Friday, 29 July 2011

SharePoint - How To Use It

This week I am going to sound like a grumpy old man (yes again!) and have a moan about the new £22m pound revamped Wolverhampton Bus Station. No, don't worry this is a SharePoint Blog, but I want to show how important it is to let your End Users know how to use your SharePoint Portal after you have given it a revamp (maybe upgraded to SharePoint 2010). But first back to Wolverhampton Bus Station....

During the last twelve months I have watched the impressive new Bus Station take shape. Admittedly normally getting annoyed because my usual route to Wolverhampton train station, to catch an early train to visit Office Talk's SharePoint customers in London has been blocked by building work. Then last week the impressive looking new Bus Station was opened.

It really is an impressive site, but I suppose when it costs £22m it should be (I mean Villa paid that much for Darren Bent). So why am I like so many people in the Wolverhampton area complaining? The reason is lack of communication. National Express who run  the West Midland Bus service have decided, in their wisdom, to change the numbers of many of the buses and change some of the routes. I am sure they have good reasons for this and it will save both money and improve the overall service, but they just haven't communicated the information with the people who actually use the buses. They haven't as yet changed the signs on the bus stops to show the new bus numbers. They haven't even put an entry on their Website listing the new bus numbers. It really is just lack of information that is causing so many angry customers.

Many companies have now had their SharePoint Portals for several years and have decided they need a revamp. They need to meet the needs of the changing business. They need to be more interactive. At Office Talk we have been involved in several projects recently where companies have moved from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010. To allow sites to use some of the new features like, linking to external data sources, inserting live external Websites with SharePoint, Social Networking, improved video handling, on-screen editing  many more. All packed with new features, but these features are only any good if the End User knows how to use them.

So if you are upgrading your SharePoint or just having a revamp please don't make the same mistakes that were made at the Bus Station. Make sure the End User knows what is changing before it changes and receives either a short training course or a handout (or both) showing them what the changes are.

If you are migrating to 2010 Office Talk provide an onsite 90 minutes training session for End Users (usually in groups up to a dozen) to show users some of the extra features they will have available, like 'Uniqueness' Field and the famous 'Ribbon'. We also create a customised two sided (3 fold) Quick Guide that the End Users can take away after the training session. Please email to find out more about how Office Talk can help with your End User training. But please never forget that your SharePoint Portal is only as good as the understanding your End Users have on how to use it. SharePoint like Wolverhampton Bus Station must be designed to improve the lives of the people who are going to use it. Not just to look pretty.

With the new Premier football season just two weeks away I have been busy creating the 'Our Team Performance 2011/12' SharePoint Template. You can see one for both newly promoted Norwich City (perhaps Delia would like a copy) and my own mighty Aston Villa at . Don't forget to claim your own generic Team Performance Template by dropping me an email at .

Good luck to the Villa boys in tomorrow's 'Barclays Premier League Asia Trophy Final' against Chelsea at Hong Kong. Hopefully Darren Bent will show why he cost as much as the new Wolverhampton Bus Station.  

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

SharePoint Premier League Template 2011/12

Many organisations have invested in the mighty SharePoint, but still struggle to get their staff to use it. As a SharePoint Consultant at Office Talk I always try and offer our customers interesting ways to promote their SharePoint environment.  We often encourage SharePoint Project teams to include a social area in their designs. These can be named things like 'Coffee Break' or 'Get Together'. A great place to share photographs of that 'Team Building' Event or to hold your 'Grand National Sweepstake'. 

Over the last two years several hundred companies have used the 'free' Office Talk 'My Team’s Premier League' to encourage employees to start to use SharePoint and see it's true full potential. This week Office Talk are releasing the latest version of their Football Template for the new 2011/12 season. With this unique SharePoint Template employees can monitor their favourite Premier League team’s performance during the next nine month's. You'll have to wait until the end of this blog to see how you can get a copy (or one for every team) of this template that combines my two passions SharePoint and football.

So how else can you make your SharePoint just that much more appealing to your staff? 

Here are my top 20 suggestions (they are not in any order);

1. A monthly photograph caption competition
2. List all your company holidays and key dates
3. Include Minutes of Meetings
4. Add video
5. Add your company templates to Document Libraries (ie Faxes, presentation layouts)
6. Include an Expense Form system
7. Have a Social Area that includes a 'congratulations' section
8. Have Personnel Manual easily accessible
9. Include an IT Helpdesk system
10. Useful Links (ie Weather, local restaurants, hotels etc)
11. Add Training Course Feedback forms using surveys
12. Add more photographs of members of staff
13. Let staff read about current performance of the business and don't just keep these figures secret
14. Highlight any special achievements of members of staff
15. Add a Discussion Area to let members of staff make suggestions about the SharePoint Portal.
16. Give your SharePoint Portal a friendly name
17. Use My Sites or create a Personal Site for each user
18. Allow users access externally to the system with an easy to remember URL
19. Add a Car Share section to keep the company 'green'
20. Continually review the Usage Reports for each site on your SharePoint Portal  

These are just a few suggestions. We at Office Talk are always happy to offer our 'Drop-In' service and come and give you advice on the best way to develop your SharePoint. Check this service out at

To receive the free ‘My Team’s Premier League’ SharePoint Template please visit the Office Talk website at
As part of the ‘My Team’s Premier League’ site you can predict the final places of all the Premier League Teams so here are my predictions for the new season (although I am assuming Villa will not sell Mr. Downing);

1. Manchester United
2. Manchester City
3. Arsenal
4. Liverpool
5. Chelsea
6. Aston Villa
7. Tottenham
8. Sunderland
9. Everton
10. Blackburn
11. Bolton Wanderers
12. Stoke City
13. West Bromwich
14. Fulham
15. Newcastle
16. Norwich
17. Wolverhampton Wanderers
18. Wigan
19. QPR
20. Swansea 

Please feel free to comment on how you think the 2011/12 league table will end up.

So don’t forget to claim your free Football Template and use it as many times as you want in your organisation.