Microsoft SharePoint 2010 End User Guide: Business Performance Enhancement

By Peter Ward , Michael McCabe
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  1. Where Should End Users Start with SharePoint?

About this book

SharePoint is currently Microsoft’s fastest selling product, faster than even Microsoft Office. Like its predecessor SharePoint 2007, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2010 can be said to be the "Ginsu knife" of web platforms by providing web publishing and collaboration combined. Rich websites, portals, intranets, content management systems, search engines, workflow, wikis, blogs, and more make SharePoint the business collaboration platform for the Enterprise and the Internet, and can all now be done out of the box. Companies can deploy SharePoint 2010 both inside the enterprise (that is, intranets) and outside of the firewall (that is, extranets, the Internet) so employees, customers, and business partners can work with the platform. SharePoint 2010 ultimately enables enhanced internal and external company communication, resulting in better decision making processes.

Just as Microsoft’s products have become the de facto standard with daily desktop tools such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, SharePoint is becoming the de facto standard web platform for team and company collaboration.

With this book you will be highly equipped with the confidence and professional independence to build business enhancing SharePoint solutions. This will give you and your department traction for document collaboration, Web 2.0 functionality and much more, so that you can publish content and develop communities for maximum interaction. You will gain invaluable knowledge about workflows, alerts and notifications, web parts and more.

This book bridges the gap in end user functionality to provide you with functional direction and guidance on how to truly apply SharePoint to your business processes, without the need for coding.

This hands on tutorial full of comprehensive instructions and quick tips shows you where to apply SharePoint’s technology to your job and business as a whole, for immediate traction and value. The main focus lies with explaining the core capabilities of SharePoint 2010 from an end user perspective, such as Lists, Libraries, Workflows, Blogs and Wiki, all without writing any code.

The book begins by setting out SharePoint’s core functionality which includes the different editions, Sites, Libraries, Lists, and My Sites. This basic functionality will give you the knowledge to deploy collaborative solutions for you and your department. You will be guided through how to create content and quickly tailor it for your own individual needs. You will then dive deep into Office integration with SharePoint, learning that SharePoint is not a replacement for Office, but a tool to complement it for team usage, so files and even page content can be shared within teams and departments. Along the way, you will also gain the knowledge to implement out- of-the-box SharePoint processes relevant to your own job role and the functions of your department. Finally, the book will discuss what SharePoint is not, with a view to how it should not be used by end users, the challenges that face end users, and where SharePoint’s functionality can be applied with regards to business areas such as Human Resources and the Sales Department, ultimately enabling you to properly implement SharePoint 2010 as an efficient end user.

Publication date:
February 2011
Publisher
Packt
Pages
424
ISBN
9781849680660

 

Chapter 1. Where Should End Users Start with SharePoint?

We feel that the business community's most logical entry point for the for the SharePoint technology is not a deep dive into the technology, but to identify the typical end users and discuss the information and technology considerations to identify what is possible with this deployed technology with your organization. Most end users will always try to get more work done with their existing tools such as e-mail, Word, and Excel; in reality, these tools have their limitations in terms of personal and team productivity. With the release of the SharePoint technologies in 2001, 2003, and 2010, there has been a tighter integration of the Office applications and corporate web server technologies that have resulted in additional functionality and team processes to the Office applications, such as version control, workflow, and issue tracking.

This chapter will cover the typical end user in an organization and how they currently use information and apply this to their work processes with the SharePoint technology, all without the direction of the IT department. It will also address some frequently asked questions about SharePoint that should be asked by end users. This chapter will cover the following topics:

  • The typical end user

  • Webinizing information

  • Key takeaways

  • Technical considerations for an end user

  • Integration with other technologies

  • External access

  • Governance

The typical end user

End users are people who use the SharePoint product, as opposed to those who develop or support it, so it is important that the SharePoint technology adds value to an end user's work day by making tasks more structured within a team, and information easier to find. The end user may or may not know what to do if something goes wrong, or indeed will not usually have administrative responsibilities or privileges. However, it is more their behavior and attitude toward a product such as SharePoint that will make a difference in their day-to-day activities. End users typically fall into the categories described in the following sections:

