The Next Step in “Working like a Network” – Office 365 Groups

The whole concept of working like a network has been around for a bit now and we are starting to see how some of the newest releases within Office 365 are providing tools that empower us to fulfill the vision. The latest set of tools that provides connections for our users is the chapter one release of Groups in Office 365. Starting on September 25th, those who have signed up for First Release (FR) started to see the new Groups experience within Office 365. Now it is important to note here that even though you have signed up for FR, this doesn’t mean you see it on day one. Those signed up for FR will see it based on the schedule rollout to all FR tenants that will happen over several different cycles. This means that you will still get the features before general availability, but that you might not get them the same day as someone else does.

When Groups are activated in your tenant you will see them in a few different locations. With the first release they have made available in Outlook, OneDrive and Calendar. Accessing any of these locations in the Top Navigation bar will display the Groups navigation elements.


Users will be able to create new groups and by default groups are open to everyone in the organization. This approach allows for content to be easily shared across the entire organization. For those conversations and documents that need to be secured more closely, the group admin can choose to set the security to private, thus restricting it to only group members. The experience for creating new groups is very straight forward and easy to understand and follow.

Step 1: Create a New Group

During this step you will be able to assign and name and description to your group, as well as determine the permissions for the group and the default subscription for the members. The subscription settings can be changed later by each group member based on their preference, but by signing them for the subscription you will be ensuring that they see the conversations from the group directly in their personal email feed. In most cases, I suspect that you will want to subscribe your group members. One thing to keep in mind though, is that with the first release you will be limited to 300 subscribing members per group.


Step 2: Add Users

Once the group has been created, you will be immediately prompted to add users to the group. You can add users by typing their name into the new members search box. Once you have added all the members that you wish you will click on the Add icon at the top to save your changes. If you wish to add members to the group later you can simply click the Not Now option at the top of the pane,


Step 3: Add a Group Image

Once you complete step 2 you will be taken to your group home page. From here you will be able to add an image so that the group can easily be identified. This is a good thing to do so that you can help your group stand out as users are navigating through various groups. You can access the Group Image in the group edit pane. This pane becomes visible when you click on the edit icon in the Group square. You will also notice that here is the location where you can update the original group settings such as title, description and privacy.


Step 4: Start Adding Content

With your group now ready to go it is time to start adding content. You can do this from any of the locations that the group is accessible and you can easily navigate between the areas with a few clicks.



These 4 steps are all it takes get a group of people working together using common tools that they are familiar with and love working with. This new way of working together provides a way for people to connect together in ways that were previously different. The product team has provide us with some great documentation on groups that is far superier to the quick intro I just provided. I recommend that you take a few minutes and read through the documentation to get a better idea of how easy it can be to work with groups and to learn additional details on updating configurations and group settings.

Wait…..What?!?

If you are like me, the first time you see all of this you have a whole collection of thoughts running through your head! The most prominent one for me was – “how does this fall into line with all the things I am already using for documents, conversations and calendars?” As I took some to think about this first release I have come to the conclusion that this is really another way of doing some of the same things that we are already doing, but it is a way of doing it differently. In my mind, it is a complementary set of tools that allows you to work differently. I know that the overall vision presented at SPC14 was a unified experience across the entire Office 365 suite and I fully believe that future releases will keep marching towards that end goal. But for the first release we are experiencing the first step toward the goal. This is the new Microsoft they have been promoting, and this is an example of a new product that is being released in phases. Based on usage, demand and feedback we will be able to provide a voice into the future phases. For now, the best thing to do is to understand what is capable and then help your organization make the best decision for them. In some cases that might be turning off groups, in other cases that might be pushing people to groups instead of SharePoint, in yet another case that might mean pushing them more towards Yammer. None of these choices are wrong and in some cases none of them are right. They are just different ways to do the same thing and based on the experience you are looking for you can choose the option that is best for you. I imagine in many cases there will be no wrong choice and many right ones. It is kind of like a choose your own adventure book.

