While all consultants are writing about Modern Sites, Hub Sites and Communication sites, I am quite certain that a lot of us practitioners are still working with the Classic sites. Looking at “my own” environment this will not change overnight.
So here’s another case of Classic SharePoint Investigation.
“I can only add app parts to the page,” the user said. “I am the owner of the site and I would like to add Summary Links, but I can only see the web parts for the document libraries and lists in my site.”
And indeed, when I looked at her page in Edit mode, it looked like this:
The site permissions were OK – she indeed had the correct permissions to manage the site.
I checked the permissions for the Pages library and Pages – all were inheriting from the parent so that was not the issue.
I logged in as admin (that account has Administrator permissions on all site collections in the tenant) and I saw all web parts. So it looked like another permissions issue.
I asked the owner to which business she belonged. That was Business B. This gave me the clue that I needed.
I checked the site collection – this was a site collection for Business A.
So I checked her permissions on the site collection level – none, as only employees of Business A had access.
To confirm, I checked her permissions for the Web Part Gallery. Bingo!
As we are divesting Business B, we have removed all permissions of the Business B people from all site collections of Business A, and vice versa. This means that the Galleries in the Business A site collections are not accessible to employees of Business B. It is an exceptional case that a Business B owner is an owner of a Business A site, but there was a reason for that.
Fortunately the Web Part Gallery had unique permissions, so I added her to the Gallery and then she could do what she needed to do. I did not have to worry about maintenance as her account will be removed in a few months automatically as the system separation takes place. (I may write about that later.)
Frankly, I do not know which permissions a Web Part Gallery should have by default, as I have seen both “inherited” and “unique” while checking some site collections.
This case is probably not very common, but if you ever get incidents where people can not see the web parts when editing a page, please check permissions of the Web Part Gallery at the site collection level. I remember once accidentally removing all permissions at site collection level, and after I had added the groups back, several Galleries were inaccessible as due to unique permissions the groups had not been added back automatically…
About SharePoint Holmes:
Part of my role is solving user issues. Sometimes they are so common that I have a standard response, but sometimes I need to do some sleuthing to understand and solve it. As many of my readers are in a similar position, I thought I’d introduce SharePoint Holmes, SharePoint investigator, who will go through a few cases while working out loud.
No, I am not going to bash the SharePoint Most Valuable Professionals! I have received help, feedback and support from many MVP’s including Veronique Palmer, Jasper Oosterveld and Gregory Zelfond, and I have read and used the posts and presentations of many others.
Let’s celebrate the unsung heroes: “The @MVPAward recognizes individuals who, over the past 12 months, have demonstrated superior knowledge, leadership and passion, combined with a desire to help and accelerate other’s learning, careers, and abilities.” https://t.co/R0eebaLcz5
This blog will be about another MVP – the Minimum Viable Product, a common word in Agile development, meaning you will launch a product that meets the basic requirements (as defined at the start of the project) and will be improved incrementally over time.
I think I have been woking somewhat agile when I was configuring solutions, and met with my business counterparts on a very regular basis to discuss the proof of concept/prototype and checked if this met their expectations.
I only created a very small list of requirements, as I knew that many business partners only had a vague idea of what they were really looking for, and when confronted with my interpretation of their requirements all kinds of unexpected, or in any case, unspoken, things came up.
Is there an option to leave this field blank?
Yes, but that means that we either leave this non-mandatory (which may lead to more blanks than you want) or we add a dummy value such as “please select”. What do you think is best?
Can we have a multiple choice for this field?
Ofcourse, but that means you will be unable to group on this in the views, so we will have to resort to a connection for filtering. Oh and then it is better to make this field a look-up field instead of a choice field. Let me rework that.
What if someone forgets to act on the email?
We may want to create a view that allows the business process owner to see quickly which items are awaiting action.
And more of those things. I generally met with my business partner once every fortnight, if not more often.
So I am all in favour of especially the short development cycles of Agile.
“Users” does not mean “end users”, exclusively!
I also think that “user stories” are much more realistic and human than “requirements”, although they sometimes look a little artificial.
By the way, I would recommend any team to think not only of “end user stories” but also of “tenant owner” stories or “support user stories” as other people involved have their own needs or requirements.
