The trip was an awesome experience reaching out and interacting with the SharePoint communities in Asia. I will be posting a more detailed blog about the communities there and the memorable experience we had during the trip.
I presented the session "Empowering Your Organization with SharePoint 2010" where I provided a practical, high-level understanding of how organizations can reap the business benefits of SharePoint 2010. John Anderson has a great post about the session
As promised, here are the resources from my session:
Empowering Your Organization with SharePoint 2010
As the final official event of the inaugural Sharing the Point tour, an Ask the Experts panel was held in Ho Chi Minh City following the formal sessions. Each presenter had taken questions as the end of their individual sessions, so there weren’t a great many questions held in reserve for the Q&A, but several excellent questions were asked before the Sharing the Point tour drew to a close with an impromptu photo session.
One question asked of Joel had to do with upgrading from other platforms to SharePoint. In his answer, Joel talked about hoarders, people who like to keep everything, and how in “Corporate culture, everyone’s afraid of deleting files.” With regard to migrating to SharePoint, Joel says the “real key here is that you don’t just grab your fileshares and dump them into SharePoint … do an analysis first” of what will be used for collaboration. Joel availed himself of the opportunity to humbly plug Quest (his employer), also saying that “There are 40 migration companies that build tools to help people get their data into SharePoint.”
At this point, Rob asked Mark to explain how the four speakers and their areas of expertise connect together, putting him on the spot without warning. Rob helped start the discussion by saying that “Dux works with project management, and [stressing] the importance of that.” Dux jumped in to suggest that, ultimately, “Everything is a project, so my one statement with SharePoint is plan, plan, plan … [and figure out] what do you need SharePoint for?” From his business process management perspective, Mark added that you “Need to talk about what business problems do you need to solve, and once you know that, the technology is easy.” Rob then jumped in to say that “SaaS is just a small piece, there’s a lot of planning and training that needs to be done first.” Joel then chimed in, saying that, “In SharePoint, the role is not just run the farm, run the servers … you are pulled into the business, [when they say] ‘we have problems and you have to help us solve those problems’ … you need to bridge the gap between business and IT.” In your role as a SharePoint administrator, Joel suggests that if you’re going to be successful, “You better get out of the trenches, as somebody who sits between the business and IT.” Finally, Dux addressed the “How do I get started?” question with a tip: “The person writing the check… you’ve got to make them get it.”
Following on that last statement, a question was posed for Dux regarding how to get trained, and where to start. Dux replied that you should “Find somebody who gets SharePoint to tell you potentially what you can do with it, in the company or not.” Next, with so many resources out there, “give the business a simple thing to look at [in SharePoint] that solves a specific pain point.” Finally, Dux stressed how important it is that “IT needs to understand what the out-of-the-box components are [and] needs to become an expert on the out-of-the-box aspects.”
Also asked was how to get developers excited about SharePoint. Rob, as “the guy who signs the check,” said, “You guys, your country, you guys are fantastic coders… understand what the business needs are, and develop solutions to those problems.” Dux added, “If I can save people from working two days to one day [by extending and building upon the out-of-the-box functionality], that’s exciting.”
Joel Oleson explained at the top of his session on SharePoint Worst Practices that, while there is plenty of space devoted to SharePoint best practices, his presentation would focus on “failed deployments, [and] mistakes that people make in SharePoint” as there is much to be learned from mistakes as well. Joel said to the Ho Chi Minh City audience that he encourages interaction and questions during his sessions, saying “I like to involve the people in my sessions because one thing I’ve noticed [in my travels] is that there are slight differences in deployments.”
