Thursday, 27 January 2011

SharePoint Templates for 2010

It has been seven days since my last SharePoint blog and as football has proved this week seven days is a very long time. If we go back to twenty to five on Saturday afternoon when West Ham had just taken the lead at Everton putting the mighty Aston Villa in the relegation zone and Andy Gray was probably having a nice cup of tea without a care in the world. Now just five days on Villa are six points clear of the drop, Andy Gray is a bad boy looking for a new job and West Ham are now bottom of the league (again!). So things can change very quickly in only a few days and this is also true with SharePoint projects

If you are a SharePoint Administrator you will know that SharePoint is fairly easy to install and configure. For only a single server installation (suitable for up to 100 users) it is very feasible to have SharePoint up and running within half a day. But you are then left with a very empty shell that is not easy to really sell to the various departments in your organisation. A number of companies install SharePoint (either the free SharePoint Foundation or a trial version of SharePoint) but then remains dormant in the depths of the IT department. Problem is it just doesn’t really do anything. Yes you can add documents but with no metadata and no views created it is very difficult to demonstrate to the various departments that might find it useful. You have probably read about how SharePoint can be used by HR Departments, Marketing Departments and Safety Departments but how can you show the Department Managers what it can do for you when all you have is a SharePoint skeleton?

What would be great is to give the organisation a system that is already working that already has a Risk Assessment system, a Car Park Permit Management system, an IT Helpdesk system, an Expense system and many other useful systems. The chance for each department to get quickly started and see the real potential SharePoint has for them.

Many companies worldwide are now taking advantage of the selection of 11 SharePoint Department templates offered by us at Office Talk to put real meat on their initial SharePoint skeleton.

With this bundle of useable SharePoint Templates all the major departments can have a launching pad for their own SharePoint sites. We are not saying that that the various lists and libraries will not need to be customised to meet your own specific needs but they will give you a very good starting point in a very short time.
To find out more about, or order, the SharePoint Templates just visit The Templates are available for both SharePoint 2010 and 2007.

So in seven days your SharePoint can be up and running and ready for your users to really get their teeth into it. We still recommend you put together a SharePoint Project Team with key users from each department.
So what next for Andy Gray? Maybe he is just finally getting his comeuppance for deserting the Villa for my brother’s Wolves team back in 1979. Perhaps he could become a commentator for women’s football on some far off satellite TV channel.

As for the Villa hopefully we can now go from strength to strength and I can start dreaming of FA Cup glory again.       

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

SharePoint LMS

In my blog this week I am going to talk about how your existing SharePoint can be used to successfully manage all your learning needs, but first a bit about my week.

It’s been a strange week; becoming a ‘sort of’ Grandad, burying my cat, seeing the Villa in the relegation zone and putting my house up for sale. My step-daughter gave birth to a smashing baby named Edward at the weekend so a tiny Villa romper suit has been ordered. The Villa at least managed a draw against their local rivals so they are out of the drop zone for at least one week. Now after several days of tidying and rearranging furniture there is a sign outside my house saying ‘For Sale’. I expect the neighbours are now worrying who will be moving in next-door to them.

Getting the house ready for the taking of 'suitable pictures' for the property brochure was a challenge and made me realise the importance of a good management system. How it is important to be able to hide ornaments and paperwork etc but still be able to find them when needed. How the use of strategically arranged flowers can hide chips in walls and how borrowed mirrors can make a room look bigger. Good management is vital and it helps when the woman in your life has a flair for interior design. It is not just selling houses or getting a team out of the relegation zone that requires good management it is also important to manage your company’s (or organisation’s) learning and development correctly. You have probably heard of the term LMS (Learning Management System) this is a way of keeping track of your internal training courses and any other form of learning that your employees (or maybe students) take part in. It allows management to have reports on all areas of training and even catalogue the courses available.
So where does SharePoint fit into LMS? 