I also like the idea of launching a Minimum Viable Product and doing small, rapid improvements on that, based on feedback and experiences, because
You can show users that you are listening to them
You can show that you are not neglecting your intranet after launch
It gives you something new to communicate on a regular basis
So, when we were launching our intranet I was quite interested to be part of the project and to work towards an MVP.
When we finally launched our MVP we also published the roadmap with intended improvements, and shared the process of adding items to the roadmap. That way users could see that we had plans to improve and that we would be able to spend time and attention on meeting the needs of the business.
When launching an MVP with a promise to make ongoing improvements you are more vulnerable than when you do a Big Bang Launch & Leave introduction. What about the following events?
Cuts in the improvement budget.
Those can be a blessing or a curse, but they may happen.
People who leave before they have documented what they have created.
I have never liked the extensive Requirements Documents and Product Descriptions that go with traditional development, but if you are handing over your product to the Support organization, you really need documentation of what you are handing over. End users can have the weirdest questions and issues! 🙂
Reorganizations which turn your product team or even your company upside down.
Microsoft changes that mess up your customizations. We have a webpart that shows your Followed Sites – it suddenly and without warning changed from displaying the first 5 sites you had followed to the last 5 sites. Most annoying!
So before you know it, you end up with a below-minimum viable product. ☹
What can be done?
So before you start singing the praises of Agile development and put on your rose-tinted glasses
Make sure you have a safe development budget that can not be taken away from you.
Ensure you have an alternative no-cost optimization plan, such as webinars, Q&A sessions, surveys, configuration support, content changes etc. to make the most of the launch of your MVP and to get feedback for improvements for when better times arrive.
Insist that everyone documents their configurations, codes, processes, work instructions etc. as quickly as possible. It is not sexy but will save you a lot of hassle in case your team changes.
If you are in need of extracting knowledge from leaving experts, here are some tips for handing over to a successor, and some tips for when there is no successor in place yet.
Be prepared for changes in processes, data or organization. You do not have to have a ready-made plan, but it is wise to think about possible implications for your product or process if the Comms team is being reorganized, someone wants to rename all business units, or you need to accomodate an acquired company in your setup.
Keep customizations to a minimum. Use existing templates and simple configurations.
Personally I would be totally content without a customized homepage. The SharePoint landing page or, even better, the Office365 landing page as the start page to my day would work perfectly well for me, but I have learned not many people share that feeling.
Any experiences to share?
Have you had similar experiences? Have you found a good way to handle budget cuts, a way to develop budget-neutrally, how to deal with people changes or another way to deal with unexpected events that endanger your MVP? I am sure there are many people (including myself) who would like to learn from your stories!
“Users can not access links”.
What a boring title, I thought when this incident was assigned to me. But, as usual, there was a twist to it.
Several users of a local site received a “you do not have access” when they clicked a link that was added to a news item on the homepage. This link directed to a pdf-document. According to the site owner, they should have access.
So I put my SharePoint Holmes Admin Hat on, and dove into the site.
The homepage contained an Announcement list in Newsletter Style. The text “read more” (I know, not the best way to name a link) led to a pdf in a document library in the same site, called News Documents.
The News Documents library contained 2 items.
The document library inherited permissions from the site.
The audience included myself, so I decided to take a look as my “normal” self.
Yes, I could access the page. But when I clicked on the link “Read more” I got a “Sorry, you don’t have access to this page”.
I looked into Site Contents and saw that the library contained 2 items, but when I opened the library, I saw no documents. Hmmm.
I went back into admin mode, and checked again.
I checked the link on the homepage – was it perhaps a broken link? No, it looked solid and led to the pdf without further ado.
Did the documents open in browser by default, which might hamper the opening of a pdf? I checked the Advanced Settings but it opened by default in the client.
Had the documents been checked out? No, I did not see the green tell-tale mark.
I wanted to take a better look at the views, to see if those could tell me more. There were rather a lot of columns in the default view, so I had to do some horizontal scrolling to get to the Views link.
“Draft” I suddenly noticed in the right-hand column.
“0.1” I saw in the column next to it. That column was called Version.
In the Versioning settings I noticed that content approval was enabled, and only people with approve permissions and the author could see drafts.
Both documents had never been approved and were therefore visible for only a few users. Everyone else got a “you do not have access” as for the majority of users, these documents were not yet accessible.
