Category Archives: General Knowledge

8 Challenges of BYOD in SharePoint: an Insider’s Tips


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Editor’s Note: Contributor Ben Henderson is Client Services Manager for Colligo. Follow him @ben3003

2013-11-13-BYOD-01.pngWhen you look at the numbers, the challenges of BYOD in SharePoint reach far and wide. 17,000 organizations now run SharePoint as their enterprise CMS and 125 million SharePoint licenses have been sold to date, according to file-sharing company Accellion. Gartner reports 70% of organizations allow users’ personal devices to access network systems and enterprise applications, and an astounding 78% of white-collar employees in the US use their own laptops, smartphones and tablets for work purposes (Cisco Systems).

You do the math. Thousands of IT departments are dealing with the daily challenges of actively monitoring and managing a myriad of mobile devices, yet delivering SharePoint content in a way that is easy and useful so that employees don’t look to less secure alternative solutions.

So what’s the problem? Two words – data breaches. In March 2011, 40 million employee records were stolen from RSA Security; the year before that Gawker Media experienced compromised email addresses and passwords of about 1.3 million commenters on popular blogs Lifehacker, Gizmodo and Jezebel, plus the theft of the source code for Gawker’s custom-built content management system. Although not on the same scale, corporate data breaches are common. According to research firm, Ponemon, about 85% of all US companies have experienced one or more data breaches.

SharePoint Needs Careful Management

SharePoint is capable of handling more than 200 file types out of the box. Imagine the data it can unleash. Without appropriate and consistent policies around access controls and security measures, such as restricted remote access, critical information can be left to twist in the wind.

Administrative mishaps, incorrectly configured services, and broad access rights all create security vulnerabilities. In the wrong hands, consumer-grade devices open an easy way through these vulnerable holes to enterprise data stored on the device and sometimes into the entire enterprise network.

As experts in SharePoint collaboration, we’ve learned first-hand where our customers face the biggest BYOD challenges in SharePoint, and they broadly divide into two categories: security and ease of use. The two go hand-in-hand to satisfy the needs of the organization as a whole and the individual users. Let’s start with security.

1. I’ve Lost my Phone

The number 1 security concern with BYOD connecting to enterprise networks is loss or theft of those devices. Foreground Security, a consulting firm, reports that 47% of employees have no passcode for their mobile phones. Malicious individuals will have access to any enterprise data stored on the device and possibly even to data stored on enterprise servers.

IT departments need to put in place, and enforce, strong password policies for every mobile device. Further, you should also consider creating password access to apps or browser access points into SharePoint, auto-wiping content after a series of unsuccessful tries, and setting up the ability to remotely wipe content from the device.

2. Authentication

On the topic of remotely wiping content, controlling access to SharePoint content on mobile devices is key. To protect sensitive corporate information, enterprises need to implement more fine grained security mechanisms and access control policies within the centralized or cloud-based SharePoint systems. IT departments need to pay attention to authorization policies that know who is accessing information and what type of data they are accessing, as well as what time of day, from what location and over what type of connection.

To achieve this, there needs to be proper site governance of both the content and structure of the SharePoint site. Note that this goes both ways, so that content that is created and changed on mobile devices need to follow the same set of authorization policies as those on the SharePoint site.

The good news is that SharePoint, Microsoft Outlook and Windows file server provide integration with identity providers like Active Directory Federation Services to enforce fine grained policies on what types of information users are permitted to view and access, even to the point of the specific device the user is connecting with.

Also note, for compliance with some of the more rigorous standards like HIPAA and SOX, enterprises need to go beyond access controls and encryption. To comply with these rigorous standards they need to implement logging and auditing to provide a trail of where the content is and has been.

3. Containerization

At the recent Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit, analyst Eric Maiwald commented: “BYOD means my phone, my tablet, my pictures, my music – it’s all about the user.” We could add to that: my confidential documents, my customer lists, my company financials, my bids and my patent information, and we have the full picture.

Separating corporate and personal data can be a thorny problem. One solution is containerization and this topic deserves an article all on its own. For the purpose of this article, we’re just making a note of its advantage. There are many choices for technologies for separating out and managing corporate email, applications and data. Just beware in making your choice, though, you’ll often need to use the vendor’s API and SDK to link customized apps to the container.

