Archive for April, 2016

Nine out of the best Ten Intranets Worldwide in 2016 run on SharePoint according to the trusted Nielsen Norman Group in their latest Best Intranets report. This proves that SharePoint is still one of the most popular Intranet and Document collaboration platforms in the world. With the latest version of SharePoint 2016 coming out, and some companies moving fully to the cloud in SharePoint Online, a lot of intranets are being rebuilt to modernize their Intranet platform. Another interesting statistic from the Nielsen Norman Group is that in 2016, this year’s winning team took an average of 1.3 years to create their sites. The time it takes to create a SharePoint Intranet together with the fact that Office 365 is getting updated every two weeks, and if you customize too much you need to make sure that updates do not break your custom development, made way for a lot of “Out of the Box” SharePoint Online Intranets.

In this blog post we will review ROOT, a pre-built, feature-rich SharePoint intranet portal on Office 365. Before starting the review, here are a few words about ROOT from the MessageOps site:

Review of ROOT by MessageOps: A Feature-rich SharePoint Online Intranet PortalThe ROOT SharePoint intranet portal centralizes access to important company information and apps right in Office 365. Ready-built, packed with features, and easily configurable, your company will engage employees, facilitate communication, foster collaboration, streamline processes, and organize your knowledge-base for quick, lasting productivity gains. Easily deployed and administered, ROOT intranet eliminates the complexity, cost and risk of a custom-built solution to bring immediate business value to your organization.

The ROOT Office 365 SharePoint Intranet lets your team communicate and collaborate no matter where they are or what devices they work on thanks to its completely device responsive, modern widget design. ROOT’s interdepartmental workflow designs bring immediate benefits to your organization by streamlining and automating workflow efficiency. ROOT’s enhanced people finder makes it easy for your team to find the people and skill sets they need to get answers quickly.

ROOT by MessageOps Review

For this review, the MessageOps team gave me access to one of their demo environments with some PreConfigured data. Else it would have been a very boring Intranet with only me insideJ. As you will see right away, ROOT is a widget based Intranet, meaning that all the data is presented as Widgets on the screen.

Review of ROOT by MessageOps

Let’s take a look at some of the available widgets and see what they do. The first widget below called “Users” is linked to the SharePoint Social and allows you to easily go to your coworkers profiles. You can also follow people and see who followed you. The next widget called “Events” which can be linked to a SharePoint Calendar in a subsite and show the upcoming events. Lastly, the third widget is a cool Birthday or Work Anniversary widget in which Birthdays / Work Anniversary automatically scroll.

Review of ROOT by MessageOps

The next set of widgets is even more interesting. The first one on the left is a Widget called “Recognition” which allows you to Praise persons for the help they gave you. The middle widget called “Departmental Requests” is really cool system that allows you to Streamlined Processes and have a support system directly in your Intranet. Based on the Department you select, you have different categories, and the SharePoint Administrator can set who gets the requests for each Category. The Issues are then stored and you can see the status in the “Issue Status” Tab. This is a really cool way to automate processes, and avoid tons of emails. It also helps new employees that don’t know who to email to get help. Lastly , the last widget allows you to set Objectives and Goals for your company, as well as visually show if they look good, ok or bad.

Review of ROOT by MessageOps

This next group of widgets is all about Social! We have widgets that allow us so showcase the company Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn feeds on our Intranet, so our employees can follow the company as well as see what Marketing is up to on Social!

Review of ROOT by MessageOps

The next set of widgets are an Employee Suggestion Box, with the data coming from a SharePoint List on ideas to improve the processes in the company! We also have a Special offers widget, in which you can announce things like special offers for your clients or customers. Lastly, a Tip of the Day widget!

Review of ROOT by MessageOps

We also have a widget for the Quote of the day, which can be automatically updated, as well as the ability to include a Widget with information from an external RSS Feed! Last but not least, we can include a Bing Map Widget on which we can show different locations, for example Office Locations!