That explained why I could see it as an admin, but not as a normal user.
The site owner was not aware of the versioning as he had inherited the site. When I explained, he decided to turn of the content approval as that was not really needed for these documents.
Another issue solved! Now would you classify this as a document management issue or a permissions issue?
Image courtesy of vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I have always preferred the Links List, since that allows all the flexibility of a list AND you keep the data if you remove the web part from your page or mess up the view. Additionally, if you remove a link it will go to the Recycle Bin.
My main concern with Summary Links is that it only exists on the page, so if you accidentally delete a link or the web part you have to start all over again from scratch. However, it has its uses:
When you want to add icons or pictures to your links
When you need multiple columns, e.g. as a footer on your site
When you want the links list to make a visual difference to your page
Adding the web part
Click the Gear wheel and select Edit Page from the menu.
Click the zone where you want to add the web part. This will often be the Right zone or a Bottom zone if you want to use it as a footer, but it can be anywhere you want.
Click “Content Rollup” in the web part gallery and you will see Summary Links.
You can edit the title of the web part, hide it, and do the usual things via the web part menu. Adding links and groups and changing style are done in the web part itself.
If you want to group your links, it is best to create your groups first so you can add any new link to an existing group immediately. You can select a style later.
Adding a link gives you the following screen:
You can either browse for pictures or for the items you want to link to (e.g. pages or documents that live in your site or site collection) or you can paste the URL’s.
How to change the styles for links and groups
Now, suppose you have some links added to your web part and you are curious to see how they display on the page. Click “Stop editing” and see what your page looks like. The default setting is quite good, but there are other options.
To change the style, put your page in Edit mode again, go to the web part and select “Configure Styles and Layout”.
You then get the screen below which allows you to select one of 13 Links styles and one of 7 group styles. That’s 91 combinations to choose from!
To save you time, I have created a Summary Links web part and tried all styles and groups. They are in the file below so you can easily scroll through them to see
What the web part itself looks like (left)
How the page looks with this style (right). The size of the web part will vary greatly depending on the style chosen and the rest of the information on the page, so this is a factor to reckon with.
Please view in full size!
Save a copy!
Once you have added all your links, and you are happy with the end result, it is wise to create a copy in case you need a restore. You can do that via Edit page > Open the web part menu > Export. You can then save a copy to your PC and/or in your site.
Enjoy the variety! What is your favorite style?
Image courtesy of atibodyphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The other day someone asked me if I could help him set up a SharePoint survey. He wanted to use our nice new intranet and did not even mention the word “Surveymonkey” 🙂
I do not have much time for individual support at the moment so I thought I’d find him some help from the internet. I found a good article from Microsoft about creating a survey but it stopped at the creation of the survey list. All the other blogs that I found on the topic touched very briefly on other settings at most. The best one I found also included a good number of benefits and examples of how to use surveys,
In my experience most problems occur because people think a survey is ready-for-use once the questions and answers have been set up. However, there are a lot of things you have to think about, so I still had to write the complete manual myself.
What will I cover in this post?
This will be a long read, so let me inform you of the topics I will cover:
Determine your needs
Find a site
Give your audience correct permissions
Decide on “show names”
Decide on one or multiple entries per person
Visibility of entries
Welcome page and thank you page
Testing your survey
Launching your survey
Gathering and analyzing results
Deactivating the survey
Deleting the survey
So, here goes!
1. Determine your needs
It makes a difference if you use your survey for a fun purpose (who will win the World Football Cup?), for a neutral business purpose (to collect suggestions for a new product), or for a serious and possibly even sensitive purpose. (How do you feel about this company? What were your experiences with this project?). For the latter, you will need more thinking, more questions, more careful wording and stricter settings than for the first example.
This is beyond this post’s scope, but this article may be a good starting point. Update April 4, 2017: And as serendipity would have it, just after I published this blog this Tweet appeared in my timeline:
A SharePoint survey is a list in a SharePoint site, so you need to have a site. You also need to be a site owner since it is very likely you will be fiddling with permissions and need to monitor responses. If you have one, you may need to consider the survey audience. Is your confidential project site a good place for a survey for all employees? Is your open site a good place for a very sensitive survey for senior management only about an upcoming divestiture? It can be done, but it may be more difficult to set up and manage than if your site has an audience that sort of matches the audience of your survey.
