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Enable SharePoint Developer Dashboards

SharePoint Developer Dashboards are easy to use and follow. Think of these dashboards as Fiddler Lite. For more information you can go here for SharePoint 2010 and here for SharePoint 2013.

The overall steps to start the Developer Dashboard are

1) If you have not already, configure and enable your Usage and Health Data Collection Service. For more info click here

2) Once you have your app up and running, execute the following PowerShell Script
$svc = [Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration.SPWebService]::ContentService
$dds = $svc.DeveloperDashboardSettings
$dds.DisplayLevel = "On"
$dds.Update()

3) If everything worked you will see

4) From there you can find out page information, SQL query calls, etc.


An extremely useful tool especially if you are troubleshooting performance.



Hey nothing big … I just need a SharePoint site

A site, just a team site right, no big deal? Such a simple request that causes the beginning of the end for SharePoint environments across organizations. Without a plan of attack, a repeatable plan of attack for your SharePoint sites, what starts off as a small intranet turns into an unmaintainable disaster. So now that I have your attention, the next question is what should be the plan of attack? A SharePoint site request should be treated as any other application request. If there was a request for a complex application, the first thing that would be done is to gather requirements, right? Well the same approach should be taken for any SharePoint requests.

 

Approach to SharePoint Requirement Gathering

Below is are some questions and a good place to start, obviously you can cater for your environment. These questions are designed to do three things:


  • Show the users that SharePoint is more than a document repository and showcase more of
  • Get the users take ownership of the site and decide on a point of contact
  • Assist in minimizing as many risks as possible

 

Question

Response

Business Owner

Portfolio Owner

Budget Holder

Business Objective(s)

Desired Outcome(s)

Number of proposed users

Geography(ies) of proposed users

Will users be internal only, external or both?

What user roles do you expect the solution to accommodate?

Are there any local language requirements associated with this solution?

Are there any specific device platforms you need to support e.g. tablet/mobile?

Will the solution contain secure data (personal, financial or client)?

What type of data do you require the solution to store?

What are the likely volumes of data objects (e.g. documents) to be stored per year and over the lifetime of the solution?

Do you expect the solution to require workflow?

Is data migration required? (Outside of the SharePoint)

Will the solution require integration with another system or data source?

     - If yes, is this integration for inbound, outbound data or both?

     - If yes, what is the name/type/technology of the integration system?

What is the requested Implementation Date?

Why has this date been identified/defined?

Will this replace an existing solution, if so what is the name/platform of that solution?

Will the solution/enhancement consolidate & simplify a current solution/process/activity?

Will the solution/ehnancement improve the delivery of information?

Will the solution/enhancement realise individual/team/business efficiencies?

Describe the new/existing business processes

Will user training be required?

What is the backup procedures?

Is there a Dev, QA, Staging environment?

 

Conclusion

I would be remiss if I did not say that we at King Strategy Solutions specialize in analyzing the proper requirements and determining the best approach from a development perspective.


SharePoint 2013 Designer Workflow – The Wait Action Dilemma

So I am working at a client building an onboarding workflow. The flow was fairly straight forward, there is an onboarding list and each department has a field they fill in when they completed the task with the information they received. For example, IT has an email field that they fill in upon completion of their email setup task. Payroll has an ADP employee reference field, and so on.

 

So I go into this thinking I have this in the bag because of my old handy dandy “Wait for field to change” command (Click here for more information)…Right…Wrong! Did I fail to mention that the client had a requirement of using a SharePoint 2013 workflow? So what I didn’t know was


In SharePoint 2010 the Wait for action is this:



In SharePoint 2013 the Wait for action is this:





The problem is I have no idea what the email address will be equal to so that’s out! So here is how do we handle it

This is in the first stage “Initialize Workflow”



Workflow Variable – IT Email While Loop set it equal to 0
Workflow Variable – WF Initial Email Address to the value of the Alakaina field initially
 
In the IT Verification Stage



At this stage
  • Set up a while loop to run while the IT Email While Loop equals 0.
  • Then used the Wait for Event: When an item is changed (click here for more information)
  • If Current Item – Alakaina Email not equals WF Initial Email Address Then set the variable IT Email While Loop to 1 to stop the loop
 
Conclusion
I would be remiss if I did not say that we at King Strategy Solutions specialize in analyzing the proper  requirement workflow and determining the best approach from a development perspective.

