Document your deviations

Documentation-Dude

When we were designing the new SharePoint intranet, some things needed (?) to be customized. And you know I am a big fan of custom functionality. (NOT)

  • Formal Publishing sites needed to resemble our internet site (I have always wondered why people think that is a good idea)
  • Collaboration Team sites home pages showed the security classification of the content, the audience and the site owner. (Useful! If applied correctly…)
  • We added another permissions level to avoid site owners creating subsites.
  • The document content types had 20 fields of hidden metadata in them, as per our term store. This was to improve the search experience – after all, in a 40.000 employee company with many locations, a few metadata would be most helpful to find the document from the correct business, function or location.

Dude, where’s my documentation?

So, when the intranet was ready to launch, and support was handed over to the regular support team, the Support team manager asked the developers for all the documentation.
It was not there and they had not planned for it. Against the advice of Veronique Palmer, he accepted this as a fact and support was handed over to the support team. After all, one of the developers was in-house so we could always turn to him.

Or so we thought, as he left the organization shortly after launch of the intranet…

Support

Support mostly went OK as the majority of issues had to do with permissions.
But when the content types started to show issues we had no clue where to go for help, so we ended up installing the regular content types. Nobody wanted to complete 20 metadata fields for each document!
And when the organization changed structure, the metadata changed as well and nobody knew where to make the changes in the content types.

What to document?

So, while I agree with everyone that too much documentation is a waste of time and effort, it DOES make sense to document:

  • Any custom functionality. What is the customization supposed to do? What are the specific settings? Is this set by tenant, site collection, or site? Where are the settings to install and implement it? What can go wrong? What NOT to do (for the admins and the users)? Where to go when support people or architects need to look, change or troubleshoot? Etc.
  • Anything that is on the roadmap to be improved after the MVP-state. What does it do now? Into which direction will improvements most likely go? Where and how to make those changes? What to look out for? What will break and will need to be fixed when you make those improvements?
  • Anything that can be expected to need adjustments with organizational change. And trust me, organizational change will happen! The company’s name, the company’s logo, the businesses, there may even be splits, mergers or acquisitions on the horizon. So, make clear where your intranet logo and images live, what effect changing terms in the term store will do to your customizations, and where you need to make the necessary changes to make sure the organizational changes are reflected correctly.

This post was created after reading Gregory Zelfond’s recent post about implementing SharePoint in large organizations, which made me chuckle with recognition ūüôā
Then Veronique Palmer commented with things you should document, so I thought I would give a real-life example.

Any other experiences or suggestions for documentation?

Developer image courtesy of lemonade at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Advertisements

Forms or Survey – responses and results

Survey-responsesconclusionIn two earlier blogs I compared the Question and Answer types and the General survey settings for 5 different survey tools:

  • Microsoft Forms
  • SharePoint survey
  • SharePoint custom list
  • SurveyMonkey free version
  • Google Forms

Now it is time to gather the responses and see how they are displayed and what you can do with them. It is quite a long read but there are many screenshots as well!

What to look out for?

  • How you can distribute the link to the survey
  • What the survey looks like when you respond
  • How the results are being displayed by default and if you can export them
  • What else you can do with the data

Distribution

All tools allow creating a link or sending an email with the link.

Forms has the additional option to add the form directly on a SharePoint page, which looks very inviting, especially if the survey contains only a few questions. Forms can also generate a QR code to take you to the survey.

Forms-distribution
Sharing options in Forms at the bottom, from left to right: Link, QR code, Embed, Email

The SharePoint survey and Custom List can be added as a web part on a SharePoint page, but they are not exactly inviting users to enter.

SurveyMonkey has many different ways to get responses.

Surveymonkey distribution
Next to link and email, SurveyMonkey offers more options to get responses.

Google Forms allows you to add the survey questions directly into an email, which is very convenient.

Google-distribute
In Google Forms, you can add the complete survey to the email body. That is very easy for the audience!

User Experience

Of course the user experience is very important. If your survey has a tiny typeface, or takes forever to load, people are not likely to complete it.

You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Remember: you do not have to add any real data.

