sharepoint intranet

13 Things You Should Move to Your SharePoint Intranet (apart from document collaboration)

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Summary: Using SharePoint Intranet for document management is the primary goal. As the organization grows, and various new or growing departments produce more content, SharePoint Intranet can help you expand while building engagement. Here are some of the most common things that should live on your SharePoint Intranet.

Whether you already have an existing intranet primarily used for document management or starting a new one, relevant content is what your users are after. Some content is pretty obvious to put on the intranet, but not all of it. Here are 17 great candidates to go onto your SharePoint intranet:

#1: News & Email Newsletters

… I read that somewhere, now I can’t find it

Print newsletters circulating on the bulletin boards in the kitchen are still alive. Smaller organizations rapidly growing can take advantage of having wider visibility of this content when it’s on your intranet.

For organizations using email newsletters, it’s another great opportunity to move those to the intranet. As a benefit, you will get measurable results on how many people engage with your content and ultimately write more relevant content.

If you’re using Intranet in-a-box, your product might already be coming with a variety of templates you can use to make your newsfeed look great without Photoshop.

#2 KPI’s

… How are we doing anyway?

Whether a public or private organization, you’re likely tracking KPI’s and communicating those goals to your employees. Those KPI’s are often hanging on the bulletin board or being disseminated via a “letter from executive“ email once every quarter or less.

By putting your KPI’s on the homepage or perhaps one of the sub pages, you will increase visibility, and simplify updating of the relevant targets.

#3 Memos and Corporate Communication

…oh, well, that’s good to know

Corporate memos are important messages for everyone to know, so how do you ensure it gets to where it needs to?

Employees don’t typically seek out information in memos but if the headline sounds interesting or applicable they will read it.

To improve readability of memos, we encourage not to isolate them into their own container. Instead use your news web part to increase visibility so that more people are going to pay attention to it.

#4 Templates & Samples

…where is this PowerPoint when you need it?

One of the most common complaints about any intranet out there is that employees are not able to find Templates & Samples.

Most have to start their work by downloading existing content such as PowerPoint stripping it and using it as a template. Some of this content your staff may be downloading might be dated, with old logos and branding standards. Now you have a new document circulating created from the old sample.

Create a space for Templates & Samples where your staff can find Proposal Templates, Communications Templates, Letterhead etc. Keep those up to date in one place. If you have a new type of template, add it here. We see this area rapidly growing as organization adds more corporate collateral.

#5 Knowledgebase

… how do I reset my voicemail password?

Most of the organization’s knowledge is stored in … your employees heads.

Sometimes those employees document their process for their own convenience. Things like how-to’s and tips & tricks. By creating a repository for a knowledge-base, these know-hows have a place to live and others can use them.

#6 Outages

… wish I knew it before calling helpdesk and waiting for an hour

Outages, when they happen cause confusion and flood of emails and calls to IT. By putting critical and important outages on your intranet you can reduce the flood of calls.

We recommend critical outages to have a place right at the top of the home page for greater visibility. For detailed system outage information, you can use a web part under specific area of the site.

#7 Employee Feedback & Idea Crowd-sourcing

… How come no one has suggested this before?

Your employees work with specific process and tasks on a daily basis and, in many cases, have a great insight how a particular area of their work can be improved.

Employee feedback is the most powerful when other can see the suggested feedback and vote on it. It doesn’t mean you have to action all of the feedback but will give you a great visibility into what’s trending.

#8 Project Sites

…Where do I keep this project plan?

Some organizations deal with projects on a regular basis, such as consulting firms; others produce continuous work product and don’t have the concept of a project, even though ad-hoc project do take place.

Projects are different because of their cross functional nature. Several departments and vendors collaborate on the project and it doesn’t make sense to store all of that information under a particular site. Having a project site isolates the collaboration to the specific participants with respective permissions.