Joel shared a couple of his favorite “fail quotes” in discussing failure versus success, introducing a Thomas Edison quote by referencing Rob’s earlier presentation by saying, “You know Thomas Edison? We were talking about electricity earlier.” The Edison fail quote he shared was, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Wondering aloud, Joel asked “Do I need the community to succeed?” while talking about how it was “amazing being able to go through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City on a scooter,” thanks to my colleague Binh who rode on the back of said scooter the previous day so that Joel could have that coveted HCMC experience. Joel observed from that experience that “scooter traffic here is organized chaos … on the street” and that it’s “amazing [how] the traffic flows, [and it] weaves itself like a blanket.” Completing his analogy, Joel went on to say that “It’s kind of like that with the SharePoint community. It’s the contributions of the whole that make one plus one equal three in SharePoint.” “When you have SharePoint problems, you know who to talk to … and they can be friends anywhere [in the world]” thanks to Twitter, Facebook, etc., said Joel, observing that “It’s amazing how the world is getting smaller, how the world is changing.” Joel’s point was that thinking you don’t need the community to succeed would be a mistake. Continuing his message of the importance of community, Joel said “I encourage all of you that are interested, I want you to be my friend” on Facebook. Joel noted that “I know there are problems accessing Facebook here on some networks,” referencing the fact that Facebook is blocked by the government in Vietnam (as, we had learned, it also is blocked in China, along with Twitter).
Discussing some SharePoint 2010 deployment “gotchas,” Joel began with the topic of claims-based authorization with Excel Services and Office Web Apps. Again stressing the value of community, Joel said that “If you’re having a problem with, for example, claims-based auth, using Twitter, if you ask a question including ‘SharePoint,’[there are] community monitors via Tweetdeck, and you’ll have multiple responses with suggestions to help with your problem within minutes.”
Joel shared the story of Vasa, built to be Sweden’s “greatest military ship” but which sank because it was top-heavy. The original architect died and his brother and son took over, and when the King demanded that it must be the tallest ship ever, the architects did just that but failed to adjust for the proportions. Due to a lack of preparation and planning, Joel said “This is what happens a lot of the time in SharePoint deployments.” Joel advised that it’s key that you “Make sure you’re not neglecting things, and you’re looking at the big picture,” pointing out that “If you know how to install SharePoint, you can install it on the servers,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean you know how to successfully deploy it. “The missing piece is ‘what are you building’?” Referring back to Vasa, Joel again stressed the importance of looking at the big picture, saying that “A lot of failed SharePoint deployments go back to the question of ‘what are you trying to do?,’ and that [the question] hadn’t been asked upfront.”
Joel then showed a slide of a freakish looking “robot Barbie” he’d encountered on his travels, a toy that clearly can’t have sold many units. Musing that the inventor must have figured that since boys like robots, and girls like Barbies, “It’s a toy for everyone, [and] all will love it.” “This happens sometimes in SharePoint,” Joel said, trying to build an “everybody can do anything” creation. Joel illustrated a scenario to demonstrate why such an approach should cause concern, in that “people just dump data into it, databases are growing, and when something critical happens, legal comes in, and it turns out that auditing was turned off because it was causing poor performance.” Joel pointed out that the key to your design should be that you take into consideration what exactly it is that you’re building, and he advises that you “live by the KISS principle: Keep it Simple, Stupid.”
Joel noted that a lot of people start working with SharePoint without a clear understanding of just what’s involved with the platform. Using the dev perspective as an example, Joel said that “Working with SharePoint is different, it’s not good to build with a lot of code, it’s better to extend based on the existing framework [and] if you start building without understanding what’s in the box, you’ll run into problems.”
Joel explained that there are two types of SharePoint deployments: commodity hosting and application hosting. The commodity model views SharePoint as an application, consisting of “vanilla, out-of-the-box functionality, [and is] easily moved into Office 365, [due to its] very simple sites.” On the other hand, the “Application model is SharePoint as a platform … on premises, high-value, customized dev projects built leveraging SharePoint as the platform.”
Admitting that “cost is always an issue,” Joel emphatically warned that you “Don’t skimp on the test environment! Who suffers if there’s no test environment? I would say everybody.” Continuing this line of thinking, Joel said in no uncertain terms that “If you don’t have enough money for a test environment, you don’t have enough money for a production environment.” Explaining that “You need a place for developers to test,” Joel said that “What’s unique about SharePoint is it introduces a lot of content coming into production” (i.e., when users add documents to a library), and that “for the devs, we need to make sure we get copies of the prod environment and we get them into the test environment.” What this approach does is give developers a window into the “real world database, so when they build code, it’s a lot cleaner.”
One last bad practice principle Joel shared was that “one site collection can fit everything.” Speaking from experience, Joel said that “A lot of failed deployments come from people not planning their information architecture.” This is problematic when you reach a point of site collections going so deep that it “creates a problem of depth,” and when you then start breaking up site collections, you lose all sorts of data (last modified by, auditing, etc.), all of which could have been avoided if the IA had been planned upfront.