Forms

SurveyMonkey¬† (will close after 100 responses ‚Äď limitation of the free version)

Google Forms

I am sharing some screenshots of remarkable things.

The Net Promotor Score looks special:

Forms-NPS
The Net Promotor Score column. The image I added made the look-and-feel of the survey different, see David Lozzi’s blog: https://davidlozzi.com/2018/11/13/squeezing-a-little-more-formatting-out-of-microsoft-forms/

This is the SharePoint Survey, in case you had forgotten what it looks like ūüôā

Forms-Surveyinput
The good old SharePoint survey.

And this is how you enter data into a SharePoint custom list: in the information pane on the right-hand side of the page, which feels a bit strange.

SurveyList-input
This is the regular input screen in any list for metadata etc.

Next to a rather large font size, SurveyMonkey has the option to create columns for answers, which I really like as they make good use of space:

SurveyMonkey-columns
Those columns are very good when you have many options to choose from.

SurveyMonkey-slider and reorder
I also like SurveyMonkey’s slider and the reordering options.

Google Forms has nothing special, but it looks solid and modern.

Responses

Thank you everyone who has responded to one of the surveys! This allows me to show some of the results graphs. This is what the various response pages look like:

Microsoft Forms:

Forms-response1
Survey information on top, as well as an option to export everything to Excel. “More details” opens up all responses for a particular question.

Forms-response2
Colourful graphical summary of the responses.

Forms-reponse3
The last part of the survey. Aha, the Net Promotor Score IS quite a special thing!

SharePoint Survey. I am sharing only part of the graphical summary as I guess you have seen it before and it is not very exciting. Now I remember how annoying that “multiple responses” question is – you need to re-score everything manually! ūüė¶

SharePointSurveyResults
Graphical summary of the SharePoint survey. Limited options and that “multiple responses” summary is just not useful.

The SharePoint custom list has no graphical summary. You just see the responses as line items in a list.

SurveyMonkey has a very long page of results. All responses are shown with a scroll bar (see the first screenshot) or with a graphical summary first and then the individual responses below. For each chart, you can change the chart type.
I will only show a few screens.

surveymonkeyresults1
You can see how many people answered and skipped the question. Most recent responses are shown on top; a scroll bar shows all responses.

Surveymonkeyresults3
A question where a pie chart would have been more appropriate in my opinion. But…clicking the “customize” button top right will open a pane to change the chart type.

SurveyMonkeyresults2
The multiple-answer question. Looks good.

Surveymonkeyresults4
This is the question which allows you to move answers around.

Google Forms results look like this:

Googleformsresults1
Top of the results page. The green button top right allows an export to spreadsheet.

Googleformsresults2

Googleformsresults3
Useful graph of the multiple-choice-question.

Googleformsresults4

Googleformsresults5
Bottom of the results. The “Net Promotor Score” is displayed as any other result.

 Results

I have¬†captured the results in¬†the¬†picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel.¬† Look at the “Responses and Results” tab. Please use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.

Legend:

  • Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
  • Orange: Available with a workaround
  • Red/No: Not available

Formsorsurvey-ResultSettingswithheader
Comparison of the response and results options for the various tools.

Conclusion

Again, the classic SharePoint options are in a league of their own.

Microsoft Forms appears to have more in common with SurveyMonkey Free and Google Forms than with SharePoint. All three surveys are pleasant to complete and the graphical display of results is much better than with the SharePoint survey.

Overall conclusion

Forms is really the new way to conduct surveys in your organization and possibly with externals. It looks pleasant both on a SharePoint page and when completing it, it has a ton of good options, decent colourful graphs and it works with Flow.
Some people will really like that Net Promoter Score ūüôā
I am sure that Forms will continue to develop, so I will try to keep this comparison up-to-date.

The SharePoint survey feels a tad outdated, although you can still conduct good surveys with it. The graphical summary is very inferior to what Forms has to offer. My suggestion would be to use this only when you need one of the more advanced Q & A options, such as selecting a name from someone in your organization. The whole permissions management is also more complicated than with Forms, as described in my “SharePoint Survey lifecycle” blog.