"I'm fine, leave me alone"

This is the person who is content with their existing toolset of Word, Excel, and Outlook. Their inbox may be full of unorganized e-mails, and their desktop is overflowing with saved documents. However, the idea of investing time and changing behavior is either completely alien or unwelcome. Using desktop technology to increase productivity will be a challenge if the person is unwilling to learn. Their excuses will range from I'm too busy, It's too difficult to use, or I don't have time. Their effectiveness as a team player in using information is limited and self-imposed as they are unwilling to learn and change their behavior. This kind of a person is a late adopter to a SharePoint deployment. These people are also categorized as Low Touch, Low Adopter. The good news with this kind of end user is that they are honest and will be vocal that they are not using the technology.

"That's great, it'll help me"

This person is supportive in the deployment and understanding of the technology, but that is as far as it goes. What they are really saying is that this technology is great, but for everyone else to use. Their effectiveness as a team player with information is also limited and self-imposed as they also are unwilling to learn and change their behavior. Unfortunately, collaboration requires everyone to be on board for it to work effectively.

"This is amazing"

This wide-eyed user is eager to learn, willing to change his behavior patterns, and ready to use the quick productivity wins that SharePoint provides. This kind of end user is willing to learn SharePoint functionality, but the steps have to be easy and should not require too much work.

"Show me and tell me more"

This is your Power User who will typically know how to perform the advanced formulae in Excel and will have a very efficient inbox, by having rules set up, and an organized folder structure. This kind of end user will invest time to advance his knowledge with SharePoint. If anything, they will find that administrative restrictions hold back their use of all of the functionalities.

It is important that an end user (or a trainer) knows what categories they belong to so, they know how to get the most mileage and use from this book. If the reader is honest and recognizes that he is not in the last two categories then this book will only provide an entertaining read. If you are in the last two categories, we urge you to change your daily habits as you learn SharePoint's functionality.

 

The typical end user


End users are people who use the SharePoint product, as opposed to those who develop or support it, so it is important that the SharePoint technology adds value to an end user's work day by making tasks more structured within a team, and information easier to find. The end user may or may not know what to do if something goes wrong, or indeed will not usually have administrative responsibilities or privileges. However, it is more their behavior and attitude toward a product such as SharePoint that will make a difference in their day-to-day activities. End users typically fall into the categories described in the following sections:

"I'm fine, leave me alone"

This is the person who is content with their existing toolset of Word, Excel, and Outlook. Their inbox may be full of unorganized e-mails, and their desktop is overflowing with saved documents. However, the idea of investing time and changing behavior is either completely alien or unwelcome. Using desktop technology to increase productivity will be a challenge if the person is unwilling to learn. Their excuses will range from I'm too busy, It's too difficult to use, or I don't have time. Their effectiveness as a team player in using information is limited and self-imposed as they are unwilling to learn and change their behavior. This kind of a person is a late adopter to a SharePoint deployment. These people are also categorized as Low Touch, Low Adopter. The good news with this kind of end user is that they are honest and will be vocal that they are not using the technology.

"That's great, it'll help me"

This person is supportive in the deployment and understanding of the technology, but that is as far as it goes. What they are really saying is that this technology is great, but for everyone else to use. Their effectiveness as a team player with information is also limited and self-imposed as they also are unwilling to learn and change their behavior. Unfortunately, collaboration requires everyone to be on board for it to work effectively.

"This is amazing"

This wide-eyed user is eager to learn, willing to change his behavior patterns, and ready to use the quick productivity wins that SharePoint provides. This kind of end user is willing to learn SharePoint functionality, but the steps have to be easy and should not require too much work.

"Show me and tell me more"

This is your Power User who will typically know how to perform the advanced formulae in Excel and will have a very efficient inbox, by having rules set up, and an organized folder structure. This kind of end user will invest time to advance his knowledge with SharePoint. If anything, they will find that administrative restrictions hold back their use of all of the functionalities.

It is important that an end user (or a trainer) knows what categories they belong to so, they know how to get the most mileage and use from this book. If the reader is honest and recognizes that he is not in the last two categories then this book will only provide an entertaining read. If you are in the last two categories, we urge you to change your daily habits as you learn SharePoint's functionality.