Review of ROOT by MessageOps

We have made the tour of most of the widgets in ROOT, however that’s not all it includes. ROOT also includes a feature I loved for People Search. It includes a modern looking Search Template allowing you to quickly browse employees by using the letters provided as filters, or to search for a Department or Skill. It’s using SharePoint’s powerful search engine in the back, but with an a lot better looking user interface!

Review of ROOT by MessageOps

Conclusion

In this review we have played with ROOT, an Out of the Box Intranet for SharePoint Online that allows you to create a modern looking widget based Intranet, as well as offer Process Automation Features that allow you to streamline and make employee requests a lot easier. Furthermore the People Search page allows you to easily find employees in the organizations as well as find who can help you on a certain product or skill.

I found most of the widgets answer to real business needs in the enterprise can be very useful for a company looking to deploy an Intranet without waiting a year for the project to be done. ROOT is perfect for companies that are only using SharePoint Online and using the SharePoint Social as their social engine. Since ROOT is really for SharePoint Online, there is no On-Premises version available if a company wants to do an On-Premises / Hybrid deployment with the same look on both systems.

If you’re looking for an Out of the box SharePoint Online Intranet that will offer features right away, make sure to check out ROOT by MessageOps by clicking on the logo below!

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With over 160 Million persons using SharePoint for their job around the world, SharePoint is one of the most used Collaboration platforms out there. As workers increasingly work from home, a coffee shop, a public library or on the train, a lot of today’s work isn’t done on the corporate laptop anymore, but more on a mobile device such as a phone and tablet.  Core to this demand is employer’s expectation for anytime access to information, people, applications and communications to support increased demand for productivity and customer responsiveness.

However, since Microsoft does not offer neither a native application for Android or iOS or responsive sites Out of the Box, mobile users do not have the experience they are looking for when using SharePoint from Android or iOS tablets. That is where third-party vendors come in. In this Blog Post, we will look SharePlus, a Mobile Application created by Infragistics that works on any iOS or Android device. Before starting the review, here are a few words about the application from the Infragistics website:

SharePlus is a native mobile application that provides online and offline, read/write access to SharePoint content like libraries, lists, and social features. SharePlus offline capabilities allows you to continue working with your SharePoint content even while offline. Changes introduced while offline are synchronized automatically with the server when the devices goes back online

  • StSharePlus by Infragisticsay connected– Securely collaborate anywhere in the world.
  • Customize your workspace – Adapt SharePlus to match the way you work.
  • Include the power of data – Data analytics in unison with content for ultimate productivity.
  • Enable Enterprise security – Easily set policies and configure SharePlus for your organization.

SharePlus by Infragistics Review

In this review I used the SharePlus by Infragistics app on iOS on my iPad mini, and used an account they gave me so I can test with some existing content. When you open the Infragistics App, you will automatically be in one of your customized workspaces (More on that later). You have an easy access to your Social, Sites as well as documents. Let’s look at the features into more details.

SharePlus by Infragistics

When we go into the Sites section as seen below, we can see all the Site Collections we have added into “Portals”, and any Sites or Subsites we are following under the “Following” section. If you own the Enterprise version of SharePlus, the SharePoint Administrator can push some pre-selected sites in the Application, but if you use the standard version, you will simply have to add the Site Collections one by one.

SharePlus by Infragistics

When you go into a Site, you are able to view all the Site Content, including Subsites, Libraries as well as Lists.

SharePlus by Infragistics

Something that I really liked is that SharePlus supports all types of SharePoint Lists and Libraries, and shows their native views. This is really cool for certain types of list / libraries such as the Calendar and the Image Libraries with thumbnails as seen below!

SharePlus by Infragistics

Whenever you go on a list or Library, you can view all the properties for an item, as well as switch between the available views in that library as seen below.

