Now 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 “Virtual Expert” 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
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 🙂 ) 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 – 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!
I 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.
It may be a small process, but it works for us and we enjoy the benefits. And you…you see the SharePoint Holmes cases! 🙂
Many thanks for enclosing the complete email chain with all your colleagues. Apart from a good permissions puzzle, there is nothing I like more than going through a 40-message email chain, and find the hidden clues between the “FYI” and “Can you help” forwards. I am really pleased that you have tried to get help from so many people before logging a call in our incident system, and it is heartwarming to see your colleagues’ empathy and desire to help.
From this wonderful meandering narrative I understand that “editing the Monthly Forecast in the Marketing site does not work”. That narrows down the possibilities, because only 938 of our approximately 15.000 sites have Marketing in the title, so it will save me going through 14.062 sites which are definitely not called Marketing.
Now of course I assume the Marketing site has “Marketing” in its title 🙂
From the company address book I see that you work in the Dairy division, which has 297 Marketing sites, so I can increase the odds even further.
Then it is only a matter of finding a Monthly Forecast document in one of these sites and checking which one does not work. That should not be too difficult: I did a Search and found 6274 hits on Monthly Forecast – it is matter of checking URL’s against the Marketing sites to see which are eligible.
I assume you wanted to edit a recent document so will start from the most recent.
In conclusion, I will check the cross of Dairy Marketing sites and Monthly Forecast docs from the last 2 months, and see which one of them “does not work”. Now of course there are many ways of “does not work”, but do not worry, I will check them all, from permissions to document library opening behavior, checkout, and workflows to corrupted documents.
I have planned about two weeks to go through this and I am quite looking forward to this challenging quest!
However, should you be in a sort of hurry, or have a deadline, please let me know. After all it is the 21st already and I can imagine you will need to update this document before the end of the month. Sending me the URL of the site, the name of the document and the document library/folder it lives in, as well as a description of what you were trying to do and what happened, possibly even with a screenshot of the error message, will reduce the quest to an hour or so. Of course this will rob me of the fun of exploring this all by myself, but I know that this is business-critical content so I can not be selfish.
Looking forward to your information,
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My SharePoint Holmes cases are not extremely technical or complicated. Most of the solutions to the issues that I encounter have been amply described in blogs and Microsoft support. So why do I sometimes feel at a loss when I have a new issue to solve?
I am still learning about SharePoint Online
Users generally do not know what the issue is and they do not use the most precise language. Nobody likes an issue that stops you doing your job and calls for submitting a support ticket, so I can imagine you want to spend as little time as possible on that ticket.
As a result, things may have a different cause and solution than I expect from the description. I may think that it is permissions-related (I often do), while it may be PC, browser or document library settings. Or vice versa.
For instance “I can not manage my site” (to me, this sounds like a permissions issue) has meant different things in different circumstances:
“I can not edit my site’s homepage” (because the page has been checked out to someone else – this is a document management issue, not a permission issue)
“I can not manage permissions” (because I am not the owner of the group I want to manage – a permissions issue)
“I can not manage this content in my site” (because this content has unique permissions and for one reason or another I am not in the site owner’s role here – a permissions issue)
“I do not know how to manage my site” is a training issue
With this SharePoint Holmes series I try to start with the issue as described by the user. As that is not always clear or correct, I sometimes start off on the wrong foot.
“Hyperlinks in a document on SharePoint are not working” the title of the incident read.
Well, “not working” or “is broken” are always great and accurate descriptions that any support person loves to see 🙂 . So I called the owner and asked him to demonstrate the situation.
The issue was with a manual (in Word) that lived in a document library. The document had some embedded documents as well as some hyperlinks to a company system.
The real problem was: “In this document, the embedded documents as well as some specific links can not be opened – they appear unclickable”
I opened the manual – I noticed that the document opened in Online format.
I clicked on a number of links – all links to pages worked OK but I could not open the embedded docs. There was no “hotspot” or “zone” where the cursor showed something clickable.
The special links (to a certain system) looked properly configured, but they gave an error message.
I could not find anything strange in versioning settings (no mandatory check out) or advanced settings. The opening behavior was set to “use the server default (open in the browser)” which is standard practice.
I determined to take a better look at the document, because only that document caused the issue. I did not want to make changes to the content, so I downloaded it.
I opened it in Word. The embedded documents could be opened – they had an active window. And I could open the special links too!