 

Webinizing information


Producing, storing, and responding to information in SharePoint is viewed as webinizing the information so it is accessible to a group of people or a team. Information is stored in a user-friendly format (text), and it can be task driven. There is much more to SharePoint than uploading documents to a site. Quick wins to this process include version control, workflow approvals, and check in/out processes, which provide team activity tracking.

We recognize that there is an information overload in the workplace. Everyone knows this and end users have found ways to work with information in the following ways:

  • Read it

  • Glance at it

  • File it

  • Ignore it (filter)

Despite the different approaches to reading, managing, and storing this information, we format and produce it in the same way—with a one-size-fits-all-approach, usually in Word and then e-mail, or we upload it into a SharePoint list. So why doesn't this approach work? Aren't Word documents and e-mail information 'communicating tools', just like the phone?

Given the four stated approaches to information, let us try to understand why these approaches (with existing desktop tools) do not provide the most efficient productivity gains.

Reading information

Despite popular belief, most people do not fully read most information that is sent to them, particularly if it is more than five pages or sent as an attachment. Yet we spend a lot of time writing and formatting documents only for them to sit in other people's inboxes and remain unread.

This is because in order for people to actually read the information, they have to take time out of their already busy day to detach it, digest the information, and then be ready to act on it, all of which requires time and attention. This is an unspoken activity in the workplace today. How many times have you been on the phone with co-workers and they have said, "Just remind me what was in that document that you sent over to me?" What the person is really saying is, "I know you spent a lot of time writing up the document, I haven't read it, so just tell me what I need to know."

Typically, the recipient of the document has to perform the following tasks: download it, open it up (in hopefully the correct version of Word), mark up, save it, store it, and when necessary, reply to the e-mail by attaching the corrected document. And back and forth this goes. So, time is wasted in producing the document with additional formatting and re-editing of the original document. The additional steps can add up to hours or even days for the end user, especially if there are multiple users all editing.

Glancing at information

Unlike at school, where you can hide away in the library and be isolated from interruptions from instant messengers, e-mail, and the phone, today it is very difficult for workers to dedicate large amounts of time to read information. People generally skim through text and look for activities attached to their names, which may require steps to be taken. So, having information as a text in a straight e-mail, which can be read and replied to with few mouse clicks (and which can be read on a mobile-friendly device) is a very effective way of writing, reading, and replying to the information. This is how the majority of people use information, so we need to ensure that our information is formatted to take advantage of its real world use.

Note

Text is king! Why? There are no file downloads, and no need to fire up an application to read and then resave the information. Above all, people usually just want the information, the message, and understand what needs to be done. They generally do not care about the formatting.

File information

Storage behavior is where people don't even bother to read the information. They know that there is value with it so they will save it to their desktop or drag it into a folder in Outlook for future reference.

This activity does have some benefit if the information saved has value, but given the storage location, it is only of value to the individual who stores the information, not to the group or a team. There is no one source of the truth that you can achieve by storing information in a central, controlled location and eliminating the need for users to perform the same actions. When information is reliant on multiple people filing information in their e-mail inbox and the folder system has become your filing cabinet, any documentation related to projects or teamwork will cause a problem as there is a strong chance that team members will be viewing and acting on wrong versions of information, with unproductive consequences. E-mail is certainly still useful, but when it comes to teamwork, SharePoint's collaborative features such as wikis and document repositories provide a superior set of tools for working together and being able to keep track of the latest version of that work.

A question such as, Who's got the most current version of this document we're working on? is an all too common question in offices, as well as I never got that e-mail, can lead to a black hole of communication.

By contrast, SharePoint allows you to cut the time needed to reach consensus on a document against a deadline by providing a single, easy-to-manage environment, and may just be your best hope for escaping the e-mail hell that people live in. And, as you know, faster decision-making means faster action and a quicker ROI that ultimately can translate directly to the bottom line

Ignore it (filter)

This is done either intentionally or unintentionally. What is clear, however, is that information is ineffective when someone writes it up, sends it to an end user, and then it is ignored. It is not uncommon for developers to ignore e-mails knowing that if it is important, someone may phone them to discuss it. So, why spend time and effort responding to an e-mail when you know the phone will ring anyway?