SharePoint in the real world – what version and what platform should I use?

So you’ve decided on SharePoint or you may have SharePoint in your current environment, at this point you may feel like you have more questions than answers, welcome to the club! LOL!

 

Let’s discuss two very important questions:

1)     What version of SharePoint should I use?

2)     What platform should it run on?


When you search those topics, the results are overwhelming and confusing. Luckily, we will discuss the best options, in the real world, your world and not in “the perfect world with unlimited funds”

 

What version of SharePoint should I use?

A majority of client environments I work with on a regular basis have the following versions in production

  • SharePoint 2010
  • SharePoint 2013
  • SharePoint Online (Office 365)

For the sake of the discussion and comparison, I will also include SharePoint 2016 as well. Some highlights of each version are:

 

-        SharePoint 2010 was a truly major upgrade to the SharePoint platform, it introduced a new user ribbon interface, co-authoring features, and it was Microsoft’s first true foray into social computing and knowledge management.

-        SharePoint 2013 was the next step in platform improvements. In my opinion the biggest improvement was with search. In the previous platform, FAST Search was a separate platform that had to be administered separately and then integrated into the environment. SharePoint 2013 incorporated FAST search into one platform.

-        SharePoint Online (Office 365) is the Microsoft platform for the cloud. (NOTE: The term “Cloud” simply means that you use an application that is hosted somewhere else and accessed via the intranet. In other words, if you use Gmail then you are using the cloud)

-        SharePoint 2016 was released in March of this year and the biggest changes are in the backend by increasing content database and list item limits. There are also vast improvements in hybrid integrations.  

 

Now the question is what version should you either implement or upgrade too. Below is a guide as to what you should do:

 

Current Version

Usage

Recommendations

Comments

None

Basic Intranet Usage / Document Storage / No Customizations

SharePoint Online

This is the best option for basic usage. No administration needs and have the ability for dynamic storage

None

Advanced usage (i.e. workflows, customizations), Heavier usage where SharePoint is a critical application

SharePoint 2013

SharePoint 2013 is so mature and rich in features it makes it the obvious choice above and beyond SharePoint 2016.

SharePoint 2010

All environment types and usages

SharePoint 2016

The reason for the SharePoint 2016 recommendation here is simply because of having the longest support possible

SharePoint 2013 / SharePoint Online

All environment types and usages

Stand Pat

No need to upgrade as the features for SharePoint 2016 are not worth the migration costs

 

What platform should I use?

So what does this question actually mean? What platform? Well, the SharePoint environment has to run on a Windows Server. The minimum requirements are Windows Server 2008 R2, 32 GB RAM, Quad Core, with a 60 GB C: and 120 GB Data drive. So where should the server be? There are three options available to us:

 

-        Physical Servers -  Physical Servers are the traditional way of doing things and involve a piece(s) of hardware that are configured to perform the tasks of your business. Generally, this hardware is in your server room / break room.

-        Virtual Servers - A Virtual Server is normally one of many servers that operate upon a single physical server with each virtual server sharing the resources of the physical server between them.

-        Cloud Servers – Cloud Servers are virtual server but instead of the physical server being hosted in your environment, it’s hosted outside of your environment.

 

The best recommendation would be to use Cloud Servers in a hosted environment. A few of the pros are:

 

-        Scalable – add more server power in a moment’s notice.

-        Custom Infrastructure - clients can include custom network architecture, firewalls, load balancing and IP deployment.

-        High Availability - if a physical server fails, cloud servers are migrated to another physical server without experiencing an outage.