The SharePoint custom list may not be the option that comes to mind first when you talk about a survey, but especially the options to process the data after collection can be the reason to use it. You can group and filter the entries just like any View and edit entries (e.g. mark an item as “Completed” or add a certain category). With the additional¬† column types and the connection with Flow this can be the tool of choice¬†when collecting data from the organization is the starting point for a project or process.
There are no graphics by default, but PowerBI may be used if needed.
Many thanks to my former colleague Scott Lewis who pointed out the benefits of custom lists when combined with Forms and Flow.

SurveyMonkey is of course THE specialized tool for surveys. It has extensive help for your survey questions and many options. It is the only tool that can show columns of responses, which is nice to keep your survey compact. It allows you to change the chart type of the results if desired. However, the free version has a few annoying limitations and I personally find the “management” interface rather cluttered.
For large-scale complicated surveys where you need to analyze responses in-depth the paid version beats Microsoft Forms.

Google Forms is a solid modern tool. Apart from the “display form straight in an email” it does not have any remarkable features.

Hope this comparison is useful to you. Have I missed any that are important for you? Please let me know – also if it has helped to move your colleagues away from SurveyMonkey (free) or GoogleForms! ūüôā

Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay

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

Forms or Survey – what are the settings?

Survey-SettingsIn my most recent blog I discussed the options for Questions and Answers in the various survey tools.

This time, I would like to take a look at the settings – what can you decide about your survey as a whole?

Which settings can you apply to your survey?

  • Permissions to create and manage a survey – can anyone do it or do you need special permissions? Can you hand a survey over to someone else?
  • Look and feel – can you use colours and add branding to the survey?
  • Who can respond and details about the responses.
  • How to start and stop collecting responses.
  • Custom thank-you message.
  • Whether you can easily copy your survey.

Where can you find the settings?

The settings in Forms can be found in the top right. The palette is for the theme, the … will lead you to the other settings.

Forms-wheresettings
The settings in Forms which will allow you to determine how your survey looks and works.

For the SharePoint survey/list you have some options in the Advanced Settings:

Forms-SPSurveyAdvanced
This is how to determine view-and-edit permissions for SharePoint Survey and List.

Forms-SPSurvey-GeneralSettings
This option is only available in the SharePoint Survey Settings under¬† “List name, description and navigation”.

For SurveyMonkey, you can find most of the settings in the “Design Survey” phase, with different options in the buttons on the left:

Forms-surveyMonkeywhere
In SurveyMonkey, the Design Survey link shows you the options available.

For Google Forms you look at the top right, where the palette will allow you to determine the look-and-feel and the gear wheel will show other settings to select:

Forms-gogglewhere
Where to find the settings in Google Forms.

Results

I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. I have added this info as a separate tab in the same document as in my earlier post. You can use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.

Legend:

  • Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
  • Orange: Available with a workaround
  • Red/No: Not available

Formsorsurvey-ResultSettingswithheader
The comparison for the various settings available.

Conclusion

Again, all surveys have different options but the differences are relatively small between Microsoft Forms, Google Forms and SurveyMonkey.
SurveyMonkey has some interesting options, such as a limit on the number of responses, suggestions for questions, and the SurveyMonkey Genius which gives an estimated time to complete and suggestions for the setup of the survey. (Under “Preview and Score”)
The SharePoint options appear to be a different animal altogether. They have their uses though, as mentioned in my earlier post.

Special Thanks!

During the writing of this post some more info about Forms was made available:

Thanks to David Lozzi for blogging about changing the colour scheme of a Form, which I have done by accident without realizing its effect. ūüôā
Thanks to Noah Sparks for sharing the info about a recently introduced option:  transferring ownership of a Form. 

Experience the surveys yourself! (and help me)

You can still check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Please do not use real data, as I will use the inputs only for demonstrating how results will be displayed:

Forms

SurveyMonkey  (will close after 100 responses Рlimitation of the free version)

Google Forms

In my next post I will focus on collecting the responses and how results are being displayed.

Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay.

Forms or Survey – that’s the question

feedbackA few years ago I wrote a post “What SharePoint can learn from SurveyMonkey” and it is now time to revisit.

