SharePoint Online Site owner training

elearningblog“There’s plenty of SharePoint Online help, blogs and videos around” I boasted some months ago, when I set off to execute the training plan for the SharePoint Online intranet that we have launched recently.
I expected to “curate” most of the learning materials, and to create only a few.

Our criteria

We set off with a number of company and project criteria:

  • The company’s learning strategy is the 70/20/10 model. This means people learn new skills and knowledge in different ways: 10 % in formal training, 20% in peer-to-peer learning and 70% in their daily work.
  • Learning is based on the 5 moments-of-need model, so we have to make sure the right materials are available at the right moment.
  • We have made some customizations, such as a limited permission set for Site owners (less than Full Control), and a custom display on Promoted Links. We knew beforehand we would have to create materials for those topics.
  • I would focus on learning materials for Site owners.

Formal learning

The 10% formal training now consists of an e-learning program providing a high-level overview of purpose, concepts and functionalities of the new intranet. (The “how-to-click” details are in the “on-the-job learning materials which are referred to in the e-learning). It takes between 1 and 1 1/2 hour.

elearning-testI created several modules in PowerPoint, and recorded voice-overs. This means we can replace any module (e.g. Permissions, or Custom Site Templates) easily without having to redo it all. Some inconsistencies are still being fine tuned as I write, new functionality developed, and Microsoft may change some things as well 🙂
I then created a number of test questions with multiple-choice answers, and added a Site Owner agreement (rights & responsibilities) which all trainees have to sign off (using a SharePoint survey).

Our e-learning specialist turned this all into an e-learning programme. It looked very easy but he has obviously done this before 🙂 (He also does freelance work if you are looking for someone!)

This e-learning is mandatory for all existing and new Site owners.
And before you ask how we are going to enforce that: content migration from the old into the new platform is still going on, and a Site owner can not start working in their SharePoint Online site until they have completed the training.

Peer-to-peer learning

The 20% was easy to set up: a Yammer group to ask peers or the intranet support team about all kinds of intranet- and SharePoint Online-related questions.
With the platform being launched recently and the migration of content in full swing, it will be no surprise that this channel is currently very active.

elearningyammerIn the e-learning and in all communications we invite people to share their questions in this Yammer group, and we make it a point to have all questions answered quickly.

For issues, such as things not working as they should, or errors, we have a more formal support channel.

On-the-job learning

The 70% would be the “curated content” I envisaged. I set off enthusiastically in the Microsoft support pages, as well as in many other blogs by people who write for Site owners, such as Let’s Collaborate, SharePointMaven, Sharegate and icansharepoint. Oh, and my own blog of course. My posts are often inspired by “my users” and my daily work.

Well, that was a bit of a disappointment.
As it turns out, the majority of the available information is not 100% applicable to us.

  • Our customized Site owner role made it hard to use anything that has to do with permissions. But also materials that tell you how to customize your site are not appropriate because the new role also has limited design options. So I could not use Gregory Zelfond’s Power User Training, for instance – it starts with creating a site and changing the look.
  • Our custom Promoted Links display needs some extra steps for certain page templates.
  • Many of the materials were not 100% current – with document libraries being managed with Tabs instead of the Modern look-and-feel, for instance. I wanted things to be 100% applicable when we launched – the correct look-and-feel and correct functionalities. The difference between the old and the new platform is too large otherwise.
  • Most of the materials have not been written in a “life cycle” format
    1. What it is and when to use it
    2. Create and configure “app”
    3. Add to and configure web part on page
    4. Add item to app
    5. Edit or delete item in app
    6. Modify something in app and/or web part (views)
    7. Delete web part
    8. Delete app
    9. Tips & tricks & troubleshooting
    10. Good practice

So, I have done a lot of writing, and my colleague has made tons of videos to accompany that. I have used Microsoft materials and some of the blogs I mentioned – often as “additional information” or “good practice”.

Next steps

I will continue to adjust my own materials and scout for other good stuff. I hope that over time, people will learn to deal with the ever-changing look-and-feel and not be confused by a video of a document library that has “last years style”. Then we will be able to use more materials created by others.

We are also working on a plan to make sure the Yammer channel keeps being active when everyone will be in the “business as usual” mode again.

