SharePoint Holmes and the Invisible Image

SH-invisible-man-154567_1280The case

“It is possible to show the person’s picture in a list, next to the name?” ¬†the user asked me. “Of course”, I said, but it depends on the list and the definition of the column. Let’s have a look.”

The user did a screenshare with me and showed me the list. It contained a number of “People or Group” columns.

We checked the settings of the columns and it turned out he had used the default option, “Name (with presence)”.

SH-InvisibleImage-Default
The default option when you create a “Group or Person” column.

So I showed him there were more options and that he’d better select “Name (with picture and details)”.

SH-InvisibleImage-Namepicdetails
I suggested this option to make the picture show in the list

So he did, and he went back to the list. But no image was shown.

SH-InvisibleImage-ListModern
No image next to the name ūüė¶

The investigation

  1. I checked the column again, as this was unexpected behaviour. Yes, that was the right setting.
  2. I also tried the other options, “Picture only” in various formats. But the image would not show.
  3. I was flabbergasted. Microsoft Office, especially in the Modern fashion, has such an obsession about pictures, images, icons and other visuals that I could not understand why the picture would not show up. I mean, I have to look at myself all day but SharePoint would refuse this?
  4. But then I thought, what about Classic View?

The solution

I switched to Classic View and there it was:

SH-InvisibleImage-Listclassic
This was what the user was looking for!

The user was happy and changed the Advanced Settings to make¬†sure this list would always open in Classic View for all the site’s users.

I am not so happy, however. This was a modern site with a modern list and a perfectly legit column setting. Why is the picture not displayed in the Modern View, knowing the emphasis Microsoft places on visuals?
Please note it is the same with Styles and Totals – they only display in Classic View ūüė¶
I have already added a warning to my SharePoint Style Counsel blog…

Additionally, over time I have grown an aversion to the Classic view as I think it looks cluttered.

So, does anyone know when can we expect these display options to be available in the Modern view?

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.

Image courtesy of OpenClipArtVectors on Pixabay

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Reaching beyond the usual suspects

IntranetNowBlogheaderOn October 5 I participated in IntranetNow in London. I presented there, and thought it would be nice to create a write-up in my blog, with some images from my presentation. If you prefer the PowerPoint variety, please check out my presentation on the IntranetNow SlideShare.

What brought this on?

Recently we introduced a new intranet (Publishing and team sites) to the organization.

Blog-changes
A overview of the old (left) and the new situation (right). Lots of changes!

We went from a SharePoint 2007 environment on-prem, to SharePoint Online in the cloud. That alone was a big change.

Our old platform was created 10 years before, when the organization was still very decentralized, and people could do on the platform whatever they wanted (which they did) as long as they did not break it (which they did…sometimes ūüôā ).
The new intranet is strictly governed, as there is now a strong central Security and Compliance team, strong Enterprise Architecture, many Governance Boards and Steering Committees and of course our new landlord Microsoft, and they all tell us what people can do and what not.

Additionally, we went from being one large company to two companies and we reorganized as well.

Challenges

We knew we were going to make a big change, so we secured the help of our ‚Äúusual suspects‚ÄĚ, a small group of people active on Yammer, and a small group of active content owners. They kindly agreed to be our Champions, helping us launch the new intranet to their circles of influence.

However, many of them left the organization during the project, or moved to another job, due to the reorganizations. So we were left with an even smaller group of “usual suspects”.

We tried to make up for it by increasing the communications:

  • Yammer messages and YamJams
  • News articles and Newsletters
  • Webinars with demos and question time
  • Local sessions to inform people
  • Emails to site owners
  • Creating training

But well, you know how it goes:

  • People do not always read or act upon communications
  • People only learn when they have a need, so many people left the learning until they had their new intranet and their new site(s).

So despite our efforts, this is more or less how people reacted when they saw their new tools for the first time:

Chaos wallpaper2.png
Sadly I do not know the creator of this wonderful image, but I have used it anyway since it is the best I could find to depict the response of the audience…

People were confused, did not know where to find their content, how to manage their sites, how to navigate, etc.

Action needed!

Well, if you want to implement a new effective digital workplace, this may not be the best response. So we introduced a new role into the organization: the Adoption Consultant. It is their role to make sure that employees

  • know what the DW is,
  • can use it¬†to their advantage
  • and like it, so they will promote it and help others use it

Within this organization, the DW consists of the Office 365 suite plus a few other tools available for all employees.