With the introduction of Forms in Office365 I was curious how the various survey tools compare. As a SharePoint List can also be used to collect information, I have added that as well. It has some special characteristics that could make it a good choice in some scenarios.
I have some personal experience with Google Forms, and Forms is rumoured to be based on that, so I have added that to the mix as well.

So these are the 5 options compared:

  • Office365¬†Forms
  • SharePoint Survey
  • SharePoint List
  • SurveyMonkey (free version)
  • Google Forms

What did I do?

I have created a 10-question survey based on the 8 basic Q&A options of Forms.
Then I recreated the same survey in the other tools. In cases where there was not a straightforward solution, I tried to find a workaround.
I have not applied branching logic, as I already have a lot of information to share.

In a next post I will look at the general settings per survey. Can you change the colour scheme, can you add a logo, how do you start or stop a survey, etc.

Finally, and this will also be another post, I will compare the ways you can see and manage results. How are results displayed, can you export them to a spreadsheet, is there any way you can filter results or have different options to display them?

Questions and Answers

Forms has 8 Q and A types, but some of them can be used in different ways – e.g. a Choice question can be a one choice only (radio button) or a multiple choice (check boxes), and the Text can be a short text, a long text, and a number.

The Net Promoter Score has recently been added but I personally think it is superfluous (it can be replaced with a¬†Rating scale) and also annoying to receive. However, there is something special about it which I will share later. ūüėČ

Experience them yourself! (and help me)

Please check out and complete the surveys below, to have an idea of their look-and-feel. Please do not use real data, as I will use the inputs only for demonstrating how results will be displayed:

Forms

SurveyMonkey  (will close after 100 responses Рlimitation of the free version)

Google Forms

Results

I have captured the results in the picture below. You can also view/download this as Excel. You can use and edit it, but I would appreciate if you would mention my name if you share it outside of your organization.

Legend:

  • Green/Yes: Available by default, although it may have different names
  • Orange: Available with a workaround
  • Red/No: Not available

SurveyComparison-QandA
The results of the comparison of Question and Answers.

Conclusion

No two Survey tools are alike. Duh!

In general, the SharePoint options appear to be most different and the most limited, but they can be useful, especially when used within an organization, for which they have been developed:

  • They have more Q and A types (e.g. currency, People and Groups lookup, a lookup from an existing list, Managed Metadata) which may be needed now and then. The List also has Calculations and Site Columns to select from.
  • They can detect unique values, which is essential in case you are collecting unique numbers, such as machine, procedure or invoice numbers.

SurveyMonkey has a few annoying limitations in the free version, such as max. 10 questions, the lack of a “number” option or the absence of a description field for each question.¬†But it¬†also has some very nice things:

  • Add answer options in bulk to Choice questions – nice when you have many answer options
  • Display a large number of answer options in columns rather than a long list
  • Ask¬†to “tick at least x options”¬†in a multiple-choice question

There are some differences between Forms, SurveyMonkey and Google Forms. But in general, you can create decent survey questions with all of them.

What are your thoughts? Or do you prefer to wait until I have completed the comparison?

Image courtesy of Geralt on Pixabay.

SharePoint Holmes and the Gone Gallery

800px-Northwestern_High_School_Student_Art_GalleryWhile 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.

(One of the¬†joys of being a practitioner is that you can watch an intranet grow old…and not always gracefully ūüôā )

So here’s another case of Classic SharePoint Investigation.

The case

“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:

SH-GG-WebParts
Although the user had selected the Web Part Gallery, she only saw the App Parts.

 

SH-GG-AppParts
This is what she saw when she selected the App Parts – exactly the same!

 

The investigation

  1. The site permissions were OK – she indeed had the correct permissions to manage the site.
  2. I checked the permissions for the Pages library and Pages – all were inheriting from the parent so that was not the issue.
  3. 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.

    SH-GG-CorrectWP
    Same page, different user: I could see the web parts
  4. I asked the owner to which business she belonged. That was Business B. This gave me the clue that I needed.
  5. I checked the site collection – this was a site collection for Business A.
  6. So I checked her permissions on the site collection level Рnone, as only employees of Business A had access.
  7. To confirm, I checked her permissions for the Web Part Gallery.  Bingo!

