SharePoint Holmes and the disappearing Datasheet View

SPHolmes1Part 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.

The first case is about a Datasheet View.

The case

One of the users of a site did not see the items in a list. Having access to the data was a requirement for his role and he had always been able to see this content before it was migrated to SharePoint Online.

So, I put on my SharePoint Holmes cap and rolled up my sleeves.

The investigation

  1. I logged in with my Admin account and went into the site.
  2. I saw the items perfectly well. Just items in a Datasheet view.
  3. Permissions check – the user had Read permissions to the site.
  4. Items with unique permissions check – the list had unique permissions but the user had Read access.
  5. Item-level permissions check – in the Advanced List Settings it showed that all items were visible to all users of the site.
  6. Workflow check – no workflow reducing permissions after going through a process.

Right, that was an interesting one.

  1. It was time to look through the eyes of the user, so I added myself to the same user group and checked. An empty list stared back at me.
  2. I went through the other views and found a standard one. I could see the items in there, and so could my user.
  3. One of my colleagues mentioned that issues with the latest IE update had been reported, which might have influenced the Datasheet view.  We tried different browsers. That made no difference, but there was always that difference between user and admin.

Hmmm….

The solution

Search engine to the rescue! One of the results surprised me, and I had to test that.

I created a datasheet view in my own tenant. It looked like this:

SPHolmes-Datasheet-Owner
What the Admin sees

Then I logged in with Contribute permissions. It looked like this:

SPHolmes-Datasheet-Contributor
What a Contributor sees

Then I logged in with Read permissions. It looked like this:

SPHolmes-Datasheet-Reader
What a Reader sees

You need at least Contribute permissions before you can see items in a Datasheet view.

The Datasheet view is meant for editing, so only people with edit permissions can see items in it. It makes sense and I have always told people to use the Datasheet view very sparingly as it is only too easy to change something. The many Excel-addicts in my user base however loved it and have also used it for display purposes in our SharePoint 2007 intranet.
Now they either have to elevate permissions or recreate their views.

Interestingly enough this was a permissions issue, but different from what I have ever seen before!

Image courtesy of Geerati at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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7 SharePoint permissions bloopers

Permissions bloopers 4

The other day I came across an interesting tweet:

Yes, been there, done that! And this made me think of all those other times that I, or my users, have made a mistake with permissions, either by forgetting to think and doing this on routine, or by ignorance.
Here they are, for your learning and enjoyment.  Laughing is allowed; sharing your own bloopers is encouraged!

2. Deleting a group

Did you know that deleted Groups do not go via the Recycle Bin, so they are gone for good?
So, when you want to do this, first check to which content the group has access. If that is only to your site, you can safely delete it; if is has permissions to other sites, please talk to the owner(s) of the other site(s) first!

How to check: Click on the group name on your permissions page, click Settings > View Group Permissions and you will see a pop-up like this:

accessforgroups
In this case the group only has access to one site, so it can safely be deleted if needed.

3. Removing a group from a site and forgetting its name

Good luck finding that in your site collection’s list of groups! (which likely contains at least 3 x as many groups as there are sites, and most likely many more)

A good naming convention, as well as keeping some documentation or screenshots of your permissions setup may help limit the damage. Another good idea is noting the MembershipGroupID’s of the group’s URL. These can be found in the group’s URL, e.g.

…/Share/_layouts/15/people.aspx?MembershipGroupId=165

The 3 default groups of a site are created with subsequent numbers, so if you remove one of those you can probably find them by changing the MembershipGroupID at the end of the group URL. In the screenshot above, Owners, Members and Visitors group have numbers 164, 165 and 166, respectively.

4. Clicking on “manage parent” to edit permissions

You need to change permissions of a site that has inherited permissions. Without thinking you click on “Manage parent” and start making changes, not fully realizing that you are now changing the permissions for both sites. You should have clicked on “Stop Inheriting Permissions” first!
The damage can vary.
I have once changed the top site of a site collection that way. The good news was that I finally got rid of a lot of outdated “Limited Access” users, but it was only later that I realized I had also removed everyone’s permissions from various site collection galleries.

5. Removing yourself from a group, site or library

This is generally annoying but benign, as long as you have quick access to a site collection administrator who can add you back.  I get about one call a week from someone who has locked themselves out.