4. Jailbroken Devices

It’s no joke when a jail-broken iOS device appears on your corporate network. These devices pose a serious security risk. Worst case scenario is that malware can be introduced to your network through the use of unauthorized apps, and many jailbroken iOS devices also install a secure shell server that remote attackers can exploit.

Many MDM solutions are able to detect jail-broken devices, but don’t rely on your container solution to do this on its own. According to Gartner analyst Eric Maiwald: “If you have a rooted device, a container will not protect you.” You’ll need a multi-layered approach to jail-breaking, starting with educating employees about the risks and implications of jail-breaking their devices.

5. Malicious Apps or Hackers

What if a malicious app or person tries to access corporate documents? It has to be about the security settings you ensure all employees set on their device. For iOS devices, for example, encrypting vital information and user’s SharePoint credentials with hardware encryption and then storing them in the device’s Keychain will protect sensitive data. You’ll also want to pay attention to rogue apps that use the iPad’s screen capture capabilities, detect any modifications made to the .plist files on the iPad and if content is backed up on iTunes.

6. Preventing Information from Being Shared Externally

Employees often need to share documents with customers and partners, and this does create security issues for IT departments. The biggest issue is when employees send a document as an attachment to an email. Once that happens you lose the thread of who is sharing the document with whom, and there is no knowing who the customer then may share it with.

One solution is to offer the option to email documents as links in SharePoint. This adds extra security as the recipient must have the required SharePoint credentials to access the link and you can set authorization policies around the retrieval of said document.

7. User Interface

On the flip side of enterprise-wide security, we have ease of use for the individual. It goes without saying that if users cannot access SharePoint on their mobile devices or if they cannot access SharePoint content the way they would like to with an easy to use interface, they will look to alternate solutions for collaborating with colleagues and customers.

Out of the box, SharePoint 2013 has paid attention to the mobile experience with four browser-based experiences and the HTML-5-based contemporary view option, as well as the ability to design your own view based on your organization’s usability requirements. Your ability to choose the experiences, though, depends on a number of factors, including the devices you have and the type of site you are trying to enable.

There are also a number of third party solutions that cater to a wide range of devices to ensure employees adopt SharePoint for their mobile experience. Just note, that the user experience is tantamount to the success of your deployment and it starts with the user interface.

8. Working with Documents Offline

Field workers, sales professionals, external auditors are just some examples of employees who spend a large portion of their working days away from the office. To work efficiently, they will need offline access to email content stored in SharePoint. You’ll need a solution that allows users to selectively cache their SharePoint content to give them instant access to remain productive on the road or in the field.

There you have it. My hit list of measures you need to consider for successfully deploying a BYOD strategy in SharePoint.

SharePoint: New Packaging Requests in a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-11-10-NewPackaging-01.jpgThis is yet another example of streamlining a process where incomplete information was given via various channels.

What was the problem?

One of our global brands was struggling with their packaging process. Being in the fast-moving consumer goods business, there were always many new products being introduced and many promotions going on at any given time. Very often (such as: “now 20% extra!”) this meant that a new packaging had to be designed and printed.

For reasons of cost-efficiency and standardization, all packaging from one brand had to be centrally purchased. The purchasing manager was receiving incomplete information through various channels. Next to that, the requests were often received too late to allow the supplier the necessary lead time. Consolidating all information and ordering exactly the right amount of the right product at the right time was therefore not an easy task. I assume you will recognize this2013-11-10-NewPackaging-02.gif.

What is the solution?

You take one Team Site, as per my usual recipe2013-11-10-NewPackaging-02.gif.

We have turned an Excel form (which was used occasionally) into a Team Site custom list.

We made use of mandatory fields to force people to add information they often forget, such as the budget number, or whether the seconday packaging needs to be changed temporarily as well.

A calculated field is used to determine the deadline for artwork. So, if you want your new packaging to be ready on October 1, you MUST deliver your packaging designs before August 1. This was one of the more frequent problems. With the new process, delivering late is no longer allowed.

A workflow allows the purchasing manager to check if all details have been entered correctly. All approved requests are visible to all members.