OK, this was easy. I changed the library’s opening behavior to “open in the Client application” and opened the document again. Yes, the embedded documents and the links were now clickable and opened without problems.
I can not explain what was happening with the links but they could be opened in the Client software.
The owner of the manual was happy, but I suggested to upload all embedded documents into the document library and making links to them from the “Master Document”, instead of embedding. If they are in a document library, you can manage and update them online when needed, and the link in the Master document will always lead to an up-to-date document. If you embed the document, it will live on its own and there will be no history of changes or anything.
When we launched our new intranet at the beginning of 2017, we also set up a Treasure Hunt to make people familiar with the new look and feel and setup. After all, moving to SharePoint Online has been quite a large step from our old SharePoint 2007 environment.
Many intranet folks have talked about doing treasure hunts, but as far as I know nobody has ever explained what they have done in detail, so let me share our recipe.
The ingredients and preparation
A News article to introduce the Treasure Hunt
A News article with clues and a direction to the next place of the hunt
More News articles or intranet pages with clues and directions – as many as you need
Emailaccount of our Founding Father
Autoreply message from Founding Father
A page where people are instructed how to enter their solution
A survey to collect the solutions
The solution: in our case a sentence that people had to create with the clue words
A thank-you page with information about the next steps
A few days after launch, a News article (1) appeared on the new intranet homepage. It explained the treasure hunt and the mechanics. You were to look for clues to the next place and for words that were written in a certain way, e.g. <word>. The words you would find during your search would form a sentence.
The first clue was to find the oldest News post on the intranet. As we had not migrated older News articles that was not so hard to find. The oldest post (2) turned out to be a post written by our Founding Father. It was full of hope for the future and predicted with remarkable accuracy some inventions we would do later 🙂
Of course there was another <word> in his post. At the end he asked to send him an email asking for guidance. As his contact details were on the page (as is the case for all News items) (3) it could be done with the click of a button.
When you sent him the email you received an autoreply (5). He sent you to the “modern watering hole Yammer”, where we were to look for a post from one of our senior management about a certain topic.
On Yammer, it was easy to look for that certain person (once you knew how to search) and the message (6) in question. Once again, it contained a <word> or two and a link to the next clue.
After sending you to a few other important new sites (with <words>) and asking you to follow those pages, the last link led to a page (7) which welcomed you to the Treasure hunt and asked you to
Set your News preferences
Make sure you had uploaded your profile picture
Click on a link
The link led to a survey (8) with two questions:
Create a sentence (9) with the <words> you have found. The sentence was one of the company values, so not too hard to compose once you had the words.
Describe why you should get the prize. (That was an easy one for me: I said this treasure hunt would not have been possible without me – as I created the pages & survey).
After clicking Finish you would go to a thank-you page (10) with more information about the publication of the winners.
All in all, by doing the treasure hunt people have been exposed to:
Setting their News preferences
Going to Yammer and finding a person’s conversations
A number of new sites with important company-wide information
Adding a picture to your profile
This was a very simple setup, but of course you can extend it as you like.
(Disclaimer: I have replicated this on my own tenant in a schematic way. Our real Treasure Hunt looked much better and the texts were created by communication professionals)
BTW, Sadly I did not win any prize as I was part of the organizing committee 😦
The <words> in my screenshots form a sentence as well…please add it to the comments if you have found it! (again, exclude <word>)
One of the myriad changes announced at MSIgnite was the mention that all files in OneDrive will soon open in edit mode directly, so you can work faster.
I hope Microsoft will wait a bit before rolling that out for SharePoint as, since moving to SharePoint Online, we have had a number of incidents where users have inadvertently overwritten or otherwise messed up a shared Excel Online file, resulting in incorrect data.
I do not quite get how that has happened, as Excel Online files always open in read mode (in Internet Explorer and Edge, in any case, and only very few people have another browser) and you have to specify whether you want to edit in Browser or in Client.
But it has happened more than once, also with people who are quite SharePoint-savvy, so I guess it is a thing. Perhaps it is the “autosave” option when you are in Edit mode, so your changes are saved, even if you do not intend to?
This is a major annoyance, as we can not restore a single file from Office365. We can only restore the full site collection…
So more than ever before, prevention is key! Here are a few ideas to prevent and remediate incorrectly overwritten (Excel) files – pick the option(s) that suit your situation best:
1. Adjust permissions
Make sure only those people who really need to edit the file can do that.
