2011-03-31 Today in SharePoint

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Driving Business Value with Enterprise-wide Collaboration Overview

 

2011-03-30-EnterpriseWideCollaboration-01.pngA couple of months ago, I was part of a group of people having breakfast with Mark Miller discussing all things SharePoint. One of the hot topics of the conversation was centered on where the SharePoint community goes in the next 5 years. Mark asked how we felt social technologies (Web 2.0 tools) will improve business value. I felt social technologies were a game changer for internal collaboration within an organization (we were focusing internally because of the presence SharePoint has at companies in this regard), because it provides a technology stack to drive enterprise-wide collaboration.

I believe this is the next step for the SharePoint community – to raise the utilization of the system from an ad-hoc collaboration solution that has provided value with point solutions, to a platform that is supporting top-down, strategic collaboration initiatives. So far, end user SharePoint has done a terrific job of enabling more people to build ad-hoc, point-based solutions by tapping into the tacit knowledge of the community through tutorials, web-based events, and the stump the panel resource.

In order for our community to take SharePoint to the next level of utilization, a different mindset has to occur at the companies we work for. Collaboration must be thought of as a strategic component for the business – and Web 2.0 tools are going to be the technologies that are utilized to support the business strategy, much like ERP systems before, which drove the productivity of the transactional-based workforce.

In this 4-part series, which was a result of that breakfast meeting, I will be focusing on a strategic implementation of enterprise-wide internal collaboration to support the corporate strategy and top business priorities. This entails a top-down approach to collaboration. I will not be dealing with ad-hoc collaboration solutions in this series.

In order to embark on an enterprise-wide collaboration initiative, we need to look at the following components:

  1. Examine how the changing workforce is a driver for enterprise-wide collaboration
  2. Understand the business value of collaboration (how can it help our company)
  3. Set the direction for enterprise-wide collaboration (how we align employees)
  4. Utilize a collaboration framework to manage and measure collaboration (how we implement collaboration)

In the first article I will look at the outside forces affecting companies. I will:

  • Examine the typical business drivers for enterprise-wide collaboration, and focus on how the workforce is changing
  • Explain why collaboration tools play a critical role in improving the productivity of your most important employees, and
  • Discuss how Web 2.0 technologies provide new capabilities to improve the productivity of your employees

In the second article I will examine how collaboration can help companies. I will:

  • Define collaboration
  • Discuss how collaboration adds value to the business
  • Point out the different types of collaboration
  • Identify how to achieve strategic benefits with enterprise-wide collaboration, and
  • Provide a tool to help you identify where your company stands in the life-cycle of collaboration

In part three of the series, I will look at aligning employees. I will:

  • Look at what it takes to set the direction for enterprise-wide collaboration
  • Walk through how to properly align your collaboration vision with the business vision and strategy
  • Showcase a way to identify where collaboration will have the biggest ROI
  • Examine how to set collaboration priorities to properly align people’s activities, and
  • Speak to the power of adopting an evolutionary collaboration strategy

Finally, in the last article, I will look at implementing enterprise-wide collaboration. I will:

  • Look at implementing a collaboration framework to manage and measure collaboration
  • Explore what it takes from a people and culture perspective, a process and governance perspective, and finally a technology perspective

These articles will pull content from many different sources, so I hope it acts as a concise reference for you to speak about collaboration in terms of a way to add value to your business.

As always, please feel free to post a comment, or share the article with colleagues of yours if you find it valuable. Your feedback is always appreciated. I hope this series gets you thinking about the next realm of SharePoint utilization, and how you can help drive that conversation at your company.

Six Steps to Understanding Business Process Management: Part I – The Goldilocks Principle – Picking the Right First Process

 

2011-03-29-BPMSeries-Part01-01.pngThis is the first article in the Six Steps to Understanding Business Process Management series. If you’d like to receive the entire series as an eBook, please register to receive a free copy and we’ll email it to you as soon as it is completed.

This week, we’ll look at a problem that faces every organization planning to implement BPM: how to pick the right process for the initial application of BPM methods and tools. Regardless of whether you are just modeling the process for manual optimization, providing some automated routing to human participants, or fully automating the process, you want to start in the right place for the optimal impact.