If you want to get an idea of the way I am thinking through things, here is a table where I outline some various scenarios and how I would map them to the tools available today. The thing to remember about a table like this is that as new features are released my approaches and thoughts will change, but as of now, here is how I am thinking of things.

Scenario

Groups

Yammer

SharePoint

A team of individuals that wants to collaborate on a document. They will be working on the document collaboratively and likely meeting together a few times to discuss and make updates.

 

 

 

If they would typically use just emails and meetings, I would push them towards groups. I would do this because it closely aligns with the ways they already work. It could be a very quick win. If they are big Yammer users and they spend more time in Yammer than email (or I want them to!) I would probably push them towards this solution.

If this was the primary business need they had and they weren’t already Yammer users I would probably point them towards using Groups.

Unless they needed to use Tasks List or other Apps I would likely discourage them from creating a team site for this purpose. It can be done, but you want to be careful to not bring a firehouse when a squirt gun will do.
A team needs to manage a collection of documents. These documents needs to be tagged and classified based on their document type and then based on the type different policies need to be enforced for retention.    

 

    Since they need retention and metadata I would likely push them towards a team site. I would do this because of the added management tools available.
A group of individuals within the organization want to collaborate together over a shared interest.

 

 

 
I would first try to point them to Yammer because at this point I feel the Yammer experience will give them a greater community experience. However, this solution might be just what they need. I would point them here first and try to show them how great a collaboration experience could be within Yammer.  
A team that wants to manage their team schedule (ie vacations, out of the office , team meetings)

 

 

 

Groups would provide a great experience for many teams that need to do this. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about any integration because you never even left the tools that you are already using to manage your personal calendar. The groups experience would allow for everyone on the team to easily see and access a common calendar in the same context as their personal calendar.   Team sites can do this, but to be 100% honest I often find that teams feel it is cumbersome or difficult to see the data in context to their personal calendars. Based on that being the typical outcome I have seen I would definitely push people to groups first in this scenario.

With a few leading questions I imagine in most cases I could guide a user to make the selection that works best for them. I think over time as the lines between the three become less blurred the questions will come less and less and people will just naturally work where it makes sense to them and across all tools. For now, my recommendation is to make all of the tools available and to support and encourage the use of all of them. If your organization is new to Office 365 I would encourage you to focus on Yammer and Groups and work towards some great wins! If you organization is already heavily involved in SharePoint I would look for pain points or scenarios that are difficult that could be eliminated through the use of Groups or Yammer. The important thing is that you focus on the users and what solutions can bring the most impact to how they are able to work together. While doing all of this, continue to be involved in things like First Release and the Office 365 Technical Community to stay up to date on the latest features, tools and integrations that are being made available. Updates are happening often and with each new update it just might change the way we work together.


Office 365 Groups The Next Step in “Working like a Network”

The whole concept of working like a network has been around for a bit now and we are starting to see how some of the newest releases within Office 365 are providing tools that empower us to fulfill the vision.   The latest set of tools that provides connections for our users is the chapter one release of Groups in Office 365.  Starting on September 25th, those who have signed up for First Release (FR) started to see the new Groups experience within Office 365.  Now it is important to note here that even though you have signed up for FR, this doesn’t mean you see it on day one.  Those signed up for FR will see it based on the schedule rollout to all FR tenants that will happen over several different cycles.  This means that you will still get the features before general availability, but that you might not get them the same day as someone else does.

When Groups are activated in your tenant you will see them in a few different locations.  With the first release they have made available in Outlook, OneDrive and Calendar.  Accessing any of these locations in the Top Navigation bar will display the Groups navigation elements.

Users will be able to create new groups and by default groups are open to everyone in the organization.  This approach allows for content to be easily shared across the entire organization.  For those conversations and documents that need to be secured more closely, the group admin can choose to set the security to private, thus restricting it to only group members.  The experience for creating new groups is very straight forward and easy to understand and follow.

