Tips

[How-To]: Auto generate documents from data stored in SharePoint list and send them for signatures with DocuSign

If you're like most of us, you probably deal with a lot of document signatures. SharePoint is a great place to store those. What you don't want is to become a hub of all this communication between participants who participate in signing.

In this video, we literally take just few minutes to see how you can automate generation of e-signature enabled document based on the data stored in SharePoint list. You can then circulate the document between required parties without being involved in the logistics of the process.

The second part is being able to pick up the signed document and put it back as a list attachment, let me know if you're interested in seeing that and I'll be sure to post the solution.

Leave your comments on what are some of the things you're curious about so we can feature the most popular topics

ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. 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 [convince your boss] to send you to SPC18 this year?

SPC18 is around the corner and few people asked me to help them with convincing their boss in sending them to the event.

You need to be crisp and clear about immediate benefits of sending someone to an event. Here is the email you can use as a starting point to convince your boss.

Hi [insert your managers's name],

I wanted to bring up an opportunity for me to attend SharePoint Conference this year in May 21-23, in Las Vegas. SharePoint Conference is the largest focused event of it's kind in North America with over 100+ sessions from Microsoft, vendors, customers and worldwide experts.

With some of the big-name speakers like Jeff Teper, Microsoft Corporate VP, Mark Kashman Microsoft Senior Product Manager, and Bill Baer there will be many key announcements and strategic sessions at the event. Also, some of the most well known experts and MVPs, such as Andrew Connell, Ben Curry, Dux Raymond Sy, Spencer Harbar, Todd Klindt, Susan Hanley, to name few, will be delivering sessions on Office 365, Teams, Azure, PowerBI and more. Here is the link to all the tracks and session.

It would be a 3 day learning opportunity with 150+ hours of training, and over 2500 attendees to network with.

I believe this year's SPC will bring huge value to help me in particular on the following projects:

1. [Project Name]

2. [Project Name]

3. [Project Name]

In addition, after the event I can share materials and the knowledge with my team as series of lunch and learns so that everyone can benefit and increase the return on the investment.

I've estimated the cost breakdown below with Early Bird and referral discount included:

-Flight: $

-Hotel: $

-Transportation: $

-Meals (breakfast and lunch included): $

-Registration: $

--

TOTAL: $

I'd love to talk more to see what you think.

Thanks so much!

[Your Name]

Be sure to drop by your manager's desk next day to follow up on the email and let them know about Early Bird pricing they can take advantage of by registering you early.

Hope this helps, see you there!

ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. 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]: Create Modern SharePoint Communication and Team Site Templates / Site Designs

With Office 365 you can create site designs and templates so that users can quickly build up their content without having to worry about configuring pages and components on them over and over again.

This technical video below demonstrates how to do that in few steps.
If you're not technical, you can still take advantage of simple SharePoint intranet template set up with Origami SharePoint intranet engine.

In this quick how-to video, we look at how you can easily script site template provisioning in SharePoint Online modern communication and team sites.

Links in this video:

Code used in the video:

//------------------------------
// Theme Provisioning

$themepallette = @{
"themePrimary" = "#9b59b6";
"themeLighterAlt" = "#faf7fb";
"themeLighter" = "#f5eef8";
"themeLight" = "#ebdef0";
"themeTertiary" = "#d5b9e0";
"themeSecondary" = "#a569bc";
"themeDarkAlt" = "#8e4ba8";
"themeDark" = "#6e3a83";
"themeDarker" = "#572e67";
"neutralLighterAlt" = "#f8f8f8";
"neutralLighter" = "#f4f4f4";
"neutralLight" = "#eaeaea";
"neutralQuaternaryAlt" = "#dadada";
"neutralQuaternary" = "#d0d0d0";
"neutralTertiaryAlt" = "#c8c8c8";
"neutralTertiary" = "#d6d6d6";
"neutralSecondary" = "#474747";
"neutralPrimaryAlt" = "#2e2e2e";
"neutralPrimary" = "#333333";
"neutralDark" = "#242424";
"black" = "#1c1c1c";
"white" = "#ffffff";
"primaryBackground" = "#ffffff";
"primaryText" = "#333333";
"bodyBackground" = "#ffffff";
"bodyText" = "#333333";
"disabledBackground" = "#f4f4f4";
"disabledText" = "#c8c8c8";
}

Add-SPOTheme -Name "Origami Purple" -Palette $themepallette -IsInverted $false

//------------------------------
//Site Structure Provisioning

$site_script = @'
{
  "$schema": "schema.json",
  "actions": [
    {
		"verb": "applyTheme",
		"themeName": "Origami Purple"
    },
    {
	   "verb": "addNavLink",
	   "url": "/",
	   "displayName": "Employee Services",
	   "isWebRelative": true
	},
    {
	   "verb": "addNavLink",
	   "url": "/",
	   "displayName": "Business Services",
	   "isWebRelative": true
	},
    {
	   "verb": "addNavLink",
	   "url": "/",
	   "displayName": "Workspaces",
	   "isWebRelative": true
	},
	{
    "verb": "setSiteLogo",
    "url": "https://sharemuch.sharepoint.com/sites/OrigamiV10/SiteAssets/static1.squarespace.com.png"
	}
  ],
  "bindata": { },
  "version": 1
}
'@


Add-SPOSiteScript -Title "Origami" -Content $site_script -Description "Creates Origami Site Script"
Add-SPOSiteDesign -Title "Origami" -WebTemplate "68" -SiteScripts "" -Description "Origami Site"


//------------------------------
// Cleanup
Remove-SPOTheme -Name "Origami Purple"
Remove-SPOSiteScript 
Remove-SPOSiteDesign 


ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. 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


Branding SharePoint Modern Communication Sites - Adding Corporate Color Themes

In this quick how-to video, we look at how you can apply your own company colors to SharePoint Online modern communication site. I'd call this how-to no code since small amount of code you have to copy is just copy & paste.

