Monthly Archives: April 2009

Governance is a Marketing Plan Too

The reason we spend so much time (or should, anyway) working out governance plans is because we want the SharePoint solution to be as effective as possible.  We want good infrastructure and rules to keep it humming and safe in case of disaster.  We want good security processes to both properly secure the environment but also make it reasonable to manage.  We want a good information architecture that will stand the test of time, ideally managing to survive a major organizational change in the company. 

To achieve that desirable objective, a governance document and plan can devolve into a bunch of “thou shall” and “thou shall not’s”, as in:

  • Thou shall not create SharePoint security group; use AD instead.
  • Thou shall not create folders in document libraries; use content types and views instead.
  • Thou shall create all document content types based off a specific custom base type.
  • Thou shall not create an information taxonomy based off today’s company org chart.

“Thou shall” and “thou shall not” certainly have their place in the governance plan.

A more successful governance plan will also have a strong marketing angle.  It should sell and justify itself to the maximum extent possible.  A truly successful governance plan relies upon the voluntary cooperation of all SharePoint users.  (There are fringe cases where community cooperation is not needed, such as when SharePoint is used by a very small number of tightly managed users; I’m sure you can think of others).  If the user community doesn’t buy into your governance plan then it will be partially successful at best.

I use that word “buy” deliberately.  The community will buy the governance plan if it’s fundamentally sound and you go to some effort to sell them on it.  Selling leads to marketing and that’s why I think that a governance plan should be considered a marketing plan too.  Convince your end users that they need to follow the governance plan and they will voluntarily follow it.  If you can get a critical mass of people following the governance plan then the plan’s benefits follow and you’ll have a stronger environment for it.


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Solution: Compiling MOSS Audience Adds No New Members

Bottom line: if you want to use a profile property in a rule for creating audiences, the property must be visible to “everyone.”

I was working with a co-worker yesterday and he was building out a MOSS audience based on a custom user profile property in MOSS.  In this case, the audience property is named “SITECD” and by convention, stores a 3 character code. He had defined the audience and a rule that said that if “SITECD equals ‘ABG’”, then include that user profile in the audience.

He set up a single user profile with that value and compiled the audience, but MOSS simply wouldn’t add that user.  I noticed that the privacy setting for that profile was set to “me only” (the most restrictive form) and I remembered reading somewhere that property profiles used in rules must be visible by “everyone”.  He made that change and that solved the problem.

The really funny thing about this is that I “remembered” reading about this.  It was nagging at me this morning for some reason and I realized that I had written a chapter in this book, MOSS Explained: An Information Worker’s Deep Dive into Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, and that I covered this point in the very chapter I wrote :).  I would have thought that every word I wrote in that chapter would be seared into my memory.

Matt Morse writes this up in beautiful detail here and I referenced it in the chapter:

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Using MSDN (and other) Forums for SharePoint Support

I could write on at great length about MSDN forums, etiquette, naming conventions, search, etc.  I may do that, in fact.  I wanted to point out a small thing which may help people have a better overall experience.

I’ve lately been telling people that if you run into some kind of problem with your SharePoint environment, development project or other SharePoint related activity, post a question to the forums earlier in your action chain rather than later.  I know for myself that when I have a problem, a number of potential solutions present themselves right away.  I order these potential solutions in terms of likelihood, applicability and how easy they are to investigate.  I go through that list and by the time I’ve gotten to #10, I’m making registry changes to a key “/foo/bar/almostThere/isThisIt/noThisIsNotIt/iCantBelieveIAmDoingThis/finallyThere!” on the advice of a blog found on page 8 of a Google search.  When that doesn’t work, I finally post a question to MSDN (e.g. here:

I suggest that you reverse that approach.  Post the forums much earlier in your investigation because:

  • It’s free to you anyway.
  • There’s no guaranteed SLA (of which I’m aware, at least).
  • Therefore, it can take a long time for people to respond.
  • People often do respond eventually.
  • If you wait until 2 or 3 days after the problem first surfaced, you’re frantic for a response and forums are not a good place for emergency help (unless you’re lucky).

So, basically, it’s easy and free and you have a good shot at getting some kind of answer, but it will take a while to get that answer (again, unless you’re lucky).

I used to think that I should hold off on looking for community help because I don’t want to waste someone’s time asking for help when I could find it out myself.  Some forum moderators and active participants may feel that way, but I don’t (at least, I don’t feel that way any more).  I don’t see any downside.  The worst case is that you post a question and then answer it yourself some time later, possibly “wasting” some one’s time.  I don’t see a big risk in that and there’s value in the researching of questions like that in any event.


