Tag Archives: SharePoint

Why a SharePoint project is like building a house (or should be) – Part 1

Simon Tyrrell, nSynergy Chief Strategy Officer

One of the things I enjoy most about my role is that I get the chance to sit back and take a big picture view of our business, and come up with ways to improve processes. For the past two years I went through the very interesting experience of designing and building a new house, which led to a series of blogs shared with my colleagues – and ultimately resulted in a change in how I consider the projects we do and how we go about engaging with our customers.

I wanted to share my insights from this period with you, in the interest of demonstrating how it is important to constantly analyse the way we do things, and to learn from experiences that may help us to deliver even better SharePoint solutions.

My wife and I employed a Building Designer to create us a brand new house. Throughout the process – and if you’ve ever undergone a major house build you’ll know it is quite the process – we obviously grew more and more excited about our new home. But the experience resonated strongly with me due to the many parallels to running a major IT project.

Let’s walk through my experience and compare it the SharePoint model historically used on most projects.

The Vision

The vision for our new home started with a single page of dot points my wife and I wrote down, plus a scrap book of things we had liked in magazines. It was very high level, with statements like ‘lots of natural light’, ‘take advantage of water views’ and ‘low profile on block’.

We then had a number of phone calls with the designer, where he asked a bunch of leading questions, and met with him face-to-face once, before he turned our ideas into a three page design brief. The purpose of this brief was to determine whether he had correctly interpreted what was important to us.

What’s SharePoint got to do with it?

Had this been a traditional SharePoint project, the process would have virtually worked in reverse. The SharePoint provider would have jumped straight into business requirements, with an eagerness to bring their technical proficiency into play straight off the bat.

The Concept

After a series of emails with questions, clarifications and then a survey of the land, we met with the designer again and he took us through a 3D visual concept of the direction he was heading. He then provided us with some still frame images to refer too, like this example:

Images courtesy of Clever Design: www.cleverdesign.com.au

Images courtesy of Clever Design: http://www.cleverdesign.com.au

Underpinning this concept was the beginnings of the detailed plans. However, these were of little relevance to us. What we wanted to know was: would this house achieve what we wanted it to?

The ability to see the early concept in 3D (and even walk through it) showed us it would.

What’s SharePoint got to do with it?

Had this been a SharePoint project, it would still generally have been considered too early for design concepts, which means a lost opportunity for all players to enjoy an early visual reference point. Vision is, after all, the most dominant sense for human beings!

The Detail

During the next few months we heard very little from the designer. However, when we did, we were amazed by the level of detail that had been completed. We soon had 16 A2 size detailed plans, taking us through every possible piece of detail about how our house would be built – including slabs, framing, steelwork, foundations etc. These were the important details we needed to provide to the builder and the council – in other words, the technical experts:

Images courtesy of Clever Design: www.cleverdesign.com.au

Images courtesy of Clever Design: http://www.cleverdesign.com.au

Obviously this level of detail required either industry expertise we didn’t have, or a lot of study. If these 2D drawings were the only thing in our possession we would have had little idea of what the house would be like to live in. But luckily, we had our 3D walk though of the final design.

These were hugely important to my wife and I, because they allowed us to imagine what our home would ‘feel’ like at different times of the day. We were able to gain an immediate appreciation for design decisions as well an understanding of the geometry and space of the building.

What’s SharePoint got to do with it?

Again, IT solutions in the SharePoint space are largely focused on lengthy specification documents and technical detail. Rarely are users given a means to ‘experience’ the end result early in the process. Not only does this help inform their decision, it enables early buy-in to critical design decisions.

Stay tuned for Part 2 soon, when I will be talking about how my house experience and SharePoint aligned on an even deeper level during the build phase. I will also be sharing some key learnings which changed how we, as a business, tackle our projects.