SharePlus by Infragistics

SharePlus also lets users work offline! You can go on a document library for example and enable it for Offline Support. You can decide if you want to sync over your mobile data connection, or Wi-Fi only, as well as the max document size. What I also really liked is that you can select to only sync a certain view, in order to not fill your mobile device with documents you won’t need.

SharePlus by Infragistics

Those documents are then synchronized, and then you can switch your iPad to Offline mode, do your job, and they will sync back to SharePoint once you go back online!

SharePlus by Infragistics

Documents can be edited with both the local Word Application, if you have it on your mobile device, or with the Word Web App, if you are online of course.

SharePlus by Infragistics

The SharePlus App also comes in with a built-in PDF viewer that also allows you to add text and/or stamps on PDF documents such as “Approved”

SharePlus by Infragistics

I talked a bit about the Custom Workspaces earlier, so let’s get in more details. SharePlus allows you to create two sorts of workspaces, standard mobile workspaces that require no development experience or work to be created and deployed as well as custom mobile workspaces. Custom Mobile Workspaces can be created with an open API provided by Infragistics that is based on HTML and JavaScript so it should be quite easy for existing SharePoint Developers to use this API. By creating a Custom Mobile Workspace, companies can have an app that answers to their specific business needs with the look they want, while getting all the other features of the SharePlus app. This is really exciting because instead of only bringing your documents and lists to your mobile device, you can bring your full Intranet, to your mobile device offline! Including Social! Here are some screenshots of some pre-built Custom Workspaces in the demo environment I did the review in:

SharePlus by Infragistics

SharePlus by Infragistics

You can also apply a custom “view” to every type of site. For example, for a Construction company we had this type of “home” view:

SharePlus by Infragistics

While, every project had the same layout with the Project’s data!

SharePlus by Infragistics

It’s the first mobile app that I saw that can do something this cool. Furthermore, the SharePlus App also includes a module called ReportPlus. The ReportPlus module allows you to create cool looking dashboards, directly from the iPad app by linking to SharePoint sources or even google Analytics, Salesforce SQL Server and more. Here are some examples:

SharePlus by Infragistics

SharePlus by Infragistics

By having reports presented in the app, in context, users can see data in a more natural way and make informed decisions.

The SharePlus app also makes sure the data is secure. All the data is encrypted on the device, and you can set a Passcode to open the app as well as centrally configure Secure Data Wipe of the Application data if a passcode has been failed X number of times. SharePlus also integrates with popular Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions such as AirWatch, Intune and etc. Furthermore, you can enable Feature Trimming, which allows administrators to adjust SharePlus features at a global level.

SharePlus by Infragistics

Conclusion

In this blog post we did an overview of the SharePlus by Infragistics iOS app. I must say that I really liked this app, and from the iPad there is nothing that I couldn’t do. What I liked the most is being able to have all the types of SharePoint lists and libraries, including their native views such as the thumbnails for the Image Library. Also, being able to synchronize documents that are only in a specific view can be a big storage saver, especially for the 16GB iPads. But I think the biggest, or the most “unique” feature of SharePlus is being able to create custom workspaces to increase productivity for employees that travel a lot on their iPads.

If you’re looking to increase your employee productivity and enable them to work on mobile devices, you definitely need to check out the SharePlus by Infragistics app by clicking the logo below:

SharePlus by Infragistics

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Join me on May 5th 2016 at 12 PM Eastern Time for a webinar I am presenting together with VisualSP on the features that you get from implementing SharePoint Hybrid!

SharePoint Hybrid

Every time you see a blog post about SharePoint 2016, you see the word hybrid. But what exactly is a hybrid infrastructure and what features does the business user get? In this webinar we will look at SharePoint Hybrid from a business user point of view to understand what features we get out of it. We will look at Hybrid Team Sites, Hybrid Search, Hybrid Extranet sites and more!

Make sure to register at the following link: http://spvlad.com/hybridWebinar

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Is Your SharePoint Healthy?

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Community Blast Provided and Sponsored by ScienceSoft. This information was provided by vendor for community education on product. No official review was performed by Vlad Catrinescu.