The four stated responses to information are limited in terms of individual productivity and organizational effectiveness, and this is an inevitable outcome of e-mail being used as the main communication tool, or when documents are stored in Outlook. The result of a lack of transparency and sharing of information that Word and e-mail promotes does limit organizational and individual effectiveness.

Note

E-mail was invented as an electronic replacement to a memo pad, which was normally addressed to an individual rather than a group of people (someone did not read the instruction manual with their Outlook). We are using e-mail in a way that it was not designed for—bulk communications, storage, virtual management meeting, contact sheets, you name it. Yet we carry on using this tool, even though we know it is not the best option in the toolbox.

Remember, no one was ever employed to read and respond to information, yet we are filling up our work day with these activities. This is why SharePoint is not a solution looking for a problem, it is a solution to a problem.

The aim of this book is to educate the end user on how to manage information in a collaborative, structured, and task-driven way with SharePoint.

 

Key takeaways


Let's take a moment to consider the main points we have covered so far:

  • Remember, you have a day job: End user designing and thinking as well as setting up activities should not involve a lot of work. To reduce scope creep, create only the activities that you need to be more effective. Read the Glossary when you have finished a chapter as this will reinforce terms and SharePoint features.

  • Take your time: Read a few chapters of the book first before you start delving into the SharePoint technology.

  • What you learn in this book is a journey: It is a constant process of adding SharePoint functionality to your day-to-day activities.

  • If you have requirements that are not immediately obvious from the functionality that has been described in the book then try to find a compromise, or maybe your requirements are not appropriate for the SharePoint technology.

  • If a SharePoint process does not add value to the activity, it probably should not be in SharePoint.

  • Share what you have learned with your co-workers as they will provide feedback and ask questions. Remember, collaboration cannot be done on your own.

  • If e-mail is used, the best tip is—Get to the Point.

 

Technical considerations for an end user


From SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010, there have been significant improvements with functionality and the end user's experience. The shortcomings of Office, Outlook, and SharePoint 2007's integration and social aspects have been rectified to provide a Web 2.0 social user experience, and in true Microsoft style, the look and feel of the Office Ribbon is now part of SharePoint's user interface.

With Office 2010, there is tighter integration with the SharePoint product with both user interface and functionality. This functionality includes:

  • Outlook Social Connector, which shows SharePoint My Site activity in the Outlook client

  • PowerPoint Broadcast service: This feature allows you to broadcast your presentation over the Internet to up to 50 users simultaneously

  • Simultaneous editing of Word documents with multiple people

  • Opening Office documents in the browser

End users have heard a lot of buzz about SharePoint and it is often difficult to understand what it does out of the box, what is required of the IT department, and what it requires of the development team. Let's look at the technical considerations for an end user in a non-technical manner and demystify the product.

Note

This book is written with the assumption that the end user has Office 2010 with Outlook 2010 deployed on their computer. Earlier versions of Office with Outlook may still perform the same functionally, but the look and feel will be different.

SharePoint 2010

With each new release of SharePoint, there are small changes to the names of the SharePoint technology.

The full name for SharePoint 2007 was Microsoft Office SharePoint Server—MOSS for short. The MOSS part has now been removed in the 2010 release.

SharePoint Foundation 2010

SharePoint Foundation, formerly known as WSS, is ideal for smaller organizations or team-oriented web-based collaboration, as well as entry-level document management. The following figure illustrates SharePoint's functionality and what is available with SharePoint Foundation:

This is a free version and is an ideal entry point for an organization that is new to SharePoint and is trying to figure out its functional requirements such as team approvals or issues tracking, rather than a tool that works across the entire organization.

SharePoint Foundation can be used as an extranet.

Some noticeable limitations with Foundation are described in the following sections:

Workflow

There is a single out-of-the-box predefined workflow available. Additional workflows need to be developed with third-party tools such as SharePoint Designer. SharePoint Designer is free and can be downloaded from the Microsoft website.