Leveraging social tools to drive culture and adios 15,000 emails

Managing the content migration beast

User Experience: 9 things you need to know before you can call it UX

Enterprise video killed the radio star

Invideo a previous blog (Content is king in SharePoint 2013) we touched on the fact that SharePoint 2013 offers a vastly improved Digital Asset Management (DAM) experience. Following to a request for more information via our LinkedIn group*, today we’re going to dig a bit deeper and explore the wonderful world of enterprise video content.

Firstly, there are some pretty cool things happening in this space now video has earned its reputation as a viable business channel (not just an external marketing medium). It’s certainly true that video is a highly effective way to educate and share knowledge in a business context, but also to boost productivity and reduce overheads in areas like training. However it was only a matter of time before IT managers realised that a company YouTube channel was not going to cut it from an IP perspective, but also in terms of being able to fully leverage video content as a bona fide business tool.

The great news is that as the popularity of enterprise video has increased, so has the demand for tools to support it. In the past 18 months there have been considerable developments around initial areas of concern – namely how to combat lack of metadata to make video searchable, how to store it and how to properly integrate it into a corporate environment. One of the common scenarios we face is, that while the amount of IP clients have in video form has grown, it has not been centrally stored or catalogued. It’s therefore impossible to get a decent ROI as there’s no visibility on what video content exists or how people are using it.

So, let’s take a look at how SharePoint 2013 is structured to help users create, locate and use video content.

SharePoint 2013 Asset Libraries

Asset libraries have been created to house rich media content types including video, images and audio files. These assets can now be tagged with a range of metadata to make them more easily searchable (including details like size, duration, date taken and even transcripts), with a handy thumbnail appearing for each file. The file’s metadata is then revealed when the thumbnail is hovered over, and content authors can even choose a particular frame to feature as the thumbnail.

Leveraging enterprise search

With powerful FAST search technology incorporated into SharePoint 2013 out-of-the-box, digital content like videos can now be effectively located using metadata.

To further aid discoverability, users can rate these assets and the resulting metadata leveraged when content is displayed in a web part. This proves particularly useful when it comes to developing subject matter libraries, as the top rated videos can be highlighted using a web part. Uploading transcripts is also a good way to connect search queries with video content.

Stream it

SharePoint 2013 gives you the capability to conduct live video streaming with the added bonus of incorporating user ratings, reviews and polls. This user-generated data can then be analyzed and used to optimise a process or future event, as well as being also added to the video’s metadata. Calendar systems such as Outlook can also be used to alert staff to video streaming events, and SharePoint 2013’s enhanced mobile platform will deliver video content to a range of mobile operating systems including Windows, iOS and Android.

Beware the BLOB

A BLOB, or binary large object, is any sizeable chunk of data (such as a video file) which is stored in a database known by its size and location instead of by its structure. When storing documents and media in SharePoint, your content is generally placed into a content database. After a while, the amount of content can affect the performance of SQL (the database engine) and SharePoint. So Microsoft introduced the concept of Remote BLOB Storage (RBS) to combat this and help to improve the overall performance of SharePoint and SQL, with lower cost implications than other storage options.

RBS is most easily explained by considering the two parts to content stored in SharePoint – being the metadata and the file itself. RBS takes the second component out of the SQL database and places it on other devices. The advantage of this approach is it allows SharePoint designers to get around the built in capacity limits of SharePoint, allowing for more content to appear in your site, without worrying about the potential performance impact on your environment.

Show don’t tell

As we loop a lot of our subject matter and project outcomes back to User Adoption (UA), it would be remiss of us not to make mention of it in the context of enterprise video. Like any business communications tool, if it doesn’t get visibility throughout your business, UA will be low. So get your employees on-board and utilising these important resources by educating them about how to access and upload video content into SharePoint. Activities like creating video library communities and sharing new video content by embedding it in a social feed will help in this regard.

Want to know more about how to integrate video content into your SharePoint environment? Get in touch with one of our SharePoint consultants today.