The common wisdom in selecting your first BPM project is “start small”. However, those who recommend “start small” often mean “start with an irrelevant process so that no one will notice if it goes wrong”. That is not the way to start a successful enterprise BPM initiative: instead, you need to start with a BPM project where you have a good chance of success, but have your eye on the strategic BPM vision.

Unless your only goal for BPM implementation within your company is for non-line-of-business administrative processes, don’t pick one of those as your first process. It’s not that these processes can’t be improved – they probably can – but you can’t expect everyone in the company to become excited about the potential of BPM by showing them how you can make their expense reports process better. Selecting a low-value process as your initial process for implementation means that few people will care if you are successful: although the implementation is low risk, you’ve put your entire future BPM program at risk because you haven’t used the first project as an opportunity to prove potential value. Furthermore, if you do get the go-ahead for that second project, you might find that there’s not a lot of reusability of either methods or processes as you move from an administrative process to a line-of-business process.

Instead, your first process should be one that is important to the business in order to prove the benefits to the organization’s bottom line: a core business process that impacts how workers do their critical daily tasks. Selecting a core business process means that you need to manage risk carefully as part of your project planning:

  • Limit the first production iteration to the minimum functionality that is useful, with as little customization as possible. In many cases, you will be replacing a manual process, so any amount of improved user experience and automation can show benefit. Keeping it simple allows you to move something into production in a short timeframe – 90 to 120 days – that will expose the users to BPM and its potential. In most cases, this will mean that work is distributed and received in the BPMS, but that there is little integration with other systems.
  • Wherever possible and practical, provide maximum flexibility to the users in how they execute their work. If the BPMS includes ad hoc/dynamic process management functionality, allow the users access to this in order to capture emergent processes, or identify knowledge work areas where structured processes are not best suited.
  • Begin with a core group of users, possibly in a single department, then expand outward in order to reduce handoffs between the BPMS and manual processes. Plan for the eventual goal of managing the end-to-end process, and aim for breadth (more of the process) before depth (more functionality at any given step) since the functionality can shift as the process broadens.
  • Decide on the functions to include in later iterations based on feedback from the users after they have started using the system for their daily work, not on a set of requirements that were written before any of them had any hands-on experience with the BPMS.
  • As the users reach an acceptable level of productivity, begin to implement the more technical integration functionality, with an eye towards reusability of these functions with other processes in the future.

This approach balances risk and benefits. By working with a core business process, interest in the benefits will be high across the organization and will drive adoption in other areas. By keeping the first production iteration simple yet flexible, and following it with frequent iterations based on direct user feedback, the risk of developing something that doesn’t benefit the users is minimized.

In a later article, we’ll discuss how to build on this initial BPM project to expand your BPM initiative across the enterprise. Picking the right first process to anchor your initiative, however, is critical to the future success of that expansion.

 

SteveRussellNew.pngCo-Author: Steve Russell

Steve Russell is the SVP of Research and Development and CTO for Global 360 Inc., based in Dallas Texas. He has over 25 years of experience as a technologist developing enterprise process and document management software platforms. Steve has extensive experience with large, mission critical systems development and deployment within Fortune 2000 companies.

You can reach Steve at steve.russell@global360.com.

Global 360 is an independent provider of process and document management solutions. For more than 20 years Global 360 has helped more than 2,000 customers in 70 countries reduce paper, automate processes, and empower individuals to deliver increased productivity, service levels, and business performance while reducing operational costs.

2011-03-30 Today in SharePoint

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Look Before You Leap Into Social Computing

 

2011-03-28-LookBeforeYouLeapSocialComputing-01.png

For those who follow my blog over at buckleyPLANET.com probably saw my quick piece on business considerations for social computing in SharePoint, but I thought I’d expand on it here and provide you with some great NBSP resources for further reading.

This thread came from an AIIM.org blog post by Rich Blank, who provides some great insight into the business reasons for considering the move into the social computing features in SharePoint 2010. In his article, he covers the primary areas of scope that any senior manager will want answers on before considering rolling out social computing features in the business:

  • What is the budget, how much time will it take, and how many resources will be needed to roll it out and support it ongoing? These are the traditional project management concerns.
  • What is the scope and scale of your SharePoint platform? Where are we going with this? What is the vision for the platform?
  • Will social tools help the company realize the potential of SharePoint? Will this help us better collaborate, and therefore, get more value out of the money we’ve spent?

