Thursday, 11 June 2015

SharePoint Re-ignited

2015 has been a year when suddenly SharePoint has again gone BOOM!! I'm still trying to understand quite why. It has unexpectedly fought back against Google Docs. Maybe I shouldn't write that on a Blog that is hosted on Google Blogger.

Last year, I had my doubts (my sleepless nights, not only about Paul Lambert's tactics) that SharePoint was going to survive. So many organisations were looking at Open Source alternatives and seemingly moving away from Microsoft's SharePoint. We considered for the first time that Action SharePoint Limited (trading as Office Talk) might have to diversify and consider more general Information Management systems. Instead of being 100% SharePoint. A pity because we're SharePoint fanatics and really believe anything is possible with SharePoint. But then it all changed. The moon of SharePoint rose again. Bigger, stronger, better and cheaper. 

Maybe Office 365 and people finally realising, that actually 'the cloud' is a pretty cool idea (I'm 48 now far to old to get away with saying 'cool'). Google Docs is totally in the cloud, but people are still hooked on Microsoft Office. So Office 365, with SharePoint being it's star, already has the advantage. With monthly subscriptions, even for lonely single users, SharePoint suddenly is affordable. SharePoint 2013 works now (pretty well) on all devices and even the Microsoft online support is now written in language that people who didn't study computing at Cambridge or Oxford can now understand. 

Unnoticed in the background, more major companies have been moving their Websites to SharePoint and it's become a one-stop solution for them. The penny suddenly dropped that they don't need a website, an Intranet and a Document Management system. They can combine them into one and save lots  of pennies. 

It is now much easier to style your SharePoint sites (HTML and CSS are not too challenging) to get the exact branding your Marketing Department craves. Teams and departments are all starting to work together more and be more transparent. SharePoint is starting to be at the heart of all decisions.

Instead of thinking we have SharePoint what can we do with it, companies are now thinking we need a new system can our existing SharePoint do it? The answer the majority of the time is, yes it can. Simple Workflows written with the free SharePoint Designer can achieve very impressive quick results and cost savings.

As a SharePoint Consultant I love the way now (with SharePoint 2013) with my Workflow knowledge I am able to say yes to so many projects. My stand answer when somebody give me a challenge or shows me a Flow Diagram is now, confidently, 'Yes SharePoint can!'

This  is sounding like an advert for SharePoint, but that's not what I am trying to say. I am really just delighted that SharePoint is now getting to play the lead role in many organisations (including the NHS, Public Sector and small private businesses) when in the past it was just treated like a extra with the occasional walk on part. 

SharePoint has really come of age and I believe people are ready to embrace it. Maybe we just now have a generation who have grown up with SharePoint. I have been using it now for 12 years.

My slogan for this blog is really for everyone to think 'Yes SharePoint can!' What ever Project, task or challenge you face please ask first can our existing SharePoint do this?       

Wow, that was a bit of a rant in the end, but if you want to know more about exactly how you can re-ignite your SharePoint please contact me by emailing andy.dale@office-talk.com or visit the Office Talk website


About the Villa then...
I suppose my blog wouldn't be a normal Andy blog without some Villa Chat and only ten days after Wembley some of the wounds are still a little raw. But it was a fantastic experience. I felt part of a truly Global Event. Thank you BBC for bring back the wonder of Cup Final days gone by. Admittedly many of the programmes I recorded I have not been able to face watching yet, but still thank you.

We are still in the Premier League and I had two magical visit to Wembley. I get the feeling that with the incoming New Owners that Aston Villa like SharePoint are ready to rise again. 

'Just 14' the book I want you all to read...
Away from SharePoint my other two passions are Aston Villa and writing fiction. So I am really excited that I have combined these passions to produce my latest novel 'Just 14'.

I can't miss a chance to promote it so here is the front cover and if you click on it you can pre-order a book that I am very proud of.



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