* Ask questions, join discussions and pick up insights about Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 via our dedicated LinkedIn group, The SharePoint Experience.

Managing the Content Migration beast

freeimage-5367570-webEvery year around 1.5 million wildebeest journey from the Serengeti to the Masai Mara in in search of food and water. It’s called the annual wildebeest migration and is one of nature’s largest spectacles.

When new clients come to us looking to migrate content to a new system they invariably ask, ‘Just how huge is this going to be?’

Well in our experience, the scale of a Content Migration project is somewhere between moving house and the African wildebeest migration. (And both can quickly go awry if things aren’t set on the right path early!)

A bit of apprehension about undertaking a project of this size is understandable. Migrating years, sometimes decades, worth of business documentation can be incredibly labour intensive – but it needn’t be a complete nightmare. However Content Migration is generally not something we would encourage you to tackle alone. An experienced provider will help you to define a project roadmap that will expose any issues nice and early, before managing a strategic migration process.

The first thing to note is, clients often come to us to talk ‘hypothetically’ about their options for a new CMS – which is a sure sign to us that they already need one. File shares are still a reality for many businesses and it’s alarming how bad a shape these can be in. We’re often left wondering how employees in some businesses ever got things done, given the bottomless pit of information they had to sift through every day.

So, if you think you might need a new system, you probably do. Remember your current environment is not going to magically improve – in fact it will continue to get worse – so we would encourage you to take a deep breath and tackle Content Migration head on.

Be prepared

Preparedness is an obvious place to start – but lack of planning can sink a project like this very quickly, so it is vital. Scope your project in clear detail, defining things like goals, budgets, resources, risks and success indictors, and then communicate them to everyone involved. This keeps everyone on the same page, working towards the same outcomes. (But do keep in mind that sound planning should be tempered with a flexible approach that allows for a few curve balls).

Take stock

Performing a diligent assessment of everything in your current environment and defining a criteria for existing data is the next step. You don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater, as time and money went into creating this corporate knowledge. But the focus should be on identifying quality data, scoping content types and document metadata, and throwing any irrelevant/inaccurate/out-dated files onto the scrap heap.

Ask the tough questions, such as: How do we rank documents in terms of importance? Is a document that hasn’t been opened in two years still needed? What must be kept from a compliance or legislation perspective? Do we migrate all versions or only the most recent?

Build and map

A thorough document audit will pay dividends at this point, as the information gleaned during stocktake will aid the configurations of your new CMS. You want to migrate documents across with rich, accurate metadata to allow your users to filter search and easily locate the documents they need.

Things to keep in mind:

  • If metadata is not assigned in the original environment, which is fairly likely, then who will take ownership of assigning metadata? (Try to avoid the common ‘we will do it once we’re in the new system’ trap).
  • If migrating to SharePoint from a file share, consider the implications of updating document links in spreadsheets
  • If mapping in the new environment is not the same as the legacy system, then a migration register is essential to track information pertaining to each file e.g. source, destination, type, owner, importance, date to be moved.

Manual v automated migration

Unless you have only a small migration, or you are migrating at the content database level, a migration tool is likely to give the best outcome.  However, migration tools, while powerful, are not a silver bullet and do not guarantee success – some human consideration is still important. You are likely to encounter content that fails to migrate, so being prepared for this by running test samples and having a strategy for handling content with illegal characters will help minimise your down time.  Migration tools really come into their own when you need:

  • Version control or collapsing versions into a single file
  • Maintaining metadata fidelity (do you need to keep the original modified or created date?)
  • Scheduling batches to run in the middle of the night
  • Pre-migration and post-migration reporting and verification
  • Workflow migration.

Managing the change

It’s important to be on the front foot with major change like this by developing a user adoption strategy. Again, this comes back to answering some important questions during the planning stage, and engaging people throughout the journey to ensure they understand why the migration is taking place. Considerations such as whether you will adopt a staggered or single release, alerting staff to downtime in advance and responding to the inevitable ‘where have my files gone’ queries after roll out, should all be planned for.