While I agree with Rich’s comments, and believe that a key part of any SharePoint expansion into the social computing realm must include building credibility with management, I also believe that any foray into the world of social computing should be tempered with an understanding of three things:

  • Social computing is just another layer to search.
    Social computing is another way in which end users can apply, reorganize, and search through metadata, improving the overall search experience within SharePoint. As such, the social features should be considered as part of your search optimization strategies. The biggest complaint about SharePoint is the inability to find content. Social tools help end users surface the right data.
  • If your culture will not support social computing, don’t deploy it.
    While there will always be a few energetic folks out front in your company, wanting to push everyone into the latest, greatest, bleeding-edge technologies, you need to recognize that not every company is ready to go social. It could actually inhibit adoption if it doesn’t fit into the way that people are already working. A good sign that people are ready for social (though scary for your CIO) is that they’re utilizing commercial social tools to do business. Obviously, you want to protect your intellectual property, and have visibility into what people are doing, so give them the tools that will help them be more efficient and effective. If these tools are counter to the culture, hold off – or at least start slowly.
  • Governance is the key to success.
    Having a governance strategy is the answer to many problems within SharePoint, or knowledge management platforms, in general. Rarely can something be set up once, and operate autonomously. Maintaining the effectiveness of your SharePoint environment takes time and effort. It’s an iterative process. So go into it with your eyes open, and understand the roles and responsibilities necessary to keep things moving forward. (You may also want to read my article on ‘How to Jump Start Your Governance)

As with anything SharePoint-related, know what you’re doing before you jump into something new. Talk to your end users, understand the business value, and experiment. Some additional resources which you may find useful here on NothingButSharePoint.com:

2011-03-29 Today in SharePoint

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Thank you to the companies that make NBSP possible

​While we’re busy keeping the content flowing on NothingButSharePoint (NBSP), there are companies in the background that are helping us either with donated services or financial support through their sponsorship.

  • SharePoint Design Week – The people who brought you the SharePoint Conference in Baltimore earlier this month are at it again. Checkout what they have planned for SharePoint Design Week.
  • SurfRay – I first saw the capabilities of Ontolica a couple years ago and was disappointed when it disappeared from the market. Now that SurfRay has breathed life back into visual search, it’s time to look again.
  • Fpweb.net – What can we say about Fpweb.net that hasn’t been said before. Rob and crew are in invaluable support to the SharePoint Community. If you are looking for a SharePoint hosting provider, look no farther.
  • Kyle Schaeffer – You like what you see here on NBSP… I mean the style and page look for a SharePoint 2010 site? That’s Kyle in action. If you didn’t get to see him at SharePointConference.org, check out his personal site for what he’s got going.
We would love to have you as a sponsor on our site, too. We can guarantee you an audience that cares about nothing but SharePoint, since that’s all we do. To find out more about our sponsor packages, send an email to Bonnie Surma, our sponsorship manager.  Thanks in advance for your continuing support.

Six Steps to Understanding Business Process Management – Introduction

 

2011-03-25-BPMSeries-Introduction-01.pngA note from Mark Miller, Founder and Editor, EndUserSharePoint

When Sandy first sent this to me, I was hesitant to publish it. Then, as I got deeper into the content, I realized this information is valuable in all realms of project management, not just BPM.  This is almost a step-by-step guide on how to have a sucessful SharePoint rollout.

I’m very excited about publishing this series. We’re going to offer the set as a downloadable eBook once it is finished. Register to receive a free copy as soon as the series is completed.. — Mark

 

This is the first in a series of articles on business process management.

Business process management (BPM) is all about optimizing the performance of end-to-end business processes, including both the methodologies of process improvement, and the tools used to aid those methods. For example, methodologies include the ways in which you gather information about processes, or “process discovery”, as well as process optimization methods; tools includes business process analysis (BPA) tools for process discovery, modeling and analysis, and BPM suites (BPMS) for process automation.

BPM isn’t a new concept, but it continues to evolve rapidly and deliver new benefits. In the recent past, we’ve seen the rise of social BPM, agile BPM and case management technologies; all which have dramatically changed the landscape for the uses of BPM. We’ve also seen changes in how businesses use BPM methods and tools, with greater collaboration and a higher degree of control by the business over their working environment.