#9 Onboarding Materials

… Oh, yes, I forgot to order your business cards

All the forms and checklists, contacts, and training related to onboarding a new employee has to live somewhere. SharePoint intranet is a great place to have a dedicated area to this type of content. It’s much better choice than having printed binders which are hard to update and keep fresh.

#10 Offsite and Special Event Materials

…wish someone took a photo of that

We see some great materials coming from offsite events. Some organizations brainstorm future vision on a sketch-board and some even invite a professional sketcher to help them build those.

Employees feel inspired after those events and the materials produced in those events shouldn’t go to waste. Have an area for your offline corporate Events. You can also promote the area by featuring a news on the intranet related to the latest event.

#11 Policies and Procedures

…what are all the stat holidays we get?

First off, how is this different from the knowledge-base talked about earlier?

Policies are not how-to’s and tips & tricks. These are specific to larger organizations but not only. Those are typically HR, Finance, and other policies related to the business. Common information to go here are things like vacation request policies, contractor on-boarding policy etc.

#12 External Updates

…”it should be in the email with 3 attachments”

Investor Updates, related PDFs, External Partner Updates, and other externally focused and targeted communication often goes out as an email. If you need to attach a collateral such as a PDF document or a Fact Sheet to the email, use SharePoint intranet as your repository. This will help you avoid bounced mailboxes and emails blocked by firewall or sent straight to spam.

Have a dedicated area for external communication and link to them in your communication. With SharePoint Online, you can allow guest link sharing which can expire in needed.

As a result, you will have access to all of the assets you sent over time and recipients’ mailboxes will be free of large attachments. It’s a win-win!

#13 Department Updates

…oh, the product team is growing?

News related to departments and areas of business are great candidates for a news app. The news app we use has dedicated sections for departments which allows your staff to still see the news item but it’s less prominent and leaves room for a main news item.

Conclusion

Your SharePoint intranet is a great place for corporate content which goes way beyond document management and collaboration. Whether you have an existing or building a new SharePoint intranet, increasing valuable content will boost your staff engagement. Content is King!

Help us grow this list! Send us some of your ideas!

Pre-built SharePoint intranet, tailored to your organization in 3-6 weeks.

 
ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky

How to Structure Intranet Content: by Department or by Function

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Summary: Structuring information by department may seem like an easy solution, but the research shows that’s not how users expect to find things. In fact, in our own tests, we see that over 92% of users look to find information by Function before considering otherwise. Read more to see how we measure this.

In our design workshops, Information Architecture structuring takes a front seat in intranet design. In most cases, we dedicate 3 separate workshops to brainstorm and refine IA with business users. In almost every case, there is a difference in opinion between participants whether to structure the site by Function or Department.

The Issue

During those brainstorming sessions, when we sort all the content, we usually see two predominant opinions.

Some say that navigation should be structured by Function, and others claim, by Department.

Here is what I mean by structuring content by Department:

 In here, we see structure by department. Users are expected to navigate to a specific department and look for the relevant content there.

In here, we see structure by department. Users are expected to navigate to a specific department and look for the relevant content there.

Here is the example of the same structure by Function. The labels here such as [Business Services], [Employee Services] and for illustrative purposes and we tailor those to your organization’s Functional areas:

 Above, the content is structured by the Function, so that users can navigate to the area of their interest and find relevant information there without needing to know which team is responsible for the content

Above, the content is structured by the Function, so that users can navigate to the area of their interest and find relevant information there without needing to know which team is responsible for the content

Structuring by Department

Proponents say:

  • Everyone knows who’s content is who’s so it’s easier to assign permissions and find content

  • It’s traditional and simple, no brainer, HR stuff goes under HR, IT stuff goes under IT and so on

  • If we use functional or generic labels such as Business Services, users might find it confusing whether some content is business related or employee related

Issues:

  • New employees may not know which content is authored by which department

    • Example: Would an Expense Form live under HR or Finance? What about “Submit Travel Request“ - HR or Finance? How about “Templates and Samples” - this doesn’t seem to have a department

  • Content ownership sometimes changes by department especially when departments are renamed, merged or some subtle responsibilities change

    • Example: Emergence of “Health & Safety” department, which didn’t exist before and some related “Health” content existed on HR site.