We hope this article has highlighted how Content Migration headaches can be minimised. As outlined above, we definitely believe the services of an experienced provider will be worth the financial outlay, as they will work faster and with a higher rate of accuracy. Contact a member of the team today and we will talk you through it in greater detail.

User Experience: 9 things you need to know before you can call it UX

Do you know why social giants like Facebook and Twitter resisted monetizing their sites for the first few years?

Because their sites wouldn’t have been cool if they did. Nor would they have gained the trust of millions of users.

By deveiStock_000020818259_ExtraSmallloping sites that focused exclusively on UX, both Facebook and Twitter built legions of followers who became so entrenched in the experience they couldn’t live without it. Then they launched user-targeted advertising and started raking in the billions. (Anecdotally, Facebook makes $3 million a day from their mobile ads alone).

What does this have to do with ICT projects? Pretty much everything. When it comes to deploying Office 365 or SharePoint solutions, if your audience doesn’t get on-board and use it, it will fail. So, how do you stop your investment from winding up in the big graveyard-for-unadopted-IT-projects in the sky?

You guessed it – by creating a rich UX. And, while UX conversations are not new, they are more relevant than ever with the range of optimisation features available out-of-the-box. E.g. SharePoint 2013’s mobile development platform, catering for the demand for superior UX across multiple device channels.

There is a depth and breadth of information about UX out there, so we thought it might be useful to give UX a shakedown, and highlight what we believe are the most important lessons.

1. What it is

Type ‘What is UX’ into a search engine and you will turn up dozens of results. However, in the context we are discussing, UX is the quality of human interaction a person has with a site or system. It involves creating a consistent, meaningful experience that drives engagement. UX frames the user as the hero in the story – not a bit player. And, as indicated above, UX can make or break an ICT project.

2. Why it’s top of the pops

The digital revolution has permanently shifted the balance of power. Forget what you think you know about how information should be packaged and presented to an audience – be they employee, customer or other – it no longer matters. Mobility, tablets, BYOD, cloud computing – have all put the user in the driver’s seat when it comes to access to and consumption of information. Your solution needs to be as agile as they are. End of story.

3. The UX attributes you need to nail

Good UX should make a user’s interaction with your site or system easy, dynamic and reliable and includes things like intuitive information architecture and content. Great UX will also be meaningful, reduce pain points and help the user be productive on any device. (Deliver a great UX and you’ll get adoption levels to where you will derive the required ROI). Going one step further, exceptional UX delivers what is referred to as an immersive digital experience, meaning one which deeply involves the senses. Just like the social giants, deliver an immersive experience and you will have loyal users for life.

4. Accept that great functionality comes second

Firstly, we should point out that it’s perfectly OK to come second. To all the developers and technicians out there, your work is equally as important as UX, maybe even more so because you turn a vision into reality. But UX planning should be first. In our experience, if people see something they like, they will use it. Which is why we evolved our approach beyond the traditional SharePoint project model several years ago – because we saw how dazzling clients with technical expertise and high-level solution ideas straight off the bat was limiting our ability to deliver standout UX. Why? Because we had gone too far down the technical path, so by the time UX became part of the conversation, our clients already had expectations in mind about how the system would function.

5. Do the leg work

Requirements gathering is the strategic process of learning about an audience – who they are, what they like, how they access and use information, and so on. It’s vital to invest time in this early on, as the outputs from this research will help you to make informed choices when it comes to UX design. Also, poor UX is expensive to remedy once a solution has been deployed.