The packaging supplier has read-access to the Team Site. The official ordering is done in the supplier’s system.

What are the benefits?

Although marketeers did not really like the limitation of their freedom, (especially where artwork deadlines were concerned), the new process has had many benefits for the total organization:

  • The process has saved time for the purchasing manager because she now receives complete and correct information.
  • All artwork is now being delivered on time, reducing last-minute stress for all. This is more a result of the implementation of the process, rather than the Team Site itself, of course.
  • The purchasing manager can now combine different requests and get better conditions.
  • The supplier knows beforehand what he can expect.
  • All requests are creating a large database. Marketeers in different locations can see what their colleagues are doing or have done, so they can share experiences with a certain action, or combine a promotion and therefore save costs.

Once again, this is not rocket science, it does not even use sophisticated new code, it is just regular SharePoint with a bit of thinking.

This screenshot shows the data entry screen.

2013-11-10-NewPackaging-03.gif
New Request Data Entry

Below you see the Homepage with all approved requests on the left, for everyone to see and share. On the right, a web part with only My Requests waiting for confirmation. (In the real situation, this would be all My Requests, but since I have created all requests, I had to use another filter to show a difference2013-11-10-NewPackaging-04.gif.

2013-11-10-NewPackaging-05.gif

SharePoint: News Translations in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly – SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

This example may be interesting for Communication employees in multinational organizations.

What was the problem?

As in many international companies, the company language is English. Most people can read that, but general survey feedback showed that employees would really appreciate to read important business news in their own language.

So the Communications team decided that those messages would be translated into 14 different languages. Hiring an external translation agency was easy, but how to handle all those primary, draft and final documents (some of which were unintelligible for the Comms team) without getting confused?

What is the solution?

We set up an external Team Site with 2 libraries:

  • One library for the primary document, in English. The agency set an Alert (Added Documents, Immediately) so they know when they have to start translating.
  • One library for the translations. The agency uploads the translations to this library, using a special naming convention, adding the language as metadata, so we can group the documents by language.
    Designated local employees then check the translations, making sure that the texts fit country and company culture. These employees have set an Alert (Added Items, Daily) so they know when they have to correct a document. They can make changes online. When a translation is OK, a box is “final” is checked.
    (Since the Alert can not distinguish beteen languages, we suggest a Daily e-mail to avoid getting too many irrelevant emails)
  • Communications has also set an Alert to the Translations library, to monitor progress. (All Changes, Daily)

All documents with”the “final” checkbox are made visible to employees in special views by language.

(for advanced users: in a separate Team Site we have created one Web Part Page per language, and “project” the documents, filtered by language, on that page using Corasworks)

What are the benefits?

This setup is not ideal, since the information is still hidden in documents and there are no Alerts per language. A truely online process with targeted news in the correct translation on people’s Homepage would be better, but that is not available at this moment. Still, this setup does help to streamline the process:

  • All documents are in one place.
  • Notification emails that “you have work to do” are being sent automatically.
  • Documents are properly tagged with metadata.
  • No confusion with loads of documents in individual emails.
  • The data can be used for KPI’s, such as turnaround time, learning curve of the translation agency, and projected costs.

Another example of how some thinking and experience with SharePoint can solve those all-too-common business problems!

This is the Source library, containing the original English document:

2013-11-03-EmployeeDirectory-01.png
Source Library, containing the original English documents.

And this is the Target Library, where the translations can be uploaded.

2013-11-03-EmployeeDirectory-02.png
Library for the translated documents

SharePoint: Employee Directory and a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

Maria was one of our most dedicated administrators of the Employee Directory. She was working in one of our larger locations, and she was very motivated to keep her part of the Directory up-to-date. If you saw an employee profile from her location, you could trust it would be 100% accurate. Being that dedicated also took her a lot of time. So she asked me if there was a solution to her chasing everyone for the correct information.

What was the problem?

The Employee Directory was not (yet) connected to another system, so it had to be updated manually.

Maria’s location included many manufacturing and marketing employees, who changed jobs frequently. She received information about changes from various channels: e-mail, documents (via e-mail or snail mail). chat, fax, telephone and visits to her desk. Hardly anyone provided the full set of details needed, so she always had to ask people for the additional information.

