Notes on “Experience from the Field: How to Use a Team Site Effectively for Collaboration” (Benjamin Niaulin)

After a great lunch at the New Zealand SharePoint Conference, Benjamin is talking about using a team site effectively for collaboration. Benjamin works at ShareGate. Some notes:
– What is SharePoint? Many people don’t know (or they’ve been given licenses). It’s a platform where you build you own show. Intranet / extranet / internet site / collaboration / process sites / applications … a lot. Can do a lot of different things. Very difficult when someone says, “we got SharePoint to do collaboration.”
– … Argues that collaboration is not a need. Instead, need to understand what this looks like – eg., co-authoring, single version of the truth.
– What is a SharePoint site (mostly focused on SharePoint 2010)? Two things only in a site – lists and libraries. Once things are outside of the box (site) – then you have to bridge the gap. List – just a table. Document library – just another table, but it stores the document itself. If you have worked with databases before, you will see a lot of parallels. Web-based and easy to use.
– … Site templates – it allows you do things, or it makes it difficult to do certain things. There are impacts on what you choose.
– … Site Collections – a bunch of boxes (sites), linked together by a root / superior site. What you make available in the top site is then available throughout a collection of sites. SharePoint Groups are shared across the site collection. Need to be careful about naming groups properly, since they are shared across sites in a site collection.
– … Column Types – very important to choose the right column type. Eg., choosing a single line of text and putting a date in there doesn’t allow you to generate a calendar view, etc. Good to use Site Columns for common data (for reusable design).
– … people often get confused about the difference between sites and pages. Can change the Quick Links to view pages, rather than lists and libraries.
– … Content Types – a big discussion. See the blog posts on ShareGate’s blog. Help a lot with finding things.
– some rules: (1) stop calling it SharePoint – give it a branded name, (2) take the time to show off new features, dates and milestones, the driver / why, (3) offer real training (in-class, self-service videos, documentation) (and offer special training for site owners), (4) have a site agreement – eg., what you get, what you have to do, that you don’t get support if you haven’t done the online training, etc., (5) have naming conventions for files (no metadata in file names).
– Benjamin showed an example of how they set up a way of doing team sites at a 3,000 person firm in Canada. Eg., how to request a site.

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