To gather requirements, we utilise several best practice UX methodologies including:

  • User Stories – helps us to understand how different people will interact with a site by ‘storytelling’ and evaluating real situations.
  • Persona Profiling – the process of identifying several core types of users within your organisation, how they work, what is important to them etc.
  • Low fidelity wireframes – lo-fi wireframing is the process of quickly mapping out a basic interface to use as a starting point for discussion.
  • Rapid prototyping – the extension of lo-fi wireframing, this involves building a ‘proof of concept’

Talking to your actual audience is also crucial. It’s natural for project steering committees to put their ‘user hats’ on and draw on their own needs/desires, but these are unlikely to reflect those of the broader user group.

6. UX is more than just good design

There are a number of players required to create a rich, meaningful UX. Jobs in the ‘usability’ space have increased significantly in the last few years, and we ourselves now benefit from the value these experts bring to projects. However our graphic designers (and your content authors) also play a key role in translating a strategic UX vision into a complimentary, exciting visual design.

7. It’s not something users’ needs to think about

Good UX should almost fly under the radar, in the sense that if it works, it just works. The user is not likely to finish engaging with your site and want to contact you to say how memorable it was. Particularly in a professional environment. (Rest assured you will soon know about it if you deploy a site with poor UX). For this reason it’s a good idea to set up the correct success metrics e.g. user adoption levels, regularity and duration of use etc. As your users are unlikely to tell you how good it is unless you ask.

8. The tools are out there, so innovate

SharePoint 2013 comes with number of new additions to the feature set, including custom mobile development and social collaboration functionality. This all works in your favour as it helps users to be productive anywhere, on any device, and collaborate in ways that are familiar to them. As well as taking advantage of these tools, consider what custom features or apps would benefit your users and engage the services of an experienced provider to build them. (We have a number of great tools we use, partner with and recommend to clients because they drive UX effectively – ask us).

9. It’s not a silver bullet

Just a final point to reiterate that UX forms part of a well-planned, skilfully built and deployed platform. A successful project is very much the sum of all its parts, so while UX should come first and be a priority, it must be underpinned by sound development, testing and change management practices.

As an exercise, jump onto your company intranet or website and try to imagine you are a first time user. How would you rate UX, on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high)? If you’re anywhere under the 7 mark, get in touch, we can help.

What’s the buzz? Demystifying Modern UI.

We’re taking a slightly less technical approach today to consider one of the most common questions raised when we start talking SITE DESIGN with clients.Sws

What is Modern UI? Or, more specifically, why is it important?

Let’s rewind back to the fifties when the Swiss, in their ever-practical wisdom, dreamed up a graphic design style that would become globally known as (wait for it) – Swiss Style. The principles of Swiss Style were all around simple, clean lines and readability, and are still widely used today. In a computing context, we started seeing what Microsoft called ‘Metro’ in the mid-nineties, which was their version of a typography-based design language, based on those classic Swiss principles.

Today, the brightly-coloured, live tile interfaces we see in products like Windows 8 are the modern evolution of this design and what we Win 8refer to as Modern User Interface (UI). The guiding Win 8thought behind Modern UI is that by minimising graphics and focusing on short, sharp content and large tiles, the user enjoys a more simplified, responsive interaction with a site.

While the above is a very broad strokes overview, we wanted to provide some context around what Microsoft were trying to achieve with Modern UI, so we can explain why we believe this design is the future of all intranet, internet and extranet sites.

Cloud computing with products like Office 365 is no longer the future, it is here and now, and delivering businesses a reliable, cost-saving alternative to traditional IT infrastructures. Enhancements like mobility and multiple device channels are also becoming commonplace and will soon be expected, at minimum, by users. (We’ve talked in previous blogs about how SharePoint 2013 delivers to these needs with its new capability set – please read if you wish to get up to speed).

The next step in the digital workplace revolution is BYOD, or bring your own device, which refers to employees bringing their own device such as smartphones, laptops and tablets to work and connecting to their corporate network. (A sure sign that the user is in the driver’s seat from an ‘access to information’ perspective).