What is the solution?

We set up a simple SharePoint custom list for her, in local language. We used pre-filled Choice or Lookup columns where possible, to make it easy for the requester and guarantee consistent information. We made two views: “In Progress” (default), and “Completed”.

Maria set an Alert (Added Items, Daily Summary) so every morning she knew the changes she had to make.

When she had made the required change for one person, she would tick the box “completed” in the request and the item would move to the “Completed” view. This way she always knew which requests were still waiting for her, and she also had an archive of finished requests.

What are the benefits?

  • Maria saved time, because the information she received was complete. There was no longer any need to chase someone for missing information.
  • The business was happy, because the changes were processed faster, making the Directory more accurate and trustworthy. (Of course they grumbled a little when they were confronted with a new process, but Maria sold the benefits very well – and simply refused to process any request via another channel2013-10-27-EmployeeDirectory-01.gif)
  • Many employees were now working in SharePoint lists, and this sparked ideas for other applications.
  • This was a very generic process which could be replicated to other locations easily. So even though this project did not generate many financial benefits, the project had a high priority because it was a very reproducible solution.

Another inefficient process was streamlined with little effort!

Please find below some re-created screenshots.

2013-10-27-EmployeeDirectory-02.gif

2013-10-27-EmployeeDirectory-03.gif

SharePoint Online Website Examples


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly – SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Chris Clark is the Marketing Manager for Creative Sharepoint. Follow him @chrisclark005

SharePoint Online, a component of Microsoft’s Office 365 suite, provides subscribing organisations with public-facing website functionality. This type of SharePoint public-facing website lacks the full feature set of SharePoint, but is perfectly adequate for websites with basic functionality (not necessarily small or low-traffic sites).

We were recently approached to deliver 2 such websites for a client (N.B. as an educational organisation they were eligible for the A2 Office 365 Plan, meaning their SharePoint Online website licensing and hosting was completely free)

Both of the SharePoint Online websites can be viewed here:

http://www.councilofhealthcarescience.ac.uk/
http://www.pharmacyschoolscouncil.ac.uk/

In this blog post we will give a brief overview of the two websites, exploring:

  • SharePoint Online Website Author Requirements (content management and analytics)
  • SharePoint Online Website Visitor Requirements (user experience and accessibility)
  • SharePoint Online Website Features Leveraged (blog site, list apps and library apps)

SharePoint Online Website Author Requirements

A public-facing website can have all the design and functionality in the world thrown at it, but if the content is not relevant or up-to-date then it is unlikely to have a lasting effect. For that reason, the key requirements from a website author’s perspective were easy content management and the ability to analyse site performance.

Content Management

As the organisation’s marketing team have no internal IT support, it was crucial that the content of both sites could be managed by non-technical authors. The content on the websites, which needs regular updating, includes:

  • Rich text, including videos embedded from YouTube and other sources
  • Links to other pages and external sites
  • Documents (particularly Word and PDF)

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-01.png
SharePoint Online websites allow videos to be surfaced directly from YouTube using the ‘Embed’ tool

In addition to creating and editing pages independently of IT, the website authors also need to be able to optimise the site for search engines (SEO) without having to edit code.

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-02.png
SharePoint Online websites allow SEO properties to be changed through a modal in the ribbon

Analytics

Finally, website authors need to track the performance of the websites using Google Analytics. As the code snippet for Google Analytics (the code that allows authors to track websites) can change without notice, website authors also require a way to update this without going into HTML.

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-03.png
The SharePoint Online ‘Web Analytics App’ (freely available) allows authors to change Google Analytics snippets without touching code

SharePoint Online Website Visitor Requirements

User Experience

Website visitors need a simple, modern look and feel that helped them easily find the content they needed, whilst conveying the organisation’s existing brand guidelines.

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-04.png
SharePoint Online themes provide the whole website a consistent look and feel whilst custom CSS can be used to enhance specific page elements

Accessibility

As well as looking good, it is also important that the websites meet accessibility standards (specifically being AA compliant). Whilst underlying elements of Office 365 may compromise accessibility, additional code is able to meet the rigorous standards.