  • How to categorize content authored by multiple departments? For example: “Policies and Procedures” are commonly owned by HR, Legal, Finance, and perhaps even Communications teams? Should then each department have a separate location for policies? What if you need to search across?

The data says …
(and we tested it)

Despite opinions raised in workshops, the sample size in a typical workshop is too small to make an accurate judgement. Typical intranet workshop has 6-8 stakeholders and your typical intranet can have anywhere from few hundred to few thousand users.

The best solution is to verify your information architecture with a tree test.

How does it work?

We usually build a practical scenarios such as “Users would expect to navigate to IT department site to find latest systems outage information“.

Then we give users our navigation tree and ask them to “find the systems outage information“.

The test contains few more scenarios - we try to make it less than 10.

Since we’re using automated tools to run the test, we get interesting metrics, including:

  • What’s the first node in the tree users clicked on when asked for a particular scenario question

    • Going back to our example of IT systems outage, if they clicked on the Functional node, it gives us quantifiable result of the first thought of where this information should be

  • How direct was their navigation when asked for a particular scenario

    • This tell us how much of back and forth did they have to do before settling on an answer. Did they go down a correct path right away or did they have to back track few times

    • The more direct their navigation, the clearer are the labels which is good

  • What was nominated as a correct answer

    • … and was that answer correct

  • How long did it take for users to find the answer they consider correct

    • Longer times indicate lack of clarity

  • Many more …

We also get this distribution graph below showing the path users navigated. This is a screenshot but we follow paths and see exactly how many users clicked on what and have they come to the right place right away or after some clicking.

information architecture test.png


This diagram above, shows that users equally tried Department Site (IT) and Business Services as their destinations but over 92% have clicked Business Services* as their first step/link in this particular test.

*Business Services is a label we gave to our Functional structure, so the test gives us quantifiable answer that users mostly search for information by Function rather than Department.

Mixing the Structure

Based on the test above you can see that small percentage of users still choose alternative path for a scenario.

Depending on the quantity you get in your scenario, you may consider creating links from highly ranking alternate nodes to the actual source.

For example, if you notice that 15% of users click on IT Site to find the outage information, perhaps have a quick link or a widget which will quickly point users to the source or give them a snapshot of what they’re looking for.

If you chose to do so, ensure that you’re not duplicating the data and instead linking to the source.

Sample Size

It’s always best to have larger sample size when testing your Information Architecture tree. Definitely consider sending it to 10% of the company or more, if possible. Don’t limit the test only to people in the workshop since they’re biased.

In our testing, we test the IA structure, next day after brainstorming, and then collect and analyse results for next day to finalize the tree. As a result we get confirmed data in a mater of 2 days.

Re-Testing

After you ran the first test, you might be tempted to make adjustments and re-test. This doesn’t work as well due to bias since your users have learnt something about the IA tree from the first time and the results would not be accurate.

There is also a factor of diminishing returns.

We recommend forming tests around specific scenarios and only testing those scenarios so that you get the answer as to using variant A or B.

Can SharePoint Online hub sites help with IA structure?

SharePoint Online has a concept of the Hub sites allowing all of the intranet sites to be flat and tie them together in what’s called a Hub Site.

The idea is that site structure is then fluid and can be changed at any time to meet particular requirements.

So does this help?

Simply put, no.

If you make structure changes too frequently on a live site, users will be more lost than if you haven’t figured out the structure correctly in a first place, and let users get used to it.

Imagine the scenario where during the first month expense forms are under HR and next month, they’re under Expenses, then under Rewards & Benefits and finally moving to Employee Services.
The change would be overwhelming for users and you’ll hear a lot of “I can’t find anything on here“.

Conclusion

Despite the simplicity of structuring the content by department, try to avoid this practice and structure by function. If in doubt or hear differences in opinions, run a tree test and let results guide you.

