, e.g. for a team, a department or a project, I often find a document library called ”Meetings”, or even worse, several document libraries, each for one particular meeting date. These generally contain documents for prereading, presentations from the meeting, agenda and minutes. And sometimes they have an action or decision list as well.


The good thing is that these meeting documens are now in one clear online location, and that (hopefully) sending documents via email and printing are reduced.

But now think again. It is 2013.

  • Do you still store everything in document format, while there are ways to do things directly online?
  • Do you have to open multiple Meeting Minutes or Decision List documents when you are looking for that one decision from early 2012, but forgot the exact date?
  • Is there still someone responsible for writing down “refer to next meeting” for several agenda items in the Meeting Minutes, and then remembering to add them to the next meeting agenda?
  • Are you still emailing various draft agenda’s to your team?
  • Does someone in your team have to collect the progress of the action list and recreate the new Action list?
  • Do you have to chase everyone for approval of the meeting minutes?

A different approach.

It may be time to move to a simpler process. Of course, there is the Meeting Workspace but sometimes you prefer to have everything in one site. The MW will also no longer be supported in SP2013. An alternative is the Meeting-Agenda-and-Minutes List, combining agenda, meeting minutes and decisions in one list. Our team started this in about 2002 and we have happily used it for our weekly team meeting for years.

The concept is as follows:

  1. Everything you discuss is first, an agenda item. The owner of the item creates and manages it themselves.
  2. All items not marked as “completed” are visible.
  3. The meeting owner adjusts the order of the agenda items just before the meeting.
  4. During the meeting, the item is discussed. We always had online meetings, so we viewed items on-screen. The item owner can adjust the item while discussing, and show the updates to the team.
  5. After discussing the item, the decision and date are added to the item and the status is set to “completed”.
  6. All completed discussions are stored in one or more “completed” views, sorted and grouped as needed.


Does it sound complicated? Let me show you the (Custom) list that I have worked with.

This is an item on the agenda:

This is the item to discuss.By default, status is “New”.

This is the agenda, sorted on “Order” and filtered by “Status is not equal to completed”.

This is the agenda for the upcoming meeting.

During the discussion, the relevant info and decision are captured in the bottom fields of the item.

During discussion, the relevant information can be added.

This is the view that shows all items that have been discussed. You can easily filter for specific topics, regardless of meeting date. Of course you can also group on other metadata, but this view clearly shows the increased transparancy compared to Meeting Minutes in document format.

All decisions from earlier meetings, grouped by discussion date.

Of course you can simplify or extend the list to fit your own meeting style and goals.

What are the advantages?

  • No need to send agendas via email; if everyone sets a notification you wil get a message when a new item has been added or changed.
  • The meeting owner can easily adjust the order of items
  • During the meeting, the item is open and any next steps can be added straight away
  • When something is not discussed or no decision has taken place, it simply stays on the list. You do not have to specifically state that it is “moved to the next meeting”.
  • One archive of individual decisions means you do not have to look through documents by date. Now that you have one “online database” it is much easier to find any decisions relating to your topic, since they can be found by date AND by creator AND by tag if you have used those.
  • Everyone has seen the decision so there is no need to circulate any meeting minutes for approval.

Will this work for all meetings?

Of course this needs change management. If your organization is relying heavily on documents, not used to PC’s and projectors in the meeting room, or has been pampered by people sending things to them, this will be a big change that will need discussion, training and an extensive trial period.

It may be wise to measure time involved in the current meeting setup beforehand and to compare that to the new setup. This informaton will also help you to convince others.

For some meeting types this setup may not be appropriate. There may be legal requirements to have documents, perhaps even printed, with handwritten signatures, or some external participants may not have access to your SharePoint environment.

But for your average team, department or project group meeting, this may save lots of time!

Have you used something similar? Please share!