<Disclaimer>This is personal notes of what I retained during the session. This can be incomplete, partially right or wrong. It is just part of the notes I took and what retained my attention. Nothing prevents the user to get more information on their favorite web site.</Disclaimer>
Customer experience at Cotecna : Intranet Setup with SharePoint 2007
As the company grew quite well from its beginning, the need for an intranet became stronger with the years. Today, Cotecna has now more than 1500 users spread in 100 offices looking for an intranet.
The initiative started by a survey in order to understand what the users were needing and two main topics came out : an intranet and having a standardization of the corporate brand in the intranet. From this, a wish list has been established.
Once the management had agreed of the project, and the functional architecture drawn, it is the IT team that decided to use SharePoint 2007. The problem was, at that time, that there was very few knowledge of SharePoint 2007 internally.
The first phase of the project, focused on the corporate intranet portal, was also to have a network performance assessment to be sure that the infrastructure was in place to welcome such intranet.
Then, a first version of the look and feel was designed
This led to a communication portal using publishing and a set of useful tools : quick links available on all the pages, a who’s who using the user profiles of SharePoint to look for colleagues by office or department and some basic online training for using the intranet.
After more or less 6 months, the corporate intranet portal was in place.
In a second phase, the goal was to develop the business sites and to improve the look and feel to apply on the blogs, forums and wikis as well.
Because of the few internal resources skilled with SharePoint, a lot of consultants were hired to speed-up the progress of the project.
To drive the project implementation, workshops and scoping sessions were organized to get a wish list on which people worked on for 3 years.
An important thing is to have a governance plan in order to measure if the intranet fits the needs of the users (“where we are”) and also to enforce the use of the out-of-the-box features rather than doing development being using Visual Studio or SharePoint Designer.
A strong management buy-in is also important.
Another key to success is a close collaboration with the IT.
In terms of permission rules, Cotecna is using two schemes : AD groups and SharePoint groups. The former is used for corporate sites, the latter for private sites.
The acceptance of the users were got by many “awareness trainings” to teach how to use SharePoint, how to store and update files and also saying and repeating that putting files in SharePoint is a lot more secure than in e-mails.
Since the launch of the intranet, a strong demand from the users has been raised and in such situation, several advices are given :
Not too much selling the SharePoint features. The risk is to say “yes” to everybody and then facing an implementation issue because in fact the feature cannot be implemented without potentially heavy customization (development)
Many requests from local offices were coming and even if the first answer would have been “yes”, at the end, in order to avoid the proliferation of unmanaged sites, “no” was answered
No my sites
Several difficulties encountered during the project :
The company does not have Office 2007
No SLA was set between the IT and the users
Trainings were given online rather than on-site (for cost reason)
IT governance must be established, but was not present at the time of implementation.
A technical team with the required SharePoint skills is being built internally.
The need to industrialize the provisioning of the sites is raising.
One of the conclusion is that the look and feel does really help users to adopt the intranet.
Currently, the intranet is only supporting English, but the corporate news are published in 3 languages (English, French and Spanish).
Product Overview by Ventek International : Enterprise Search with FAST ESP Sharepoint 2010
With the buying of FAST by Microsoft, Microsoft moved from the challengers to the leaders Gartner quadrant in terms of search solutions.
With the explosion of content on the internet and intranet, it appears that more tha 80% of the content is unstructured. It means that it is documents like word, excel or others.
And today, not finding the right information at the right time has a cost. Also because decisions made on inaccurate data can be problematic.
FAST comes in two flavors :
FAST Search for Internet Business that has a release cycle of 12 to 18 months
FAST Search for SharePoint that has the same release cycle as SharePoint (36 months).
But both have the same underlying search platform.
The SharePoint search uses the content and the profiles, but when installing FAST, all the content is sent directly to FAST for indexing.
FAST has the same APIs as SharePoint 2010.
In the index building process, several steps are added, compared to the SharePoint 2010 search :
Lemmatizer, enabling translating plurals to singular
Date and time normalizer
Vectorizer for similarity search
Some of the advantages of FAST :
Visual Best Bets
The standard search refinement done by SharePoint 2010 is made from the first 50 documents resulting the search. FAST goes beyond this limit
The web parts are open and public
Supports a lot of different data sources, being for structured or unstructured content. Each source has its own security model.
Technology Overview by McNext : Migration path(es) from SharePoint 2007 to SharePoint 2010
Proposed migration lifecycle :
Learn, read the documentation, be sure that everything is documented
Prepare, plan the migration, make a list of the solutions to deploy, establish the in which order the farms will be upgraded. Plan hardware upgrade. Identify the customizations. Make the items upgradeable, into solutions. The worst case is when a customization has been done in SharePoint Designer.
Test, first on content database similar to the final content to migrate. An example with several site collections and several GB of data. It will give timings and errors that may come later
Implement, do the migration according to the plan
Validate, check the logs and reports. See if there are orphaned items
Some common problems :
Missing dependencies between web parts
Lack of disk space
Only two upgrade methods available : In-place upgrade or database attach.
During the migration, the database should be in read-only and when the content is huge, a parallel migration can be done.
If there is a lot of development done using the SharePoint API, it will be more difficult to migrate.
There is no direct migration from SharePoint 2003 to SharePoint 2010. This will probably provided by 3rd parties. Moreover, the ServicePack 2 has to be deployed in order to enable the migration.
With the SP2 comes the stsadm –o preupgradecheck command that generates a html report giving the potential issues to the migration.
It is not mandatory to upgrade the look and feel to the SharePoint 2010 upgrade, but once migrated, it is possible to see how it looks like before switching to SP2010. Nevertheless, once switched, no roll-back is possible.
Now, with SharePoint 2010, all the master pages are using <div> positioning and no more relying on <table>.
As the Shared Services Provider has disappeared with SP2010, there is a lot of changes in Microsoft.SharePoint.Administration namespace of the APIs.
Ad finally, XSL is used everywhere for the list views, rather than CAML.
Customer experience at HEIG-Vd : SharePoint Online, Master thesis initiatives – SharePoint Competency Center
The competency center has started in 2007 at HEIG-Vd and involves around 10 people.
Currently, two courses at the IICT department are given on SharePoint : “Introduction” and “Using and administration of SharePoint”
The infrastructure is composed of about 40 web applications (20 of them are plain out-of-the-box) for around 3000 users
The challenges are : fast growing organization and availability of the people is best-effort basis. Also, the accumulation of experience is one of the challenges.
In terms of technology, the different projects are using a mix of other technology than SharePoint : Typo 3, Dot Net Nuke, etc.
A Bachelor thesis on SharePoint online is running and one of the objectives was to estimate the cost of several content management infrastructure :
MOSS 2007 => 537.— CHF / month + setup
Alfresco => 395.— CHF / month + setup
SharePoint Online => 152.-- CHF / month for 15 users
Product Overview by SQLi : SharePoint workflows with Nintex
Some advanced activities of Nintex :
Delegation / Escalation
Enterprise Integration (LDAP, Web Services, BizTalk Server)
Nintex also offers the possibility of approving and rejecting a task just by putting keywords in the e-mail answer. Particularly useful when on the field and using a mobile.
Then, a little presentation of the different activities available in the Nintex toolbox and of Nintex Reporting 2008.
The next Swiss SharePoint Club event will take place in Zurich the 15th of June and will contain : SharePoint development with the Microsoft tools, a presentation on the newsletter creation, an eGov project at the Canton de Zurich and how to build business critical solutions with SharePoint.