I will also have to adjust the e-learning on a regular basis.

It has been quite an interesting project to create all this, but it is strange to be doing that while there are so many materials already available on the internet. It feels as if I am reinventing wheels, which I hate!

Have you created learning materials yourself or have you borrowed with pride?

Computer image courtesy of jk1991 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Multiple choice image courtesy of Becris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Working in a SharePoint box

spintranetsinaboxRecently I have been helping to launch a new Office365-based intranet.
While we set out with the idea of “out of the box” (a sound strategy, knowing my earlier experiences with extensive customizations) we have had to create some custom things to meet the requirements of several stakeholders.

I was therefore very interested in Clearbox Consulting ‘s evaluation of 26 “SharePoint intranets in a box“.
Unfortunately this report was published when we had already progressed very far in our intranet journey, so there was no reason to buy it.
Still, it kept nagging me because I was really curious if we could have used one of the “out-of-the-box” solutions.

So you can imagine my surprise and elation when Sam Marshall provided me with a copy just before Christmas, as well as a discount code for the readers of this blog.

What is this report about?

It compares 26 products of companies claiming to have a ready-made SharePoint intranet. This means that you do not have to do any developments yourself. It is just some configuration and a little branding.

The researchers have made the evaluation by comparing a set of standard scenarios that most intranets will need:

spbox-content
Content of the report. (Screenshot from the website)

Strengths

The major strengths are:

  • Many offerings compared – I never knew there were currently 26 different products!
  • The evaluators are all experienced intranet peeps who know what they are doing.
  • The evaluation is based on recognizable business scenarios.
  • Consistent and objective evaluation. (We could never have done it, since we would undoubtedly be biased by our own requirements)

To think about

  1. The cases provided are all very common in the intranet world. However, you may have some unique requirements that are not mentioned here. In that case, you may need to create your own filtering to find out who would be the best in-a-box-partner for you.
  2. As mentioned earlier, SharePoint and Office365 are changing very rapidly, and I do not know a. how well all vendors can keep up, and b. if and how quickly SharePoint developments will catch up with the vendor’s unique features. (I heard “Corporate News”  is on the Microsoft roadmap for 2017)
  3.  I expect new vendors to appear as well as consolidations.

So, I therefore hope and expect that there will be regular updates to this report…

Who should read this report?

  • Anyone who is starting on a new intranet should definitely read this.
    This may help you to decide if SharePoint would be a good option for your organization. You may think SharePoint is too much and too big, but an out-of-the-box solution may just offer what you need without too much hassle.
    If you already know you are going the SharePoint way, the report may help you to determine if a ready-made solution would be useful. Even if you think you know SharePoint well, you will learn a few things that may be relevant for you now or later.
    You may decide not to go for a ready-made solution, or even not to go for SharePoint at all.
    The report may also trigger you to refine or extend your requirements. For instance, we all have “Company News” on our radar, but have you thought about if and how SharePoint can be used for ideation? If Communications is your major stakeholder, they may not immediately think of the need for transactions. You may want to check with all stakeholders if they have thought about those things.
  • Anyone who has to decide on the need for custom development.
    If none of these vendors mentions what you are setting out to do, you may indeed need to develop it yourself. But if they all provide this functionality, it is probably available as an app somewhere.
  • Anyone who is working on their intranet or digital workplace roadmap, to determine whether it makes sense to move to a ready-made platform in future.
  • Anyone who is curious what intranets-in-a-box have to offer.

But isn’t this a lot of money?

No, it is not.

  1. That amount of money will buy you only a few hours of consultancy.  If you want to set up your own requirements to test against, agree on it, find and talk to all the vendors, have demos and evaluate all the results in a consistent way you will need much more time than “just a few hours”.
    Besides, the evaluators have not been biased by their own requirements.
  2. I can offer you a 10% discount if you use the code IIAB2CBOX10on the product page .
  3. You can probably get away with charging this (< 500 € / £ / $) on your credit card and submitting it as expenses 🙂 .

