Archive for June 2009

SharePoint Saturday in Toronto (Speakers and Sessions)

June 29, 2009

http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/toronto/default.aspx

SharePoint Saturday is July 11th in Mississauaga
(This is right beside Toronto in the province of Ontario, in the country of Canada, it also happens to be where I live :)).

If you read this blog, then you are probably someone who will enjoy and learn a TON from the wonderful speakers at SharePoint Saturday. I know I learn new things from many of the speakers on a regular basis. It’s a FREE event. Think about it, these speakers are experts. Many have done talks at things like the best practice conferences. Those are expensive conferences and this one is free. It’s like getting the value of a couple grand, and all you have to do is drive to the Microsoft building in Mississauga. It’s also a great opportunity to network and build your professional skill set as well as personal skill set.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up now!

Register Now

Looking for more information or even more amazing reasons for why you should go and you should bring all your friends? Check out the speakers that are presenting (http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/toronto/Pages/speakers.aspx) and the great sessions (http://www.sharepointsaturday.org/toronto/Pages/meetings.aspx) I am excited to attend quite a few of these sessions.

On a minor note I am also presenting for this event. It will be focused around tips, tricks, and takeways that will make user adoption, maintaining buy in, and governing SharePoint significantly easier. I intend to record the session so people can download it after and hope to release a teaser for what I will cover soon.

I would love to meet with everyone, and welcome everyone to come out to SharePint after the event. We don’t have the details quite yet on where that will be, but let me assure you I am totally up for having some great and in depth conversations after, during and before the event as I am sure there is lots I could learn from you.

Hope to see you there,
Richard Harbridge

Simple (AMAZING!) Resume Tips and Tricks

June 23, 2009

I received a fair amount of verbal feedback/discussion on my post about mind mapping your resume and using IBIS maps etc on cover letters (http://sharepointkb.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/mind-map-of-resume-ibis-map-of-cover-letter-do-it/ ) and was surprised by how few people used alternative ideas like this to provide more impact to their existing resume. (Google searches has some pretty poor (but funny) results.)

We live in a competitive world. We are currently in an economic recession. Now is the time to make sure you are presenting yourself effectively if you want to get that specific job. So here are a couple simple tips, and tricks for improving your resume:

Make a PowerPoint Presentation available of why you should be hired, or of who you are.

Everyone at this point understands presentations, slides and PowerPoint in business. It can be a great way to story board who you are, or what you bring to the table and is really easy to make. So why not make one?

Make a video of why you should be hired, or who you are.

Even if this is youtube quality it can still be a HUGE step over the competition. It’s easy to do. So do it.

Make a podcast or audio version of your resume.

It’s easy, and it makes you different. It also makes it much more personal when you hear a voice instead of just reading the worlds.

Mind Map your resume.

It can be much easier to read, and as I said in my previous post visual mapping can help people remember you and make you stand out.

Make a version in Excel with CHARTS, GRAPHS, and fun stuff!

This one is the most surprising to me. If you are a finance person, or an individual who uses excel all the time and are applying for a related position why not use graphs and data points to clearly indicate why you should be hired? Use examples of how much money you saved a company, or metrics on how productive you are, or rate usefulness of your skills and show how strongly skilled you are compared to something else etc etc.

Make a Silverlight or Flash version of your resume.

If you have the development skills, or design skills, then show them off!

Finally to sum it up:

  1. Make sure it’s online, everywhere. (Monster, Workopolis, your blog, LinkedIn, VisualCV, etc)
  2. Make sure you have alternative versions/formats. (If it’s in flash, have it in HTML too, make a PDF of it, make a word format.)
  3. Be creative with extra formats!

Hope this helps someone,
Richard Harbridge

Selling SharePoint Services Internally

June 10, 2009

SharePoint is BIG. It’s a large complex platform that enables users to create a limitless number of possible solutions. It is also scary, largely unknown to many people, and difficult to understand how to use/apply successfully for a specific business need.

If your organization has SharePoint odds are you have some SharePoint “Experts” who know SharePoint very well. In a way that group is a consulting company internally. Often they identify opportunities, gather requirements, build solutions and train users.

So how do they sell those services to users internally? If I am a department head and I want to see how SharePoint can help me how do I go about doing it? Often this is an ad hoc or process defined in your SharePoint governance. They contact the support team or the solution team which takes them through the SharePoint business value planning sessions (for lack of a better term).

The thing is, how are those users even going to know that SharePoint can help them in the first place? User adoption, training, evangelization and internal marketing can certainly help get the message out there, but a much simpler and cost effective method also exists (that should be done together with other methods). This method is rarely implemented.

Set up a SharePoint Services Offered page for your users internally. This page should be just like a consultant organizations would be. This is what we can do for you.