The solution

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.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Pride on Wikimedia.

The new SharePoint app for iOS

spapp (2)I am not the most frequent user of the SharePoint app for iOS. Nonetheless, I am currently test-driving the new SharePoint app.
I saw the request for testers for the new app mentioned on Twitter a few weeks ago, emailed my interest, and last week I was invited to download it.

Getting started

I downloaded the app via Test Flight and replaced my current app with the new one, which was pretty seamless without another sign-in.
If you are curious…the SharePoint app in the regular App store is still the current one.

The current app has 5 navigation items; the new one has 3.
The items “Links”, “Sites”¬†and “Persons” have been incorporated into a new item called “Find” which is an overview of your content and activity.

So, let’s discuss those 3 new items, shall we? Unfortunately everything is in Dutch and I have not found a way to change the language in the app, but I will explain.

 

Find

This is the landing page and it is an overview of content, sites, persons etc.

IMG_0119
New app: An overview of content on the page and 3 navigation items at the bottom.

The chapters are:

  • Search – for the search box
  • Quick access – these are recently visited items
  • Frequently visited sites – clicking on “More sites” shows you all sites in Card setup – unlike the current app which shows only an icon
  • Persons that you work with – which makes it painfully clear I am all alone in my tenant ūüôā
  • Recent documents – documents I have recently created or modified
  • Links (not shown here, you need to scroll down) – which¬†merely links to my no-longer-supported external website and my main team site. I do not see much added value in this chapter in my tenant, but I think this should be comparable to the Featured Links on the SharePoint landing page in the browser.

The new Sites page (with tabs on top: Frequent sites, Followed sites, Suggested sites) displays cards, just like the browser:

20180728_111726662_iOS.png
Sites are shown as cards, just like in the browser.

The old Sites page (with tabs Frequent sites and Followed sites) looks rather dull in comparison:

IMG_0370
The current app displays sites just with the icon. Look at the bottom for the old navigation menu with 5 items.

 

News

IMG_0117
News landing page

The News overview comes from the Modern pages and is taken from the SharePoint landing page.

App-NewsinBrowser
This is News as I see it on the SharePoint page in the browser.

If you open a News item in the app, you will see this:

IMG_0118
News item. You can like, comment, share and bookmark

This is the same as the News page in the current app.

I expected to be able to swipe or scroll through all News items, but you can only view the next item when you click the back arrow and go back to the News landing page.

Me

The third navigation item is Me

IMG_0121.PNG

This has two tabs:

  • Recent – content I have recently viewed, created or modified)
  • Saved –¬†everything I have bookmarked.

From this page I can go to My Profile, which shows some more recent files and emails

InkedIMG_0123_LI

There is also a Gear Wheel at the Me-page which leads to personal and app settings.

IMG_0124

Sites

Of course I am very interested to know what is behind the Site cards. So I opened the Summary Links site:

20180728_142846132_iOS

This is the same as the current app. By default you see latest news and activity.
Clicking Home in the menu leads you to the Homepage as you see it in the browser, so the Homepage is not the first page you see when opening a site in the app. Weird…unless Microsoft thinks that the site Homepage is losing relevance – which would save site owners a lot of hassle in “designing a homepage”. (My Homepages are still Classic btw – does it make a difference if you¬†use¬†this with¬†Modern Sites?)

Viewing documents in sites is easy, but you will need the OneDrive app.
If you want to edit a document, you will also need the Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps.

What do I think?

I like the fact that the app has become slightly more compact. That “Find” page is quite useful as it gives you a quick overview of relevant content. It is a mix of the Office365 landing page (which I would appreciate as my browser homepage¬†any day) and the Delve “Me” page.

I would have liked to scroll or swipe through all News, to catch up with everything in one go. The home sofa is an excellent place to do that; I know from peers that making company news available “at home” has resulted in peak views in the evening as people¬† prefer, or have more time,¬†to read news at home.
I can imagine that the News tab alone is enough reason why people would want to use the SharePoint app.

For the rest, I can imagine this is a useful app but I am a bit surprised that this needs to be tested. It does not differ that much from the current one. Are all Microsoft apps being tested this way? Or have I missed something in the functionality?