So we are currently embedding this process into the organization:

Blog-cycle
The Process
  • There is a UX manager who runs a survey with 1/12 of employees every month, asking for user feedback about all IT tools and services.
    There are other sources for feedback (Yammer, support tickets, etc.) but the survey is the most formal one.
  • He turns the responses¬†into usable data and insights.
  • If something relates to the Digital Workplace, he asks the Adoption Consultants to help with it. They determine which remediation actions need to be taken.
    New functionality will also be handled by the Adoption Consultants, as some projects have the objective to “get the software installed on people’s machines” without thinking beyond that point…
    So they think about whether extensive communication and training sessions are needed, or if a link to the help materials of the vendor is sufficient, or anything in between.
  • By implementing those actions¬†it is expected that the complaints and remarks about this topic will be reduced.

Yeah, interesting picture, but what does that mean in practice?

Users: ‚ÄúI can not find anything on the intranet‚ÄĚ

UX Manager: ‚ÄúWe have found that ‚ÄúI can not find anything on the intranet‚ÄĚ is in the Top 3 of complaints for the past months.¬†Adoption Consultants,¬†would you please look into this‚ÄĚ?

Adoption Consultants: ¬†‚ÄúWhat does it mean exactly, ‚ÄúI can not find information on the intranet‚ÄĚ? Do people not know how to search? Are they looking for information that is not there? Do they not know how to navigate?”
* arrange interviews with a selection of complainers*

Adoption Consultant: After some discussions I think

  • We will need to create a campaign to inform people about the options available in Search.
  • We need to suggest to¬†this department that they properly archive their outdated procedures and provide¬†more meaningful and descriptive¬†titles and tagging¬†for their current content.
  • We need to discuss federating SharePoint Search, as some people appear to be looking for content which¬†lives in our IT service system.

What else have we done so far?

  • We have given “Digital Workplace roadshows” in various locations across the world, explaining what the Digital Workplace is and how¬†people can best use it.¬†These have¬†been received really well.
  • We have started a campaign about the different options of Search, update your profile, etc.
  • We manage¬†a “Digital Workplace”¬†group on Yammer as THE place for discussion. This is really well-used and popular.
  • We have created¬†procedures¬†to communicate consistently about projects that bring new functionality to the organization, using¬†consistent channels (such as that Yammer group).
  • We are working with local focal points as they know more about their specific situation.

What are the results?

As we have only started this role last July, we have not accomplished a reduction in unfavourable feedback from the employee survey. But we have achieved a few things:

  1. Through the roadshows, we have met a number of new enthusiastic content owners, willing to help their circle of influence with the new Digital Workplace
  2. Interviews with colleagues who responded in the survey have revealed unexpected and useful feedback.

And that survey…we will do our best to improve the results over time!

An unpleasant inheritance

inherit-picInheriting something is a mixed pleasure.
You can become the proud owner of¬†your uncle’s¬†lovely old-timer, or be able to wear¬†your grandmother‚Äôs¬†diamond necklace and matching earrings at grand events, but you generally receive those treasures only after a dear one has passed away.
But you can also inherit¬†debts, a house with an expensive mortgage, a nephew or other “things” that you have never wanted.

Inheriting permissions in SharePoint can also be a curse rather than a blessing.
‚ÄúI have suddenly lost access‚ÄĚ has been the title of many recent incidents.¬†No need to blame this on Microsoft, SharePoint or the support team, because in 99% of cases this is a human error:

  • The Site Owner accidentally removed their own permissions while cleaning up a document library’s¬† or site’s permissions.¬†The support team can easily fix this.
  • The Site Owner accidentally inherits the¬†permissions from the parent site. That is pretty serious and has happened alarmingly often!
inherit-removeuniquepermissions
A dangerous button that will inherit permissions from the parent Рthis can be wanted in documents, folders and libraries but can wreak havoc in sites.

I have already mentioned in many of our instruction materials: “if you see “this web site has unique permissions” in the yellow bar, DO NOT CLICK “Delete unique permissions” as you will

  • Inherit the permissions from the parent site
  • Lock yourself out of your site if you have¬†insufficient permissions on the parent site
  • Remove all unique permissions in your site (and there is no¬†“undo” or “restore” option)
inherit-thiswebsitehasnqiuepermissions
If you see this text, you are at the site level!

The warning message appears not to be informative enough to keep people from proceeding.

inherit-warning
The warning message before you inherit the permissions from the parent site.