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Small Note About Microsoft Online Services Passwords and Administration

I started to work with Microsoft’s Small Business Productivity Online Suite several months ago, but now I have some better reason to be using it. 

I’m still working my way around it, so I may be getting some of the terminology wrong, but basically there are two major interfaces: the administration center and the services themselves.

The system was telling me that I had to change my password, so I went ahead and did that.  That allowed me to proceed and work with the services part (SharePoint, email, and live meeting).  However, when I went to the administration screen, it wouldn’t let me in by telling me that it didn’t believe my password was correct.

The behavior was a little odd.  If I entered the password I *thought* it should be, it would blank out the userid and the password and tell me the password or userid was incorrect.  If I entered a blatantly wrong password, it would tell me the same, but keep the user ID field intact.

I’ve been playing around with this for a little while and finally called (yes, on a Sunday morning).  Incredibly, a fellow, Ben, answered the phone right away.  And, I didn’t have to enter a credit card.

Long story short, the administration center password uses different password rules than the services password.  Admin password must contain alpha, numeric and special characters.  When I changed my admin password the first time, I didn’t follow that rule (nor did it warn me!).  I was able to change it to a valid administration password and got back in.

If you experience that kind of problem in future, you know what worked for me and hopefully it will work for you.

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SharePoint as a Business Operating System

Ever since I heard a quote, reportedly during a Q&A session with Steve Ballmer in March 2007, I’ve sort of been holding my breath for something to happen.  The quote was basically this: “SharePoint is an operating system for business applications.”  Knowing a fair bit about SharePoint and a middling bit about operating systems, I thought it was really apt.  I’m holding my breath, waiting for companies to really buy into that concept and start to build applications within the SharePoint “operating system.” 

I’ve devoted a lot of thought to this subject this year (going back to my 2009 predictions) and I’m going to speak on this at the May 2nd SharePoint Saturday event in Washington.

This is my presentation’s abstract, entitled “Using the SharePoint Platform to Build Vertical Business Applications”:

“Horizontal?” “Vertical?” What do these words mean in a SharePoint context?  SharePoint, as we often hear, is a “platform” for building applications. This fact is often lost on us since the so-called horizontal platform features, such as document management and search, are so easy and useful in and of themselves.  However, SharePoint is even more powerful and will return greater value when used to create vertical applications tailored to meet your business’ day to day requirements. This session describes how to assemble platform features into a verticalized solution using a real world business example – a sales quote management process and customer gateway. The speaker’s goal is to open your eyes to the possibilities of the SharePoint platform and to leverage its horizontal platform features to create specialized business solutions for your vertical organization.

If that subject doesn’t float your boat, there are a bunch of other good topics.  And DC is a great venue in and of itself to visit.

Registration opens this Thursday, 04/16.  Keep on top of the site and grab a seat before it’s too late 🙂


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Canadian Minutes

This time last week, I was in Montreal, attending the highly recommended SharePoint Summit 2009.  I gave a 3.5 hour tutorial on installing and customizing SharePoint.  It was a scary subject on many levels.  I’m not really a SharePoint admin, but I know enough to give a tutorial on the subject. (Thankfully, Geoff Schaller from Software Objectives in Australia, among a few others, was in the crowd to answer some of the deeper questions [I don’t know what they put in the water down there, but we need some of it here in the U.S.]). 

But, back to many levels of scariness…  It had a lot of potential to be very boring.  I actually installed WSS and then upgraded it to MOSS.  In front of a room full of people.  Canadian poeple.  There were long 5 and 7 minute gaps where we were watching the installation process chug along.  I needed to fill that time with something useful and interesting.  I’m not sure I succeeded.

Finally, it was loooong.   Three and one half hours.  That’s a long presentation.   I made a little joke of it, saying “We have a long presentation ahead of us.  Three and one half hours.  That’s 210 minutes.  And I don’t even know how many minutes that is in Canadian.”

Everyone laughed and as a result, Montreal is officially on my Good Places list 🙂

Even if they hadn’t laughed at my joke, I would love Montreal.  I try very hard to be open minded and not take my cues from South Park, but I admit, to my chagrin, that I had no idea how great is the metropolis of Montreal.  I can’t wait to go back in a few months, when it’s a little warmer, to visit again.

On a sort of related note, I also sat through Erik Swenson’s first public presentation entitled “IA and Branding Process: Sketches to Wireframes to Hi-Fidelity Designs.” (Erik is my EMC colleague).  Check out the abstract here: even recorded it for for him.  I tried several times for some “action shots” and zoomed in on him when he paused to drink some water.  I didn’t always succeed, but I tried 🙂


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