Is Your SharePoint Healthy

There is no better way to find out if your SharePoint portal is healthy than to analyze its users’ buy-in. If the users are satisfied, it means the portal successfully fulfills its goals. Still, even a portal developed according to all the requirements fails to gain users’ adoption. This is an alerting sign, as users’ discontent can result in rejecting the system.

In order to avoid such a regrettable final, the reaction should be very quick. And SharePoint performance is a number-one aspect to question.

Poor SharePoint Performance

When actively used, a SharePoint environment grows fast and the volume of data increases constantly. Though a positive trend, it can lead to unexpected SharePoint performance problems (e.g. slowly loading pages, media files and documents that don’t open, search that gives irrelevant results). A bad performance is both what users notice very quickly and what decreases their productivity right away.

Performance problems are usually caused by deployment mistakes or inappropriate system customization. Among the most frequent problems that impact negatively on SharePoint performance are large amounts of unstructured data, storage bottlenecks, lack of the server memory, etc.

So it’s either in-house system administrators or outsourced consultants who have to pinpoint the problems and troubleshoot them promptly in order to prevent the subsequent users’ reluctance.

SharePoint is not Used to Its Full Potential

If performance issues are fixed but the portal still doesn’t operate to its full capacity, it’s time to consider the system’s potential problem.

Users can choose a partial functionality if they don’t need all of the system’s capabilities. It’s worse if the system’s features are left aside while they are vital. A SharePoint portal that doesn’t comply with a company’s needs can’t complete its objectives and can hardly gain users’ sympathy.

To help your portal show its potential, the existing SharePoint functionality has to be analyzed and improved, then the missing functionality should be developed or customized according to the company’s business processes. The integration issue is to be considered as well (e.g. integration of SharePoint and CRM) in order to improve the systems’ and users’ interaction.

Unsecure SharePoint Environment

Security problems can be unseen by end users but cause system administrators’ headache. Security troubles can emerge because of the improper configuration of anonymous/unauthorized access rights and permissions, which leads to the system’s vulnerability (data leaks, data tampering or even system contamination).

In order to prevent unauthorized actions from users, access rights should be granted strictly according to internal security policies and employees’ roles. SharePoint security is also to be discussed at personal trainings, in order to explain users how to work correctly with data. This will help to guard every part of the portal, exclude security breaches and enhance the general system’s protection.

Complex Approach to SharePoint Treatment

When it comes to treating a SharePoint portal to overcome performance problems or improve its functionality, the portal’s owners usually prefer approach the issue locally. It means that they identify only a particular problem and try to eliminate it without analyzing the details.

However, the local approach rarely helps to improve the situation as several problems often go together (e.g. you fix a performance trouble but don’t notice a security breach, which results in extra time and investments in the future). Moreover, such an approach leads to extra investment into the system’s support: the more requests you have, the more support services you need.

Relying on our 6+ year expertise in SharePoint consulting, we can say that a complex approach is always more effective to prevent serious SharePoint troubles. To make a wraparound analysis of the SharePoint environment, our SharePoint developers recommend to apply a SharePoint health check methodology that allows to identify all the vulnerabilities that affect SharePoint performance, as well as to pinpoint SharePoint features that need to be developed for the system’s better productivity.

Conclusion

SharePoint health ensures not only the correct operation of the system, but also users’ buy-in. SharePoint problems instantly affect users’ behavior, so an immediate help should be provided to your portal in order to minimize the risk of rejection. A complete treatment cycle for your SharePoint portal is the best option, as it allows preventing multiple scattered actions, and thus saves the company’s time and budget as well as keeps employees satisfied.

By Sergei Golubenko, Team Lead and Solution Architect with 13+ years in software development, including 7+ years of working with Microsoft SharePoint.

Community Blast Provided and Sponsored by ScienceSoft. This information was provided by vendor for community education on product. No official review was performed by Vlad Catrinescu.

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