SharePoint Online Website Features Leveraged

As I mentioned in the introduction, the SharePoint Online public-facing website lacks the full feature set of SharePoint. Nethertheless, it provides more than enough functionality for many website projects. Here we will look at three areas of functionality in particular; the blog site, list apps and library apps.

Blog Site

The SharePoint Online blog site enables content authors to publish rich text blogs from either the browser or Word. Once published, blogs are automatically categorised and made available to website visitors. The latest blogs are surfaced on the homepage and visitors can choose to follow via RSS, comment with a Facebook account and share content via email.

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-05.png
Publishing a new blog through a rich text editor, as viewed by a website author

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-06.png
A new blog post, as viewed by a website visitor

List Apps

List Apps enable content to be stored, as the name suggests, in lists, and then surfaced on various website pages via ‘app parts’. Adding new content to lists is done through simple forms, meaning that pages with these ‘app parts’ can be updated without the use of code.

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-07.png
Adding a new FAQ through a form, as viewed by a website author

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-08.png
A list of FAQs, surfaced through an ‘app part’, as viewed by a website visitor

Library Apps

Similarly to list apps, library apps allow content in document format to be stored in libraries and then surfaced on pages via ‘app parts’, once again avoiding the need for editing in HTML.

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-09.png
Adding a document by dragging-and-dropping into a library, as viewed by a website author

2013-10-22-SharePointOnline-10.png
A list of downloadable documents, as viewed by a website visitor

Conclusion

As you can see, despite the functional limitations of SharePoint Online public-facing websites, they can be more than capable of delivering an impressive authoring and visiting experience. In particular, they can:

  • Streamline content management, reducing dependency on IT
  • Be easily optimised for search engine performance
  • Integrate industry standard analytics
  • and finally, provide an engaging (and accessible) user experience to website visitors

SharePoint: Telesales in a Team Site


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Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

2013-10-20-Telesales-01.jpgOne of the teams spends their days making telephone calls to customers, asking them about a brochure or telling them about a new product or a special offer. This team has many calls to make each day, the more the better!

All phone numbers were in an Excel file, which was shared in a Team Site. Every Call Agent looked through the Excel file for the numbers assigned to them, and after the call edited the line item with the outcome of the call, as well as changes in information that they had learned during the call. (E.g. new contact person, change in telephone number).

What was the problem?

  • Opening the file and finding their assigned phone numbers took a long time.
  • Editing the item and saving the information caused waiting time (if the file was checked out by another call agent) or overwriting issues, (if a call agent forgot to check out)
  • All customers were in the file, whether they had been called or not
  • Management was always asking “how things were going” because they were curious and nobody had an overview of progress or results. This meant Call Agents had to spend time on ad-hoc reporting, which took time away from their calling time

What is the solution?

We opened up the Excel file by importing the data into a pre-configured Issue list in a Team Site. We created different views, such as:

  • New calls to be made, as well as call-back appointments, grouped by Call Agent
  • Completed calls, grouped by Result Code for a quick overview with sums (e.g. Appointment, Not interested, Business Discontinued, Offer)
  • Export view to export the data back into an Excel file for detailed analysis

By removing the finished calls to a different view, every call agent can see quickly which and how many calls he or she needs to make, without making mistakes.

We also added some real-time Excel graphs for management, so they can see progress and outcome of any promotional action in real-time. These graphs can also be used to evaluate the Call Agents’ performance and to share tips for a succesful approach between Call Agents.

What are the benefits?

  • Call Agents know exactly which customers to call or follow-up; editing a line item is much faster than editing a file so they can do their work more quickly
  • Call Agents make less mistakes in calling a customer twice or overwriting someone else’s edits
  • Management has a real-time overview of progress and outcomes, and they can see that without bothering the Call Agents
  • It is now possible to see progress as you go along, enabling the Marketing Manager to make adjustments during the promotion
  • It is clear which Call Agent is most succesful, which enables exchange of good practices between Call Agents

All in all, this simple Issue list has enabled the Call agents to make TWICE as many calls a day as before!

So, small wonder that other departments have embraced this solution as well – by now there are 3 teams calling in this way.