Really Simplified Example:

Gold Team Package – Your team works hard and shares information all the time. How can you improve sharing, retention and organization so that the team is more efficient? Try a SharePoint team site! In it you will get the following features:

  1. Share documents more easily and take advantage of alerts which let you know when content has been updated.
  2. Improve version control, and document integrity reducing the pain of looking up old versions of documents, or the pain of sifting through duplicated documents for the right version.
  3. Share announcements and important news easily.
  4. Keep track of important project/team contacts in one place.
  5. Distribute and manage tasks across the entire team so everyone can know what needs to be done.
  6. Keep everyone aware of important deadlines and dates with shared calendars.

Platinum Team Package – With the platinum team package you get all the benefits of a Gold Team Package but with some added advanced features that can really take your team or department to the next level!

  1. Collaborate together and build a knowledge base using a wiki.
  2. Push out important news, personal thoughts, or changes on a regular basis using blogs.
  3. Work collaboratively on preparing a meeting’s agenda, objectives, or to even help facilitate it using meeting workspaces.

Available Add On/Optional Services:

  1. Workflow Add On for Business Processes – If you have a business process that is difficult to monitor, audit, or work through we can help simplify it via a business process analysis session or two and streamline/automate it through SharePoint.
  2. Usage and Analysis Training – Ever wonder how you can improve your site? One way this can be done is by reading over what areas are used most often, and which areas are not. This can help you improve navigation and see what users like the most about your site.
  3. Site Management Training – So you have a site or would like to create a new one but don’t yet know how to manage navigation, permissions, or build lists/libraries? No worries this training will give you the jump start you need or greatly improve what will be possible in your site.
  4. Records Center Auditing – If you have important information that you need to ensure is stored, tracked, and kept for auditing purposes this can really help!

For each solution/option include how much training is available, or necessary as well as what other benefits they will receive. Try and make it really easy to navigate through and understand what is really available only a call or email away.

Users can now review the list of available solutions and pick what they think they want. If you think about it the cost is how much of their time is necessary. If your organization is large you can actually charge across departments/divisions using a revenue/cost transfer method. So you could ACTUALLY price these services out. This makes it easier for users to see what is available, and it makes it much easier on the support and solution teams because it is more standardized.

I don’t really see how anyone can have a governance plan and not do something like this (in their own way).

Just a thought that I hope helps,
Richard Harbridge

I Use Twitter

June 4, 2009

So the other day I got an email from someone asking me why I don’t blog as much as I used to (historically). The reason isn’t because I have been too busy (although I have been plenty busy), rather it is because I use twitter now religiously through the week.

Twitter fulfills most of the reasons why I began blogging. It allows me to share ideas, thoughts, and opinions easily and allows me to also keep a record of them for me to review and use at a later date. Since one of the main reasons I created this blog was to serve as a knowledge base for myself and help me articulate and consolidate many of my thoughts twitter just makes sense.

Not to worry, I am still going to blog periodically when thoughts or ideas don’t fit in the typical 140 character limit of twitter, but I don’t expect to be blogging as much as I used to (when SharePoint 2010 get’s released this might change :P).

I am not going to join the masses and tell you why it’s so good for business, professional development, staying up to date, and collaborating with peers or people with a similar interest. There are thousands of great articles that already do this. Instead I am simply going to say:

  1. If you haven’t made a twitter account then make one. (https://twitter.com/signup) – Piece of advice, be smart about your name. Think of what you are representing and why you want to use it. Professional development? Personal? Business?
  2. Download a twitter application like tweetdeck (http://tweetdeck.com/beta/) You need something like this because twitter.com is unmanageable.
  3. Find some people you have a common passion, interest, or thought style with and follow them. (If you like SharePoint, Social Media, or Project Management feel free to follow me: http://www.twitter.com/rharbridge. I also really enjoy @LLiu, @MSDN_Office,  @sharepointbuzz, @gannotti, and @EUSP for SharePoint and social media information if you want some suggestions for other people to follow. You can also find the people I follow on my twitter page.)
  4. Determine how comfortable you are with the number of updates you can handle. You typically can’t read every update from everyone. You can pick some people to pay particular interest to however, and using filter and search techniques in tweetdeck you can control how many tweets you see/want to read. (Don’t just blindly follow everyone, or you’ll have a very hard time digesting it all.)
  5. Be smart about what you post, but post a few simple things. This could be article recommendations, blog recommendations, or simply introduction statements. This gets you used to adding tweets and sharing. Remember everything you say must be PUBLIC and you shouldn’t post anything you might later regret. Over time you will begin wanting to share with people and it will come effortlessly. Just remember every time you post it tells a bit more about you and what you find interesting or important enough to share. This means over time the people you follow and who follow you will be more and more helpful and responsive. (At least I think that’s the theory.)

