Archive for February, 2017

Product overview by Vlad Catrinescu – requested by harmon.ie, but thoughts are my own.

Information Overload is an increasing problem both in the workplace, and in life in general. Information Overload is when you are trying to deal with more information than you can process to make sensible decisions. The result is that you either delay making decisions, or that you make the wrong decisions. And let’s be honest, we all feel a kind of information overload because of all the sources of information we have today. If you are an information Worker, you must go get all the information from SharePoint, Email, Yammer, and other systems you might have such as Zendesk, SalesForce, etc. Also, as an information worker, even if you have documents in SharePoint, conversations in Yammer and customer information in Salesforce, Outlook is probably the hub of your daily activities. You go to your Outlook in the morning to view your daily agenda, and then you exchange important information with your colleagues and customers.

To allow users to be more productive every day, harmon.ie integrated their intelligent Collage technology directly in the harmon.ie Outlook Add-in, therefore allowing users to surface relevant information without them even having to search for it. By surfacing relevant information automatically, users are more productive and they don’t even need to search for something, it’s simply there for them, allowing them to make educated decisions faster. All this while interacting with SharePoint directly from Outlook. In this blog post, we will review the latest version of harmon.ie for Outlook.

harmon.ie Collage Review

The first and traditional part of the harmon.ie Outlook Add-in, now with Collage Inside™ is that it allows users to interact with SharePoint directly from Outlook. The add-in is deployed in a user’s Outlook client and is displayed as a sidebar in Outlook. After connecting the relevant SharePoint sites, users can view, open and even drag and drop documents to upload them into SharePoint.

Also, users can drag and drop documents from the sidebar, to their new email, and a link to the document will automatically be included in the email. This way, everyone will view the latest document, and make edits to the same document. It is also easier than sending it as an attachment, which means your users will see SharePoint as something that increases productivity, rather than something they have to do because you force them to! By making it easy for information workers to work with SharePoint, users can now focus on work instead of technology.
This way people are working on the same document – no document chaos and information is available to all, so the people can focus on work.


The Outlook harmon.ie add-on also allows you to collaborate on the most common type of document, which are emails. When composing a new email, you can save the email into a SharePoint library after sending it, and you can also Save the Draft Message. This way, multiple persons can look at the email and modify it, before sending.

    harmon.ie

When clicking on send, a popup will appear asking you where you want to save the message. It remembered my last location which was Documents, so I click Yes, and the email is sent to client, as well as saved to SharePoint.

harmon.ie

The harmon.ie Outlook Add-in also allows you to view and edit the information in all columns of your documents in SharePoint, so you can get the full collaboration experience, right from your Outlook.

harmon.ie

I am not going to go in depth with all the features of the SharePoint integration because I covered them  in a past review on my blog (if you have never read about harmon.ie before, I highly encourage you to read that review as well). However, I want to consider what is special in this new version, which has Collage built in. The first thing that you need to do when wanting to use Collage, is connect all the services you are using. You can connect Office 365, Salesforce, IBM Connections, Yammer as well as Zendesk. Usually I run reviews on test accounts, however since Collage looks at my emails and extracts the meaningful topics from them, I needed an active Mailbox with a lot of content to be able to review its functionality. Since it is my real mailbox, some items may be blurred.

harmon.ie

After connecting my Office 365 account, I went into one of my emails, which was about TechMentor, a conference I will be speaking at in August 2017. Collage analyzed the email and saw that one of the topics contained in the email message was TechMentor. Collage also automatically showed me other emails that talked about the same topic, directly in my Outlook without me needing to do a Search! Furthermore, not only did it show me results from my email, but also from SharePoint!

harmon.ie

Since Collage relies on Machine Learning, which of course is not always 100% perfect, I can also add custom topics to this email, and harmon.ie will try to look in the topics already identified in other emails to keep the search effective in the future, but I can also add a new topic that was never identified before.

harmon.ie

Also, one email may be assigned multiple topics. As you see when I searched for items with the topic TechMentor and hovered over an email I received around the subject, I can see that this certain email also talks about SharePoint, Office 365 and Datapolis.

harmon.ie

The automated topic extraction doesn’t only work with emails, but it works with all my cloud services, so Collage automatically surfaces relevant documents from SharePoint, records from Salesforce and all my other cloud services.