Taking all this into account, it appears that users are starting to outgrow traditional communications channels and standard websites. Enter the Modern UI intranet. Sleek, familiar, fast and with the ability to surface user-specific content within 1-2 touches or clicks. An optimised experience across every device channel means a better user experience, which leads to higher user adoption levels, reductions in administration and training costs, and productivity increases.

As an example, we recently embarked on an exciting project with our sister company, OSC, and Microsoft Global, which involved us designing a new Office 365 communications portal tailored to the needs of the retail industry. (Feel free to read about this innovation on page 22 of the current edition of Microsoft’s Speak magazine here).

Why is this solution a potential game-changer? Because we’ve taken the standard communications platform – in this case an intranet – and totally flipped the user experience by introducing Modern UI. And, by considering the most common interactions and information needs a group of users has on a daily basis, and representing this in a scrollable, convenient format, we are delivering information straight into their hands, in a manner that is familiar to them. Further, with the introduction of dynamic news and social feeds, we are giving users the ability to contribute re-usable knowledge back to their organisation.

For some businesses, this kind of leap might be too far down the track to really consider, for others, maybe it’s the next logical step. Regardless of where you’re at, we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions and would therefore evaluate your business on its current state fully before recommending Modern UI as an option. But we hope you found this blog useful in terms of understanding Modern UI principles and potential.

Where is your company on its digital journey? Our Office 365 and SharePoint consultants will answer your questions via Live Chat on our website. Jump on over and ask away.

SkyDrive Pro keeps key docs at your fingertips


SkyDrive Pro

One of the new kids on the block in 2013 which has sparked plenty of discussion is the integration of SkyDrive Pro into SharePoint.

When this addition to the Microsoft product set was announced, some folks were confused as to why two independent programs would be named in such similar fashion. But, as with many things, the simplest explanation is often the best. So on that basis, think of SkyDrive Pro as the business solution for cloud-based document storage in the same way SkyDrive is for individuals. Where SkyDrive allows a person to sync their personal documents to the cloud, SkyDrive Pro facilitates a similar experience for SharePoint users and their business documents.

Actually SkyDrive Pro does that and bit more. It’s main purpose is to give individuals within an organisation control over where, when and how they access content, by allowing them to store and organise documents on their organisation’s SharePoint servers (i.e. in their “corporate cloud”).

As the default location for saving files, SkyDrive Pro is essentially the new MySite documents library. But it goes a step further by giving users the power to sync a SharePoint library to their PC or device, and work with files in their library by using Windows Explorer. Any files updates then sync to SharePoint when the user is next online. This is great news for companies who struggle to keep certain groups of employees e.g. a mobile sales force, away from using shared drives, as now they can utilise SkyDrive Pro to seamlessly sync their documents to SharePoint.

Other key benefits include giving users the ability to:

  • Sync team site document libraries locally
  • Share, collaborate and co-author documents with both internal and external stakeholders
  • Access their content anywhere, on any device
  • Effectively manage the content lifecycle and version control, and,
  • Manage access permissions.

In addition, Microsoft has indicated that users will have the ability to access SkyDrive Pro with native mobile client apps for Windows 8 and iOS by June 2013.

SkyDrive Pro comes with a standard 7GB storage for each user with SharePoint Online – a significant increase on the 500MB that was offered in 2010. At this stage, we are not aware of a way to increase user storage limits (above 7GB), however we expect Microsoft will consider offering a solution for this in the future. With on-premise SharePoint 2013, storage allocation is determined by the administrator.

If your organisation is considering coming across from SharePoint 2010 to 2013, it is possible to attain an update to allow SkyDrive Pro to operate alongside SharePoint Workspace – but it’s important to note that the latter no longer features in SharePoint 2013. (SkyDrive Pro can, however, perform all the same functions which 2010 users currently reply upon in Workspace).

As a final piece, it’s worth noting that while SkyDrive Pro does make offline doc syncing much easier and a better all-round experience, your users still need to be supported by sound access and administration protocols, to ensure your IP is protected. However, unlike previously, when a user could download a document and save it to their personal drive without any controls in place, risks to version control and duplication are significantly lessened by them now being able to sync documents directly back to SharePoint.

