Gina Montgomery (MCSA, MCTS, MCP, V-TSP) blends thought leadership with new growth initiatives as Vice President of Corporate Strategy for Softmart. Montgomery plays a critical role in identifying and analyzing business development opportunities that build solutions and drive sales for Softmart. Along with driving value-creating insights, making recommendations and bundling solutions across multiple projects, she oversees Softmart's Microsoft Practice and consults in the Microsoft Business Productivity & Collaboration space. Montgomery’s background as a SharePoint and Cloud evangelist coupled with her seasoned speaker experience at technology conferences all over the country make her a trusted advisor for architecting SharePoint, Office 365 and Azure solutions as well as Enterprise Social Strategies. As she continues to plan and implement successful cloud offerings and business solutions that maximize an organization’s IT investment, Montgomery also directs her focus on new strategic initiatives for Softmart’s sales team to bring to market.
As you’ve probably noticed, I’m a frequent I.T. speaker. I’m always traveling about; Sharing the Point
I’m always looking for new tech toys. You’ll probably find some reviews here…
I came up with a list of 8 books that I consider must-reads for the up and comer’s
As a writer, I often feel inspired to share my experiences, and random thoughts and ideas. You may find those here.
The Perpetual Hand These ten pearls will help you put into motion a happy and prosperous life. Look no further than inside this book and be transformed by helping one person at a time. Consider this: 1. To grow and change one's life, starts with the desire to change others. 2. The act of generosity grants promotion in life, work, and God. 3. Greatness and opportunity are not luck; you create it through your network. 4. When we embrace gratitude, we design our environment to open doors for others and ourselves. 5. We should not allow our past experiences of letdowns and mishaps to halt our heart. Available on Amazon.com, and all major bookstores
Tales From the I.T. Trenches
If You Build It, Will They Come?
The adoption of any new technology can be challenging.
Just this year, I have traveled to 12+ cities, sharing the point, and delivering SharePoint Adoption tactics sessions. I’ve also spent plenty of time consulting on and rolling out intranets for all of our clients. One thing that is consistent and true is that I’ve witnessed a common theme. Adoption is important to organizations that are investing in SharePoint as a business and solution platform and business decision makers and IT owners of SharePoint want to do it right. My sessions are always packed!! Organizations want their intranet to be a success and to serve as a tool for their end users to be more productive at their daily jobs and collaborate on innovations that can take their company to a whole new level of competitiveness.
SharePoint 2013 has come a long way since its conception in early 2001. The new platform provides a gamut of out of the box (OOTB) features that give way to an amazing and adoptive end user experience. There is also an array of pre-built features that will increase end user productivity among your users around project management, task management and aggregation, document management, and even gamification that can help change your users’ behaviors.
You are likely visiting this blog to gain some insight on how to increase end user adoption. Perhaps you’re in the beginning phases of rolling out SharePoint in an intranet scenario. Or perhaps you’re evaluating what it will take to have a successful roll-out with beaming users that love their new portal and collaborate like never before. Either way, this article will give you some tips on how to get started.
If you’re currently in the planning phase, maybe you’re including your end users in the design of solution, which is a good thing! Having your end users fully engaged in the design of the solution enables you to design the solution to solve critical pain points that the users are experiencing in their daily job functions. This ultimately means that this solution that you are putting in place will change the way your workers do their job! And as you may already know, not everyone enjoys change even when it is good. I commonly hear from clients that the majority of their information workers are resistant to any change.
In order for you to change your workers’ behaviors and to manage the change you must create an end user adoption plan. One of the most common reasons that SharePoint intranet roll-outs fail is proven to be the lack of end user adoption. So that should tell you just how important this is.
In this series, I will be providing guidance on how to inspire and sustain end user adoption for SharePoint 2013. I will demonstrate features and functionality within SharePoint 2013 that inspire adoption as well.
Let’s get started.
Step 1- Create and Document Your Vision for SharePoint in the Enterprise
With no vision there is no victory. Did I just suggest that you need to document an end user adoption plan? YES! Actually documenting an end user adoption plan helps inspire thought and collaboration, which means your vision will grow while piecing together this document. Pardon my frankness, but so often we hear about failed SharePoint roll-outs due to the strategy of, “throw crap at the wall and see if it sticks.” When it doesn’t stick IT and end users become angry with SharePoint and want to give up on it. SharePoint is a platform that is meant to help your organization better share information, better manage business processes, better manage documents, bring the social computing aspect and improved productivity for information workers into your work environment, and serve as a development foundation on which more business solutions can be created. If you’re not considering SharePoint for all of these facets, then you’re still approaching it with the crap slinging method. Which leads me to my second point.