-        Sharable Computing Resources - no concern about lagging RAM or CPU power, even if another cloud customer's load grows.

 

Conclusion

So to summarize, the best bet to implement would be SharePoint 2013 in a cloud hosted environment and I would be remiss if I did not say that we at King Strategy Solutions specialize in analyzing your environment, capacity planning and determining the best approach as part of our SharePoint Landscape Assessment.


So you have SharePoint, now what…A discussion about adoption


You’ve gone to the seminars, your peers and direct reports have told you how great SharePoint was and how it will change the organization through collaboration. So you have SharePoint, now what. Usage is sporadic among various teams, there are some documents in SharePoint but it is not widely used and the user base ranges from developers who want to use custom web parts to employees that don’t know SharePoint exists. Depending on hardware, licensing, and staff, SharePoint can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $250,000 annually, so how do you get a return on that investment, adoption.

Dictionary.com defines adoption as “to take over as if it were one's own” and that is exactly the approach that department heads and business leaders need to take when looking at SharePoint adoption. SharePoint unlike most application is not what I call a “must-use” application like Microsoft Office. If you want to write a document, you must use Word. If you want to create a spreadsheet, you must use Excel. But when it comes to collaboration especially of content, all you need is a laptop with a “My Documents” folder and email and you are off and running. SharePoint is an “opt-in” application, like any IM application or any business social application (Yammer, Jive, etc.). So the approach must be different “firm but fair”.

So the question becomes how to create an adoption plan, right. Microsoft offers many templates and videos in their SharePoint Adoption Kit that assist organizations to “rah rah” users into using SharePoint. While that approach will work on some users, cheering the application doesn’t answer the biggest adoption roadblocks: “What will it do for me?”, “Is this something else I have to use to do my job?”, and “Do I have to use it?”

To address those concerns here are some simple ways to garner adoption:

Communication

Cardinal Rule #1: Thou shalt not send attachments over email

One of the biggest mistake organizations make is not making SharePoint their central repository of the truth. You are killing your adoption if you have one document stored in SharePoint and have another version of the document in as an email attachment. Instead of attaching, copy and paste the link to the document in SharePoint. That begins to get users in the habit of looking in SharePoint for documents. Habitual behavior is crucial to SharePoint adoption. A study was done and showed that 90% of all computer users open their email program first. They do it although no one told them to through instruction or policy. When asked why, over 70% of the respondents said “it’s a habit”. The same approach must be taken in SharePoint.

Cardinal Rule #2: Thou shalt command from the top down

A former client was looking at how to increase adoption in SharePoint, through many failed attempts once the organization’s CFO started using SharePoint for document reference for preparation of quarterly earnings calls the VP level reports naturally did the same thing. Once the VPs started using SharePoint to report the numbers, the Senior Directors began to use SharePoint to gather the numbers. You get the picture, Senior Executive buy in is crucial but more importantly, buy in must be top down. You don’t have to be a CFO, but if you are managing a team, once you start using SharePoint, the team will as well.

Quick Automation Wins

Cardinal Rule #3 – Thou shalt automate manual processes

More often than not SharePoint is seen as a document repository, missing all of the built-in out of the box automation functionality. If you have any data collection processes (and I bet your HR department has a ton), SharePoint out of the box can very easily automate and streamline those processes to increase usage and adoption, more importantly answer that question “What can it do for me?”. Some very simple out of the box processes that can be automated are:

  • On/offboarding through the use of task lists and alerts
  • Open Enrollment through the use of InfoPath and a forms library
  • Training Registration
  • Expense Reporting

(I told you HR has a lot of processes that could be streamlined)

In conclusion, taking very simple steps will not only increase your adoption but increase the return on your investment and I would be remiss if I did not say that we at King Strategy Solutions  specialize in analyzing your environment and determining the best adoption approach as part of our SharePoint Landscape Assessment.


Joseph King

Senior Sharepoint Collaboration Expert