Step 1: Create a New Group

During this step you will be able to assign and name and description to your group, as well as determine the permissions for the group and the default subscription for the members.  The subscription settings can be changed later by each group member based on their preference, but by signing them for the subscription you will be ensuring that they see the conversations from the group directly in their personal email feed.  In most cases, I suspect that you will want to subscribe your group members.  One thing to keep in mind though, is that with the first release you will be limited to 300 subscribing members per group.

Step 2:  Add Users

Once the group has been created, you will be immediately prompted to add users to the group.  You can add users by typing their name into the new members search box.  Once you have added all the members that you wish you will click on the Add icon at the top to save your changes.  If you wish to add members to the group later you can simply click the Not Now option at the top of the pane,

Step 3: Add a Group Image

Once you complete step 2 you will be taken to your group home page.  From here you will be able to add an image so that the group can easily be identified.  This is a good thing to do so that you can help your group stand out as users are navigating through various groups.  You can access the Group Image in the group edit pane.  This pane becomes visible when you click on the edit icon in the Group square.  You will also notice that here is the location where you can update the original group settings such as title, description and privacy.

Step 4: Start Adding Content

With your group now ready to go it is time to start adding content.  You can do this from any of the locations that the group is accessible and you can easily navigate between the areas with a few clicks.

These 4 steps are all it takes get a group of people working together using common tools that they are familiar with and love working with.  This new way of working together provides a way for people to connect together in ways that were previously different.    The product team has provide us with some great documentation on groups that is far superier to the quick intro I just provided.  I recommend that you take a few minutes and read through the documentation to get a better idea of how easy it can be to work with groups and to learn additional details on updating configurations and group settings.

Wait…..What?!?

If you are like me, the first time you see all of this you have a whole collection of thoughts running through your head!  The most prominent one for me was – “how does this fall into line with all the things I am already using for documents, conversations and calendars?”  As I took some to think about this first release I have come to the conclusion that this is really another way of doing some of the same things that we are already doing, but it is a way of doing it differently.  In my mind, it is a complementary set of tools that allows you to work differently.  I know that the overall vision presented at SPC14 was a unified experience across the entire Office 365 suite and I fully believe that future releases will keep marching towards that end goal.  But for the first release we are experiencing the first step toward the goal.  This is the new Microsoft they have been promoting, and this is an example of a new product that is being released in phases.  Based on usage, demand and feedback we will be able to provide a voice into the future phases. For now, the best thing to do is to understand what is capable and then help your organization make the best decision for them.  In some cases that might be turning off groups, in other cases that might be pushing people to groups instead of SharePoint, in yet another case that might mean pushing them more towards Yammer.  None of these choices are wrong and in some cases none of them are right.  They are just different ways to do the same thing and based on the experience you are looking for you can choose the option that is best for you.  I imagine in many cases there will be no wrong choice and many right ones.  It is kind of like a choose your own adventure book.

If you want to get an idea of the way I am thinking through things, here is a table where I outline some various scenarios and how I would map them to the tools available today.  The thing to remember about a table like this is that as new features are released my approaches and thoughts will change, but as of now, here is how I am thinking of things.

Scenario Groups Yammer SharePoint
A team of individuals that wants to collaborate on a document.  They will be working on the document collaboratively and likely meeting together a few times to discuss and make updates.
If they would typically use just emails and meetings, I would push them towards groups. I would do this because it closely aligns with the ways they already work. It could be a very quick win. If they are big Yammer users and they spend more time in Yammer than email (or I want them to!) I would probably push them towards this solution.

If this was the primary business need they had and they weren’t already Yammer users I would probably point them towards using Groups.