Joel wrapped up with some thoughts on service apps, saying that “There are a lot of them in SharePoint 2010,” and they can be overwhelming. Joel said that one mistake some admins make is to turn all service apps on by default, even if they’ll never use them. As a result, “RAM will get tight, and performance will suffer… [and then the] best way to reclaim some of that performance is to dial it back” by removing some of the service apps. Of course, it’s easier, and more sensible, to install only the service apps you need upfront via planning, rather than having to scale back later. Joel advises that “Of all the apps, you need to determine what you really need on day one, and build a roadmap for the future.” As a personal preference, Joel said that “I highly encourage you to deploy managed metadata and profiles.”
As a final message to the audience, Joel concluded by saying that “What I want to leave with you guys is ‘dream big.’”
Rob LaMear, founder and CEO of Fpweb.net, the world’s first SharePoint hosting business, spoke on the topic of SharePoint as a service in his Sharing the Point session. Before getting into the cloud, however, Rob said of the SharePoint community that it’s “about all of us, sharing information … it’s special [and] it’s why we’re traveling.”
Rob showed a slide featuring a diagram which represented “the future of the cloud, the future of SharePoint.” Talking through the diagram, Rob said that “on the left side is Microsoft with Office 365, in the middle are groups like Fpweb.net who allow customization, on the right is you with your own cloud … the challenge is securely connecting the three.” Rob explained that “We do this today with ADSL2, or federated services.”
Rob stated that “SharePoint is a powerful tool, [and] you can do anything you want with it,” going on to say that it “allows you to help people in ways that are amazing, you just need to think outside the box.” As for why you might want to put SharePoint in the cloud, Rob said that, “For the user, it becomes easier to use,” but allowed that “it becomes more complex for administrators as it becomes easier for end users.” Rob went on to say that once the “why” has been covered, questions that still remain include: “Who will manage it?”; “What are the latest security standards?”; “Where will I house the server?”; and “How will I stay focused on my core business?”
Rob then moved on to discussing “SharePoint as a service, SharePoint out in the cloud … what is SaaS and who’s using it?” Rob provided Salesforce.com, Twitter, and Google Mail as examples of SaaS offerings, and showed a slide demonstrating “Where we were just a few years ago, kind of where we are now, and the cloud,” or, the future. Rob said that “Five years ago, you had to take care of everything,” then about three years ago, servers were put in data centers, and co-location became the norm. Most recently, about a year and a half ago, with managed services, it became possible to “let someone else take care of it.” Rob says of SharePoint in the cloud that “it just works,” and uses electricity and the power company as an analogy. “I think electricity is SaaS … it’s operated as a service … I don’t want to crank the generator and make electricity.” Most importantly, Rob said that, "As a company, being in the cloud … allows you to focus on your core business.”
Rob also candidly said that “Cloud is not for everyone… self-assessment is necessary, [and there are] questions to take back to your team and ask yourselves.” Such questions include: “Do you have the money to put a server in?”; “Do you have the skills or do you need a consultant?”; and “Do you have the resources to make it work?”; Will you be able to “optimize it to work at its best?" (Stating here, by way of example, that “Joel [Oleson] can make SharePoint dance.”); do you have the expertise to combat security threats? (“We have 42,000 attacks per day in our network [at Fpweb], half from china, another third from Russia, and the rest from all over.”); and, again, “Do you have time to focus on your core business?”
Discussing what you should look for in a provider of hosted SharePoint, Rob pointed out several key areas to focus on: “Does it just work?” (Again using his electricity analogy, Rob asked, “When you flip the switch, does it work?”); Quality of customer support; Knowledge (“Do they know the product as well as you do, or better?”); Regulatory and compliance requirements; Scalabilty; and “managed hosting.” In addition to Fpweb, Rob mentioned Office 365 and Rackspace as recommended providers of hosted SharePoint.
In conclusion, Rob asked “Where is this going?” and answered by saying that “We think in the next two or three years, you’ll be able to go out to a website , click and sign up for a site, and have it in a few minutes… we also think you’ll be able to go on that site and drop in a Bamboo Web Part … and, like electricity, it will just work [and] you’ll also be able to connect that Web Part to another data source, and it will [also] just work.”