Good to know

I have reviewed this report for a number of reasons:

  1. I was interested in the topic because I was curious if the intranet I am working on could have been done out-of-the-box, which might have saved us a ton of time and hassle.
    (Answer after reading the report: I think we really needed the extra work we have done to meet the requirements.)
  2. So far, I have been the only “practicioner” who has reviewed this report. I think it is important that someone, who is actually in the middle of a SharePoint project in a company, shares their view.
    You will find more reviews on the Clearbox blog.
  3. I have known Sam Marshall personally for a number of years. I also know most of the people who have worked with him on this report. I have great respect for all of them. Therefore I trust this report.
  4. This has been a Christmas present so I have had the time to read and think. 🙂

So, everything came together very nicely this time.

Title inspired by “Living in a box” by Living in a Box from 1987.

 

 

No editing pain with the details pane

docpane-picredRecently I sang the praise of the details pane in SharePoint document libraries, because I firmly believe this will make it easier for site owners (and supporters) to know what has happened to their documents.

But there is more to that pane than just information about the library. It also shows useful info about each document.

When you upload a document to a library, the newly added document will be selected and the details pane opens.

docpane-justuploaded
When you upload a document, the details pane opens with a warning that some required metadata are missing.

On the details pane you see the following from top to bottom:

  • A preview of the document’s first page
  • Document name, size and modified date.
  • A warning that this document misses mandatory properties
  • The properties
  • Recent activities for this document and by whom
  • Who it has been shared with
  • Document information such as file type, path and size
    docpane-firstscroll
    Top part of the document details pane
    docpane-secondscroll
    The second part of the document details pane

    docpane-thirdscroll
    The bottom part of the document details pane

There are now three ways to edit the properties of the document.

1. Traditional: Via the document menu

-Click … behind the document name, click “More” in the menu and then “Properties”.
You will go to the document properties page.

docpane-traditionaledit
The document properties page

-Click “Edit all” and you will go to the edit page
-Make edits and click “Save”
-You will go back to the document item page, as per screenshot above

Hmm…you will have to find your way back to the document library again 😦 .

2. Via the “Edit all” link

-Click “Edit all” in the details pane, next to “Properties”
-You will immediately go to the edit page of the item

docpane-edit-all
The edit page.

-Make edits and click “Save”
-You will go back to the library.

Now, that is better. It saves me a few clicks and I stay in the context of the library.

3. In the details pane

-Click on the field below the column name (in this example: Name, Title and Topic).
-The field will now open up and can be edited
-When you have made your edits, click below the edited field
-You will see “saving”, “saved” and then the field will look normal again.
-Click on the next field and repeat.

I think this will benefit from a short video demo. Please watch in full screen mode and look at the right side.

Yay, this is very fast and I do not even have to leave my document library!

This also works for lists. You can even add an attachment to a list item from the details pane. (I am not a big fan of attaching documents to list items, but that is another matter)

docpane-list
Editing properties of a list item

Some quirks!

  1. If you have many required properties and they are all Choice or Lookup fields with many choices, you will have to do a lot of scrolling. Using “Quick Edit” (the former “Edit in Datasheet”) may be a better way.
  2. The “wobbling” caused by the words “saving” and “saved” appearing and disappearing makes me a little seasick, especially when I had to edit about 50 documents recently  🙂 . In that case, “Quick Edit” may be better.
  3. There is not much space available to show texts, so if you have a long description, you may lose track of what you are writing. Save your text to see if your sentence still makes sense. Using “Edit all” (option 2) may be easier, although the space there is limited, too.
  4. In older SharePoint versions, a document was only visible to the audience once it had been properly checked in with all required metadata. This appears to be no longer needed. So there is a larger risk of documents in your library that do not have all required metadata added.
  5. This is a very new way of editing SharePoint stuff, so will need communication and adoption efforts.I can imagine that people will be looking for an “Edit”or “Save” button.

Conclusion

Editing a document’s properties in the details pane is a very easy way to adjust metadata while staying in the context of your work. It does have a few quirks, so may not be the best option for every purpose. I think it is great for adding metadata to newly added documents, or for making small adjustments to a limited number of documents.

What do you think of this? Do you like this pane or not, have you found any other gotchas? Is this something you actively communicate to your users? Please let me know!

Bad SharePoint! You deleted my document!

documentgone-imageAbout once a month I get a panicky phone call about “an important document that has suddenly disappeared”. Quite often SharePoint or even myself are blamed for this.