I still have many friends and colleagues who have not yet joined twitter and know quite a few businesses that aren’t on it. It’s a difficult thing to understand and has a lot of noise and confusion around it. So hopefully this can help get you started.

Looking forward to what comes next,
Richard Harbridge

The Importance of ‘Tuning’ for a More Successful SharePoint

June 2, 2009

One of those things that I have seen from time to time is organizations who have implemented SharePoint not examining the usage statistics, feedback, surveys, or measuring user adoption correctly or on a continual basis. This is extremely important because it allows us to adjust, shift, and improve our SharePoint deployment over time.

From the very beginning of a SharePoint project (or any project) you should determine how you can measure it’s success. The typical two things that we measure on any project is time and money. In SharePoint projects this is still an accurate metric, however it’s important to note that SharePoint is a solution set that delivers value over time. It does not realize it’s full value until some time after the initial implementation has been completed. This is in part due to the considerable training, user adoption, and basically learning  to leverage the functionality best.

So if SharePoint realizes it’s value over time, it also makes sense that if we can continue to improve, focus, and adjust our SharePoint implementation over time it’s considerable value can be further enhanced and even tailored to specific needs. Needs that we will begin to see as the SharePoint platform matures within the organization.

I have never met someone who doesn’t think of SharePoint and almost automatically begin thinking of point solutions, or quick wins.  Personally I believe this is one of the main reasons it’s so hard to think of a larger measurement and long term success of a SharePoint implementation. We are tempted to only consider the individual business cases as measurable and spend our time examining and reviewing these.

It’s also important to examine the entire SharePoint deployment or implementation. This can provide extremely important insight on where perhaps things are falling short, such as training, user adoption in certain areas of the business, or new needs/missed needs of the users. The best part? SharePoint offers a bunch of tools to help and assist in achieving a much better idea of overall SharePoint adoption, and success in areas of the business.

Use Surveys!

The platform gives you surveys which are a great tool that can be used for very flexable and specific analysis requirements. I highly recommend that ANY SharePoint project, and certainly the entire SharePoint ‘comfort’ level of the organization be surveyed from time to time. This can help us get more information than the basic “time and money” metrics. This can tell us how happy people are, how satisfied they are, frustrated they are, or how much they are using SharePoint.

If you haven’t used SharePoint survey’s before. Start now and get a more comprehensive picture of your users, adoption, and “SharePoint Success”.

  1. Plan and Create a Survey: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointtechnology/HA102085781033.aspx
  2. Responding to a Survey (for the end users): http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointtechnology/HA102085791033.aspx?pid=CH102386051033
  3. View and Analyze Survey Results: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointtechnology/HA102088111033.aspx?pid=CH100649421033

Promote Feedback!

Another great thing SharePoint provides is an easy way to organize what I call “feedback funnels”. We can use something as simple as a ‘contact, or provide feedback’ link on each site or area so that users can communicate with the owners and leaders of that content. You could use SharePoint lists for feedback (survey’s as suggested as well) or even InfoPath forms. You could also add in the ability for users to rate content which is another form of providing feedback which benefits everyone.

The important thing isn’t really the ‘how’ this is done though. It’s the building of a culture and people so that they WANT to communicate feedback. It’s really important to help everyone feel like their input is invaluable and important.

SharePoint at it’s base is a collaborative platform. If the organization doesn’t communicate adding SharePoint won’t do anything except perhaps promote visibility of the communication issues, or provide a tool/framework to begin communicating more with and to start the conversations around communication needs in the organization.

If the organization is already collaborative then really drive the point that they are building the SharePoint intranet (as an example) and that with their feedback it can be much better.

Analyze Usage Statistics!

An intranet and/or extranet is similar to a website when it comes to measuring user interaction. Page hits as an example is an extremely important unit of measurement that can help determine what pages may need to be updated, improved, or easier to get to. It’s important to measure the usage statistics regularly and to make them a part of the continual improvement process for SharePoint. There are even webparts you can add or develop that will show the most popular pages, articles, or content for users.

One thing I personally enjoy is the users statistics. When you can see who has, and hasn’t been visiting certain areas of content it can greatly improve your ability to identify people who may need more training, knowledge, support, or understanding of why that area is important and beneficial. It also helps you identify the power users for some of your content. These people are extremely important in improving overall user adoption in the organization and can help take your SharePoint implementation to the next level.

The last example of usage statistics I will provide will be on how search queries and search terms can help you improve search, the taxonomy of your sites, and present certain material on dashboards or homepages. You can even create your own custom tracking, or implement solutions that provide greater visibility of key statistics and indicators. As an example if you have media content the podcasting kit can help show the number of downloads or views of certain material.

That was a fair bit of rambling but hopefully something in here helps someone out there or helps spark an idea that hadn’t been considered,
Richard Harbridge


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