In Q&A which followed his session, Rob was asked, “How does Fpweb fit with Office 365?” Rob responded that “Office 365 is pretty well defined, and will be perfect for about 70% of users [as is], [whereas] Fpweb.net sits right in the middle of the stack, [and] we allow customization, allowing companies like Bamboo to upload Web Parts… and [we] provide full server control.” At its core, Rob explained that “Fpweb is about customization of SharePoint in the cloud.”
Another question Rob fielded had to do with the current state of security in the cloud. Rob’s response was that “Right now it is secure. It takes more time, but it can be done. The key is it has to be easier to do if we want more people to use the cloud… when ADSL3 comes out, we’ll be there.”
As I was afraid might happen, and with apologies for the delay, my hyper-schedule has conspired against me and I’ve run out of time to finish blogging the STP tour before I board yet another plane … and for this one, I won’t have the laptop in tow. As a result, in order to do justice to Rob’s and Joel’s sessions at the STP tour finale in Ho Chi Minh City, I’m going to ask for your patience and will deliver both of those reports not later than Wednesday of next week.
Since it’ll be a week before I’m able to post again, I’d also like to take this opportunity to send out another round of thank you’s. First and foremost, thanks to Rob LaMear, CEO and founder of Fpweb.net, whose generous sponsorship made the STP tour possible. On a personal note, I’d like to thank all of the speakers on the tour -Joel, Michael, Dux, Mark, Rob, and Paul- thank you all for inviting a non-speaker along to take part in, and help document, the STP Asia tour as a full-fledged team member. It was an unforgettable experience, and truly a pleasure to get to know each of you better over the course of the tour.
As well, the entire team would like to thank our local hosts in each city: Peter Hu and the Microsoft Beijing team, Femee Cruz and the Microsoft Philippines team, and Anh Le and my colleagues on the Bamboo Solutions team in Ho Chi Minh City. And, of course, to everyone who came out to the STP events in each city … thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for SharePoint with us, and for joining us in Sharing the Point!
The topic of Mark Miller’s Sharing the Point (STP) session was dedicated to exploring the “missing link between SharePoint and your business.” The business process automation (BPM) focus of his STP session is representative of Mark’s role as Chief Community Officer at Global 360, builders of BPM solutions on the Microsoft stack.
In laying out the agenda of his presentation, Mark said that in an examination of the existing SharePoint landscape, what one sees time and again are “frustrating problems looking for a solution.” The trick is to identify what SharePoint can do to address these problems. In his session, Mark would also look at some available enhancements to out-of-the-box SharePoint experience and, finally, answer the question, “What’s the next logical step in SharePoint for the business?”
Examples of some frustrating scenarios for which SharePoint might provide a solution included:
· Lack of a formal on-boarding process. When not done right (or at all), the result is “Poor work, and people redoing work because they don’t know how to do it properly.”
· Lack of expertise. Exacerbated when “People are moved into a position they’re not qualified to handle.”
· Unnecessarily repetitious work. For example, on a first visit to a doc’s office, you’re presented with “a load of forms this deep and they all ask you for the same information.” “When there’s no value to duplicated effort, it leads to low morale.”
· Missing or incomplete information. Which, all too often, leads to a stoppage of work.
Mark’s point was that the best approach to combating such frustrations is to identify the business problem first, then figure out how the problem might be alleviated, with the understanding that “SharePoint can help.” Mark defined SharePoint as, at its core, a product that “Stores data or documents, processes in a minimal way those documents, and displays [the document data] through Web Parts.” Mark said that “At its core, SharePoint is [used for] document-centric storage and management,” primarily in lists and libraries.
Mark explained that “A document library is a specialized list that holds documents, [and] can process information a little bit with automated workflows (“a step by step process that you’re able to automate.”) Regarding workflows, Mark said that there is “Basic processing built-in at a minimal level for [use by] your team or department,” but cautioned that SharePoint out-of-the-box does not offer “enterprise-level workflow.”