The Three state workflow tracks the status of an issue or item through three different states. For example, when a Three-state workflow is initiated on an issue in an Issues list, SharePoint Foundation 2010 creates a task for the assigned user. When the user completes the task, the workflow changes from its initial state (Active) to its middle state (Resolved), and creates a task for the assigned user. When the user completes the task, the workflow changes from its middle state (Resolved) to its final state (Closed), and creates another task for the user that the workflow is assigned to at that time. When you associate the Three-state workflow with a list, you can choose to specify different state names other than Active, Resolved, and Closed.

Note

Note that the Three-state workflow is not supported for use with libraries.

Search

The search functionality is limited to individual team sites rather than a Google-style search engine, which can make suggestions with your search, find similar results, or sort by relevance. Search functionality could be enhanced with the free Search Server Express.

Personalization

Although users can add web parts to pages, there are no My Site features that allow greater personalization of user behavior job function. This functionality is explained later in this book.

This edition is ideal for:

  • Integrating Office documents within SharePoint

  • Evaluating a technology without committing to software license purchases

  • Simple business processes such as workflows and forms

  • Basic collaboration

Note

SharePoint Foundation could be viewed this way: If you are hungry, you may go to a restaurant where the appetizers are free, but if you really want a good feast with all the fixings, you will need to buy the main meal aka SharePoint Server.

SharePoint Server 2010 Standard Edition

SharePoint Server is an extension of SharePoint Foundations functionalities, which are illustrated in the following diagram:

For larger organizations with more demanding collaboration requirements, SharePoint Server is more ideal as out-of-the-box functionality. SharePoint Server has two editions, which are described in the following section.

Standard

This has the core SharePoint capabilities to manage content and business processes and personalization and search functionality.

This edition is ideal when there is a need for:

  • Content Management—Document Sets

  • Governance policies

  • Workflows

  • Web 2.0 features—Rating and social bookmarking

  • Enterprise Management: tagging and taxonomy

  • Enterprise search capabilities

Enterprise

This edition has the functionality of the Standard Edition and also provides integration with Microsoft Office client for rich data visualization, dashboards, and analytics through Excel and Access services as well as InfoPath forms.

This edition is ideal for:

  • Integrating information from different systems to the end user in a web-based environment

  • Displaying business intelligence information

  • Extending data from the web into Excel

  • Using web-based InfoPath forms that need to be filled out in the browser

Note

Both the Standard and Enterprise editions have the same workflow ability, enterprise search and personalization, and content targeting features.

In this section, you can see that the out-of-the-box functionality increases from Foundation to Enterprise. If an organization has more than 50 employees and wishes to standardize business process with the SharePoint technology, we would recommend the Enterprise edition. This recommendation may increase software license and hardware costs, but the additional out-of-the-box functionality provided will bring a beneficial ROI to the business.

A SharePoint Editions Comparison is detailed in Appendix A,

 

Integration with other technologies


Despite Microsoft's track record on non-Microsoft technology, the out-of-the-box product is fully platform agnostic with both Firefox and Safari's browsers and an Apple computer. We recommend using Vista/Windows 7 as your client operating system, Internet Explorer 7/8 as your browser, Outlook 2010 as your e-mail, and Office 2010 as your word processer, spreadsheet, and presentation application with the SharePoint 2010 technology.

Note

Remember the mantra of this book is: simplify processes to give you immediate traction with the SharePoint product.

 

External access


This is important to understand as it will affect how you work with your information, and who has access to it.

To understand the functionality that is available, you should ask the following questions to your IT department so that you understand the limitations of the deployed technology, and if possible make requests to IT for any changes that support your requirements:

  • Can I work remotely, and what does it involve?

    In general, the more security that is applied, the more difficult collaboration becomes as it is not convenient to log in and get on with your work or integrate to Office applications. As an end user, there is not much that you can do about this, but it is important to be aware of these limitations.

    If remote access requires VPN or fob security keys then the ease of collaboration is reduced and user experience is reduced because there are additional authentication steps.

  • What SharePoint edition does the company have: Foundation, Standard, or Enterprise?

    This will affect the web functionality that can be applied to your business processes.

  • What version of Office has been deployed to my computer?