What are some of the challenges you have seen when structuring content o the intranet? Drop a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

Pre-built SharePoint intranet, tailored to your organization, in 3-6 weeks.

 
ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky

34 Intranet Launch Ideas for the Best Adoption Results

intranet launch checklist.PNG

Summary: Intranet launch is an exciting time for everyone but that success won’t happen on its own. Luckily there are things you can do. We have compiled 28 of the most creative launch ideas we have collected over years, so here they are!

Be sure to scroll to the end for a downloadable bonus !

Before the Launch

This is a second part of the Intranet Adoption Phases series. In the previous post we have covered identifying some of the key challenges and potential areas of resistance. We’ve also talked about the training aspect and importance of being prepared to provide your users with necessary support.

Be sure to check out the previous post in this series in a link above.

Now, onto the exciting part of the journey, the launch ideas!

Launch Day

The most exciting and the busiest day in any intranet’s life - is the launch day. There are few things you can do to make it more effective.

Again, this is a collection of best practices and feel free to pick what better suites your organizational culture.

  • Prepare

    • Be ready to communicate your roadmap since not everything will happen or get launched all at once and you need to be able to communicate future vision.

      • Your users might have different expectations coming from other organizations

      • Sometimes users coming from larger organizations expecting to see larger scope of capabilities and can be disappointed by what you show them on the Day 1

      • Be sure to level set expectations and explain the roadmap and the future vision

    • Test each area and ensure readers have adequate permissions

      • Try not to improvise to much in your training sessions to keep on time and rack and more importantly avoid surprises during the presentation (which always come up on day one)

    • Soft launch with you pre-launch group/influencers

      • This will give you an opportunity to test everything and ensure what you’re about to demo on the launch day, still works as expected

    • Plan logistics on the launch day and if you have remote staff joining, plan the activities for them

      • For remote staff, it’s best to have a site representative run a parallel set of activities and sessions. Alternatively, for a smaller team, you can have remote staff embers join for a video call for the main part of the presentation.

    • Prepare a welcome package/agenda for the day

      • Login information, examples of key landing pages, helpdesk information etc

    • Help champions create strong pages and profiles for their areas and departments to lead with a good example

  • Engage

    • Start with an intranet launch video; humor works great!

      • We have collected a set of some of the great intranet launch video examples here but don’t overthink it, make it align with your organizational culture.

    • Present roadmap and a vision

    • Conduct overview sessions

      • Pause for questions

      • Listen and be ready to capture feedback

    • Host an intranet drop in lounge with snacks and drinks for an informal Q&A

      • This is great if you’re planning to have a one or two short sessions and have colleagues informally join for Q&A

    • Run a scavenger hunt or an intranet bingo

      • The way this works is you ask people to find something on the intranet and whoever finds it first gets a point, similar to bingo. This is great but requires a bit more planning than informal lounge idea

  • Communicate

    • What’s next and how the intranet will evolve

      • There will always be staff members who will have questions about very future state of the intranet. They are likely coming from larger environments and bring some of the expectations with them. Don’t feel overwhelmed with future state questions and don’t feel like you have to promise anything.

      • Have a colleague help you take down questions and thank the participant for their point and promise to get back to them and others in one sort or another: such as a follow up post on the intranet! :)

    • What to expect over the next little while

      • Set the expectation that some areas of the site are still being populated and will require a bit of patience.

      • Be sure to actually follow up on the areas that are still “under construction“ otherwise you will loose the trust of your users

    • “We’re listening and evolving“ and how to get a hold of the intranet team

      • Ensure the intranet team is accessible and available and you have a process of how you will capture the feedback and respond to questions. Ensure you monitor the email alias and action the feedback.