Unless they needed to use Tasks List or other Apps I would likely discourage them from creating a team site for this purpose. It can be done, but you want to be careful to not bring a firehouse when a squirt gun will do.
A team needs to manage a collection of documents.  These documents needs to be tagged and classified based on their document type and then based on the type different policies need to be enforced for retention.
Since they need retention and metadata I would likely push them towards a team site. I would do this because of the added management tools available.
A group of individuals within the organization want to collaborate together over a shared interest.
I would first try to point them to Yammer because at this point I feel the Yammer experience will give them a greater community experience. However, this solution might be just what they need. I would point them here first and try to show them how great a collaboration experience could be within Yammer.
A team that wants to manage their team schedule (ie vacations, out of the office , team meetings)
Groups would provide a great experience for many teams that need to do this. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about any integration because you never even left the tools that you are already using to manage your personal calendar. The groups experience would allow for everyone on the team to easily see and access a common calendar in the same context as their personal calendar. Team sites can do this, but to be 100% honest I often find that teams feel it is cumbersome or difficult to see the data in context to their personal calendars. Based on that being the typical outcome I have seen I would definitely push people to groups first in this scenario.

With a few leading questions I imagine in most cases I could guide a user to make the selection that works best for them.  I think over time as the lines between the three become less blurred the questions will come less and less and people will just naturally work where it makes sense to them and across all tools.   For now, my recommendation is to make all of the tools available and to support and encourage the use of all of them.  If your organization is new to Office 365 I would encourage you to focus on Yammer and Groups and work towards some great wins! If you organization is already heavily involved in SharePoint I would look for pain points or scenarios that are difficult that could be eliminated through the use of Groups or Yammer.  The important thing is that you focus on the users and what solutions can bring the most impact to how they are able to work together.  While doing all of this, continue to be involved in things like First Release and the Office 365 Technical Community to stay up to date on the latest features, tools and integrations that are being made available.  Updates are happening often and with each new update it just might change the way we work together.

– See more at: https://www.itunity.com/blog/office-365-groups-611#sthash.YXKmx1iR.dpuf

SPTechCon Boston

It is that time of year again! In just a few weeks I will be heading to Boston to speak at one of my favorite conferences, SPTechCon. This conference is one of my favorites because I believe it gives a level of real world networking that can be hard to find at other conferences. I love getting to spend time with attendees and learning about what they are trying to do with SharePoint. Below is my schedule for the event and as we get closer I am sure that I will be adding some office hours (where I spend 1:1 time with attendees discussing issues they are facing).

Session Date / Time Description
From Requirements to Technology: An Approach to Build No-Code SharePoint Solutions new Tues 9/16 @9:00 am Based on simple math, we all know that 1+1=2. This is a simple concept that we learn very early in life. When it comes to SharePoint though, when you consider the tools available to you, you have a huge advantage of being able to use more than one tool, combined together, to create an outcome that is far greater than 2. The beauty of SharePoint is a collection of tools that, when combined together, can be used to solve various business solutions. And most of the powerful solutions that can be developed can be done without a single line of code. And yes, that means no semi-colons or syntax for you to have to worry about! In this all-day tutorial, you will learn everything you need to know about creating a full-blown business process using SharePoint, InfoPath and SharePoint Designer. Some basics will be covered, along with common practices for form-submission approval processes and SharePoint Designer workflows. When you walk away from this tutorial, you will be confident that whatever processes the business throws at you, you will be able to create a solution using the tools and best practices that you learned.
SharePoint 101 Wed 9/17 @8:30 am This class is specifically designed for those that are new to SharePoint. While SharePoint has been around for years, many people are just getting started and this class has been designed specifically for you! By the end of this class you will have a high-level overview of SharePoint that will be the foundation for the rest of content you will learn at the conference. In this class, we will cover the most common use cases for SharePoint, describe the roles associated with most SharePoint deployments, and help answer any outstanding questions you have as you get started on this journey.
Creating Simple Dashboards Using Out-of-the-Box Web Parts, Part I Thur 9/18 @3:45 pm In this class, we will look at some basic out-of-the-box ways to create powerful dashboards for managing teams and projects. The dashboards will be created using multiple connected Web parts all configured from the browser. This class will give you a good overview of lists, views, Web part pages and Web part connections. This is a great class for those just getting started with SharePoint and want to push the limits of out-of-the-box configuration.
Creating Simple Dashboards Using Out-of-the-Box Web Parts, Part II Fri 9/19 @11:30 am In this class, we will look at some more advanced ways to use out-of-the-box tools to create powerful dashboards for managing teams and projects. Our dashboards will be created using multiple technologies including Visio, Excel Services and Yammer. This class will give you a good overview of taking some of the basics within SharePoint to the next level.