There is a fairly basic SharePoint Learning Kit available known as the SLK. This SharePoint Learning Kit is a SCORM 2004 certified e-learning delivery and tracking application built as a Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 solution. It works with either Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (There is currently a beta version out that works with SharePoint 2010). There are a couple of third party products that take the SLK and make it into a very functional full Learning Management System. Allowing you to create and incorporate E-Learning courses, mark and grade these courses, links information with other systems like SAP or PeopleSoft, assign courses and learning material via job title, set conditional prerequisites and many advanced features.

Although there are other SharePoint Learning Management Systems we at Office Talk recommend, resell and support the award winning Share Knowledge. To find out more about ShareKnowledge and more importantly get to play with it visit our website now.

ShareKnowledge extends the capabilities of the SharePoint Learning Kit to provide the ultimate Learning / Training Management System. It is proving popular worldwide in both the corporate and academic sectors. It is just one way in which SharePoint can be adapted to replace other expensive business systems and help companies through these difficult financial times.

So that is one way of managing learning and now hopefully Gerard Houiller will manage to get Villa out of this fine mess.

Whilst I have been writing this post Villa have bid a staggering £18 million for top goal-scoring striker Darren Bent. Hope it goes through and he’s plays against money-bags Man City on Saturday tea-time. 

If Villa can pay £18,000,000 for a footballer then surely I can find somebody to pay £140,000 for my house?

So I dedicate this week’s SharePoint blog to baby Edward and hope he has a great and healthy life (with a tint of claret and blue, of course!).

Friday, 7 January 2011

SharePoint Refresher

Well, the last Christmas decoration are now back in the lofts and a post Christmas gloom has descended upon us. In the UK VAT (Value Added Tax) has gone up, petrol has gone up, the house market has tumbled and worse of all Aston Villa are in the relegation zone. But there is always someone worse off than you. I mean I could be an Australian cricketer !! Ricky Ponting, Dennis Lillee, Paul Hogan, Rolf Harris, Dame Edna Everage, Kylie Minogue, Germaine Greer and Bouncer from Neighbours are you reading? Your boys took one hell of a beating.

Yes, after years of 'Pommie' bashing the Australia cricket team have finally been walloped in their own back yard. The Australians perhaps need to go back to basics and have a refresher course on how to play cricket. It is maybe a reminder of how easy we forget what we have learnt.

For all kinds of skills it is important to keep reminding yourselves of what you learnt when you were been trained. Australian cricketers forgot some of the basics and ended up failing to take wickets because they bowled a 'no ball' or giving away their own wickets with stupid run outs. Refresher courses are useful in business as well and especially in SharePoint. Many SharePoint projects get off to a flying start with each End User attending a training session that can last a couple of hours or more. End Users often find the course enjoyable, informative and have great idea for how they will use SharePoint. Unfortunately a familiar tale is that they are too busy over the next few months to really put into practice the knowledge they gained from the training session. All too quickly they forget the more advanced SharePoint techniques and when they come to finally use them the training seems so long a go. How many of you can remember doing quadratic equations at school yet would now have no idea how to solve them?

With the current economic difficulties many companies and organisations are seeing how they can use their existing SharePoint platform to help make savings. SharePoint can be used to automate and speed up many business processes with a little thought. We at Office Talk encourage all our customers to offer yearly SharePoint refresher courses to all their End Users. This helps to keep them thinking about how SharePoint can be used to reduce basic costs and man hours. It also reminds them of some of the features of SharePoint that they heard about at their first training course.

So when better to start about offering a SharePoint Refresher course than at the start of a new year? Many SharePoint Training companies around the globe offer SharePoint End User Training or you could create a short course internally yourself. At this point I am, of course, going to mention the fully customisable on-site End User training courses offered by Office Talk throughout the UK. If you are interested we are currently charging £900 + VAT (yes the new 20% one, sorry) for one day of training. This day can include up to three two hour sessions with a maximum of 12 people on each session. So you could train 36 people for £900. Just drop an email to to find out more and if you are an Australian please let us know and we promise not to mention cricket.

Now to arrange a refresher course for the whole Villa team in the basics of defending. As we look forward to an exciting relegation battle over the coming months.