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The fires of SharePoint passion at the NZ SharePoint Conference 2011

SharePoint Starts a Fire…

The only way to describe the NZ SharePoint Conference 2011 is to quote the lyrics of Dux Raymond Sy’s song (Dux is a self-professed SharePoint sensi; Twitter handle @meetdux): “SharePoint Starts the Fire”…And indeed, the 2011 NZ SharePoint Conference did just that – igniting the fires of SharePoint passion within the expert and the not-so-experienced. Unfortunately, Dux was not caught on camera doing his performance at the NZ SharePoint Conference 2011…but his brilliant performance with Michael Ganotti can be caught on YouTube here.

Conference Highlights

One cannot discount the time and effort that each of the presenters took in delivering their wisdom (their 'fire') to the delegates at the Conference. Presentations were of a high standard and topics were wide and varied, tending to the information requirements of all levels and interests in the SharePoint space. However, the SharePoint 'stickies' (those things that stick in one’s mind long after an event) must include the following:

  • Darth Vader meets SharePoint (thanks to Provoke).
  • SharePoint Viagra (thanks to RecordPoint).
  • SharePoint Tweets [#NZSPC] (thanks to the Conference organisers, delegates, presenters).
  • Meeting international SharePoint gurus [Joel Oleson, Mark Miller, Dux Raymond Sy…] (thanks to themselves).
  • Nick Hadlee admitting that Brian Farnhill “…is awesome and is a better dev than I am”…(thanks to Himself – the capital “h” is intentional).
  • That metadata can be entertaining  (thanks to Christian Buckley).

The highlights all came down to one thing in the end: the “fire” for SharePoint within New Zealand and beyond, the enthusiasm, and the sense of community amidst those who are involved in SharePoint as a technology (to enhance innovation) or a tool (to enable business).


SharePoint Truths…

I filled an Intergen notebook with scrawl while taking notes at the Conference…so I know I learned a great deal. Most certainly there were “nuggets of fire” that I took away from the sessions attended; however much of the yellow Intergen notebook is filled with validations of what I knew already, but needed to be reminded of.


Keynote Session (Day One): The History and Future of the SharePoint Community

Mark Miller and Joel Oleson

  • The community is important to ensure the flow of information and knowledge sharing, be this within the SharePoint Community within a town, region or country, or within a company where SharePoint is used as a business tool.  


Business Track: Community Challenge – Define and Design

Debbie Ireland, Mark Orange and Nick Hadlee

  • Prioritisation of deliverables in SharePoint project in order to find the business value of the solution. Important considerations in prioritising deliverables include the number of people impacted and the business processes in place.
  • SharePoint needs to be aligned to business goals, while end users need to be engaged to find out what the (actual) needs and requirements are for a solution.


Business Track: SharePoint Governance Home Truths

Paul Culmsee

  • In order to implement SharePoint governance, it is fundamental that the envisioned end state for SharePoint within the organisation is known. Governance is driven by the end state. Stated in short – governance is a means to the end, and is not the end in itself. Gain an understanding of the difference that SharePoint is going to make in the organisation.
  • In the working through the ambiguity in developing a shared understanding of the end state (and the problem definition), dialogue mapping can be used to filter issues and to gain an objective view of the problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Learning is a constant in SharePoint projects, and as learning enhances understanding, the problem definition is constantly reinterpreted. In SharePoint projects, gaining a view of the end goal is problematic.
  • There are some expectations when implementing SharePoint within an organisation:

      - Expect fluid requirements.

      - Expect scope changes.

      - Involve stakeholders.

      - Expect resistance and pullback.

      - Use prototyping.

      - Be adaptable.

      - Don’t penalise stakeholders and consultants for their learning.

  • SharePoint governance models often include lofty definitions that include platitudes…statements that hide behind words. Governance statements should be measurable.
  • Knowledge management used to take place within companies and was hidden behind firewalls. Social media is changing the landscape of knowledge management – the Internet is driving knowledge management into the open and allowing for the maximisation of personal knowledge. Social media innovations have ways in which people are able to filter to find information. Twitter, for example, is being used as a tool by knowledge workers to make notes as reminders.

Resources shared:

  • Russell Ackoff’s publication How Organisations Really Work.
  • Clever Workarounds is a website that addresses strategic SharePoint issues.


Business Track: Going Offline with SharePoint Workspace

Joshua Haebets

  • The SharePoint Workspace is the client application for SharePoint which allows content to be taken offline, and then re-connected to SharePoint. Typical cases for the use of SharePoint Workspace include low bandwidth situations or for mobile or remote users.   
  • The SharePoint Workspace can be used on Windows mobile devices, while the use for other mobile devises are being looked into.


Business Track: Intranets out, virtual work places in – what does this mean for SharePoint? 

Grant Margison

  • Considerations that need to be taken into account in SharePoint implementations include the following:

      - User experience is the first priority for the implementation of SharePoint.