        In Origami, we use intranet ideas and feedback tool, see below, to collect user feedback.

 
intranet ideas and feedback tool.PNG
 

Continue Engagement

Adoption continues beyond the launch day, so here are activities we collected for the continued engagement.

poll.PNG
  • Measure

    • Run targeted surveys to measure pain points and feedback

    • Polls - great to capture quick snapshop of what people think about the intranet

    • Office 365 Analytics - view what’s the usage and adoption of your site to determine the areas of opportunities. Check out the adoption analytics available in office 365

  • Engage

    • Conduct Lessons Learnt session

      • After few weeks to a month, you’d like to know what went right and what went wrong and how you can improve. Be sure to schedule time in your calendar to review the usage and experience with your key stakeholders and influencers.

    • Run regular Lunch and Learns to help people get up to speed learn a trick or two

    • Recognize top contributors in Shout Outs or Kudos tool

    • Promote media and content from major company events right on your intranet:

      • Offsite photos and materials

      • Leadership events

      • Success stories

      • Employee centric news: day is life of …

      • Photo of the day contest

    • Make it remote and mobile-accessible. If you’re using Office 365 and your organization’s policies don’t say otherwise, making your intranet mobile accessible is a given!

  • Evolve

    • Expand on the available content templates, perhaps new department sites etc

      • As you grow, users will challenge you with the new functionality required for their departments and sites. This is natural and ensure you plan for those changes in your roadmap as your intranet evolves

    • Build more content policies such as moderation and commenting policies so that more functionality can be enabled in your site

      • Interactive functionality is great but be sure to have a policy to back up moderation and privacy. This is especially relevant for larger organizations.

    • Allow moderated feedback such as peer recognition or a marketplace

      • Provided you have a policy in place if applicable

    • Make most commonly used links available on the intranet as quick links

    • Welcome new employees on the intranet

      • In Origami, customers like to use our Kudos tool for this functionality

    • Publicize your intranet goals

      • Usage stats (this and many more are available in the Office 365 Adoption Dashboard, so be sure to check it out to gain valuable insight on how your intranet is adopted)

      • Collaboration stats (same as above)

      • Time saved daily

    • Refresh the header with an new image around seasons or key events

 By refreshing the background or a header image you can create a fresh new look and more attention to your home page at no cost

By refreshing the background or a header image you can create a fresh new look and more attention to your home page at no cost

Conclusion & (Bonus!)

Gather excitement and engagement with your newly launched intranet by employing all the tools available to make an impact. Remember that much of the success is not just the launch itself but keeping continuous engagement by following through with your roadmap and constant evolution of the site.

Good luck, and if you’d like to ideas on what worked for you, leave a comment below!

BONUS: Register to get our latest Intranet Launch Worksheet!

Name *
Name
 
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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky

Your SharePoint intranet adoption success is 67% dependent on these 5 key phases

Summary: Intranet adoption is a continuous activity which starts it’s roots in change management, continuing beyond the launch day. This is a 2 part post, where we’ll take a look at 5 key phases and details to help you organize a successful intranet launch and build continuous intranet adoption.

For a successful SharePoint intranet launch and adoption, always include change management and engagement planning along with your design and launch activities.

Over the years of launching intranets, we’ve identified the following 5 phases as key to a successful intranet introduction:

Let’s take a look at the details of each; Since there is a lot of ideas and some may not apply in your scenario, feel free to cherry pick what sounds like a good fit for your organization’s culture and scale.

intranet launch checklist.PNG

Identify Change Resistance

This phase is one of the earliest on a launch timeline and often forgotten as intranet managers get caught up in an array of other exciting activities.

Most people dislike change, it’s the fear of unfamiliar and unknown. It’s in our human nature. Introducing new intranet is a change and you will have to deal with resistance, early on and later. Identifying resistance early on give you time to address it.

Here are the things you can do:

  • Understand Resistance

    • Identify groups or key influencers within the organizations who raise concerns

    • What are the common themes or concerns they’re raising. Most resistance is due to specific and legitimate concerns the group has.