Once you’ve populated a document library with documents, how do you display the information on a page? Through “Web Parts, little widgets you can drag and drop to expose information visually.” Mark engaged me in a brief discussion of Bamboo’s product line by way of explaining the sort of third-party enhancements are available. Mark then showed some of the Web Part solutions that are available as free downloads at EndUserSharePoint, such as: the calendar used to create the SharePoint Community Calendar (Web Parts expose different lists in a tabbed presentation), dynamic charts and graphs (“A SharePoint list with in-line graphics in the list”), jQuery solutions (“If you’re a site manager in SharePoint, you can implement these because you’re not touching the server.”
What’s missing in the picture described above is, as Mark calls it, “The sweet spot.” “When it comes down to solving real-world complex business problems, we’re going to need something on top of SharePoint to do the processing of that information.” Mark said that with complex business problems, “Exception-handling is where the real knowledge comes in when you’re trying to do your job.” As Mark explained, “A real business process, [such as]processing a home loan, changes on the fly … and once a process has started, usually no one can tell you where things are in the process until it’s come out the other end. “With a complex problem, this is where SharePoint starts to break down [and you need to] start to look for a business process management suite” to handle an adaptable, complex process.
Mark said that “Every user needs to see data in a way that’s useful to them,” referencing and demonstrating the out-of-the-box data entry view by way of example, and explaining that “A good BPM suite can integrate everything into such a view. “ Mark pointed out that “The need is to get interfaces that work for different people.” Different interfaces based on the same information, as appropriate to the worker at hand, and set up such that “a change filters down to everyone it affects … that’s a good BPM.” And since “SharePoint is not built for transaction processing,” additional BPM on top of SharePoint’s native workflow capabilities is what’s required for the enterprise.
In summary, Mark said that the missing link is that “workers know their jobs (they have to know what they’re working on), simple workflow doesn’t mimic real world processes, and SharePoint is not ideal for process adaptability.”
In conclusion, Mark encouraged attendees to “Start thinking about your business problems … forget about SharePoint,” making the point that only “Once the problems have been identified, then we can start talking about how SharePoint can address them.”
A week before our departure on the Sharing the Point (STP) tour, Dux and I met over a pho lunch to do some planning and hatch some promotional strategies for the tour. It occurs to me now that it’s kind of ironic that, as I type, I’m in the airport in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam writing about a lunch of Vietnamese noodle soup that I had with Dux in Reston, VA, two weeks ago … and in our all-too-brief time in Vietnam, there was no time for pho.
But I digress.
Anyway, it was over pho that day that Dux asked me if I knew who Anthony Bourdain was, and if I’d ever seen his show, No Reservations. I said that yes, I was a big Bourdain fan, had read most of his books, been a longtime fan of his TV shows, and even seen him speak in person twice. So when Dux asked if I’d seen the Philippines episode of No Reservations, I said, “Yep, I’ve seen ‘em all.” Dux then told me something that increased my excitement about our upcoming travel adventures at a point where I didn’t think my excitement over the trip could be increased. What Dux told me was that that Bourdain’s “fixer,” Ivan Man Dy, who served as his guide in Manila, was a childhood friend of Dux’s (who was born and raised in Manila) and that he’d arranged for Ivan to take the STP team on a tour of Manila on Saturday afternoon following our event at the Microsoft office.
Dux had warned Ivan that his STP compatriots weren’t greatly interested in the standard historic tourist sights, and were far more interested in seeing the real, living and breathing culture of Manila today. Apparently, Ivan didn’t quite believe Dux, as our tour began in the Old City of Manila, a walled city whose original walls are still in evidence in spots today. We visited a cathedral, then another church (in which a Catholic wedding service was minutes away from being performed), and the remains of a bombed out church from the second World War.
As we were walking along the top of the wall, a couple of us took the opportunity to take Ivan aside and say that, no, seriously, we’ve seen enough of the standard tourist stuff, and we’re ready to see the real Manila, walk through the areas that wouldn’t be filled with tourists, visit a market where we could sample some street food, etc.
After the second one of us said this to Ivan, he believed us, and we were off to Manila’s Chinatown where our tour of the real Manila began.