6. Not clicking “Show Options” when you  share something with “Everyone”

Sharesitewitheveryone
Do click that “show options” link on the bottom of the Share screen!

This sends an email to all the company (and gives them contribute permissions if it is a site). Well, at least people know you and your site exist, but I do not know if “Everyone” will appreciate your marketing tactics! 🙂

And (in my opinion) the most disastrous of them all:

7. Inheriting the permissions from the parent site

You click “Delete unique permissions’ without realizing you are not at the document library, but at the site level. The permissions of your site will now be the same as the parent site.
You may not be the site owner of that site. Even worse, you may not even have access! An even if someone is kind enough to create unique permissions again and give you back your access, all unique permissions are gone.

An example: this site has unique permissions.

UniquePermissions
If you see “This Web Site” you are at site level!

This site has some content with different permissions

UniqueExceptions

When I click “Delete unique permissions” in the site I get a warning in a mix of English and Dutch – which is the first time I have seen this:

UniquePermissionsWarning

And if you click OK the permissions are inherited from the parent and there are no unique permissions anymore. The original groups also have no access anymore.

Uniqueafterinherit
No content with unique permissions after inheriting permissions from the parent site.

While this may be a good reset of your site if you have completely lost the overview of the permissions, it can be a nightmare if you have a well-managed site with confidential content that needs well-managed unique permissions.

General recommendations

  • Make sure you have an overview of the permissions of your site. It can be a simple mention in the description of the list or library (“this list is only accessible for the MT”), or a separate document with a detailed description.
  • Stop and think before you hit a button – if in doubt contact your help person.

Have you made any other permissions management mistakes? Do share!

SharePoint Online Site owner training

Learning-Collect“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.
Learning-principles
Our learning principles

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, including the Critical Skills. (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.

Learning-format

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”.

Final setup

Learning-tabel
This is the final setup

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?

Multiple choice image courtesy of Becris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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.

Why this executive liked online meetings

AshtrayDuring one of the workshops at Intranet Reloaded in Berlin  we talked about how to motivate people to use their digital workplace. What really triggers them to change their working habits?

I remembered an example from when we were rolling out Microsoft Live Meeting (yes, this definitely was some time ago 🙂 ).
Our senior managers were flying across the globe all the time for face-to-face meeting, and we wanted to save the business time and money by providing an online alternative.

One of our vice-presidents had a “monthly results” meeting every month with about 25 country managers. They all had to turn up at Head Office for few hours each month, to discuss their financial and market results.
I talked to him and his assistant about the options and if they were interested to give it a try. Of course our team could help them with the first meetings, so they did not have to test this alone. Both he and his assistant liked the idea so we ran a few tests to make them more comfortable.

On the “first monthly meeting new style” I sat with him during the first few sessions to make sure everything was running smoothly, also on the other side of the line.
After the first two meetings had gone successfully he lit up a cigarette.
He leaned back with a big smile on his face and said: “I love this. Finally I can have a smoke during these meetings”.

You see, we had just banned smoking in the workplace. (Did I mention this was some time ago:-)? ). The only room where he was still allowed to smoke was his personal office. Nobody dared to forbid it there.

There’s all kinds of motivation to change behaviour. This was an unexpected one and if I had not been there, I would still think that saving time and money would have been his only incentives…

Image courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

KM: Leaving Experts Knowledge Extraction Flowchart

It is about time to reveal the second part of the Leaving Experts flowchart, don’t you think? Until now I have only been showing you the first part, to determine if an expert has knowledge to transfer and if yes, how long (s)he is available to do this.

This is the second part, including the best ways to extract their knowledge given the situation.

KM-LeavingExperts2

Download the full flowchart as pdf.

It will come as no surprise that someone who retires in 6 months will give you more options than someone who leaves the company in 2 months’ time. So if your colleague is leaving the company soon, get into action as soon as possible!

The flowchart above shows the best extraction methods. You may want to check if these are also the best ways to produce the knowledge products that you need. The table below shows you more.

KM-Method-Product-Table

Or download as pdf.

The “staying connected” knowledge extraction method is not mentioned since this can take all kinds of shapes and is usually ad-hoc.
You will also notice that some techniques lend itself to create many different products:

  • Interviews
  • Workshops
  • Thinking out loud
  • Mind mapping

You may want to brush up on those skills, or learn where you can hire the expertise.