Another succesful cure for Document Addiction!2013-10-20-Telesales-02.gif

Please find a screenshot below, this shows the real-time Result Codes (e.g. Call, Written Proposal Requested, Meeting Requested, Already Bought This; Not Interested etc.) on the horziontal axis. Vertical is the count of this result code. The graph is slightly distorted because screenshot was made early in the Action, when there were still many calls (3344) to be made.

2013-10-20-Telesales-03.gif

Below is a screenshot of the results by Call Agent. On the horizontal axis the names of the individual Call Agents, on the vertical axis their stack of different result codes. This enables management to monitor both their productivity (# calls made) and their effectiveness (# of calls that have a favourable result). Please note that Call Agents do not all work fulltime.

2013-10-20-Telesales-04.gif

Why Rogue IT is Changing the Way We Do Business

 

Editor’s note: Follow contributor Mark Fidelman @markfidelman

2013-10-11-ITHorrorStory-01a.jpgA security team at a large non-profit heard there were a bunch of people using Dropbox without authorization and their files had recently been hacked, so they made a call to Dropbox. Without authenticating their identity, Dropbox offered the list of 1600 user names and their email addresses. “The Dropbox guys wanted to get them moved to the enterprise version so much they were willing to share a customer list without even authenticating the folks on the phone!”

It gets worse.

A pharmaceutical company in the middle of a six-week drug test to secure FDA approval suddenly saw a tech savvy groups’ rogue IT missteps corrupt their data, destroying the test and ultimately costing $500 million in lost revenue.

Rogue IT horror stories like these are happening all the time. Whether dealing with super tech savvy employees seeking simple solutions, or tech challenged folks using whatever consumer app is readily available, either employee scenario can be the stuff of IT nightmares.

Are these people just terrible employees? No, they’re part of today’s increasingly mobile workforce, and they need better options when it comes to working on the go. Without consistent, easy to use productivity and collaboration options, most opt to use unsanctioned services like Dropbox or Google Docs, causing financial consequences as well as data loss, unintentional data leaks, reputational damage and full company shutdowns for days or weeks as they scramble to resolve these issues.

And it’s not only businesses that suffer – employees feel Enterprise IT pains as well. Can you imagine being fired for that instant message you just sent? Well, you certainly could be if you’re sharing sensitive customer data (including credit cards and bank routing details) across consumer IM networks, like MSN Messenger, Yahoo and AOL (true story). You didn’t know it was that serious of an offense? Well, THAT is part of the problem.

The disconnect between business users’ and Enterprise IT is multi-faceted. If it continues to grow unchecked, if employees can’t be convinced to “drop-box” and other unsafe services like it for simple to use, safe company-sanctioned alternatives, these problems are just the beginning.

My client harmon.ie is hosting a Rogue IT Horror Story contest that seeks to draw attention to these risks, by highlighting what happens when organizations don’t keep pace with employees’ needs and said employees “go rogue.”

We want to know your story. You will remain anonymous so that we can better understand why it’s happening and how to help IT and employees come to a better solution. Submit yours by this Friday October 18th for the chance to win a free pass to SharePoint Conference 2014 or Samsung Galaxy 4. Again, all submissions are anonymous and will be judged by a panel of mobile enterprise, security and IT experts, including Christian Buckley, Bob Egan, Michael Krigsman, Maribel Lopez, Nicholas McQuire and Benjamin Robbins, together with the IT community.

The best (worst stories) will be announced on All Hallow’s Eve.

SharePoint: CRM in a Team Site


You may also be interested in: Simple SharePoint Migration Tool – Content Matrix by Metalogix


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Ellen van Aken is an experienced intranet adoption manager. Follow her @EllenvanAken

One of the most successful “SharePoint solutions” has been the Incident Log of one of the APAC companies. It was built to be a temporary (1.5 years) site to solve an urgent business problem, until SAP would provide the proper CRM functionality. Due to postponement of the SAP rollout, it is still heavily used today (more than 3 years later). The site is praised for its user-friendliness and transparency. In fact, rumors are that users are NOT looking forward to changing this system to SAP 2013-10-10-CRMTeamSite-01.gif

What was the problem?