    Some of the SharePoint 2010 functionality will work with Office 2003/2007.

  • Has SharePoint been deployed throughout the organization? If not, which departments have access to it?

    Office 2010 now has a co-authoring ability so multiple people can edit a document at once. This will influence who can work with your information.

  • Can non-employees have access to the SharePoint environment?

    This will influence how you collaborate with non-company employees.

  • Has the My Sites feature been enabled?

    The My Site feature is a personal site, similar to a MySpace page, that can be customized and custom content created. With SharePoint 2007, often companies turn this feature off as they feel this will be a distraction to a user's work day or an IT maintenance overhead. With this release, companies want a greater focus on the social elements of the technology.

 

Governance


When you talk about governance, an end user might think of IT governance, but here it is about a user's governance to his information.

What does this mean? Part of the problem with network drives and e-mails is that they become a dumping ground for information that no one is responsible for. In turn, this information is unsearchable and no one has ownership over it.

This information experience should be avoided at all costs. Consider the following six questions:

  • Can the information be metatagged? If SharePoint's taxonomies feature can be used, locating information will be quicker and easier for you.

  • Who is the owner of this information? Department or individual.

  • Should I have an archiving policy on the information, to a location that I can easily access, but which is not on my immediate home page? SharePoint has Information Policies that can be assigned to documents.

  • Does the information require approval by anyone?

  • Notification of new/changed information. How should I set this up for my team and myself?

  • Who needs access to this information? Co-workers/external parties.

When the preceding questions can be answered or addressed, the value of documents and information is dramatically increased because it is more relevant to an organization, it is more likely to be correct, and there is an owner assigned to it who can be accountable for any action.

With SharePoint, there is an element of front loading the information, which will be based on technical considerations such as how often the information is being reviewed or requested.

Note

Important note: The next five chapters are very important for the reader in order to understand the fundamentals of the SharePoint 2010 product. We would suggest reading this book with your laptop open to visualize and better grasp the functionality that is being discussed.

 

Summary


The intention of this chapter is for the readers to identify themselves as a particular type of end user in the workplace and recognize this type of end users' behavior, what version of SharePoint their company has deployed, and how it has been deployed with regard to access. Depending on the edition, this will affect the deployment approach as obviously functionalities are different in Foundation, Standard, and Enterprise.

If the Foundation version has been deployed, it is worth asking the IT department if there is a department time frame for Standard or the Enterprise edition to be deployed within the company.

This question should be asked if the user base is still using Office 2003 rather than Office 2010.

Even though you may not fully know all of SharePoint 2010's features, we recommend that you think about what daily team-based tasks can be moved into SharePoint such as action items from meetings, project issue tracking, and team communications

The next chapter details SharePoint's actual components at a high level so you will have an understanding of how SharePoint sites and its content are architected and used by end users.

About the Authors

  • Peter Ward

    Peter Ward has worked with collaboration technology for over 20 years and is the founder of Soho Dragon Solutions, a New York based SharePoint consultancy. He has worked with some of the largest and most profitable companies in the USA, but also with the small ones that he calls the "Fortune 5,000,000". This is his fourth co-authored SharePoint book, the other three being Microsoft SharePoint 2010 End User Guide: Business Performance Enhancement, Workflow in SharePoint 2010: Real World Business Workflow Solutions, and Microsoft SharePoint for Business Executives: Q&A Handbook. He has been a software guy forever, but is not much of a gadgeteer. In fact, he's probably a late adopter. He teaches yoga part-time in NYC and likes to serve up the perfect vegetarian dish.

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  • Michael McCabe

    Michael McCabe currently works for Microsoft and focuses on the SharePoint product. He has 18 years’ experience in technology and taught the first classes of Chase employees to use personal computers. Pre- Windows technology, those were the days. He has worked on collaboration technologies for Lotus, IBM and currently is a Technology Advisor with Microsoft. He has broad experience in financial services having worked at JP Morgan, Financial Guarantee Insurance Company and as a consultant for the State of Connecticut.

    Michael has worked abroad and is fluent in German. He has studied at the Universities of Bonn (Germany) and Innsbruck (Austria). He earned a Masters from Cornell University and his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame.

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