In some cases it is better to have a special site for this purpose.
If you do not have a site, and you are on Office365, an Excel survey may be an option. I have no experience with this, and I do not know if the information below is relevant for this.
3. Create questions and answers
First of all, plan your survey. Microsoft has some help for that, including an overview of the types of questions and answers.
Secondly, create the survey, add questions and answers and change some settings.
Please be aware that you will be unable to export a Likert scale (rating scale) question/answer to Excel for further analysis.
This is what a survey will look like:
4. Give your audience correct permissions
Many people expect that a survey is automatically set up to receive responses from everyone, but this is a normal SharePoint list with normal SharePoint behavior. So, in most cases you will need to give your audience Contribute permissions to the survey.
If you do not give them Read access to the site, be aware that they can only access the survey via the direct link to the survey and they can not enter the site.
5. Decide on “show names”
This is a setting that you will find in “Advanced Settings” when you create the survey, or afterwards in Settings > Survey Settings > List name, description and navigation.
The default is “Yes”. If you select “No”, all names of people will be replaced with ***.
This is not really anonymous because a Site Owner will be able to switch that at will, making all names visible again. During a survey it may make sense to have the names replaced, and only make them visible when you export the results, but this is also depending on your choices for point 7.
6. Decide on one or multiple entries per person
The default is “No” and in most cases that makes perfect sense.
If your survey collects information such as ideas or suggestions, it can be useful to set this to “Yes” so people can add multiple suggestions.
This setting can also be found in “Advanced Settings” when you create the survey, or afterwards in Settings > Survey Settings > List name, description and navigation.
Please note that most people get into a right panic when they want to enter a survey twice and get the error message. If they read the message, it is perfectly clear, but who reads an error message? 🙂
It may be good to tell them they can enter once only, or multiple times.
7. Visibility of entries
Do you want everyone to see each others responses? This can be a good idea if use your survey for logging issues, so people can see which issues have been submitted already. But for a survey asking for opinions about the company strategy you may want to limit visibility.
Go to your survey, click Settings > Survey Settings > Advanced Settings.
Set the first radio button to “Read responses that were created by the user”.
This way, people will only see their own item. They will still see the total number of items in Site Contents, but they will not able to see anything else.
Also check out the options below about Create and Edit access. By default people will be able to edit only their own responses. In some cases it may be good that they can edit all responses, but to be honest I have never come across the need for this settings.
Never select None because this also means that a user can not add anything, which is rather odd for a survey.
8. Welcome page and thank you page (optional)
I often add a page with some more information about the survey and a nice button or text which leads you to the entry form upon click. After submitting their entry, people can be led to a Thank You page, thanking them for their contribution and informing them about e.g. when the results will be published or the prize will be drawn.
The default return page is the ‘survey homepage” (screenshot above).
It is easy to create as follows:
Create a page and add welcome text and a link or button to the survey
Create a page with a thank-you-and-these-are-the-next-steps-message. Copy the link of this page to Notepad or a Word document.
Click “Respond to this survey” on your survey and copy the link into Notepad or a Word document. Delete all text after Source=
Add the URL of your thank-you-page after Source=
On the welcome page, add the new link to the link or button
Please be aware that your audience needs Read access to both pages, so if you have a confidential site where the audience is much larger than the site’s regular audience, I would not go this way, since it will either mean setting item level permissions (and you know I do not like unique permissions) on those pages OR a lot of error messages 🙂
9. Testing your survey
I have created many surveys, but even I test everyone of them before they go live. Ask one or two people, preferably from the target audience (again, depending on purpose and audience and complexity), to go through the complete process and respond to your survey. Do they understand the questions and answers? Have you missed anything obvious, or are some things redundant? Does everything work from a technical/functional perspective?
10. Launching your survey
You can inform your audience in different ways, depending on urgency, topic and audience.
If your survey needs to be executed in a certain timeframe, you will probably send a link in an email or post it as a news item.
If you have a long-term survey, you can add the web part to a (home)page, add the link as a Promoted Link, a Summary Link or in the navigation, so all users of your site are reminded on a regular basis to give their feedback.
