Wednesday, 31 October 2012

SharePoint 2013 is about to wow us all, or is it?

It might only seem like a few years since we were all being amazed by the Millennium firework displays, but in two months time we reach the year 2013. No idea how that happened, but SharePoint is going to celebrate by reinventing itself for the fourth time (well, it's worked for Dr Who). Yes, SharePoint 2013 is about to wow us all, or is it?

So what is in the new SharePoint 2013 version. then? Here is my personal top ten changes.

1. Managed Navigation - The old navigation is still there but Microsoft have given us an alternative that allows us to use more 'Friendly' URLs. Also they have included a clever edit button on the navigation bar so it is easier to get to. If, of course, you have the permission.

2. Device Channels - This lets you create and use different Master Pages and Page Layouts depending on which mobile device you are using. It allows for the 'young trendy' people with iPhones, iPads and other handheld devices. It finally moves SharePoint away from the PC. 

3. Design Manager - You can now design Master Pages and create 'branding' from within SharePoint. SharePoint Designer might have been upgraded to SharePoint Designer 2013 but it now has an entirely different job to play.

4. Content Search Web Part - A new Web Part that replaces the 'Content Query Web Part'. Making it easier to search and to retrieve required information within SharePoint. Also moves away from the frustrating XSLT.

5. Composed Looks - Finally SharePoint have repaired the approach for creating themes that SharePoint 2010 got so very wrong. Did anybody really create themes using PowerPoint?

6. Catalogs – To try to manage things centrally you can now create a catalog of products and maybe use this catalog to produce a product web site. You no longer need to create pages for each individual item just stick it in a catalog. 

7. New GUI - If you have used Windows 8 yet you will have come across Microsoft’s new big user interface. They claim it is easier to use, snazzier, and well, different (in a good way). Microsoft are planning to use this design as their default UI for SharePoint, Office, Windows, Xbox and mobile devices over the coming years. The error messages are more chatty too almost giving SharePoint it's own personality..

8. Drag and Drop - Within any document library you can simply drag and drop your documents and files. A simple feature, but your users will appreciate it.

9. Shredded Storage - Probably one of the biggest enhancements. It allows SharePoint to send incremental updates to SQL. So if two words in a document change then only those changes are sent not the whole document. You can imagine the space this could save.

10. Apps - I have left it until last because I really don't know what effect Apps will have. But Microsoft like Apple are going App crazy. The App Management Service will allow you (or individual users, scary thought) to install SharePoint apps from the Office Marketplace or the App Catalog. I suppose Office Talk will need to get started on creating Apps for SharePoint. Ideas welcome!

So a few quite major changes, but still a lot of the basic functionality remains the same. Interestingly, the spec. for hardware and software is the same as 2010 so if you are looking to upgrade from SharePoint 2007 it might be worth going straight to 2013. Office Talk will be happy to discuss any upgrade work with you.

The Villa's form continues to be a worry but like SharePoint 2013 the new manager is currently building a new team and making major changes to the way it works. Like any new software upgrade it will take some getting used to. What Paul Lambert needs from his players is hard work and grafters. He can't afford any passengers who just sit back and take the money.

Which brings us to Doreen's Story.....

Friday, 19 October 2012

Nearly Great SharePoint

Well, yet again the England football team failed to deliver with a disappointing draw in Poland. They might be ranked 5th in the world but they really still aren't great. A bit like some SharePoint projects. They promise so much but can be a total washout.

The Microsoft SharePoint bandwagon continues to smash through all sizes of UK companies and shows no sign of slowing down. Some organisations might call it their Intranet or given it a trendy name like ‘The Hub’, but most are already using one of the many versions of SharePoint.

Businesses often select key people in the organisation to form a ‘SharePoint Project Team’ and very soon these people become fans of SharePoint. They pass their enthusiasm on to directors and managers convincing them that SharePoint will give them great savings and revolutionise the way employees work. Man-hours will be reduced, Rain Forests will be saved and morale will rise.

SharePoint goes live the SharePoint Project Team and IT Department congratulate themselves, the future looks rosy and there is even a triumphant double page spread in the company magazine. Then six months later somebody notices that nothing has really changed. The problem is the everyday employees in the various departments haven’t really started doing anything differently. Paper forms are still being sent around the office, out of date telephone lists are still pinned on noticeboards, room bookings are still made by ringing lots of peoples, Training Records for one employee are still being stored in multiple locations and ‘Near Misses’ are still just noted by a large sigh of relief from the Safety Manager. So why hasn’t SharePoint streamlined all these standard internal systems?

The answer is probably that the employees just haven’t got the time to replace the way they have always worked with automated systems on SharePoint because they are too busy filling out paper forms and taking phone calls.

What companies really need is somebody to have done all the donkey work for them. Must companies have the same functions (Safety, IT, HR, Finance, Purchasing, Training, Reception, Projects etc.) and all have to do many of the same routine jobs. Jobs like report IT problems, record employee details, submit Expense claims and control the access of visitors.

The secret is that somebody has done the donkey work for them. The UK SharePoint specialists Office Talk have been selling a bundle of 10 SharePoint Templates since 2009. It is available for all versions of SharePoint since 2007 (including the free ones!) Office Talk’s pack of 10 SharePoint Department Templates which available ready to use for just £199.95 per company. It really is that missing ingredient to make SharePoint great and to help make the time savings that that the SharePoint Project Team promised.

[To find out more about the Office Talk 2010 SharePoint Template Bundle visit]