What sort of information needs to be in a SharePoint 2013 End User Adoption Plan Document?
What business problems will SharePoint solve?
Find the low hanging fruit inside your organization. Solve those problems first and make an impact on your end user experience.
Who will champion the solution?
Internal evangelism is a must! If you can get upper management to start using SharePoint in meetings to demonstrate and communicate certain messaging it will go very far. Identifying internal evangelists or champions in each department is also very important.
Who owns what in SharePoint? Users must know how, when, and why to use SharePoint or they won’t use it. You have to identify a model for feedback and change management. Governance needs to be thought through before the roll-out.
If you’re users can’t find what they need, when they need it; they will not use SharePoint. How your information is organized, what your search schema will be, what your metadata strategy will be and what navigation should look like will all need to be considered prior to rolling a SharePoint 2013 based intranet out. This will drastically play a role in end user adoption.
How are you getting the users excited about the upcoming launch? Are there teasers out and around the office? What kind of messaging is out there and when is it released?
Social in the Enterprise Policy and Use Cases
Social is a big part of SharePoint 2013 and will increase user productivity and collaboration. Identifying a social policy and use case model for it will be key in adoption.
Rewards and Recognition Programs (Can gamification be used here?)
What kind of rewards and recognition program will you offer? Changing a user’s behavior will be easier if there are rewards or recognitions to be earned. I will go over gamification in more detail in a later post.
Continuous training plan (internal user group?)
Training users, admins, and power users in SharePoint is not a one-time task. Learning should be continuous. When identifying internal evangelists, consider forming a monthly internal SharePoint user group for your organization.
The above information should give you a great starting point in creating your end user adoption plan document. In my upcoming blog posts I will start highlighting SharePoint 2013’s feature set that also drives adoption.
I just returned from SharePoint Saturday Redmond that was held on September 21st, 2013 at the Microsoft Redmond Campus. The day was busy and productive as I had anticipated it would be. Vendor row was full of vendor swag and lively conversation. We had a great line up of speakers presenting on a variety of SharePoint related topics. I sat in a few sessions when I wasn’t presenting my own. Jennifer Mason of Rackspace had an interesting session on Using SharePoint to Build an Interactive HR Onboarding Experience. Naomi Moneypenny of Manyworlds also had a thought provoking session on Enterprise Social Graphing. I presented two sessions on SharePoint 2013. “Adoption Tactics; Why Your End Users and Project Managers Will Rave Over SharePoint 2013” and “5 Inspiring Reasons to Manage Projects on SharePoint” Jean Paul, SharePoint MVP had a nice recap of my project management session here. I had packed room for both sessions with engaged attendees. Some of the attendees informed me that it was their very first SharePoint Saturday! We definitely had some fun and “turned a new leaf” on SharePoint Adoption in my session after lunch. I mentioned a few things that I promised I would publish. In my morning session on Project Management on SharePoint 2013, I showed how JS Link can give you a nice looking project roll-up dashboard. Here is the link on how to accomplish that: http://www.abhishan.com/create-project-dashboard-with-sharepoint-2013-js-link/
I also promised to post both slide decks. Happy viewing!
On Saturday June 22nd, 2013 I had the pleasure of speaking at SharePoint Saturday Silicon Valley in the beautiful area of Palo Alto, CA. #SPSSV was packed full of enthusiastic attendees. My session attendees came to see me present on, “The 3 P’s of SharePoint 2013; Planning, Productivity, and Policies” We had a very interactive session going over the new productivity enhancements in SharePoint 2013 especially around project management. I also shared some starting principles for a good plan for governance and information architecture that will enable end-user adoption. I’ve embedded my slides below. Also, the link to the JSLink that I discussed can be found here: http://www.abhishan.com/create-project-dashboard-with-sharepoint-2013-js-link/ Thank you for attending!