The six articles to follow will range across a variety of topics, covering both business and technology areas.

1. The Goldilocks Principle: Picking the Right First Process

We’ll start with a problem that faces every organization planning to implement BPM: how to pick the right process for the initial application of BPM methods and tools. Regardless of whether you are just modeling the process for manual optimization, providing some automated routing to human participants, or fully automating the process, you want to start in the right place for the optimal impact.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • How to select a process that is neither too big to be manageable, nor too small to be relevant
  • Deciding between a line of business process and a non-critical administrative process
  • Expected initial benefits and return on investment (ROI) considerations

2. Gaining Business Buy-In For Project Success

Once a process is selected, it’s critical to obtain the support of the business areas that will be impacted by changes to the process. They understand the current state of the process, and likely have a lot of great ideas about how it could be improved. It’s not enough to just gather their requirements and ship them off to development; there needs to be ongoing collaboration between business and IT as the BPM project progresses.

This article will cover:

  • The necessity of a good discovery methodology and approach
  • Using collaborative process discovery to capture “tribal knowledge” from a wide variety of stakeholders
  • How to maintain ongoing business participation in design, prototyping and implementation so that they don’t lose interest
  • Putting production process configuration in the hands of the business for immediate runtime control

3. Ensuring User Adoption

The quality and relevance of the BPM solution is important to user adoption: if the solution doesn’t do what the business needs it to do, or is difficult to use, they’ll find a way of working around it. Improving user efficiency is one of the key contributors to ROI, but don’t overlook the user experience factors.

This article will cover:

  • Building a user-centric, user-configurable solution that suits the users’ needs
  • Integrating with other technologies to reduce manual re-entering of information and “swivel chair integration”
  • Enrolling users in the design-process to ensure that the solution best meets their needs while building user buy-in

4. The Nature Of Work: Structured Versus Unstructured

As we automate more of the routine tasks in any business, the work remaining tends to be knowledge work: activities where the worker needs to use their experience and skills to determine what to do next, rather than following a pre-defined path through a process. Managing this sort of unstructured work is a challenge for traditional BPMS, which are focused on executing a fixed, pre-determined process map; instead, much of this work is done manually in an ad hoc fashion. Agile BPM and case management have emerged as technologies to help manage knowledge work, providing maximum flexibility while still maintaining integrity of the content and processes involved.

In this article, we’ll look at:

  • Defining structured and unstructured work
  • Mixing work styles within the same business process
  • Addressing the unique challenges of unstructured work

5. Measuring Success

Once a BPM solution is in place, you must be able to show the benefits in order to justify further roll-outs of BPM within your organization. Measuring your success requires some up-front work – such as baselining your current state process for later comparison – as well as calculating the hard benefits achieved through reduced costs or increased revenues. However, it’s also necessary to look at soft and disruptive benefits: although much harder to measure or even anticipate, they can provide much greater benefits in the long run.

In this article:

  • Measuring the as-is state as a baseline for process improvements
  • Doing a post-implementation review
  • Calculating hard ROI
  • Estimating soft benefits
  • Considering disruptive benefits, e.g., new ability to outsource portions of process

6. Moving To Wider Adoption Across The Organization

Getting your first BPM project up and running is a big accomplishment, but you can’t stop there: you need to look at ways to implement BPM across your organization for greater benefit. Part of this will involve generalizing what you’ve done on the first project so that it can be more easily reused, possibly through the establishment of a BPM center of excellence; however, you’ll also need the right people to spread the word.

In this last article:

  • Finding the internal evangelists
  • Generalizing the benefits/ROI
  • Exploiting reusable assets and infrastructure

In the spirit of collaboration, we’d like to hear your ideas for what should be in this series, and we’ll adjust the topics to include those that will appeal to the wider audience.

 

SteveRussellNew.pngCo-Author: Steve Russell

Steve Russell is the SVP of Research and Development and CTO for Global 360 Inc., based in Dallas Texas. He has over 25 years of experience as a technologist developing enterprise process and document management software platforms. Steve has extensive experience with large, mission critical systems development and deployment within Fortune 2000 companies.