It’s no secret that Microsoft is on a mission to continually enhance their product offering to more readily connect their users with the cloud. This integration of SkyDrive Pro into the Office 2013 suite is another important step towards this goal.

Would you like to know more? Contact a member of the nSynergy team via instant chat, phone or email today.

Back to basics – Doc Management 101


Image courtesy of http://www.efffective.com.

As with any new rollout of SharePoint, a lot of industry talk is dedicated to the suite’s emerging functionality. And certainly we have dedicated a lot of airtime to reviewing features like mobility and social collaboration in recent entries.

But we are often reminded – as was the case during a new client discovery workshop last week – that many businesses out there are still heavily reliant on old school file shares and document libraries. Which prompts us (upon request) to get back to basics and talk about one of SharePoint’s most core features – Document Management (DM). And while this piece won’t be of interest to fully-fledged SharePoint users, we’re certain it will resonate strongly with the relative newcomers who get in touch with us almost every week.

The most common situation we come across is organisations who still rely upon complex, multi-layered folder structures, which can sometimes disappear down as far as 50 levels – into a dark abyss of useless, irretrievable business knowledge. These kind of structures hinder discoverability, and make any kind of version control next to impossible.

A classic example is when a user locates a file, and when trying to open it they receive a message that it is locked by another user. It is (unfortunately) very standard behaviour for the person to then save themselves a copy of the file, rename it and suddenly two versions of the document exist. The knock on effect is then felt when a third person goes through the (very painful) search process and, if lucky enough to locate any files with a keyword search, two files now appear with no distinction as to which is current.

SharePoint’s check in/check out system reduces the risk of this occurring as there are more controls around DM. A user can easily see who has control of the file and by using integrated functionality such as Microsoft Lync, they can quickly open up an instant chat and ask if they are finished. If they need to work on the file at the same time, users can leverage a feature called multi-tenant authoring, which allows multiple users to edit Word and PowerPoint documents at the same time. This allows for the rapid creation of content and removes the tedious task of someone having to try and consolidate multiple versions of the same file into one document which is time consuming, and often leads to human error.

Next to version control, searchability is the other great limiter of file shares. During the abovementioned discovery workshop we asked the Project Manager how employees feel about their current file share environment. To which she responded, “I can only find the files I put there. If you didn’t create it, you know you won’t be able to find it, so you save yourself the hassle and just email the document owner for a copy.”

A fairly clear indication that they weren’t exactly kicking goals on the searchability front! And yet connecting people and information is one of the most powerful drivers of collaboration and productivity.

We encounter this issue regularly with organisations who have tried to implement SharePoint themselves. Many do not understand the concept of an Information Architecture (IA) and how it relates to storing files in SharePoint. Not surprisingly, they recreate what they know, which in many cases is a replica of the complex folder structure they had on their file share. So they haven’t fixed the problem – they have effectively transplanted it straight into SharePoint! Which is why we invest a lot of time teaching our clients the fundamentals of SharePoint and demonstrating the advantages of leveraging functionality such as content types, views and metadata as a way to store and categorise information.

This involves a paradigm shift for many organisations as, like most people, they are comfortable with what they know. But as organisation’s come to realise that their current structures make collaboration and discovery difficult, they become more open to taking a different approach to information management. Primarily, recognising that an intelligent IA and powerful search functionality within SharePoint allows their users to surface information in a logical, simple way. If people can access information easily there is less risk of them working in silos, which ultimately leads to employees having a more global view of the business they are working in.

According to a report published in 2012 by McKinsey Global, the average knowledge worker spends up to 9 hours a week searching for information. That’s over two months a year. Find out how SharePoint can explode productivity within your business. Or if you already have SharePoint installed, that it is governed by proper IA, so you are able to achieve genuine ROI from the technology.