The reality is always different, of course: a user of the library has deleted the document, but who has done it is impossible to find out (for the Site Owner) and many people do not know how they can restore deleted documents.

I am therefore very happy with the new Document Library experience in SharePoint Online, where the “details pane” tells you what has happened in the library. (And even with each document!)

From now on, you can see who has deleted or modified a document by clicking he little “ï” icon on top right of your library to see what has happened.

documentgone-detailspane
The yellow-marked “Details Pane” opens up when you click it.

Let me show you how this works with a few common scenarios that may lead people to think their document has been deleted.

This is a library in the “All Documents” view.

documentgone-library
Document Library. Each file is named after an action.

1. The document has been deleted.

Deleting a document shows up in the pane.

donemuentgone-deleted
File deleted. The file name is not clickable.

Oh dear, you can see who has deleted the document! 🙂
I am always the bad guy in my one-person tenant, but please note everyone’s actions are visible to everyone in a more “normal” environment!

If you see this message, contact the person who has deleted the document and ask him/her to restore it. The Recycle Bin still only shows the items you have deleted.

If you restore the document from the Recycle Bin, the details pane will show you this:

documentgone-deletedandrestored
File restored. The file name is clickable again.

2. The properties of the document have been changed.

This may move the document to a different view, and may lead people to think the document has been deleted. (Depending on the views in your library)

I have a view for “Video”. It contains 3 files.

documentgone-videoview
3 files in this view, which is filtered on “Topic”= “Video”.

If I change the Topic property for one document, this is what happens:

  • The document moves out of this view
  • The details pane shows this message:
documentgone-editproperties
I “edited” this file.

“Edited” can mean various things, but in any case you will know that someone has done something to this document, and it was not a deletion.

3. The name of the document has been changed.

This will leave the document where it is, but people may no longer recognize it and may think it has been deleted.

This is what the details pane shows when you change the file name:

documentgone-edittitle
You get two actions in the details pane

Interestingly, you will see two actions mentioned:

  • “Edited” the old name
  • “Renamed or Moved” the new name

This will tell you where to look, and again shows you the file has not been deleted.

4. The document has been moved to a folder.

This will move the document out of the view, so people may think it has been deleted.
In this case, nothing new shows up in the details pane for your library.

However, if you open a folder and click on the details pane icon, you will see an action:

documentgone-movetofolder
You will only see any actions in the folder itself.

This means you will have to go to each folder and check if the document has been moved there. That is another reason to use metadata rather than folders to group your documents into meaningful clusters.:-)
I always suggest to create a “Monitor” view that shows all documents, sorted on “modified descending”,  without folders, to keep track of latest changes.

If you move the document back to the “All Documents” view, you will see it mentioned in the details pane of the document library again as “renamed or moved”.

documentgone-movedfromfolder
There is an action if the document is moved out of a folder into the All Documents view.

Good to know:

  • If you edit the content of the document, it will also show as “edited”.
  • When you select a document and open the details pane, you can also see and edit the document properties, see the document history, and a lot more, but that is not the scope of this post. (December 2016: I wrote this post about that)
  • All changes will remain visible for at least 2 months, but I do not yet know if there is a limit on time or number of actions.
  • If the same person performs a number of actions, they will be grouped as “<person name> made edits”. You can click the arrow to see them all:
documentgone-madeedits
Click the arrow to open and close the list.

Conclusion

I think this is very useful functionality to help any Site Owner. It will make the Site Owner less dependent of their site collection admin.
“Edited” and  “renamed or moved” may mean various things, but they at least indicate that a document has changed, but not been deleted.

What do you think of the details pane? Has it helped you?

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Title inspired by the movie “Bad Santa” with Billy-Bob Thornton.

300! (intranet promotion videos)

300-videosAfter some additions and, sadly, some weeding of videos that were deleted or put behind a password, I have finally crossed the 300-line!!!