If you are interested in attending the event, be sure to use the code MASON when you register to save $500. Hope to see you there!

SPTechCon Boston!

It is that time of year again! In just a few weeks I will be heading to Boston to speak at one of my favorite conferences, SPTechCon. This conference is one of my favorites because I believe it gives a level of real world networking that can be hard to find at other conferences. I love getting to spend time with attendees and learning about what they are trying to do with SharePoint. Below is my schedule for the event and as we get closer I am sure that I will be adding some office hours (where I spend 1:1 time with attendees discussing issues they are facing).

Session Date / Time Description
From Requirements to Technology: An Approach to Build No-Code SharePoint Solutions new Tues 9/16 @9:00 am Based on simple math, we all know that 1+1=2. This is a simple concept that we learn very early in life. When it comes to SharePoint though, when you consider the tools available to you, you have a huge advantage of being able to use more than one tool, combined together, to create an outcome that is far greater than 2. The beauty of SharePoint is a collection of tools that, when combined together, can be used to solve various business solutions. And most of the powerful solutions that can be developed can be done without a single line of code. And yes, that means no semi-colons or syntax for you to have to worry about! In this all-day tutorial, you will learn everything you need to know about creating a full-blown business process using SharePoint, InfoPath and SharePoint Designer. Some basics will be covered, along with common practices for form-submission approval processes and SharePoint Designer workflows. When you walk away from this tutorial, you will be confident that whatever processes the business throws at you, you will be able to create a solution using the tools and best practices that you learned.
SharePoint 101 Wed 9/17 @8:30 am This class is specifically designed for those that are new to SharePoint. While SharePoint has been around for years, many people are just getting started and this class has been designed specifically for you! By the end of this class you will have a high-level overview of SharePoint that will be the foundation for the rest of content you will learn at the conference. In this class, we will cover the most common use cases for SharePoint, describe the roles associated with most SharePoint deployments, and help answer any outstanding questions you have as you get started on this journey.
Creating Simple Dashboards Using Out-of-the-Box Web Parts, Part I Thur 9/18 @3:45 pm In this class, we will look at some basic out-of-the-box ways to create powerful dashboards for managing teams and projects. The dashboards will be created using multiple connected Web parts all configured from the browser. This class will give you a good overview of lists, views, Web part pages and Web part connections. This is a great class for those just getting started with SharePoint and want to push the limits of out-of-the-box configuration.
Creating Simple Dashboards Using Out-of-the-Box Web Parts, Part II Fri 9/19    @11:30 am In this class, we will look at some more advanced ways to use out-of-the-box tools to create powerful dashboards for managing teams and projects. Our dashboards will be created using multiple technologies including Visio, Excel Services and Yammer. This class will give you a good overview of taking some of the basics within SharePoint to the next level.

 

If you are interested in attending the event, be sure to use the code MASON when you register to save $500. Hope to see you there!

– See more at: https://www.itunity.com/blog/sptechcon-boston-531#sthash.gQHkplfk.dpuf

It is that time of year again! In just a few weeks I will be heading to Boston to speak at one of my favorite conferences, SPTechCon. This conference is one of my favorites because I believe it gives a level of real world networking that can be hard to find at other conferences. I love getting to spend time with attendees and learning about what they are trying to do with SharePoint. Below is my schedule for the event and as we get closer I am sure that I will be adding some office hours (where I spend 1:1 time with attendees discussing issues they are facing).