You can reach Steve at steve.russell@global360.com.

Global 360 is an independent provider of process and document management solutions. For more than 20 years Global 360 has helped more than 2,000 customers in 70 countries reduce paper, automate processes, and empower individuals to deliver increased productivity, service levels, and business performance while reducing operational costs.

SharePoint 2010 and the Mystery of the Disappearing View Selector Menu

 

Remember the good old days, before SharePoint 2010, when a dropdown on the top right of a List View Web Part (LVWP) allowed you to select different views, quicly and easily?

In SharePoint 2010 we have lost this handy feature. On some pages, a substitute does exist in the Breadcrumb on the title bar (which is part of the Ribbon, at the top of the page). It took us a little while to actually realize was there – but once we found it, it was very welcome.

2011-03-28-DisappearingViewSelectorMenu-01.png

But wait, all is not well. as Kerri from one of our partners – LookOut Software who develop CRM software for SharePoint – pointed out even the breadcrumb option disappears on the majority of pages. It disappears if you

  • Add another list view web part
  • Add any other web part such as a Content Editor Web Part containing things like instructions for the list
  • 3rd party web parts like our PivotPoint or FilterPoint tools that work really well alongside list views for creating dynamic dashboards.
  • use your list on a wiki page – and remember most of the pages in SharePoint 2010 are wiki pages by default now.

Also you don’t get it if you’ve created a new page and added a list view web part to it.

Once it’s gone, you have to resort to the following ninja moves to change a view. Select the list title (or something in the list) > List Tools > List, Current View dropdown > Then the view you want. 4 clicks? My finger is getting sore SharePoint!

2011-03-28-DisappearingViewSelectorMenu-02.png

This bugged me so much that I decided to look into it further and ended up developing a little tool which – well – rescues the view selector drop down.

If you just want the solution you can skip the rest of this post and download our free fix for this annoyance – ViewRescue

2011-03-28-DisappearingViewSelectorMenu-03.png

If you’re interested in the techie details then read on…

The class that generates this menu is ListTitleViewSelectorMenu.

Looking into this class with Reflector.NET you find the following snippet of code.

Basically, it’s set to not show the view selector if there is more than one web part on a page. I don’t know why this might be but I suspect that it’s because if there are more than 2 list view web parts on a page then which one do you choose to show the views for. Rather than complicate the UI with multiple choices or simply choose the first web part on the page I suspect the SharePoint development team decided to show nothing instead.

From there I found a post describing how you can use SharePoint Designer to modify a view’s .aspx page to put the view selector back. The problem with this method though is that you have to edit each view page individually and that also produces un-ghosted pages.

Instead I wanted something a little more automatic that you could apply to an entire site in one go.

Normally Delegate Controls are the way to achieve this sort of customisation, but the ListTitleViewSelectorMenu isn’t wrapped by delegate control so that’s out.

But what you can do is implement a delegate for the AdditionalPageHead delegate control that is included with every page in SharePoint.

In the OnLoad event of our delegate control we can find the ListTitleViewSelectorMenu and check if it’s visible. And if it isn’t (as there are more than one web part on the page) we can change it to be visible. Job done!

Except we can’t – the Visible and SignleWebPartOnPage properties are read only and everything else is hidden…

OK – we can create our own, derive from that class and override the visible property. Except we can’t – its sealed…

OK – lets use the nuclear option then! Use reflection to set the private properties in the class. This has obvious dangers should the class internals change – so this technique should only be done when there is no other choice.

Add some appropriate error handling code and were done for the standard lists, but what about Web Part or Wiki pages we’ve created and added a LVWP to?

In this case there is no ListTitleViewSelectorMenu on the page at all – visible or not. So what we have to do is to add our own – inside CreateChildControls we find the PlaceHolderPageTitlteInTitleArea control and add some spans and a ViewSelectorMenu (which is the class that the ListTitleViewSelectorMenu actually uses to render the menu).

This class needs to be told which List View Web Part (lvwp) to render the menu for so we find the first LVWP on the page and create an SPContext (which is a RenderContext) with the view to pass onto the ViewSelectorMenu.

Job done! Download our free ViewRescue tool today and banish this SharePoint 2010 annoyance from your life!