Tuesday, 6 January 2015

SharePoint 2015

Happy New Year to you all and let’s hope that 2015 is a great year for both SharePoint and Aston Villa. More about my hopes for ‘The Villa’ later, but first to SharePoint in all the various forms.

In the last twelve months the SharePoint projects I have worked on have included; SharePoint 2007, SharePoint 2010 and SharePoint 2013. Not only that, I have been involved in server side SharePoint and cloud-based SharePoint. So many different varieties, but all pretty similar and with the same challenges. As we reached the end of 2014 (where are all the years going?) more and more companies seemed to be moving to Office365 and hence the use of SharePoint has been rapidly expanding. This I can only see growing further in 2015. Great news for SharePoint consultancies like Office Talk (well, I am allowed to advertise my own company in my blog). Other SharePoint consultancies are available, of course.

But beware the SharePoint road is not an easy one and it does require expertise, resources and patience. Very similar to what the Villa currently need.

One of the most fascinating (and often depressing part) about being involved in SharePoint projects is returning to see how systems have progressed after a year or two. The sad thing is that many haven’t changed much at all. SharePoint whether it is being used as an Intranet, Document Storage System, Electronic Forms System, Website or just an Information Store has to keep evolving and changing. I know, I am a fine one to speak as my blog has remained fairly static in the last year.
So how do companies move their SharePoint forward as we start of 2015. A time when some of us make New Year Resolutions (Oh, one of mine is to drink less alcohol which is one of the reasons I am taking part in ‘Dryathlon’ this January in aid of Cancer Research. Please feel free to make a donation to encourage me to go alcohol-free for the whole of January at https://www.justgiving.com/RAcodryathalon/ ). So I thought it was be good to suggest some SharePoint Resolutions for 2015 to hopefully help companies move forward with existing or new SharePoint systems. So here they are;

Improve Management Buy-in

Greater SharePoint Expertise

More End User Involvement

The problem with all New Year Resolutions is they are only achievable if you break them down into mini resolutions. Like my drink less is helped by having my mini resolution of being dry throughout January (is there really still 25 days left?). So let me break down the SharePoint ones;

Improve Management Buy-in
 a)      Discuss SharePoint at all Senior Management Meetings
 b)      Make SharePoint the preferred company system
 c)       Have a budget for SharePoint
 d)      Include an aspect of SharePoint usage in all employee objectives
 e)      Use SharePoint for main distribution point of internal company information

Greater SharePoint Expertise
 a)      Create a role responsible for SharePoint
 b)      Provide relevant training for people responsible for SharePoint
 c)       Have a Support contract with an external SharePoint company (again I mention Office Talk)
 d)      Make sure all documentation of all parts of the SharePoint system is up to date

More End User Involvement
 a)      Set up a SharePoint User Forum
 b)      Add a Feedback section or discussion groups to your SharePoint
 c)       Add SharePoint  to New Starter Inductions
 d)      Create Super SharePoint Users in each part of the organisation
 e)      Include a Social section in your SharePoint
 f)       Offer End User Training to all staff    

So those are my SharePoint thoughts as we start 2015 a year when just maybe I will finally see the Villa win the FA Cup for the first time in my lifetime. Well, I can dream.

It has been a difficult few months for Villa fans. Only seeing us score 12 goals in 22 games this season and lately we have quite rightly been labelled the country’s most boring team, but I see progress. Small steps, yes, but definite progress. We have started to keep the ball more and actually pass to one another. Our defence is becoming one of the tightest in the league and players like Okore, Sanchez and Westward are just getting better each game. Then we have the return of the beast that is Christian Benteke and suddenly things are starting to look brighter. So like SharePoint I think the Villa just need three things;

   Expertise – A goalscoring midfielder and a winger who can cross a ball
   Resources – A bit more money to spend on these new playerrs
   Patience – From the fans as we continue the slow building process

If you wish to leave any comments about SharePoint (or the Villa) please feel free. If you would like any help with SharePoint or Paul Lambert wants any Villa advice please email me on andy.dale@office-talk.com or call Office Talk on 0121 368 0055.

Happy New Year,

Andy Dale      

Friday, 5 September 2014

Office 365 Rejuvenates SharePoint

Apologies that it is four months since my last SharePoint blog, but my passion for SharePoint has now be reinvigorated (big word for a Villa fan) by the sudden phenomenal explosion of SharePoint in the UK. It would be easy to blame my lack of blogging on the poor performances of Aston Villa, the UK recession or being regularly stuck on the M25, but I think the real reason is I just got bored of SharePoint.

I had been a SharePoint fan since my first exposure to the joys of Document Management Systems at Chemical Site in Wolverhampton back in 2002. For years I rode the SharePoint bandwagon and was so impressed that in 2008 I even bought my own SharePoint company. But there were issues and things that although could be partly fixed with third-party tools (or just turning it on and off again) just weren't right. SharePoint for however impressive it was had it's limitations. Branding wasn't quite right (with some obscure HTML), cost was simply too high in today's market and as for Microsoft trying to get us up in the 'cloud' (let's try to forget about BPOS) it was a disaster.

But suddenly my passion is rekindled and the reason is Office365 and the joy of working with SharePoint 2013. It now is really available up in the famous 'cloud' and to even the smallest company. From less than 5 employees to over 50,000 Office365 takes information to a whole new level. I love the fact that I can just get my iPad out and connect straight to a customer site to fix an issue they might have (with the right security, of course) or even on my smart phone when I am eating my KFC at the motorway services. With a small bit of CSS knowledge I now find I can easily change the colours and look of sites to match the customers corporate colours. Instead of having to prepare my excuses and take a sharp intake of breath before telling them how many days this would take. Yes, I am excited again by SharePoint and see a future where everyone (even Mac users) will be SharePoint converts.

Office365 of course is much much more than just SharePoint, but the ease in which in just a few minutes you can start building your own document management system, intranet and external facing Website is certainly eye-opening. Although, you might still need help of SharePoint companies like 'Office Talk' to really give you take-off.

Over the next few weeks my blog will show you some of the quick wins you can get with your Office365 and SharePoint 2013. They will include;

1. Running a PowerPoint Presentation inside a SharePoint Web Part.
2. Styling your dynamic navigation bars.
3. Removing left-hand navigation on your Home Page
4. Hiding the Edit Toolbar option
5. Styling the PromoLink tiles
6. Adding icons to indicate external links
7. Adding live content with customised  RSS feeds
8. Colour code calendar entries by type of appointment
9. Add comedy videos to your SharePoint
10. Automatically creating actions in individual task lists from Meeting Minutes.

SharePoint is back in a big way and the Villa are third in the league so life is pretty good. Of course with games against Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea up next the Villa might not keep gaining fans but SharePoint certainly will.

On the plus side though playing Liverpool means an excuse to play my favourite video again of the legend who is Mario Balotelli.

Happy SharePointing.

  Try Office365 now free of charge at Office Talk.