Session Date / Time Description
From Requirements to Technology: An Approach to Build No-Code SharePoint Solutions new Tues 9/16 @9:00 am Based on simple math, we all know that 1+1=2. This is a simple concept that we learn very early in life. When it comes to SharePoint though, when you consider the tools available to you, you have a huge advantage of being able to use more than one tool, combined together, to create an outcome that is far greater than 2. The beauty of SharePoint is a collection of tools that, when combined together, can be used to solve various business solutions. And most of the powerful solutions that can be developed can be done without a single line of code. And yes, that means no semi-colons or syntax for you to have to worry about! In this all-day tutorial, you will learn everything you need to know about creating a full-blown business process using SharePoint, InfoPath and SharePoint Designer. Some basics will be covered, along with common practices for form-submission approval processes and SharePoint Designer workflows. When you walk away from this tutorial, you will be confident that whatever processes the business throws at you, you will be able to create a solution using the tools and best practices that you learned.
SharePoint 101 Wed 9/17 @8:30 am This class is specifically designed for those that are new to SharePoint. While SharePoint has been around for years, many people are just getting started and this class has been designed specifically for you! By the end of this class you will have a high-level overview of SharePoint that will be the foundation for the rest of content you will learn at the conference. In this class, we will cover the most common use cases for SharePoint, describe the roles associated with most SharePoint deployments, and help answer any outstanding questions you have as you get started on this journey.
Creating Simple Dashboards Using Out-of-the-Box Web Parts, Part I Thur 9/18 @3:45 pm In this class, we will look at some basic out-of-the-box ways to create powerful dashboards for managing teams and projects. The dashboards will be created using multiple connected Web parts all configured from the browser. This class will give you a good overview of lists, views, Web part pages and Web part connections. This is a great class for those just getting started with SharePoint and want to push the limits of out-of-the-box configuration.
Creating Simple Dashboards Using Out-of-the-Box Web Parts, Part II Fri 9/19 @11:30 am In this class, we will look at some more advanced ways to use out-of-the-box tools to create powerful dashboards for managing teams and projects. Our dashboards will be created using multiple technologies including Visio, Excel Services and Yammer. This class will give you a good overview of taking some of the basics within SharePoint to the next level.

If you are interested in attending the event, be sure to use the code MASON when you register to save $500. Hope to see you there!

Social Tools in the Workplace – The Voice of the Users #WWWCooler

“Social” is the latest buzz word that has the world talking. What does it mean, what does it matter, how do we do it, how do we do it right? Following the conversation has been fun and along that way I have learned so many things and gotten to see things from a realm much greater than my own experience. There are so many perspectives – all of which have valid points. Like most things, you have to pick through them all and draw your own conclusions. Today, Microsoft has released some really exciting information that is based on a survey they have had conducted recently. The results of the survey were informative and it would be a mistake to not take them and consider how they might apply to your organization.

Adam Pisoni, the General Manager of Yammer at Microsoft has this to say about social-

“Everyone in an organization—from the CEO’s office to the mail room—has valuable information. The challenge companies face is how to tap that knowledge across geographies, departments and pay grades. While the nature of work evolves and becomes increasingly global, daily interactions typically involve the same faces, and information remains locked in different corners of an organization.”

This quote is one of my favorites when it comes to thinking about Social and the tools that users need and want as a part of their day to day interactions. The truth is that Social is just part of what we do every day. I had a great opportunity to discuss the survey results with Brian Murray, Director of Enterprise Strategy at Yammer last week and the findings of the Survey, clearly outline the reasons that the acquisition of Yammer by Microsoft makes so much sense.

The Workplace is Changing

One of the first points that Brian made in my discussions with him is that workplace is changing. He noted that according to research conducted by Constellation Research, “IT spending is down 5% but Technology Spending is up 18-20%”. This highlights the fact that many organizations are looking outside of the traditional IT model of asking IT for technical solutions, but instead moving forward with their own budgets to adopt and implement technical solutions. Decisions are becoming more decentralized, and users are taking a more proactive approach in acquiring and using the tools they feel are beneficial to them. As a consultant I have seen this first hand, many times I am approached by smaller groups within a larger organization that are looking to do things differently, or looking to utilize tools in a way that is specific to their smaller group.