The country’s Customer Service Desk received their customer complaints in various ways: from 7 different systems, via email, snail mail, telephone, fax and by going to the Customer Service desk. Information provided was seldom complete, and there was no central system or agreed process to log and manage complaints. Many complaints were lost during the process, and if they were not, turnaround could vary from 2 weeks to 2 years.

All complaints were reimbursed to the customer, because it was almost impossible to properly investigate a complaint.

There was no insight in root causes of complaints, so it was not easy to make any improvements to systems or processes.

What is the solution?

The country organized a workshop with all involved disciplines, describing the current and the desired process. The Business Process Owner Order-to-Cash and I worked together to turn an Issue List into a streamlined Incident Logging, Processing and Managing system, that would enable all involved parties (Customer Services, Quality Assurance, Warehouse Managers, Finance, and even the external Transport Company) to quickly add, review and edit information. Every complaint was one list item.

On the Home Page an overview of all open incidents, and their accumulated value, are shown as a very high-level dashboard.

2013-10-10-CRMTeamSite-02.gif
The Homepage is dashboard for open incidents and process information.

We added some Corasworks tricks, such as a Search function and an automated email that would copy much of the Incident’s information into an email to the transporter, in case a delivery had to be taken back to the Warehouse.

Of course, with a major process like this, it took a long time to get this realized. But as usual, thinking was the most work. What is the current process? Where does it hurt? What is the best flow? How can we make it complete, but keep it simple and workable? How do we train people? How do we manage changes? How do we make this truly a part of a new way of working? The BPO and I spent long hours discussing both the process and the functional implementation.

2013-10-10-CRMTeamSite-03.gif
First part of the data entry screen.

What are the benefits?

  • The country now has one database for all Incidents, enabling different ways to sort, group or filter: by Product, by Complaint Type, by Customer, Open for longer than 2 weeks, etc.
  • Key Performance Indicators have been agreed and can be monitored.
  • System and process are agreed and transparent, eliminating the need to discuss the process repeatedly
  • Turnaround time has decreased to as low as 2 hours due to more insight and less handling
  • Due to the better insight it has been possible to improve processes and performance. One transport company has already been discontinued since they caused many problems. Others have been given a warning. Changes have been made in the factory to solve certain issues. This has decreased the total number of Incidents by about one-third.
  • Significantly less money has to be paid to customers. Now that the process has been agreed, it is easier to assign responsibility. If the customer has caused the problem, no money is reimbursed. If the transport company has caused the problem, they have to pay.

All in all, this Team Site has saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and there is much less discussion about the process.

Why Do People Hate SharePoint?

 

Editor’s note: Contributor David Lavenda is Vice President of Product Strategy at harmon.ie. Follow him @dlavenda

During the third week of November 2012, Microsoft hosted its annual SharePoint conference, an extravaganza of everything and anything that has to do with SharePoint, at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas. The conference crowd was an avid and passionate group of SharePoint boosters and the buzz around the show was electrifying. People who recently spent their vacation there, might jump to the conclusion that everyone LOVES SharePoint.

However, working with customers all over the world, we often hear the opposite opinion about SharePoint. Typical business users don’t love SharePoint, when forced to use it, many will openly admit their aversion of SharePoint. Why’s that? Here is a list of common reasons why people hate SharePoint:

  1. Deployment time takes too long – According to a Forrester survey over 40% of respondents reported that deployments ran over the allotted time and approximately 60% of these respondents claimed it was due to technical difficulties. Delays in IT projects such as SharePoint deployments can cause organizations to lose valuable time and money.
  2. SharePoint can’t be used “out-of-the-box” – Organizations learn that it is very hard to use SharePoint “as is.” They quickly discover that third-party tools are needed to augment SharePoint to address their business requirements. According to AIIM, the biggest on-going technical issue with SharePoint implementation is governance, specifically the management of metadata and taxonomies, and over 54% of organizations are either using or planning to use a third-party add-on product.
  3. “The proverbial Swiss army knife solution to every content”- From document management, project management, blog, wiki and even corporate intranet; SharePoint promises to delivers on a wide variety of needs, yet the end result is often “nothing more than a landfill for documents.”
  4. Poor user experience- In a Forrester survey, when enterprises were asked “In what way is SharePoint not meeting your expectations?” over 30% said that their users don’t like the SharePoint experience. 30% said that their end users prefer other tools such as email. This isn’t surprising since the typical business users revert back to their original business workflow once they encounter difficulties with a newly introduced platform.
  5. Poor mobile device access to SharePoint- In a study done by AIIM, 90% of survey respondents expressed some level of dissatisfaction from SharePoint’s Mobile device access. The business users want to stay productive in the office or on the go.