Looking for that JS Link? Check my Acuvate colleague’s blog post here:
Since the release of SharePoint 2013, we have had an out pour of requests from our clients and prospective clients for more knowledge on a project management solution that is somewhere in between managing projects on Excel and email and full blown Project Server. I did an hour long session at #SPSLA entitled, “5 Inspiring Reasons to Manage Projects on SharePoint 2013.” In this session, I discussed today’s current project management scenario as well as described some common challenges that organizations are facing around managing projects. Communicating project information and details is often extremely challenging for organizations that are not using some sort of project management solution. Communication around a project may involve getting a status update from the project team, or even publishing the project plan somewhere for the entire team to see. This becomes burdensome especially for project managers overseeing multiple projects as well as for the project team who’s resources are likely also spread across multiple projects. PM’s are asking for a clear view into a project’s status. Is the project running on time? Is the project staying on budget? PM’s want a bird’s eye view into the overall health of a project and this requires tracking certain aspects such as milestones. Milestones are project tools that allow PM’s to evaluate the schedule of a project and whether it is on time or not. Without tracking special milestones, especially those associated with billing, a PM may have a difficult time assuring the project is on schedule and at the appropriate pre-determined cost. Many of our clients that manage various projects ask for a project roll-up dashboard with certain KPI’s to view health of all the projects in the portfolio. SharePoint 2013 OOTB can be easily configured through a custom list to show project stakeholders a clean dashboard of projects’ statuses.
PM’s also need to identify and track certain risks that may arise in various phases of the project. If these risks are not identified pro-actively with a mitigation plan in place, they may become issues. Issues often affect budgets; so tracking and outlining risks with a mitigation plan is vital to the health of the project. For those of us today that are still reactively dealing with issues in a project via email and then tracking them via an Excel spreadsheet, we are making our projects vulnerable to going off schedule as well as budget. Issue tracking is also a very important component of running a smooth project. Being able to track and resolve issues in a timely fashion will allow for a project to continue on as scheduled.
Another pain point that we hear about in project management is meeting management. How is your organization tracking all the information that is discussed during all of the meetings that take place for a given project? Is someone taking minutes and then emailing the team? SharePoint 2013 OOTB doesn’t have the meeting workspace template. So I showed a customized meeting workspace solution at #SPSLA that allows for tracking meetings, a meetings roll-up for resources that are working on multiple projects, a meeting minutes generator with exporting and emailing capability, a meeting scheduler, etc…
With that said, SharePoint 2013 mostly OOTB with some basic configurations is an easy stepping stone in the project management journey that can take your organization off of the chaotic email and Excel based project management techniques and right into a centralized solution that can make managing projects and communicating project information a breeze.
Here’s your five inspiring reasons to start managing projects on SharePoint 2013:
1.) SharePoint 2013 is built with an improved interface for project teams. OOTB provides various dr webparts that allow for a timeline for milestone tracking, a project summary, a project tasks list with ability to define sub-tasks in-line, which is extremely similar to the Microsoft Project Client. It even supports multiple browsers and mobile devices.
2.) SharePoint 2013 also fully integrates with the MS Project client allowing you to sync tasks, make changes in the plan that have the ability to reflect back into the SharePoint 2013 project management site. It also gives you the ability to look at resource loading and allocation. MS Project client gives features like this that OOTB SP doesn’t provide.
3.) SharePoint 2013 also serves as a reporting platform for project status via scorecards and dashboards right OOTB. You can track and report on issues and their resolutions. SharePoint 2013 allows for a risk register, and mitigation planning even with the ability to roll risks up into issues if need be. It also gives the sought after projects roll up dashboard with multiple KPI’s right OOTB with a little configuration.
4.) SharePoint 2013 now allows for improved project team collaboration with the integration of social collaboration. I once heard Dan Holme, SharePoint MVP, talk about how SharePoint 2010 was so 2006. SP2010 was being developed in 2006 in a time when there were no iPhones, Facebook, Twitter, etc.. He boldly stated SharePoint 2013 is for today’s world. Social collaboration is now part of OOTB SharePoint 2013 with webparts for a newsfeed on the page. The newsfeed supports hash tagging, following, the ability to “like” something, auto-populating with @ mentions, etc.. All of these things become a part of search in SharePoint 2013. You can search hashtags and see every post that is related to that hash tag. There is also a webpart for a project document library available OOTB. Pre-defining a folder structure in a document library and your project team now has a centralized repository for project docs. You can even create a team mailbox for the project if you still want to communicate to the team via email.