Change Brings Tension

With most major changes, comes a tension of how things have always been done. IT groups with organizations are now looking at ways to meet the ever changing needs of the organization while still maintaining high levels of supportability and control. Combine this will the ability for smaller groups to consume services and free solutions and you should see how quickly this can become a decentralized environment. The most successful companies that will emerge from this tension will be the ones that can successfully find the balance between the two. Organizations need to move quickly and freely between the tools they need, while at the same time maintaining the control, governance and structure that is required within the organization. Finding the balance between the two seems to be the current struggle of many organizations.

An Ever Evolving Journey

The beauty of this is that this journey is just at the beginning, and this journey is the type that is ever evolving, but never completing. As we engage more, we will learn more and as we learn more about who we are and how we work, we can become better and different. It’s a constant path leading to an ever evolving, changing workplace. The real question then becomes how do we get started, and how do we align with the natural progression of the industry? When discussing the “how” part of the equation with Brian, it was clear that Microsoft is leading the charge in how they are guiding organizations in the process by providing tools and guidance to assist organizations. Most of the materials available, guide you in a way that allows you to take the general information and make it specific to your organization. In most cases the steps seem so simple, but sometimes the most value is found when we step back to the simple.

In closing, I want to leave you with a final quote from Adam, with a reminder that no matter the tools your organization uses, the success of any organization depends greatly on its ability to connect and share information.

“Done right, enterprise social can drive significant business value by improving how employees connect, share information and work across teams and geographies, and beyond the firewall to customers, vendors and other key relationships.”

On the flip side, what happens if we do nothing?  How long will things carry on as they are and what will be the long term impact of waiting to see what happens?  What can you be doing, internal to your own organization, to help drive the type of behavior you want to see? The conversation is happening all around you, and now is the time to jump in and impact the conversation where you are at. Be that voice internal to your organization that can lead and drive the change you desire.


A Few of My Favorite Things!

This year at the SharePoint Conference, Laura Rogers and myself had the opportunity to present two express sessions. Our sessions were relatively short sessions, designed to quickly highlight key features with SharePoint 2013. One of the sessions was designed to cover five simple improvements in SharePoint 2013 that will make everyday tasks easier to complete. In this article we will be reviewing the five features that made it into my top five list!

Sharing Content

The first feature to make the list was Share. Within 2013 there are now easy ways for users to see who has access to the content they are reviewing, as well as a way for them to easily Share the content with users. The Share features depend on the User Access Request settings being then the admin can intersect the request and ensure that permissions have been configured correctly. This is a great example of empowering the users to complete common tasks without assuming a great deal of risk.

New Task List Features

Second on the list was the features included in the new tasks list, specifically the timeline features. Gone are the days of a non-customizable Gantt list view that was difficult to read and process. Instead with this release the SharePoint team and the Project Team worked together to provide us a way to view tasks in a configurable manner. An example is shown below in the image:

Any task in the list can easily be added to the Timeline view and then each task can be configured to have its own display style. All of the customization is done in the Ribbon menu that is only selected when you click on the timeline. In addition to the easy customization options there are improvements with the way that the date format is displayed. SharePoint 2013 includes a setting for each column of the type data that allows for a display in what is referred to as the friendly display. This allows for dates to be displayed in very friendly terms such as “Tomorrow” and “Yesterday” or “A Few Second Ago”. Having this enabled provides a very natural user experience. And finally, the last win to be highlighted in the task list is the fact that by default, without any configuration, conditional formatting is applied to the contents in the list. This allows for dates to be displayed in Red when they are past due.

Following Content

Third on our list of favorites is the ability to quickly follow content. For sites and documents within a site there is an associated Follow link that when used with add a link to the user’s personal pages, allowing them to easily return to the content at a later point in time. This functionality comes with the latest set of Social features that are available in SharePoint 2013. But it is important to note that the following features goes beyond just saving a link to content. With the new Social features also comes the ability to Micro Blog, including the ability to tag a user in a post. When a user sees that they have been tagged in a post they are able to select an option allowing them to “Follow Up” on an item. Once they select this link to follow up a Task will be created for them in their personal page, which also will synchronize to their Outlook tasks.