harmon.ie

harmon.ie Collage also has a Discover Tab, which allows you to see trending documents around you, and show you documents that the Microsoft Graph thinks you might find interesting. The idea is really good, and it works well to identify recently changed documents. One minor quibble I had with Collage was that it could not open documents in my default browser, Chrome and instead opened everything in Internet Explorer. It turns out that because the Collage add-in (and all Outlook add-ins) runs in Outlook inside Internet Explorer (Microsoft Add-ins Web architecture), there is no option other than opening the document in Internet Explorer. So this is unfortunately an Office 365 limitation and I guess it won’t get fixed until Microsoft will fix this limitation on their end.

harmon.ie

Conclusion

In this blog post we have reviewed the latest version of the harmon.ie Outlook Add-in, which now contains Collage. With Collage built-in, harmon.ie enables users to not only view, upload and manage SharePoint documents directly in Outlook, but also to easily find and display emails, documents and conversations from multiple systems directly in Outlook. By having Collage surface information to use automatically when we simply open an email, we can focus on the work, without having to go to multiple systems to find all the information required to make an educated decision. Even if I only tested Collage with two systems (Outlook & SharePoint), I found it to have tremendous value in easily surfacing all my important information, and surface related documents and emails about a certain topic, without having to search in multiple places, and it automatically assigned topics to everything for me which is quite awesome.

As with the other harmon.ie products I have reviewed in the past, the quality was top-notch, I didn’t encounter any strange or unexpected behavior, and the interface was super easy to use, without ever needing to open the instruction manual.

If you are looking for a product that allows your users to view / upload and collaborate on SharePoint documents directly from Outlook as well as find all the information they need, from multiple systems, directly in Outlook, you definitely need to check out harmon.ie! You can find them at https://harmon.ie/ or by clicking on the banner below.

harmon.ie

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Product analysis by Vlad Catrinescu – requested by Lanteria, but thoughts are my own.

Providing training to your employees to keep their skills up to date as well as to keep them motivated is key to the success of your business. In fact, 7 out of 10 people say that training and development opportunities influence their decision to stay with a company. (CED Magazine). However, managing employee learning and the learning catalog can be quite a challenge if you do not have a proper Learning Management System (LMS) in place. There are multiple choices out there for a learning management system, however one of the goals of most organizations is to use as less systems as possible to manage their daily activities and also to save costs on maintenance and licenses.

That is why a company called Lanteria, created a full HR Management system that runs on SharePoint, and which includes a Learning Management System Module. Before reviewing it, here is a description of their product from the company website.

Lanteria LearningLearning solution by Lanteria is a SharePoint LMS that completely automates learning management and employee knowledge assessment systems in your organization Learning is a tool that helps to improve the employee knowledge and skills by planning and delivering targeted training programs. The Learning Catalog allows for storing E-Learning courses, documents, classroom trainings, quizzes, videos and other materials. The Learning Catalog is structured, fully searchable and accessible by all employees in a company.

  • Create a storage location for all learning materials
  • Plan and track the training process
  • Compliance Training
  • Build quizzes and track certification
  • Report on the learning results

Lanteria Learning Review

For this review, Lanteria gave me access to one of their pre-populated SharePoint sites with a lot of content already inside. Let’s start with how the system looks as an employee. When logging in as an employee and navigating to My Learning, the first thing that I would probably be interested in is the Learning Catalog. In the Learning catalog, I can see all the learning materials that the company has for the employees. Training materials can be documents, e-learning courses, classroom training, quizzes and even Web Links. I can use the filters from the top to filter with keywords, categories job roles or competencies.

From here, I can either Add a course to my plan if it’s open to everyone, or Send a Request to my manager to approve me for a course if that course requires approval. In this case, let’s add Compensation Module Guide to my training plan.

In my Personal Development Plan, I can see all the courses or classes that I am registered for. I can Launch courses, Mark them as complete or cancel the assignments

Lanteria Learning

I can also view the trainings for which I have submitted a request, and their status.

Lanteria Learning

As an employee, I found that the way to consume training very easy and user friendly. Now let’s take a look at how does the interface looks from a Manager perspective. As a Team Manager, I have access to statistics and reports on what my team has been doing. I can also approve my employees training requests.

Lanteria Learning

Here are the available reports:

Lanteria Learning

Those reports can be very useful, especially for compliance trainings for the job role. For example, I can quickly see that a lot of employees in my team didn’t complete the Mandatory Core HR Quiz training.

Lanteria Learning

I can also view statistics on each of my employees. How many trainings they completed, how many are Overdue, how many they passed or failed and so on!