5.) SharePoint 2013 also will enhance productivity for your project team. Things like drag and drop now exist. The ribbon is improved and contains similar verbiage to Project client. You can get a rich text preview of documents which saves you time. In SharePoint 2010 you had to click, click, click, to see if you are looking at the right document. OOTB SharePoint 2013 also has enhanced the Mysite template. By utilizing your Mysite, you can see all of your aggregated tasks associated with all of the projects you are working on. You can manage them there as well. Your Mysite also allows for an “About Me” section where you can tag yourself with key words that become part of the search experience. By listing your skills, teammates can find you easier for your given skill set. Then there is the team notebook. Admit it, some of you still love One Note! You can now even sync your One Note Project Notebook with a Windows phone and make updates on the fly that automatically sync. Synchronization of Outlook with tasks is also a productivity enhancement on SharePoint 2013. It adds tasks directly to your Exchange server which allows you to manage them from all of your devices. In SharePoint 2010, if you synced your tasks with Outlook you only saw them on that given device.
In conclusion, many organizations today are still managing projects on Excel and through email. The next step in the Project Management journey is SharePoint. It is a much easier transition into full blown Project Server should your organization mature to that level. SharePoint 2013 is a powerful enterprise platform and managing projects on it couldn’t be easier.
Day Two of SharePoint Fest started off early with the forward thinking, Dan Holme, @danholme Microsoft SharePoint MVP. Dan began the day keynote speaking on Microsoft / Cloud / and what’s new with SharePoint 2013. Dan talked about Microsoft’s track record of acquiring things then integrating into products on the following release. He gave the example of FAST server. Microsoft bought FAST in 06/07 and only now with release of SharePoint 2013 are we seeing it integrated. Microsoft bought Yammer last year it’s not integrated yet. He then talked about how Microsoft intends to start speeding up the integration of products like Yammer as well as more rapid product updates to cloud users on Office 365. Dan elaborates on how Microsoft is now supporting real business users with O365. Microsoft is now a service provider not just a service developer. This is definitely a new model for Microsoft. Dan stated that Microsoft is now prioritizing cloud first. O365 is receiving updates first. Even though o365 users are seeing updates first there are still things you can’t do in cloud that you can on premise and vice versa. One of my favorite moments of the conference was what Dan described next… He asked us to go back to ancient times. Aka the year 2006. He referred to Facebook, and iPhone… and how it was a Pre-Facebook and iPhone world when SharePoint 2010 was being developed. Dan exclaimed, “SharePoint 2010 is so SharePoint 2006”
He then went on to explain how SharePoint 2013 is really designed for today’s world. It is all about end user value with features for task management, project management, and how the app model will enable end users to solve their own problems. Then Dan discussed something that has been coming up in many conversations that I’ve been having with my clients all across the u.s.; The infamous question of, “When should I begin moving to 2013?” Dan boldly answers with, “Why wait?!” SP 2013 is built for today’s world and 2010 simply wasn’t. Don’t wait for SP1 release to manufacture quality is very high there is already millions of production users on 365 sp 1 has less meaning. Cloud is already up to date! The longer you wait the more you lose. business problems need to be solved and business users won’t wait. Friends don’t let friends roll out social on 2010! Sharing workload decision tree define biz need can it be done on 2010, it can be done better in 2013!
SharePoint Fest Denver 2013 was filled with lively crowds, packed sessions, and dynamic speakers. Day One Keynote Speaker was the informative, Cem Ayken, Microsoft. He spoke to the masses about Microsoft’s vision with Enterprise Search & WCM in SharePoint. Ayken highlighted search & SharePoint 2013 and how it drives many different scenarios – social scenarios, wcm, etc… he then went on to describe the evolution of enterprise communication starting with phone, email, IM, voice and video, and finally, social networking. Ayken then posed a question that I find being discussed in a growing number of conversations that I’ve been having with many different organizations. “What’s your social vision?” Ayken states, “Regardless of the size of the organization or industry there is value in the social experience. There is a business value of social including employee engagement, team collaboration, a more connected organization, and agile employees.” Ayken mentioned the upcoming Yammer app for SharePoint that is coming down the pipe. He wrapped up by talking about how SharePoint 2013 search drives experience and how SharePoint 2013 is offering great enterprise search for everyone with the FAST acquisition and now integration with SP2013 search. Also stating how on premise and cloud search are basically same parity.
I left the keynote talk ready to hit up vendor row, meet & greet with the local SI’s and vendor reps, and head into the first breakout session.
I chose to sit in on Dan Holme’s “SharePoint in Action: What We Did at NBC Olympics” Dan talked about the short stint of the Olympic’s IT enterprise and how much work had to be done in a very short period of time as well as being done on a tight budget. He stated 5500 hours of content/ 300 hours per day was covered for broadcasting. He then went on to describe the SharePoint environment that he and his team were tasked in creating. He was given certain business requirements such as the following: it must be done quickly, easy for end users, byod, limited cheap resources, easy to support, very flexible, and has to scale quickly. Sounds familiar? He then showed us the intranet that was created to address these requirements. There were some interesting uses of web parts in 2010, as well as features used in SP 2013. He showed an application site, printer driver site, IT team site, FAQ site, help desk site, some uses of forms and info path, and an IT admin issue tracking system. All in all, the session was interesting.