While wandering through the streets and alleys of Chinatown, Ivan led us on a series of culinary adventures, including salted egg (hardboiled egg that’s been buried in the ground fora number of days, hundred-year eggs, lumpia, mung bean cakes, the juiciest mango I've ever tasted and, ultimately, the “number five” soup, which the bravest among us (for the record, not including yours truly) were excited to try, as it involved … well, it’s probably best if you just watch the video, but I need to get the link from Mark, so stay tuned. In the meantime, have some salted eggs and mango:
Following our visit to Chinatown, we were off to the Chinese Cemetery, and our drive to the cemetery itself was both very real and very colorful. Especially colorful in that we saw chicks for sale that had been dyed all the colors of the rainbow. Alas, I missed that photo op as we drove past, but here's a taste of the neighborhood.
Ivan explained as we were en route to the cemetery that the mausoleums involved quite literally houses for the dead. These houses included a number of styles, including traditional Chinese “sparrow’s peak” designs, and ranged from ornate to modern, and even deco. Most were gated, some had patios or balconies, and many had carefully tended lawns and landscaping. Ivan told us that families will often spend the night in the house with the bodies of their departed loved ones as a means of communing with their ancestors.
As we were making our way back to the hotel following the visit to the Chinese cemetery, we traveled via surface streets through areas that were every bit as colorful as we’d seen earlier, but by this point in the day, there was the added bonus of it being dinnertime, so plenty of street food was available. When we passed a grill that looked especially tempting to our adventurous eaters, led by Joel and Michael, a stop of the van was called for, and grilled treats such as chicken heads, gizzards, and intestines, and pig’s ears were enjoyed.
With eyes bigger than stomachs, and a formal sit-down dinner with Dux and his family still ahead, the lads shared their skewers with a couple of young girls who had been very interested in the white faces that had suddenly piled out of a van onto the sidewalks of their neighborhood … new friends were made and appetites were sated, and what more can you ask of a cultural exchange than that, really?
Oh, and yes, many of us did indeed get a chance to ride in one of Manila’s famous Jeepneys. My own ride began with me and Joel hopping onto the small ledge at the back of the vehicle, quickly realizing that there was no room inside to sit, and riding for probably a good half mile, clinging to the hand rails with only our heads inside the vehicle before seats were vacated at a stop … pretty much the perfect first-time Jeepney experience, I’d have to say.
It was absolutely an honor that our first two STP events were hosted by, and took place at Microsoft offices, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I have to confess that visiting Ho Chi Minh City where my Bamboo Solutions colleagues hosted the final STP tour stop made for an absolutely perfect conclusion to the tour. As I type, I’m in a conference room at the Bamboo Technology Center, located right here in HCMC, and this afternoon represented my first-ever trip to the Bamboo offices in Vietnam. I’d had the pleasure of meeting many of my colleagues from the HCMC office previously on their trips to the home office in Reston, VA, but being here in HCMC, seeing so many familiar faces, and meeting so many new ones, is an absolute thrill.
As the local hosts for Sharing the Point HCMC, my friends and colleagues at Bamboo went above and beyond the call of duty, making sure that not only was I made to feel like family, but that all of my STP tour mates, Rob, Dux, Joel, and Mark were also welcomed as if they were part of the Bamboo family. We were greeted at the airport yesterday by a group of my colleagues, and shown the city, including a solemn visit to the War Remnants Museum and, for Joel, a sought-after opportunity to see the city from a scooter’s eye view, as the locals do.
Once we were checked into our hotel, we were picked up again and ferried to Marina for, as we were told, “the best seafood in HCMC.” And what a feast it was … a three hour cruise, consisting of one delicious dish after another, as the STP team met, bonded with and shared a meal with Bamboo senior staff.
The Sharing the Point event this morning was the largest gathering of the SharePoint community to date in Vietnam, eclipsing the first-ever SharePoint Saturday which occurred in January. and including attendees who flew in from Indonesia, Malaysia, Japan, and Cambodia. There’s another SharePoint Saturday coming up in April, being organized in part by some of my Bamboo colleagues, so the STP team is passing the baton to you, my friends, and wishing you an even larger turnout as you continue to grow your local SharePoint community.
I should mention, however, that a.s.a.p. may not come until the middle of next week since my flight home to Washington, D.C. leaves HCMC at midnight tonight and I’ll be home for fewer than 24 hours before heading back to the airport for the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas. I hope to have time (and connectivity) to get another post or two written and published before I leave for that vacation, but I had to make sure that I got a post out this afternoon from the Bamboo office in HCMC, thanking all of my colleagues for their support of the STP event, and for making the entire STP team feel so very welcome in Vietnam. I think it’s a safe bet that HCMC hasn’t seen the last of the STP team.