Lanteria Learning

From a team management perspective, everything is useful and easy to use. The reports really provide me with useful information that I Can act on. I kind of wish the reports were a bit fancier (like some cool dashboards), but I understand that with the amount of information displayed, you cannot easily create dashboards that will give all this information. Now that we saw the Manager view, let’s take a look at what the HR Department can do. As a HR person, I have way more options to control and offer training to my employees.

Lanteria Learning

For example, I am allowed to add a course in the Learning catalogue. Let’s add my PowerShell for Office 365 Pluralsight course as a Mandatory training for System Administrators, since the company is moving to Office 365.

Lanteria Learning

I can also add a lot more properties about the course such as Scoring Type, Objectives, Cost, Prerequisites, Expiration date and a ton more.

The course will then be available in the learning catalogue, to the audiences for which we chose to make them available.

As an HR professional I can also create Quizzes for my trainings to make sure that employees need to pass a Quiz to prove they learned everything.

You can also create Curricula. A curriculum is a number of courses united by the same topic or aimed to develop the same competency. For example, you can have the Leadership curriculum consisting of the learning materials that develop the leadership skills.

Conclusion

In this blog post we have reviewed the Learning module of the Lanteria HR Management system, that is running on SharePoint. Learning solution by Lanteria is a SharePoint LMS that completely automates learning management and employee knowledge assessment systems in your organization. Learning is a tool that helps to improve the employee knowledge and skills by planning and delivering targeted training programs. We have looked at the tool from the point of view of a simple employee, from the point of view of a team manager as well as the full interface that HR Personnel gets.

I have really enjoyed how the Lanteria Learning Module is structed, as well as its features. As an employee, I can easily add trainings to my plan even if I don’t do them today, and I can also request approval from my manager directly from the system without needing to send my manager an email or schedule a meeting. I also like the fact that the system is flexible enough to allow training to be simply a link to an external training resource, a classroom training with schedule dates, or simply a document. From a team viewer point of view, I can easily look at reports on what my team is learning, and what they should be learning but they aren’t. Lastly from an HR professional point of view, with basic knowledge of SharePoint I can easily manage my LMS, add courses, view reports, assign certificates and assign courses to certain groups.

Overall, I got nothing but good things to say about the Lanteria Learning Module, and I think that if you are looking for a Learning Management System or full HR Solution, and you already have SharePoint, you definitely need to check out Lanteria! Visit them at by clicking on the banner below!

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A few weeks ago, I did a raffle on my blog for a chance to Win a free Pass to SharePoint Fest DC 2017!

SharePoint Fest DC 2017

I am happy to announce the winner of the competition is Matthew J. Bailey! If you didn’t win but still want to attend SharePoint Fest DC!, you can use the code CatrinescuDC200 to save 200$ of your SPFest DC Registration! Also stay tuned, SharePoint Fest Denver is coming end of May and there might be a raffle for that as well! If you want to stay up to date with the latest news on SharePoint, make sure you sign up to the Monthly Newsletter on the right sidebar of the blog.

Leave a comment and don’t forget to like the Absolute SharePoint Blog Page   on Facebook and to follow me on Twitter here  for the latest news and technical articles on SharePoint.  I am also a Pluralsight author, and you can view all the courses I created on my author page.
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I’ll be speaking at TechMentor Seattle , August 7-11 at Microsoft HQ in Redmond. Surrounded by your fellow IT professionals, TechMentor provides you with in-depth, immediately usable training that will keep you relevant in the workforce.

TechMentor Seattle

I’ll be presenting the following sessions:

  • Integrating Office Online Server with SharePoint and Exchange

    Office Online Server (formerly known as Office Web Apps) lets users view and edit Office Documents directly in the browser, without having to download them locally. It also lets them use the Durable Links function in SharePoint Server 2016. And since Excel Services isn’t part of SharePoint 2016 anymore, Office Online Server is required to use Business Intelligence features in SharePoint Server 2016. On the Exchange side, Office Online Server lets users view Office Documents in the Outlook on the web with high fidelity. When you integrate the three, SharePoint, OOS and Exchange 2016, you can use Modern Attachments On-Premises. This session will cover Office Online Server, best practices on how to install it and how to design an Office Online Server Farm. You’ll also learn how to properly integrate it with SharePoint Server 2016 and Exchange Server 2016.