What Does This Mean?

How can we reconcile these reactions to the tremendous value that SharePoint brings to organizations and to its almost universal deployment? The underlying root cause of people’s dissatisfaction with SharePoint stems from poor preparation and unrealistic expectations about what SharePoint provides ‘out of the box.’

To ensure a successful SharePoint implementation and happy users, employ the following ‘tried and true’ strategies:

  1. Create a well-defined deployment process that takes into account the needs of not only tech-savvy IT people, but also your typical business users.
  2. Make sure your project focuses on a business solution and addresses the business users’ needs, such as making it easy to access SharePoint from the office and also when on the road.
  3. Integrate SharePoint into the typical business users’ everyday workflows.
  4. Follow Gartner’s advice4 and look to third party tools to plug functional deficiencies in SharePoint.

Following those 4 guidelines, will ensure that even the harshest of critics will fall in love with SharePoint.

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Tools for SharePoint User Experience (UX) Design: Interactive Prototyping


You may also be interested in: O’Reilly – SharePoint 2010 at Work


 

Editor’s note: Contributor Adrian England is the Senior User Experience Designer at Creative Sharepoint. Follow him @ade_england

Introduction

Following on from the previous articles in this series Scamping, Paper Prototyping and Wireframing, the topic for this article is Interactive Prototypes.

What is Interactive Prototyping?

In the previous articles in this series a concept was taken through the stages of initial scamps to get the ideas down on paper and iterated quickly, a paper prototype to explain individual elements of functionality and then the creation of wireframes to show how the content will sit within the site.

At this stage you will probably have a number of wireframes depicting the different pages within a site. These wireframes will undoubtedly have the correct content and layout in place, but it may be difficult to illustrate how the individual pages come together to form a complete site.

This is where the interactive prototype comes in. Using Axure to create the initial wireframes means that these pages can now be wired together to form a clickable, navigable site. Again these files should contain no element of design, these should be purely monotone layouts with no imagery or stylised fonts, ensuring the focus is on the content with the addition of interaction.

Taking the wireframe created in the previous blog we can now add functionality, links, interactions and more… For the purpose of this blog I will focus on making the site navigable but there is a lot more that can be achieved by Axure, their site has a number of tutorials (http://www.axure.com/learn) and a lot more resources can be found online.

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Using Axure to create an Interactive Prototype

First off we need to decide which elements of the site will be used across all (or multiple) pages. For the purpose of this wireframe the header containing the navigation, site logo and search area will be required as a consistent element across the entire site.

For larger projects these elements could include document libraries, lists, newsfeeds, calendars or any other element that should remain consistent.

Similar to the SharePoint Ribbon in our SharePoint2013 Axure Library any page element can be turned into a “Master”.

Taking the wireframe created earlier, drag and select all of the elements in the header area.

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Right click on this selection and “Convert to Master”, naming the item “Header”.

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This new Master element will be displayed in the Masters panel (to the left of the prototype). Rename the pages (in the Pages panel) as required, then right click on the Header Master (in the Master panel) and select the pages it should be added to. The Master element can also be dragged on to an individual page and repositioned if required.

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Now edit the master by double clicking on the master element, either on the page (highlighted in red) or in the Master panel, this will open the Master created earlier so you can edit all the pages globally.

Links can be added to the Navigation buttons by right clicking on them and adding cases. The Header will now be updated with links on all pages that it has been placed on allowing the site to be navigable.

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When finished adding content and functionality to each page, the prototype can be exported into a html prototype allowing the user to click through the site and explore.

Once tested by the user and approved the project can then progress to the design stage, confident in the knowledge that the content and functionality have been agreed. Going through this process and separating content, functionality and aesthetics allows the designs to be considered purely on their own merit and the underlying functionality understood without further explanation or iteration.