You can use
the link to the survey (people will need to click “Respond to this survey”)
the link that you get when you click “Respond to this survey”
the combined link that takes people to the Thank-you page after “Finish” as in item 8 (you skip the Welcome page)
the link to the Welcome page as in item 8
11. Monitoring results
During the time the survey is active, you may want to keep track of the number of replies you get. You can set an alert to keep track of new submissions, or look in Site Contents on a regular basis.
When you are on the Site Contents page, clicking on the survey and then on “Show graphical summary” will show you an overview of the results; clicking “View all Responses” will show you who has completed the survey and their individual contributions.
Those two options are only available for the site owner.
12. Gathering and analyzing results
When you need a status update, or when the survey is over, you can either look at the graphical summary, or export the results into an Excel file for further analysis.
Click Actions > Export to spreadsheet.
Again, please be aware you can only make screenshots of any questions that need a response on a rating/Likert scale. These questions and answers can not be exported.
13. Deactivating the survey
Once the survey is over and you are working on the results, conclusions and next steps, you will want to stop people from making new entries. You can do this by changing the permissions from Contribute to Read and/or deleting the unique permissions, or by removing the audience from your survey or site altogether.
14. Deleting the survey
Once you have exported or captured the results and determined next steps, your survey project is completed and you can delete the survey.
Go to your survey > Settings > Survey settings > Delete this survey.
If you have used a welcome and thank-you page, you can delete those as well.
That’s it, folks!
As I said, this has become quite a long post, but I just wanted to take you through the complete process. There’s more to a survey than just creating some questions and answers!
For your next survey project, I would appreciate it if you would follow these steps and let me know if this has been sufficient information to do it yourself, or if I have overlooked something. (and if yes, what)
Image courtesy of fantasista at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Around 2005 I was involved with creating a new SharePoint-based intranet.
At that time we had “Knowledge Areas” on our old custom-built intranet. The Knowledge Areas contained information for a specific region, function, topic or country.
They were an early version of team sites, containing a combination of FrontPage Webs, “Document Cabinets” and Forums.
Each Knowledge Area had an owner, whose name was mentioned on the homepage.
The Knowledge Areas were to be replaced with SharePoint team sites. We wanted to brighten up the design of our new intranet and made a few prototypes to show the Knowledge Area managers.
They all went berserk.
How dared we propose to add their pictures to their name? They did not want to be on public display!
HR and privacy officers stampeded into our offices or called us with questions and concerns. We could not do such an unheard of thing without approvals from all kinds of senior officers!
Of course we had a company directory where all employees could find each other, search for expertise and create organigrams. Of course there was an option to add a picture, but few people did that. I often asked people why they walked on the company’s premises freely, without a paper bag on their head, yet were afraid to show their face to other employees. For some reason this did not have the desired effect 🙂
I have have always liked seeing pictures of my colleagues, especially if they are not in my location. It helps to know what they look like, especially when you may meet them in another office or while travelling to other locations, which I did frequently in those days. But not everyone is an early adopter and some people rather wait until they have seen that no harm befalls those who have shared their looks in the directory.
The only person with an acceptable excuse (in my book) was the Director for Mergers and Acquisitions. If you saw him in your location, you could bet that an acquisition or divestiture was in the works, with all the speculations, gossip and general unrest that go with a big organizational change. So I understood that he did not want to become too well-known.
Since 2005 we have all gotten used to seeing our own and other people’s pictures in various places on the intranet: as a contact person for a team site, in permission settings, in the enterprise social network, etc. And now that Office365 uses People Cards, it is more and more important that your profile is uptodate – with a picture to match.
With Office365 we have switched to the other side and suddenly I am looking at myself ALL DAY.
Not only do I see my face in the details pane in document libraries or list, in Delve, on Yammer, in Search results, but I am also displayed in the Office365 top bar.
A new Office365 profile “experience” has just been announced. I do not know yet if that exposes my face to myself even more 🙂
I find that a bit weird and disconcerting. Does anyone else feel that this is a bit too much?
Narcissus image courtesy of franky242 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Recently 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:
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
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.
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)
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.
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.
I can offer you a 10% discount if you use the code “IIAB2CBOX10” on the product page .
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:
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.)
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.
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.
This has been a Christmas present so I have had the time to read and think. 🙂
So, everything came together very nicely this time.