  • PowerShell for Office 365

    Take your Office 365 Administrator skills further by learning to automate repetitive tasks using the magic of PowerShell. This session will show you how to use PowerShell for Office 365. You’ll also learn how to automate tasks in SharePoint, Exchange as well as manage Users, Groups and licenses.

SPECIAL OFFER: As a speaker, I can extend $500 savings on the 5-day package when you use the code TMSPK02! Register here: http://bit.ly/TMSPK02Home

TechMentor Seattle

Amplify your knowledge at TechMentor Redmond — bring the issues that keep you up at night and prepare to leave this event with the answers, guidance and training you need.  Register now: http://bit.ly/TMSPK02Reg !

Hope to see you in Seattle!

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Next Month, on March 23rd , 2017 I will be giving a free webinar together with KWizCom on Implementing Business Use-Cases by using KWizCom Custom Actions. KWizCom Custom Actions, part of KWizCom Forms (Ent. edition) enable non-technical users to implement their required use-cases, without having to deal with technical workflow tools.

Implementing Business Use-Cases

To allow everyone from around the world to join, there will be a webinar at 8AM EST as well as one at 2PM EST!

Duration: 45 minutes
Description:
Who said you need complex workflow design tools to implement business processes?
Join MVP Vlad Catrinescu for this complimentary webinar where he will demonstrate how non-technical end users effortlessly implement their business processes without requiring any assistance from workflow experts.

Register for the 8:00 am EST Webinar: https://kwizcomevents.webex.com/kwizcomevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=e0003a9dff4e8104008e4ec82ed846096

Register for the 2:00 pm EST Webinar: https://kwizcomevents.webex.com/kwizcomevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=e2c247f5a37ba582347858e3a12801927

Hope to see you there!

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March 14-15th 2017, I will be speaking for the first-time SharePoint Engage Phoenix, Arizona. This is the first time that SharePoint Engage will be in Phoenix, so I really hope to see a lot of the readers of my blog there!

SharePoint Engage Phoenix

My Sessions will be :

Session: What do YOU get from 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 session, 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!

Session: PowerShell for Office 365

Take your Office 365 Administrator skills further by learning to automate repetitive tasks using the magic of PowerShell. In this session, you will learn how to use PowerShell for Office 365, and we will focus on SharePoint online. A basic understanding of PowerShell is recommended to get the most out of this session!

There are also a ton of other great speakers as you see from the picture below:

SharePoint Engage Phoenix

Check out all the details about the conference on their site: http://www.sharepointinstitute.com/engage/sharepoint-engage-phoenix-2017/

Hope to see you there!

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Partnering up with Datapolis

Categories: Announcements
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As some of you might have seen on LinkedIn this week (if you don’t have me already on LinkedIn, please connect!), I am really excited to be Partnering up with Datapolis , an awesome company from Poland that created two awesome products for workflows in SharePoint. Datapolis Workflow 365 for Office 365 and Datapolis Process System for SharePoint 2013 and 2016. ( Check out this blog post to learn how to Get the SharePoint 2013 / 2016 Datapolis Process System for Free! )

Partnering up with Datapolis

Both those products from Datapolis allow you to easily create SharePoint & Office 365 workflows, without needing to hire SharePoint Developers.

Partnering up with Datapolis

I am really excited to start working with Datapolis and my friend and SharePoint super star Gokan Ozcifci to help business get the most out of their SharePoint implementation by easily implementing workflows to automate their most complicated business processes. If you never heard of Datapolis and would like a demo, or simply more information, comment on this blog post or send me an email at vlad@datapolis.com and we can schedule a quick call!

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Speaking at SharePoint Saturday Utah

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Later this month, on February 25th I will be in Salt Lake City, Utah to speak at SharePoint Saturday Utah! This will be my first time in Utah, and I heard the city, as well as the ski slopes are amazing!

SharePoint Saturday Utah

If you live close to Salt Lake City, definitely join all the other SharePointers on February 25th at the University of Utah! Registration is free, and you will learn lots about SharePoint and Office 365. My session will be:

PowerShell for Office 365

Take your Office 365 Administrator skills further by learning to automate repetitive tasks using the magic of PowerShell. In this session, you will learn how to use PowerShell for Office 365, and we will focus on SharePoint online. A basic understanding of PowerShell is recommended to get the most out of this session!

Check out the SPS Utah Site at http://www.spsevents.org/city/SaltLake/SaltLake2017/home to see all the information about the event!

Hope to see you there!

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