If people have to consciously check out a file, they will be made aware they are going to edit it, and they can stop if they do not want that. It does not change the auto-save, however.
How: Gear Wheel > Library Settings > Versioning settings > At the bottom, check “Require documents to be checked out before they can be edited” and click OK.
This can be a pain for users, as they will have to remember to check the file in when it is finished (and preferably before they go on holiday 🙂 ). On the other hand, a checked out file can not be edited, so it may also be a blessing!
Remember that a Site Owner or site collection admin can always override the checkout or check the file in.
If many people need to edit the file in a short timeframe before a deadline (e.g. end of month), option 7 may be a better solution.
3. Always open the document in the Excel client
SharePoint Online allows you to select the opening behaviour of a file. If you set this to “Client” the file will always open in Excel desktop version, read mode, which will need a conscious effort to edit the file. (Unless you have “Autosave” enabled in your Excel client!)
How: Gear Wheel > Library settings > Advanced Settings > In the 3rd paragraph from the top, select “open in the client application” and click OK.
In general, the Online version is limited; it is useful when you just need to make a few simple content edits. The Client version is more powerful.
4. Set versioning
This is remediation, not prevention. Having versioning set means you can restore an older correct version if the current one has been corrupted. By default, SharePoint Online document libraries have 500 major versions already enabled, which should be sufficient. 🙂
How to set versioning: Gear Wheel > Library Settings > Versioning settings > Document Version History > make sure this is set as below (or use a smaller number) > Click OK.
How to restore a version: Select the document > Click version history from popup or command bar > Hover over date and time of version to restore and click the black triangle that appears > click Restore from the popup. Please note this version will be copied to the top as a new version.
Options 2, 3 and 4 (and ideally, 1 as well) have to be set for the complete document library in which this document lives. If that is difficult or unpleasant, why not create a new document library especially for this document?
How: Gear wheel > Add an app > Document Library > Specify name > Create.
6. Use a password-protected workbook or worksheet
You can protect your Excel file with a password and only give the password to those people who need to change the data. You may need to rearrange your Excel for that, since you can view a password-protected sheet, but not a password protected workbook, in the browser.
This is never my preferred option, as I think we have SharePoint permissions for this scenario, but in some cases it can be useful.
How: Open the file > click File tab > Info > Protect Workbook > select “Encrypt with Password” (for the complete file – if you want to open in the client) or “Protect Current Sheet” > add password and options > OK.
7. Turn this Excel file into a SharePoint list
This can be a good option if your Excel file is relatively simple and does not contain complicated calculations or relationships between sheets etc.
You can use the SharePoint list to collect the data, export the data into Excel and do your advanced data processing in Excel. In case of many people having to process data before a deadline, e.g. end of month, this method is preferably over mandatory check-out of a file as everyone can work on their own lines without having to wait for others or messing up other people’s data.
How: The simplest way is to use the Import Spreadsheet app.
Then create good views so your audience can view or edit their data according to their needs with the least amount of hassle.
I have streamlined a lot of processes in this way, check out my Business Examples.
8. Instruct your users
Once you have taken your measure(s) of choice, let your users know how they should work with the file. For instance, how to disable Autosave in their Excel client, or how to properly check out and check in.
Add the info on your site’s homepage, create a document that you pin to the top of the library, record a short demo, etc.
Have you had this issue as well and if yes, how are you trying to prevent it?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
“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.
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
In 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.
The 70% would be the “curated content” I envisaged. I set off enthusiastically in the Microsoft support pages, as well as in many other blogs by people who write for Site owners, such as Let’s Collaborate, SharePointMaven, Sharegate and icansharepoint. Oh, and my own blog of course. My posts are often inspired by “my users” and my daily work.
Well, that was a bit of a disappointment.
As it turns out, the majority of the available information is not 100% applicable to us.
Our customized Site owner role made it hard to use anything that has to do with permissions. But also materials that tell you how to customize your site are not appropriate because the new role also has limited design options. So I could not use Gregory Zelfond’s Power User Training, for instance – it starts with creating a site and changing the look.
Our custom Promoted Links display needs some extra steps for certain page templates.
Many of the materials were not 100% current – with document libraries being managed with Tabs instead of the Modern look-and-feel, for instance. I wanted things to be 100% applicable when we launched – the correct look-and-feel and correct functionalities. The difference between the old and the new platform is too large otherwise.