      - Progressive rollouts are used to ensure success – start small and work

        through deliverables incrementally.                        

      - The business value of SharePoint must be identified and addressed.

      - The right leader needs to be in place to drive the implementation.

      - There must be the right mix of empowerment and control for end users – otherwise rejection

        and possible chaos.

  • Ron Simmons, a SharePoint practitioner who has completed multiple successful implementations, has identified success metrics, including:

       - 30% of the implementation relates to people, their behaviours and their engagement with the

         the system.

       - 30% relates to processes and aligning work to the virtual work environment.

       - 20% relates to training.

       - 20% relates to the actual technology.

  • The technology must be matched to the organisational skills. Support that is offered to end users is a major factor in adoption.
  • Change user behaviours – do not change the organisational culture. Use the “what is in it for me?” approach in implementations. The user’s work environment should not be inhibited by the technology – their work should be enhanced.
  • The more complex the tool that is deployed, the more support it will require.
  • When implementing document management solutions via SharePoint, the solution must be easy to use.
  • Take the pain out of people’s daily business lives by understanding the issues and problems before applying technology to the solution. Start small with evident pain points.
  • Use the tool “out of the box” where possible.
  • SharePoint changes the way that people do things – it is a huge paradigm shift and this should not be ignored in implementations.

Resources shared:


Business Track: Dynamics CRM and SharePoint – the Best of Both Worlds

Mark Smith

  • Dynamics CRM 2011 and SharePoint 2010 have strengths that can be leveraged together. The strengths of each technology are outlined in the table below.



Structured and semi-structured data

Social engagement and collaboration

Information evolution and storage


Structured relational data

Interactions, activities and tasks

Information generation and analytics


Information rules

Enterprise search

Works across teams and domains


Business rules and formalised processes

Data query and filtering

Within teams and domains


  • CRM is a popular tool within organisations because it leverages technologies that are already in place: Exchange, Outlook and mobile access. (Outlook is used within the CRM realm because it is the most fundamental technology used in business today).
  • Too many steps to complete a task can be a major inhibitor to user adoption, especially in cases where computer literacy levels are low.


Business Track: The Future of Business Productivity

Mark Miller

  • We are pulling information from trusted sources rather than having information pushed to us.
  • The visual display of contextual information allows for the prioritisation of problems.
  • Workflow does not deal with real world complexities.
  • Tools to invent the future do exist. What is required are people to understand how the information can be used.
  • Having the data is not sufficient – it needs to be displayed in a way that is digestible, and which relates to context.
  • Consider how information can be displayed to enhance understanding and to encourage innovation within companies.

Resources shared:

  • Mentionmap highlights the relationship ties within a company and the projects that are underway within a company. This is useful in understanding what is happening around the user.
  • Hans Rosling has developed Gapminder for the real time tracking of income and ages for all countries in the world.


Business Track: Looking under the Hood – How your Metadata Strategy Impacts Everything You Do

Christian Buckley

  • There must be a strategy for metadata and taxonomy management within a business implementing SharePoint. The metadata strategy must be underpinned by an understanding of the business problems that you are trying to solve.
  • There is never an end to metadata governance – governance activities are on-going otherwise SharePoint becomes messy.
  • Metadata is the lifeblood of SharePoint.
  • Metadata helps to organise. Ad hoc content leads to “junk” being stored, without metadata and inconsistent taxonomy.
  • Taxonomy must be in place to ensure structure. Fundamental is that the taxonomy is mapped out during the definition phase.
  • Microsoft is seeding taxonomy development activities and will be publishing templates to assist in the development of taxonomies for SharePoint.
  • Remember that the end user knows the content better than you do (if you are a consultant!).
  • Understand the current state and envisioned future state and how these relate to each other.
  • Governance is required to understand where taxonomy is applied, who owns and manages the content types and metadata for sites deployed.
  • There is no homogenous use of SharePoint. SharePoint is like a fingerprint within organisations. Governance models will thus be different for each implementation.
  • When defining and implementing governance, there are important things to consider:

      - Plan for governance.

      - Create an internal user group. 

      - Clearly define roles and responsibilities.

      - Document the taxonomy, communicate and iterate it.

      - Create a central governance site that includes policies, rules and training for Share Point.

Resources shared:


New Trends…

  • Dynamic understanding of documents that are related. The future holds the automated discovery of concepts and relationships between documents based on context.  
  • Document management through the discovered relationships between documents. 
  • Document storage that will be transparent for the end user. With SharePoint in the Cloud, the core business will be concentrated on, and SharePoint will become a transparent mechanism for document management.  
  • SharePoint is moving toward being a tool for end users. 

Many thanks for the ignition of “fire” by the Conference organisers and the incredible community of SharePoint experts who shared their wisdom and insights at the event.

Posted by: Moya Radley, SharePoint Consultant | 21 March 2011


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