SharePoint Fest – Chicago Wrap-up and Slides

SharePointFestChicago2016I really enjoyed my time at SharePoint Fest in Chicago last week. Due to some personal commitments I had to cut things short and was only able to make one day of the conference.  But I still had a wonderful time.  The attendees were great and both of my talks were well received. I want to express my thanks to the conference organizers and the attendees for the wonderful conference. I really enjoyed myself and I’m already looking forward to doing it again in DC next spring.

I had lots of attendees at both sessions who asked for the slides so I’ve uploaded them here.  They are also available on the SharePoint Fest Chicago site.  If you have any follow-up questions please email me at paul.stork@bluechip-llc.com.  You can download a copy of the slides from each talk using the links below:

BV 103 – SharePoint 2016: What’s New and Why should I Upgrade?

SIA 106 – Implementing SharePoint: Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail

Dogfood Conference 2016 Wrap-up and Slides

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I really enjoyed my time at the Dogfood Conference in Columbus yesterday. The attendees were great and both of my talks were well received. I want to express my thanks to the conference organizers and the attendees for the wonderful conference. I really enjoyed myself this year and I hope to be invited back to speak again next year.

I had lots of attendees at both sessions who asked for the slides so I’ve uploaded them here.  I’ve also sent them to the conference organizers.  If you have any follow-up questions please email me at paul.stork@bluechip-llc.com.  You can download a PDF of the slides from each talk using the links below:

Building a Hybrid SharePoint Environment

SharePoint 2016: What’s New and Why should I Upgrade?

SharePoint MVP for the 9th Year

Most people look forward to July 1st because it means the July 4th holiday weekend is close.  For me as an MVP it has an entirely different excitement. No matter how many times I’ve been awarded as an MVP I’m always nervous when my anniversary comes around and its time to be evaluated for a re-award. But I’m happy to say that I received an email Friday morning saying that I’ve been awarded an MVP award again this year.  The categories have changed over the last year, so instead of an award for SharePoint server my new category is called “Office Servers and Services”. This of course includes SharePoint and Office 365 which are my focuses. No matter how the program changes I continue to be more excited every year.  This is my ninth year and I hope to continued my contributions for years to come. SharePoint and Office 365 continue to be exciting products to work on and there is always a lot more to learn.  This year in particular I will be focusing more on how hybrid environments that include SharePoint online, Azure, and SharePoint on-premises function.   

I continue to start each day by answering a few questions on the MSDN and TechNet Forums.  But am also hoping to expand my presence on the public Yammer forums. I really enjoy being able to help people find answers and frequently find interesting questions that I’ve never thought about that lead me to discover new and different things about SharePoint.  I often wonder how I learned as much as I did before I gained access to the resources and contacts available to me as an MVP.  I’m also looking forward to continuing to share what I know at several conferences this year.  I’m always looking for new topics that people would like to hear about.  If you have a question or a topic then drop me a line and my next talk may be on that topic.

This year I’m particularly excited that one of my colleagues at work was just awarded his first MVP award. Gareth Gudger works on Exchange and Office 365 and has a well read BLOG at https://supertekboy.com/. Gareth and I haven’t worked a project together yet since he is based in Cincinnati and I am based in Cleveland. But I hope to find more time to connect with him on Office 365 this year as he begins his MVP journey.

But the bottom line is still that I wouldn’t be an MVP if it weren’t for all of you out there in the SharePoint community. Recently I’ve been running into a number of people who have heard me speak at conferences or have seen me answering questions on the Forums.  Its been great to meet all of you in person and thanks for all the questions that you’ve asked. As long as you keep asking questions and listening to me at conferences I’ll keep trying to learn more and share what I’ve learned with all of you.  Without you I wouldn’t be receiving this award. I hope to continue to live up to the honor and hope that I never get complacent about what its really about: Helping to support the SharePoint community.

When Implementing SharePoint: Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

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Benjamin Franklin is reported to have said, "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!"

I’ve seen this scenario – the failure to plan – play out at many companies, especially when implementing or upgrading SharePoint environments.

Implementing or upgrading a product like SharePoint, that is designed to empower information workers to do things for themselves, requires detailed planning.

Why?

Empowerment does not come from a "one size fits all" product or solution.

SharePoint can be used to tailor a product or solution and deliver the greatest business value to an organizations’ technical environment. And that kind of tailoring requires careful planning. Otherwise, an organization will end up with a product that is implemented well, but does not fulfill the strategic goals they’ve set for the business.

There are many reasons why an organization may not spend enough time planning before implementing SharePoint. Some of the most common are as follows:

  • "We don’t know enough about the capabilities of SharePoint. We need to do a pilot to find out what’s possible."
  • "People are excited now about the new environment. If we spend a lot of time planning that enthusiasm will subside."
  • "Planning is important, but we don’t want to succumb to Analysis-Paralysis. We’re afraid that planning will just go on forever and we’ll never implement anything."
  • "We hired a consulting firm to do our implementation.  They are experts, have done this before and already know how it should be done."
  • "We’re just doing an upgrade.  We did our planning when we originally implemented SharePoint."

All of these statements have a kernel of truth in them. However, all of the above overstate the case and can lead to significant problems. Here are the issues raised by each statement:

  • Often, pilot environments become indispensable production environments when no one is looking. Once an environment is in production it’s difficult to go back to the beginning and plan, even if you learned important lessons.
  • Planning tasks that don’t involve a broad cross-section of the user population can lead to a decrease in user acceptance, and users look for alternatives to fulfill their business needs. But a poorly planned environment will also lead to a lack of user adoption and a failed implementation.
  • Planning is not important to success, it’s critical to success. But if planning seems to go on forever it is poor planning. Planning should be a well-managed and scheduled part of an implementation project. It should have goals and deadlines.
  • Seeking professional help can be an asset and save time. But every implementation is different and planning for those differences is a critical success factor.
  • Upgrades always involve change and new feature sets. Otherwise why would you upgrade? Planning is not just a task done up front. It’s a task that needs to be incorporated into the life-cycle of SharePoint.

Now that your organization is convinced that planning is a critical to success and to strategically implementing SharePoint, you need to know what tasks to plan.

In part two of this blog series, we’ll discuss common planning tasks that are overlooked when companies fail to plan their new SharePoint implementation.

This post is cross posted on the Blue Chip Consulting Blog.  Check it out!

Dogfood Conference 2015 Wrap-up and Slides

Dogfood2015I really enjoyed my time at the Dogfood Conference in Columbus last week. The attendees were great and all three of my talks were well received. I want to express my thanks to the conference organizers and the attendees for the wonderful conference. I really enjoyed myself this year and I hope to be invited back to speak again next year.

I had lots of attendees at both sessions who asked for the slides so I’ve uploaded them here.  You can also get them from the conference.  You can download a PDF of the slides from each talk using the links below:

Intro to Yammer: Redefining Enterprise Social

Intro to Office Graph and Delve: Finding what you want before you know you need it

SharePoint 2013 “Apps” 101: A Basic Introduction