Interacting with Search Results

The fourth item to make our top 5 was the ease of interacting with and working with the search results. With the integration of Office Web Apps into the search experience, users can easily see real time data of the content that has been returned in their search results. When a user completes a search they have the ability to see a full preview version of the document that they can interact with, without having to leave the search results.

Team Mailbox

The final feature in our top 5 is the ability to set up a group mailbox within a team site. Users are able to easily create a shared component in the site that allows for emails to be easily sent to a common shared address. Using these features allows for a team to have access to a shared email account that can easily be managed within SharePoint but still allow for users outside of SharePoint to interact with the team through standard emails.

Just a Few of the Many

This article summarizes just a few of the newest tips and tricks available within SharePoint 2013. The emphasis of this release is definitely about bringing refinement back to the basics. A new take on an old classic! One of the best selling point for moving to 2013 is looking at how all of the small wins and changes can have a big impact in your environment.

 

A Few of My Favorite Things!

This year at the SharePoint Conference, Laura Rogers and myself had the opportunity to present two express sessions. Our sessions were relatively short sessions, designed to quickly highlight key features with SharePoint 2013. One of the sessions was designed to cover five simple improvements in SharePoint 2013 that will make everyday tasks easier to complete. In this article we will be reviewing the five features that made it into my top five list!

Sharing Content

The first feature to make the list was Share. Within 2013 there are now easy ways for users to see who has access to the content they are reviewing, as well as a way for them to easily Share the content with users. The Share features depend on the User Access Request settings being then the admin can intersect the request and ensure that permissions have been configured correctly. This is a great example of empowering the users to complete common tasks without assuming a great deal of risk.

New Task List Features

Second on the list was the features included in the new tasks list, specifically the timeline features. Gone are the days of a non-customizable Gantt list view that was difficult to read and process. Instead with this release the SharePoint team and the Project Team worked together to provide us a way to view tasks in a configurable manner. An example is shown below in the image:


Any task in the list can easily be added to the Timeline view and then each task can be configured to have its own display style. All of the customization is done in the Ribbon menu that is only selected when you click on the timeline. In addition to the easy customization options there are improvements with the way that the date format is displayed. SharePoint 2013 includes a setting for each column of the type data that allows for a display in what is referred to as the friendly display. This allows for dates to be displayed in very friendly terms such as “Tomorrow” and “Yesterday” or “A Few Second Ago”. Having this enabled provides a very natural user experience. And finally, the last win to be highlighted in the task list is the fact that by default, without any configuration, conditional formatting is applied to the contents in the list. This allows for dates to be displayed in Red when they are past due.

Following Content

Third on our list of favorites is the ability to quickly follow content. For sites and documents within a site there is an associated Follow link that when used with add a link to the user’s personal pages, allowing them to easily return to the content at a later point in time. This functionality comes with the latest set of Social features that are available in SharePoint 2013. But it is important to note that the following features goes beyond just saving a link to content. With the new Social features also comes the ability to Micro Blog, including the ability to tag a user in a post. When a user sees that they have been tagged in a post they are able to select an option allowing them to “Follow Up” on an item. Once they select this link to follow up a Task will be created for them in their personal page, which also will synchronize to their Outlook tasks.


Interacting with Search Results

The fourth item to make our top 5 was the ease of interacting with and working with the search results. With the integration of Office Web Apps into the search experience, users can easily see real time data of the content that has been returned in their search results. When a user completes a search they have the ability to see a full preview version of the document that they can interact with, without having to leave the search results.


Team Mailbox

The final feature in our top 5 is the ability to set up a group mailbox within a team site. Users are able to easily create a shared component in the site that allows for emails to be easily sent to a common shared address. Using these features allows for a team to have access to a shared email account that can easily be managed within SharePoint but still allow for users outside of SharePoint to interact with the team through standard emails.

Just a Few of the Many

This article summarizes just a few of the newest tips and tricks available within SharePoint 2013. The emphasis of this release is definitely about bringing refinement back to the basics. A new take on an old classic! One of the best selling point for moving to 2013 is looking at how all of the small wins and changes can have a big impact in your environment.