Some things that have happened since my last video update:

  • You can now easily reach my video collection via http://ellenvanaken.video
  • The Scoop.It app for iOS shows all videos that do not like to be embedded, so if you hate that mention, use the app. (It is where my collection lives)
  • Some time ago I created a selection of videos for a company, as inspiration for their own video.
    If I can help you with something similar, please get in touch!
  • Martin White (@intranetfocus) has just mentioned me & my collection in his post about “some of the people who in various ways and for many years have transformed our understanding of intranets, team working and digital workplaces through publishing reports and promulgating good practice and who have to make a living whilst doing so.” I’m ever so chuffed!
  • Singapore’s public sector will start using Workplace by Facebook as their digital workplace. This will replace The Cube, which sported two promotion videos that I rather liked. So, before these are withdrawn, please have a look:

 

 

And remember, if you know a nice intranet or Yammer promotion video, or if you notice that one of my collected items is no longer publicly available, please let me know!

Image created by myself, typeface Snap ITC.

Promoted Links I’d like to promote

pl-headerIn my recent training sessions I noticed that my trainees thought managing Promoted Links was a bit of a pain. I wholeheartedly agree!

If you would like to know more about SharePoint Online Promoted Links, please read Greg Zelfond’s post first. It explains when and how to use this.

And…here’s how I would like to see it changed. Fortunately I can do most of these myself, but now I have to do this (or instruct a site owner) for every instance.

1. Change the default view (DIY).

When you have just added the app, you will see an empty page that prompts you to go to the “All Promoted Links” view. Why is that view not there in the first place? Or even an “Add” button at the very least?

pl_1
Why am I asked to go to another screen?

When you make that needless extra click, you get to the screen I would like to see:

pl-2
This is more like it.

I usually start by changing the default view into the All Promoted Links view. If I want to see how things look, I can easily switch to the Tiles View.

2. Allow adding the image from a library (Microsoft).

These are links, so it is logical that you have to paste or type the link to where the image leads you. But why do you also have to add a link to a picture? It would be so much easier if you could select an image from your PC or a library, like you can on Pages.

This turned out to be really annoying for my trainees, and frankly, a tad outdated.

pl-4
Adding a link to a picture feels a little outdated.

 3. Add an edit button to the “All Promoted Links” view (DIY).

When you have added some Promoted Links and you want to take a look, you check the Tile View for a preview.

pl-4real

Looks nice, but suppose I want to switch the order of the middle and right link, or have to change the URL.

How do I do that? There is no option to select the item for editing. You can go to the “All Promoted Links” view and edit the list in Datasheet view, but you can not edit everything that way.

pl-6
The datasheet view.

 

So, I have instructed my trainees to add an Edit button to the “All Promoted Links” view.

  • Click the List Tab
  • Select the “All Promoted Links” View
  • Click List Tab again
  • Select Modify View
  • Add an Edit button to the view and click OK
pl-7
Now we’re talking!

4. Make the “Tiles” view editable (Microsoft).

The Tiles view is not adjustable. All tiles will be shown on your page and there is no way to filter, limit the number that is being displayed, or add that edit button.
This means that you can not create one big list of Promoted Links and distribute them over various pages using a filter. Alas, you have to create a Promoted Links app for every page, or even per row if you want multiple rows each with its own header.

5. Show a preview of the link (Microsoft).

When you hover over a document name or over a hyperlink in the text, you will see the URL displayed in the bottom left of the page. This can help you decide if this is indeed the information you need. With a Promoted Link you see nothing, so you do not know if you are going to the place you are looking for.

6. Add the 150 * 150 px image rendition to the image library (DIY).

If you use Promoted Links often, you may want to add the image dimensions to your image renditions. It shows you quickly if your picture will show up acceptably, especially if it is not square.

In Publishing sites, go to Site Settings > Edit Image Renditions. (under Look and Feel)

Click Add New Item; add a name and the dimensions, and click Save.

pl6

Talking about the Image Rendition feature, did you know….oh no, I will leave that for another time…:-)

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Dazed and Confused – by SharePoint online?

confusedWe are moving from an old on-premise SharePoint  intranet to one on SharePoint/Office365.

I have been using SharePoint Online from 2011 so I have become quite used to the interface and its regular changes. But I was very curious what my end-user colleagues would think of the new SharePoint and I recently had the opportunity to train a number of them in the new environment. Our goal for this training was to get an idea of how people would react to the new platform, and which elements would be clear immediately and which would need more help and instruction.