Recently I have guided a few people through ‚Äúpermissions stuff‚ÄĚ via screenshare and I notice that they always want to click ‚ÄėDelete unique permissions‚ÄĚ when they want to remove users. In several cases these users were individuals who were not in a group and therefore were seen as having unique permissions.
On those occasions I have been just in time to guide their mouse pointers to the right button: “Remove User Permissions”.

inherit-removeuserpermissions
Use this when you want to remove  groups or individuals from your site

This has now happened so often, with such serious consequences, that I have added a suggestion to Microsoft SharePoint Uservoice¬†to rename ‚ÄúDelete Unique Permissions‚ÄĚ into ‚ÄúInherit permissions from parent‚ÄĚ as this is probably easier to understand for the¬†user than the current wording. If you agree, please support my request. (Happy to return the favour,¬†of course)

You know, like in SharePoint 2007:

Inheritpermissions2007
What it looks like in SharePoint 2007 – much more intuitive! (Pic taken with Phone)

And if you have taken any measures that successfully prevent this accidental inheritance, please share!

Image courtesy of Phil_Bird at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

SharePoint Holmes and the Missing Menu-item

SPHolmes-EditPageThe case

“I am officially the owner of the site, but I can not manage the site”, the user had written in the description field of the incident.
I asked her what exactly she was trying to do that was impossible, and she said she had wanted to make changes to the homepage of the site.

“But the menu in the gear wheel does not look like the training materials”, she said. “Please see attached screenshot”.

Now that was an interesting screenshot!

SPHolmes-EditPage-Gear wheel
“Site settings” but no “Edit page” in the menu!

I could have asked her if she was able to go to the homepage from the Site Pages or Pages library and if she would have been able to conjure up the Page tab and do it from there, but I was so intrigued by the screenshot that I decided to do some investigation. After all, the “Edit page” option needs to be there and I could better fix that once and for all¬†than waste her time with workarounds.¬†Her problem was not¬†so urgent that she needed the workaround.

And to be frank, I hoped it would turn out to be another SharePoint Holmes topic ūüôā

The investigation

  1. Of course, I checked the permissions first. They looked OK. (You know the Dutch words by now, right? ūüôā )

    SPHolmes-EditPage-Permissions
    Owners with Full Control, Members with Edit, Visitors and another group with Read permissions – looks normal!
  2. Yes, she was in the Owners group with Full Control.

    SPHolmes-EditPage-InOwnersGroup
    Mystery Guest is in the Owners group.
  3. I checked the items with unique permissions. The Site Pages library was one of them.
  4. Aha, the Site Pages library had very limited permissions – only Visitors had Read access and that was it. As the Visitors group¬†contained a company-wide AD group, I knew she had access –¬†but only with Read permissions.

    SPHolmes-EditPage-SitePagesPermissions
    Fortunately a wide audience could see the site’s pages – but nobody could edit them!
  5. I checked the Homepage permissions to be on the safe side, and that inherited permissions from the library. So she could see the homepage but not edit it.

The solution

I added the Owners group back to the Site Pages library with the proper permissions. I informed the Site Owner that she had removed the permissions of everyone except the Visitors.
She informed me that “Edit Page” was now in her Gear Wheel menu and she could edit the page again. Problem solved!
I suggested to think about what she wanted to do with this library Рkeep it like it was with only Owner and Visitor groups (to avoid unwanted edits) or to inherit the permissions from the site.

I wish I had¬†something more¬†deep and interesting to conclude than: “SharePoint permissions are difficult to understand and manage”. ūüė¶

But if you ever come across a screenshot like that, you know what to do!

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.

Image courtesy of  Clker-Free-Vector-Images on Pixabay.

Beware the SharePoint MVP!

 

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.

But I am glad this title caught your¬†attention ūüôā

The Minimum Viable Product

This blog will be about another MVP ‚Äď 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 ‚Äúplease select‚ÄĚ. 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 ‚Äúend user stories‚ÄĚ but also of ‚Äútenant owner‚ÄĚ stories or ‚Äúsupport user stories‚ÄĚ as other people involved have their own needs or requirements.

Rapid improvements

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
MVP-DevelopmenttoLaunch
During development, you work towards the Minimum Viable Product

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.

Vulnerabilities

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! ūüôā
  • 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. ‚ėĻ

MVP-Developmentfromlaunch
While in a normal development cycle you would slowly and steadily improve upon the MVP, unexpected events can leave you with something less than MVP.

What can be done?

So before you start singing the praises of Agile development and put on your rose-tinted glasses

  1. Make sure you have a safe development budget that can not be taken away from you.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Images are from Simon Koay’s totally¬†gorgeous Superbet. Look at that B!
M=Mystique, V=Venom, P=Poison Ivy

SharePoint Holmes and the Continuous Classic View

Sherlock GnomesThe case

“Why can I not set my document library to the New experience?” the user asked me.

“Of course you can, let me show you”, I said confidently.
Over-confidently, as it turned out. Because there was no “Exit Classic View” link bottom left.

Classic-Nolinkbottomleft
Huh? No “Exit Classic View” bottom left of the page.