      • It could be:

        • Lack of time to transition or the amount of perceived work required to move data

        • Data quality

        • Lack of training or experience

        • Past failures and the fear of the regret factor

    • Solicit ideas and build engagement around solving their concerns

      • Book a brainstorming session. In this post we illustrated how a brainstorming exercise can be used to plan move from fileshare to SharePoint. It’s a quick activity and builds a lot of engagement

  • Define Roadmap

    • Gather proposed solutions, plot them on a map, see what brings the most value to the business and what is the most feasible.

    • Focus on business value. We have an exercise around brainstorming and plotting proposed ideas and determining their feasibility. It only takes an hour to get a pretty good visual on what should be the next key targets

  • Gather Support

    • Convert key influencers who are concerned about the change. If you involve them in your design and empathize with their concerns, your initial resistance group will turn into supporters and champions, content authors, SME’s

    • Keep these individuals in a close loop as they will become pivotal in future phases

Plan Communication

You’ve got your back covered knowing what are the resistance issues and possible solutions, now it’s time to plan communication with the rest of the organization.

  • Build Awareness

    • Create an internal press release “new intranet is coming“. Why does your intranet exist, how do you navigate it on a high level, what’s the name of your new intranet. In a next post we’re talk about how you can use Intranet Naming Contest to build excitement and engagement.

    • Loop in your key contributors in a soft launch communication loop

    • Start building a contributor community

  • Build Engagement

    • Organize moderated Intranet Naming Contest

    • Communicate the timeline and major project updates

    • Involve content authors and champions in key activities such as launch day activities

  • Prepare for Launch

    • Plan activities for the launch day

    • Prepare a postcard teaser

      • Intranet Logo or Name

      • URL to navigate on the launch day

      • Login instructions

      • Helpdesk contact

    • Prepare launch info sessions and plan the initial overview sessions

    • Prepare 2 or 3 min launch video

      Here is a simple example of the intranet launch video. And don’t forget the humor is the best ice breaker!

    • Update key sections of the site, for example directory should have people profiles and department fields assigned if you’re using those to find people on a day of the launch

Plan Overview Training

From the timeline perspective, training is something you can start along with the communication planning depending on the effort involved.

Among many other activities such as preparing your training manuals and support, don’t forget the aspect of the overview training.

Here are the key activities to remember:

  • Create Standardized Content Templates

    • Identify what are key page templates and how to use them so that content authors are aware how to author content

  • Training references

    • We recommend One Pager Sheets for the most common tasks such as: log in, search for a project, search for a form, report a problem etc. For authors, those could be template names, how to edit pages, choosing a standard font etc

  • Peer support

    • Plan how to involve your champions in peer support and how they can escalate if more help is required

Continue Reading ->

Be sure to check out the next post in the series focusing on the intranet Launch and Building Engagement and further adoption.

Conclusion

As you read through this extensive list, remember that some of the activities are ongoing and don’t need to happen all at once! This guide gives you a summary of some of the best intranet launches looked like and feel free to tailor the activities to the culture and scale of your organization

Have a comment, we’d love to hear more!

Launch tailored, pre-built SharePoint intranet in weeks!

 
ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky

Moving from Fileshare to SharePoint? Key Strategies to Building Reliable Metadata

Summary: Moving away from Fileshare to SharePoint is one of the most painful exercises most organizations describe. With the structured approach, you can simplify this process to just few workshops and end up with rock solid, and easy to find structure. Avoid using existing folder names as your new SharePoint structure and simplify existing containers first before defining metadata.

Although we’re builders of intranet-in-a-box, we often consult on the SharePoint migration projects. One of the most common challenges in any organization using fileshare, is migrating this old structure to SharePoint. Even with a wealth of tools available in SharePoint around content findability, such as metadata and tags, you need input is required from your teams.
So, how do we go about it in just few simple workshops?

Pre-Work

First, you’ll need to bring the right people to the table.
Here are few guiding principles:

  • Understand which teams own content in your existing fileshare

  • Ideal group size is 4-6 stakeholders

    • Ensure people in the room are content owners, and members who can assign tasks and allocate resources for their team. This doesn’t have to be the same person, hence we recommend 4-6 people per team.