All participants (except one) had experience with managing SharePoint sites. They also knew this was an experimental training so they were encouraged to be outspoken about their findings and suggestions. Each got their own test site in our test tenant, which is on first release.

These are the findings of that first classroom training:

1. The Office365 Homepage

When you log on to Office365 for the first time, you get a lot of pop-ups about Office365. While that is helpful for new users, for this purpose it was annoying because people were less interested in Office365 than in SharePoint.
Clicking around opens up a ton of new screens, which was not universally liked.

2. The SharePoint Homepage

This was a bit confusing, because people have never had that, and the page was mostly empty. The test sites did not show in everyone’s page, despite them having personal access. I do not know if that is a search indexing thing or that you must have visited the site before it is shown in your “recent” sites.
As soon as everyone was on their site’s homepage, I told them to “Follow” it to be able to revisit it quickly, and everyone got it.

3. Site Contents

I took them to Site Contents, and then I found that some of my trainees had the old Site Contents with tiles, and some of them had the new experience . That was a bit confusing, but it was a good illustration of the ongoing changes that everyone can expect.

4. Document Libraries

Document Libraries were already in the New Experience, and I was a bit worried if people would be able to overcome the gap in look-and-feel between our old SharePoint and the new one.
It was a pleasant surprise to notice that, with just limited instructions, people took to it straight away. Everyone saw the benefits of the Pin To Top functionality, and I saw two people nudge each other happily when they learned about the library and document information pane, that also tells you who has deleted a document. No more guessing or blaming SharePoint or IT!

librarywithinfo
The Document Library with the information pane. Just click the i on the top right of the library. You can see which documents have been created, edited, deleted, restored, by whom and when. Great!

5. Lists

Unfortunately the Lists were still on the “old experience” with the tabs and the ribbon. While I have always loved the ribbon in The Office Suite, I have never taken to it in SharePoint, and I am more than happy to see it go.
My trainees did not use Lists much (an opportunity for later!) but they got it quickly enough.

6. Deleting and Restoring

Deleting and Restoring content is a topic high on my agenda. We often get panicky calls from people who have “lost documents” and have never heard about the Recycle Bin. I added a few exercises with deleting and restoring documents and list items, told them what to do themselves first, and then how to get help. It all went smoothly once people knew how long things will be stored, what goes via the Recycle Bin and what does not, and what they can do themselves and when it is time to contact the site collection admin.

training-recycle-bin

7. Quick Links/Navigation

The Quick Links (team site) and Navigation (Publishing site) caused some confusion since it is a mixture pf settings and edits, and moving the menu items around resulted in unwanted indentation. It is also different from the custom-built navigation many people have used, so this will definitely need some more instructions.

8. Editing a page

Editing a site’s homepage turned out to be quite easy for the trainees. Everyone in the audience had experience with managing Publishing sites. They sighed happily when I showed them they can now insert images from their PC in the Content zone without having to upload them to SharePoint first.
Everyone had already embedded a video before I even talked about it  🙂
Editing the (basic) team site homepage was even easier.

training-addpicture
Inserting a picture from PC appears to be so much easier!

9. Image Library/Image Renditions

We have some recommended image sizes preconfigured in the Image Renditions and the trainees thought that was pretty useful. (It shows you how an image will look in that size). In our current environment, you only see it when you have added it to a page, and that can lead to surprises. 🙂

training-renditions
The image renditions show you how a picture will be displayed in different formats.

10. Promoted Links

Promoted Links have been designated as an important tool for nice looking links to other content in formal sites. Oops, this was a bit hard. Of course this is a new functionality so people did not know it beforehand. But I also think that the default configuration can be improved. That will be another blog.

training-promotedlinks
Promoted Links with 3 different opening options.

Conclusion

All in all, my trainees did quite well. But then they were experienced and motivated. I think they benefited from my little bit of hand-holding and assuring them that most was still there, just in another place or with another name.
The only person who was a bit lost was the person with no earlier SharePoint experience.

So, I am actually quite content. After all this, I think the ongoing changes will be the largest hurdle, more so than the delta between the old and new SharePoint. (with the exceptions mentioned)

Have you introduced Office365 recently and if so, what have been the largest hurdles for your audience?

Dazed and Confused? I do not think so.

Title inspired by Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net