 

And the Advanced Library Settings showed that the library was already set to display in New experience.

Classic-LibrarySettings
The library was set to display in the New experience

Sigh…I got my SharePoint Holmes hat and magnifying glass out of the cupboard and set out towards…

The investigation

  1. I remembered some other sites which did not display their “Exit Classic View” button. Those all have a¬†banner on top of the page,¬† a popular feature from our old intranet, that has been migrated¬†to the new intranet.
    I set the user’s page into Edit mode. There was a web part zone on top but there was no web part in it, so that did not give me any clues.¬†Hmmm.

    Classic-Nowebpartontop
    Empty web part zone!
  2. I looked at the other views in the library and those were in New Experience. Huh!
  3. I created a new view and this was in New Experience as well, so the issue was with the default view.
  4. To check my sanity, I did some searching (Yes, I know I should do that straight away but I like to look at things and push buttons ūüôā ) and what did I find?¬†¬†This.
  5. So, I dove into that Classic View, edited the page,¬†looked at Closed Web Parts…and found a¬†Content Editor Web Part.

    Classic-ClosedWebpart
    There was a closed web part on the page.
  6. I added it to the page, then deleted it and that turned out to be…

The solution

Classic-AfterRemoval
The library now shows in New experience, with the “switch”-link bottom left.

So, there are two options when you can not get your document library to show in New Experience while it is set to be New:

  1. Remove all web parts on the view page, open and closed.
    Set the page to Edit mode.
    If you see a web part, DELETE it.
    If you do not see a web part, click Insert > Tab > Web Parts > Closed Web Parts. If you see one or more web parts mentioned, add part(s) to page, and then DELETE it/them.
  2. Create a new view by copying the old view with a new name, setting it to be the default view if needed, and deleting the old view.
    I must admit this did not work in my own tenant – all views showed and were created in Classic SharePoint. But I have seen this multiple times in our work tenant.

If you want to display a picture, you could also upload one or more pictures and pin it/them to the top.

Microsoft also has some things to say about the Classic vs Modern view. They also mention the influence of web parts (at the end of the article) but the language is not very clear.

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.

Picture from unknown source but it was too funny to let go. See the trailer of Sherlock Gnomes! With Johnny Depp…

Knowledge Management from support tickets

KMTickets-headerNow that we have launched our intranet we constantly receive questions and support tickets from our users. That is not exactly a surprise, as we know that our current intranet is vastly different from our old one. We have SharePoint Online versus SharePoint 2007 and a completely new governance.
We learn a great deal about our users and our environment from these tickets and the discussions in our dedicated Yammer group.

Of course my team knows that I am into KM, so¬†I am currently¬†in a small ‚ÄúVirtual Expert‚ÄĚ group on knowledge sharing. Our¬†goals is¬†to “translate experiences into knowledge”.

That sounds pretty formal, but it is quite simple really. And you know, I like simple, especially when it is about KM.

How it works

KMTickets-process

Whenever we receive an incident, we assign it according to the type of incident. This allows every one of our team to learn about a specific topic or process, and to improve the process or generate knowledge about this topic.
For instance, for a time all incidents dealing with permissions were assigned to me.
When I had gained sufficient knowledge of common permission issues,¬†either by searching¬†online or by doing experiments, I wrote work instructions¬†for the rest of the team.¬†Permissions issues (provided we recognize them when the tickets come in ūüôā )¬†can now also be assigned to others as we have a common procedure.
Yammer questions that can not be answered by the community receive similar treatment: we do online search and experiments where needed. (Although we ask people to submit a ticket when it looks like something in their site is broken)

We have a regular call to discuss any new and interesting issues.

When we run into a problem that we can not solve by searching online or doing an experiment,¬† we ask our very knowledgeable tenant admins. They show or tell us when they know the answer. My colleague and myself then turn this knowledge into documentation ‚Äď be it a work instruction for the support team, a manual or a tip for end users, or sometimes a suggestion for extra communication or even a change to the system settings.

Most materials are stored on SharePoint: in our own team site or in the site we have created for end users.

Love all around!

KMTickets-LoveI love this structured approach. Our manger, who is very much into service delivery, formal processes and stuff like ITIL, appreciates the process we are going through.
Our tenant admins like to share their knowledge, knowing this will free them up to do tenant admin stuff.
My colleague and I have great pleasure in capturing knowledge and turning it into something tangible that helps us do our work faster.
The rest of the team is happy to have good work instructions.

SharePoint Holmes

It may be¬†a small process, but it works for us and we¬†enjoy¬†the benefits.¬† And you‚Ķyou see the SharePoint Holmes cases! ūüôā

Header image courtesy of Kimberley Farmer on Unsplash.com