Most of the materials have NOT been written in a “life cycle” format
What it is and when to use it
Create and configure “app”
Add to and configure web part on page
Add item to app
Edit or delete item in app
Modify something in app and/or web part (views)
Delete web part
Tips & tricks & troubleshooting
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”.
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
We are moving from an old on-premise SharePoint intranet to one on SharePoint/Office365.
I have been using SharePoint Online from 2011 so I have become quite used to the interface and its regular changes. But I was very curious what my end-user colleagues would think of the new SharePoint and I recently had the opportunity to train a number of them in the new environment. Our goal for this training was to get an idea of how people would react to the new platform, and which elements would be clear immediately and which would need more help and instruction.
All participants (except one) had experience with managing SharePoint sites. They also knew this was an experimental training so they were encouraged to be outspoken about their findings and suggestions. Each got their own test site in our test tenant, which is on first release.
These are the findings of that first classroom training:
1. The Office365 Homepage
When you log on to Office365 for the first time, you get a lot of pop-ups about Office365. While that is helpful for new users, for this purpose it was annoying because people were less interested in Office365 than in SharePoint.
Clicking around opens up a ton of new screens, which was not universally liked.
2. The SharePoint Homepage
This was a bit confusing, because people have never had that, and the page was mostly empty. The test sites did not show in everyone’s page, despite them having personal access. I do not know if that is a search indexing thing or that you must have visited the site before it is shown in your “recent” sites.
As soon as everyone was on their site’s homepage, I told them to “Follow” it to be able to revisit it quickly, and everyone got it.
3. Site Contents
I took them to Site Contents, and then I found that some of my trainees had the old Site Contents with tiles, and some of them had the new experience . That was a bit confusing, but it was a good illustration of the ongoing changes that everyone can expect.
4. Document Libraries
Document Libraries were already in the New Experience, and I was a bit worried if people would be able to overcome the gap in look-and-feel between our old SharePoint and the new one.
It was a pleasant surprise to notice that, with just limited instructions, people took to it straight away. Everyone saw the benefits of the Pin To Top functionality, and I saw two people nudge each other happily when they learned about the library and document information pane, that also tells you who has deleted a document. No more guessing or blaming SharePoint or IT!
Unfortunately the Lists were still on the “old experience” with the tabs and the ribbon. While I have always loved the ribbon in The Office Suite, I have never taken to it in SharePoint, and I am more than happy to see it go.
My trainees did not use Lists much (an opportunity for later!) but they got it quickly enough.
6. Deleting and Restoring
Deleting and Restoring content is a topic high on my agenda. We often get panicky calls from people who have “lost documents” and have never heard about the Recycle Bin. I added a few exercises with deleting and restoring documents and list items, told them what to do themselves first, and then how to get help. It all went smoothly once people knew how long things will be stored, what goes via the Recycle Bin and what does not, and what they can do themselves and when it is time to contact the site collection admin.
7. Quick Links/Navigation
The Quick Links (team site) and Navigation (Publishing site) caused some confusion since it is a mixture pf settings and edits, and moving the menu items around resulted in unwanted indentation. It is also different from the custom-built navigation many people have used, so this will definitely need some more instructions.
8. Editing a page
Editing a site’s homepage turned out to be quite easy for the trainees. Everyone in the audience had experience with managing Publishing sites. They sighed happily when I showed them they can now insert images from their PC in the Content zone without having to upload them to SharePoint first.
Everyone had already embedded a video before I even talked about it 🙂
Editing the (basic) team site homepage was even easier.
9. Image Library/Image Renditions
We have some recommended image sizes preconfigured in the Image Renditions and the trainees thought that was pretty useful. (It shows you how an image will look in that size). In our current environment, you only see it when you have added it to a page, and that can lead to surprises. 🙂
10. Promoted Links
Promoted Links have been designated as an important tool for nice looking links to other content in formal sites. Oops, this was a bit hard. Of course this is a new functionality so people did not know it beforehand. But I also think that the default configuration can be improved. That will be another blog.
All in all, my trainees did quite well. But then they were experienced and motivated. I think they benefited from my little bit of hand-holding and assuring them that most was still there, just in another place or with another name.
The only person who was a bit lost was the person with no earlier SharePoint experience.