I then ventured on into see the infamous @jwillie aka, Jeff Willinger, of RightPoint Solutions out of Chicago, IL speak on, “Mobility Solutions – Info on Demand and Where SharePoint Fits In” This talk was focused on Rightpoint’s Reach vs. Rich approach. Jeff began by asking, “What’s the best way to communicate within your organization?” He talked about how organizations should be exploring a Mobile + Social Strategy. Jeff stated, “We are currently in transition with I.T. Yesterday was different and tomorrow is too.” I ultimately agree with that statement thinking back to how the evolution of communication and computing has changed drastically in the last 10 years and seems to be ever evolving. Jeff hits on another topic that I am very familiar with as I’ve been traveling about in 2013 speaking and sharing the point on this very topic; The Consumerization of I.T. Jeff states, “Consumerization is all about experience!” Yes, absolutely, I often say in my sessions that, Consumerization is all about the “right now” I want my data now! On this device! Under my desk! Across town! Up in this tree! It’s about self service. Jeff also talks about the Cloud Datacenter consolidation and how I.T. is getting out of the hardware business which allows I.T. resources to be focused on business alignment instead of server uptime. He also pointed out some 2013 trends for SharePoint including how VPN isn’t cutting it anymore- workers need access to apps and sites anywhere anytime. Jeff also explained another trend, how collaboration over social networks brings new possibilities for work teams. He talked about how this year self service BI is a demand, and lastly, there is a real demand for a professional UX -he states that apps need to be intuitive. Jeff then gave some architecture options for mobile + SharePoint by showing some real world examples of some of the solutions that Jeff and his RightPoint team has implemented for customers. Another rock star presentation at SharePoint Fest Denver by @jwillie
Up next was Breakout Session #4 with the always engaging, Mark Miller, @EUSP, talk on, “How Unsocial is SharePoint?” Mark began by showing a very visual graphical slide of interconnected dots and lines meant to illustrate, Building Communities. He poses the question, “What does Social mean?” Mark explains how social can be defined by an emotional connection. He honed in on 3 silos within SharePoint – end users, I.T. pros, and developers which mocks the setup of the community that Mark co-founded, www.nothingbutsharepoint.com Mark shared his expertise on communities by calling them a network of interconnected relationships. He stated that organizations must take a close look at the business justification of social in the enterprise and ask themselves, “What are we trying to accomplish across teams and departments? Are we doing it because our competitors are?” Mark then went on to pick apart use cases for online social media. He did an analysis on how each of us are using online social media then went onto showing statistics that actually matched up with the room’s responses on how and what we use online social media on. Mark wrapped up with a very valid point, “End users are looking for solutions not platforms.”
I chose to conclude my day of learning in Breakout Session #5 with Ira Fuchs, Microsoft Technical Specialist in NY & NJ. His session was entitled, “Why SP Designer is your Best Friend” Fuchs stated that there are SharePoint implementations across the world where site admins have disabled SharePoint Designer in site collections. He claims that is stupid!
He showed us how SP Designer 2010 & 2013 are similar claiming that SharePoint Designer will make you significantly more efficient and effective. It was interesting to see within any site collection SharePoint Designer out of the box presents you with all the relevant information of that site such as the web address, permissions, sub-sites, how much storage in that site collection, etc… He did some demonstrations for the group including a workflow deom on creating an offer letter within an organization. Fuchs’ session definitely provided a new outlook on SharePoint Designer and it’s capabilities.
After a fun packed day of learning on Day One, I ventured out with the group to some of the SharePint’s. SharePoint Fest Denver day one was a blast.
Thank you for attending my SharePoint 2013 session today at SharePoint Saturday Richmond! My slides on the Consumerization of I.T. are below!
These ten pearls will help you put into motion a happy and prosperous life. Look no further than inside this book and be transformed by helping one person at a time. Consider this: 1. To grow and change one’s life, starts with the desire to change others. 2. The act of generosity grants promotion in life, work, and God. 3. Greatness and opportunity are not luck; you create it through your network. 4. When we embrace gratitude, we design our environment to open doors for others and ourselves. 5. We should not allow our past experiences of letdowns and mishaps to halt our heart.