Although a rare (for this year) snowfall reminded me that it’s still winter, every other sign is telling me it’s spring. First, year-end activity is behind us, and we are working on the pent-up projects stalled since mid-November. Second, we are looking ahead and planning a very active year. Third, several members of my team have completed a winter vacation and we all seem to be looking forward to new challenges. Yep, it must be spring. Although the tag line on this blog is meant to be all-encompassing, it was never meant to describe my week – this week, it does.
What We Do – one of my team members was on vacation this week, so I played the support role for one of our SharePoint applications. It struck me that we are at a point where day-to-day business processes take place in and depend upon SharePoint. It was also fun to peek into a process I haven’t been associated with for a while and realize that the people using this solution understand it better and have pushed it (or want to push it) to be more useful. Last week, I had a short conversation with Marc Anderson, and one of the subjects we talked about was knowledge management. One of the topics we discussed was the relative lack of metrics in our shop for measuring knowledge transfer rates. Marc suggested that one indicator might be the questions being asked. I wrote earlier in the week on my AIIM blog that recently, the questions being asked tell me that SharePoint adoption is ticking up. This week, I noticed that the support requests I received tell me people understand SharePoint better than they did 6 months ago. For example, I had a good conversation with one manager about the best way to utilize SharePoint to organize her department’s content. We were discussing content, as well as Document Sets, Content Types and metadata.
What We Attempt – One of the things we have attempted several times is to put an individual Account Team listing on our customer pages. This is a contact list, but the customer pages are sub-sites of a common parent, and we really want to work from a single list on the parent site. Querying the parent list from the child seems like it should be easier. I found a good blog entry to help get the list exposed, and the solution is working, but I know it can be easier and nicer looking. Whoa, did you see that? I’m thinking about making something nicer looking; it must be spring. Of course, what I mean is that I know this part can be more useful, and I know that Marc’s SPServices library can help me get those results. I’m not going to attempt this though; I’m going to have Marc come down here and show us how he would do it. I think it’s the perfect size task for a classroom example.
What We Find Interesting – I’m going to circle back to adoption here, because I do find the indicators that people are, or are not yet, fully adopting SharePoint to be very interesting. To view these competing trends, I don’t have to look any farther than my inbox. Some people send me links to documents that are in SharePoint, while some send me emails in which they tell me “the attached document is also in SharePoint.” It is also both interesting and comforting that people are showing us partially built solutions and asking us to help them add specific features. I also found it interesting that as we added a customer site for a new customer, one of our engineers wanted to be the person to introduce the customer to the site. These are the kind of things that tell me that we are moving from grudging acceptance to adoption.
What We Find Frustrating – As we built the new customer site this week, I decided that I would create a template from the new site. I added the standard libraries, complete with metadata columns. I added custom lists to control those metadata columns. I added the calendar web part that we like to include, and I added a discussion called “Ask a Question” that will be monitored by the customer’s account team. I added the account team listing that I described earlier and then I saved the site as a template. Then, boom – “An unexpected error has occurred” – great! The results in the log were no more enlightening than the message, so we opted to cut our losses and just save the lists and libraries as templates.
For each of these observations, you have to understand that we are a small shop. It’s not like hundreds of people are building solutions, but when you’re small, you measure smaller things.