As well, thanks to everyone who came out to our event today, and thanks for posing for our traditional group photo:
Special thanks to Anh, Binh, Phong and their teams for all of their hard work in arranging the STP event, and for making sure that everything went off without a hitch today, and to Trang for being our guide, arranging transportation, restaurant reservations, and providing recommendations for everything from markets to massages. I thank you, and the STP team thanks you.
I think I have just enough time before we need to leave for dinner to mention that, by request (mostly of Joel, easily our most adventurous eater of the tour with the possible exception of Michael Noel who couldn't be with us in HCMC), the post-event lunch today with my Bamboo colleagues involved a menu including cobra (including the still beating heart, served as a shooter, along with the liver, eggs, and meat ground up with spices that, astonishingly, as Rob observed, combined into a flavor that was reminiscent of Fruit Loops); weasel, prepared grilled, fried, and served in a stew; and some more traditional dishes such as a rice dish with shrimp, pork, and vegetables. There’s never a dull moment when it’s mealtime for the STP team, folks!
Presenting the first session of the business track in Manila, Dux Raymond Sy exhibited all of his trademark energy and passion for SharePoint while talking about Empowering Your Organization with SharePoint 2010. Dux explained that the intent of his session was “to look at SharePoint as a business platform, [show] how to automate business processes with SharePoint, and how to leverage SharePoint with existing technologies.”
At the core of his presentation was what Dux refers to as “Six use cases to [help you] be successful with SP.” Dux feels that “At the heart of SharePoint is this word ‘sharing,’ and having a centralized point.” Explaining further, Dux said that “Sharing is collaboration, and as for having a centralized for information such as reporting and accessing customer data (noting that, depending on your particular role within the organization, you’ll have specific needs around centralization of information, for example, an on-boarding process in HR), “SharePoint is flexible enough to support that.”
Beginning to work his way through the six ways SharePoint can empower your organization, first up was “Easily create a collaboration website.” Dux helpfully illustrated all six empowerment methods with SharePoint 2010 demos. For the first method’s demo, Dux created and talked about the benefits of an out-of-the-box team site.
For the second method, “Efficiently manage information,” Dux discussed the document management features of SharePoint and showed how to auto-sync a SharePoint calendar with Outlook out-of-the-box, and provided a demo of the version history of files that can be maintained automatically with SharePoint out-of-the-box.
Moving on to number three, “Facilitate better team collaboration” Dux said that by using its native collaboration tools, SharePoint can be leveraged much better than email (“a 1973 technology” and still the single most common collaboration tool in the enterprise). Dux showed that he “can easily tie a [SharePoint] discussion board to Outlook, as if it was an email.
The fourth method, “Seamlessly integrate with existing tools,” and Dux demonstrated this by showing that using Excel 2010, a spreadsheet can be converted to a table and published to SharePoint, allowing sync “as part of a project site.”
Moving on to number five, “Automate business processes,” Dux used a change request as his example, joking, “Don’t you love scope creeps?” Dux showed an out-of-the-box change request form, how to create a change request workflow, showing status and rules options that can be setup, and finally demonstrating the automated kickoff of the workflow. As an added bonus, Dux explained that, by its nature, the workflow provides “traceability” with process, as it’s possible to see what the status of the workflow is at any point.
Discussing the sixth method, “Generate relevant reports and dashboards,” Dux said that “management loves to see a pie chart.” By way of providing an example of the ease of creating reports in SharePoint, Dux inserted a Chart Web Part, explaining Web Parts as being “pre-made software pieces,” and chose the pie chart option with a 3-D look, connected it to existing expense data, and voila, SharePoint converted the data into a visual pie chart presentation.
Wrapping up, Dux addressed his “Last point… how do you make this happen?” and said that the most important first step is to answer the questions, “ What are your business needs?” and “What are your pain points?” Dux advised that you “go for the quick wins” to ease pain points at first, and to also focus on what you can do with SharePoint out-of-the-box first. If your business needs can’t be completely met out-of-the-box, Dux said, “Go and get a third-party solution from Bamboo Solutions or somebody else, [but think of] custom coding as a last resort.”