Now you go and get that knowledge from your colleague before it is too late!

Even better, start promoting working out loud at this very moment, so you do not have to leave everything to the last moment.
If that feels like too much exposure right now, why not start blogging first? This will not only be useful for your colleagues, but also for yourself.
I write blogs to collect, store and share my own experiences about things like SharePoint permissions or copying from Excel into a SharePoint Datasheet.  I also use blogs (my own and other’s) as help materials to the users I support. A good blogpost saves me a lot of time explaining it over and over again.

And if you think: “Why is she writing this to me? I am not a KM expert or responsible for knowledge management”, think again. Capturing and retaining knowledge is also your responsibility, perhaps not for all your organization, but certainly for your own work and your own team.

So, how are you dealing with “leaving experts” in your team?

KM: 5 more ways to extract knowledge from an expert

KM-extraction with othersIt often takes 3-6 months before a successor can fill the vacancy that an expert has left. Vacancies need to be approved, people selected, obligations to the earlier employer fulfilled. The person-to-person knowledge extraction methods described in my previous post are not applicable then.
The following methods are available to capture knowledge without the need to have the successor(s) present, but you will need someone to do the “writing”.
These methods are indirect, because the knowledge is only shared through the knowledge product and there is no option to ask for an explanation or feedback. On the other hand, these products are independent of time and location and they can be re-used and improved upon over time.

  1. Interviews

The following set of questions could be used to structure an interview focused on knowledge:

  • What types of skills are relevant for your work?
  • What would you have liked to been taught when you took this position?
  • What are the main information sources (internal and external) that you use on the job?
  • Who are the people (in or outside of the organization) who provide you with knowledge?
  • What are the key points your successor or the organization needs to know?

The interviewer could write the questions into a top 5 do’s and don’ts, a list of resources, a skill set and training plan for this role, etc.

2. Thinking out loud

The expert is confronted with a situation and is asked to deal with this while talking aloud about all decisions, alternatives, doubts or side steps that come to their mind during the problem solving process. These situations could be ‘real life’ situations or cases that are typical for real situations. The process is normally recorded on video. After analysis this information could be used to create decision trees or protocols.

I am currently practicing this on SharePoint permissions issues, to make my approach more consistent and sharable.

3. After action reviews

After Action Review (AAR) is a method for extracting lessons learned from an unexpected event, usually a problem, defect, recall or similar occasion. It is a professional discussion that has to be planned immediately after the event, amongst people who were involved (i.e. team members). In the discussion four questions are addressed:

  • What was supposed to happen?
  • What actually happened?
  • Why was there a difference?
  • What can we learn from this experience?

An AAR is a good example of a simple instrument to share lessons and to make knowledge tangible. It can lead to an adjusted protocol or workflow. I think many of you are using this on a regular basis.

It is not always suited for planned knowledge exchange, in case of a leaving expert. Unless you create the event yourself, of course 🙂

4. Project evaluations

A project evaluation is comparable to an After Action Review but is focused on a complete project, so it has a much larger scope. The objective is to capture all relevant lessons from the people involved, share them amongst the participants and report the most relevant lessons for use within the follow-up project, the project organization or company. The outcome could be a set of do’s and don’ts, a good practice, an improved process or material for a case study.
Like the AAR, these are not always suitable for a leaving expert, but if you have an opportunity to plan the evaluation while the expert is still there, use it!

Project Evaluations have been a large part of my KM-work, and I will post about this later.

 5. Mind mapping

The mind-map in itself is abstract and high-level, but will be sufficient for another expert. (not so much for a more general audience) It is a fast way to capture the essentials when your expert leaves soon.
As discussed earlier the process itself could also be used to create other forms of job aids. For instance one could use mind mapping to identify the index of a manual / hand book or the issues which should be addressed in a training binder, or the disciplines involved in a certain process.

What? No mention of “working out loud”?

You may have missed references to Working Out Loud (in a network) and Blogging. Yes, I definitely consider them means to extract and share knowledge. In fact, I prefer them to the others, because they can be started long before your expert becomes a leaving expert.
But hey, remember I am writing my memoirs from around 2000 here. Working Out Loud and Blogging had not really been invented by then 🙂

What other current knowledge extraction tools have come up in the meantime?

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net