    • Ensure everyone in the room is likely to contribute for their area and not just listen in.

Content Audit

You have picked the right people, now onto the content audit.

First, why do we need content audit? Don’t we already know what content is in our fileshare?

Our experience shows the following:

  • Not everyone on the team knows everything about their existing fileshare structure

  • Much of the structure is obsolete, ad-hoc, with lots of catch-all folders

  • Every workshops we ran, had people discover something new about the content based on their peer’s input

Running the workshop (in person)

  • Request for participants to individually write down types of content their own and work with.

    • Give examples, such as: project status report, project plan, risks and issues etc. This will help ideas flowing

  • Ensure participants work individually.

  • Request each participant to share their individual types of content and let others ask questions

    • Keep other participants interaction only for clarifications, not brainstorming, countering, or questioning workflow or business flow. There will be separate activity to cover that :)

Remote participation

More often than not we work with hybrid teams where some participants are at the office and others are remote. There are facilitation techniques we use to accommodate this, which is a whole different topic, and with the right mix of technology and facilitation participants as as productive as in on-site meeting. The key to remote session is preparation and make sure everyone can contribute without feeling left out.

The Result

As a result you will end up with a sample structure like below. And by the way, with all the pre-work to get to this point will only take about 45 min with an experienced facilitator.

PMO Site Content.PNG

Defining New Content Structure

Now that we have all the content on the table and everyone has the context of what everything is, it’s time to shape this into a tree.

The task is to: group relevant content into logical groups or clusters and assign labels to each cluster. For example: [Contract Template], [Agreement Template], and [SOW Template] can be collectively put into category called [Templates].

Towards the end of this exercise you will end up with something like this, notice how various content types cluster around themes forming what we call SharePoint Content Type:

PMO Site Structure.PNG

At this point we spent only about an hour and 1/2 and already have a good idea how the new repository will look like. Next, we finalize the structure.

Selecting Metadata and Tags

With the metadata you can group content by any number of tags, virtually creating “folders” on the fly. With the folder, you get to navigate the structure in a fixed format.

Regardless of method you chose to structure your content, folder or metadata, using the output from the previous exercise, it’s easy to build the final structure.

Here are some guiding principles when tagging your content:

  • Use auto-tagging feature in SharePoint to tag content automatically when it’s dropped into a specific library or folder (if you chose to go with folders).

  • Avoid creating hierarchies deeper than 3 levels. For example: [Project Alpha] -> [Deliverables] -> [Fact Sheet] is a good example of 3 level hierarchy.

  • Avoid manual versioning and creating folders to manage those. For example, avoid: Contract_v3_final, instead rely on built in versioning features to version your content.

    • This may sound like nothing to do with the metadata but we often see people create folders for Draft/Final documents which affects content structure

  • Don’t confuse Metadata with a Document Type. This might sounds obvious but people make this mistake all the time. Consider this scenario:

    • Should [Balance Sheet] be a content type or the [Year]?

    • The correct way is [Balance Sheet] as a Content Type since and [Year] is a Metadata field.

      • NOTE: Content Types reflect entities around which rules are formed (archival, retention etc). Metadata, in this case [Year], is merely a descriptor/property of the entity.

    • As obvious as it is, many fileshare structures out there have the exact opposite in how folders are structured.

Metadata versus Content Type.PNG

Conclusion

When we follow this collaborative approach with the client we see huge increase in adoption and decrease in support. The tempting alternative of bringing structure from fileshare will bring old problems to the new environment. We have used this approach on number of projects over the years and refined it meticulously for the best results, so if you have questions about details - drop us a note!

What are some of the challenges you found when migrating from fileshare to SharePoint? Leave your comment below.

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Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a rapidly growing service and product offering which enables organizations to get an intranet designed for them without starting from a blank page. He's also 8 time Microsoft MVP, speaker at many local and worldwide tech events, and a published author of several SharePoint related books.

@spentsarsky