Links in this video:

Code used to update the theme:

$themepallette = @{
"themePrimary" = "#eab905";
"themeLighterAlt" = "#fffcf2";
"themeLighter" = "#fef9e4";
"themeLight" = "#fef3ca";
"themeTertiary" = "#fde590";
"themeSecondary" = "#fac810";
"themeDarkAlt" = "#d3a604";
"themeDark" = "#a48103";
"themeDarker" = "#816603";
"neutralLighterAlt" = "#e8dfdf";
"neutralLighter" = "#e5dada";
"neutralLight" = "#ddd0d0";
"neutralQuaternaryAlt" = "#d1bfbf";
"neutralQuaternary" = "#c9b4b4";
"neutralTertiaryAlt" = "#c3abab";
"neutralTertiary" = "#d6d6d6";
"neutralSecondary" = "#474747";
"neutralPrimaryAlt" = "#2e2e2e";
"neutralPrimary" = "#333333";
"neutralDark" = "#242424";
"black" = "#1c1c1c";
"white" = "#ece5e5";
"primaryBackground" = "#ece5e5";
"primaryText" = "#333333";
"bodyBackground" = "#ece5e5";
"bodyText" = "#333333";
"disabledBackground" = "#e5dada";
"disabledText" = "#c3abab";
}

Add-SPOTheme -Name "Origami Yellow" -Palette $themepallette -IsInverted $false

Code to remove the theme:

Remove-SPOTheme -Name "Origami Yellow"
 
ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. 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: Work less [in] your email

Let's face it, email isn't bad for communication, but when we make it the vehicle where all of the work happens things start to get out of hand. It happens to me throughout the day. This quick poll on Twitter tells me I'm not the only one.

KeepUpWithWork.png

The issue

So why does this happen that our mailboxes often become workflow, document management, collaboration, sharing, notification, and reminder tool. Well, it's what we are most familiar with, it's handy, so we try to use it for everything. Email is also super easy, free, and you don't need any extra apps.

The side effect of using an email is that any processes we have worked into it are most likely only known to us making the knowledge locked inside our heads. This isn't usually a problem until you get overwhelmed and need to scale or delegate parts of that manual process.

Email messages along with other communication are pieces of puzzles that form a cohesive picture, whether it's a request, or a task. Relying on email alone will give you the granularity, but won't give you the big picture at quick a glance. It's easier to miss a hidden context related to a timeline for example.

The more email we have the harder it is to separate distinct strains of processes buried deep in your mailbox.
To make sense how to deal with the issue we classified the types of emails we often get ...

Types of email

We looked at the most common types of emails landing in our mailboxes to see how we can deal with them. Here is what we found:

Quick Ask

This is direct request and something we can answer quickly. We don't need to do research, dig some data, ask anyone else, or go through documents. This can also be a meeting request, something we can easily accept or decline.

What happens: These usually get responded to "right away" or as soon as you're free from whatever else you're doing.

FYI

No response required, not urgent enough to read it now but something we want to go back to maybe today or tomorrow. This can be work related or external like a webinar we want to watch.

What happens: This typically sits in our mailboxes for few hours to few days, to few weeks depending how busy we are.

Task

This is basically an assignment someone has given us whether they realize it or not. Often disguised as "quick question" but actually has no a quick answer. It can also be an automated alert we need to action. For this we need to go back and do some research before we can answer. Now the part between someone giving us a task and us responding to that email is a "black box", sometimes no-one knows what happens.

What happens: This can be a dreadful one, it can turn into quite some work. These emails usually sit and wait and often can turn into more emails to other team members, a meeting or a document etc. The requestor can wait for days or sometimes weeks to an answer.

How to better deal with them?

Apart from a task-type-email other are easy to deal with. However, there are things we can do to improve the situation:

Lots of "quick asks"

This means that you're a hub, a power broker. This sounds important since lots of things need to flow through you. However, don't let the hub situation turn you into a bottleneck. If you expect growth: of your organization, customers, offerings etc, you need to work on becoming less of a hub and more of an information broker.
Things you can do:

  • Setting up a knowledge base with FAQ's on your intranet

  • Sharing responsibilities, even if it's part time

  • Enabling self-serve: creating quick-steps-sheet or video

  • Organize Lunch and Learn

Quick asks often turn into Tasks

This means people don't understand the full picture or there are missed expectations. The drawback of this is that people don't really understand what you're doing and think that it's not a significant request, where in fact it is.

Things you can do:

  • Clarify the request to make sure you understand it correctly

  • Try to find a mutually convenient workaround to reduce the size of the task

  • Track the task in a tracker tool such as Planner or Trello

Here is an example of tracking editorial calendar so that you can see everything that goes into writing and what's outstanding, the deadlines, and dependencies.

 

Too many FYI's

This means people may not be clear about the process and over-communicate to cover all the bases. This may also indicate that people don't have a place to talk or engage.

Things you can do:

  • Document and communicate the process if those FYI's are related to process or work

  • Set up a News & Events area on your intranet with comments, if those FYI's are related to general company communication

Dealing with TASKS

The key to dealing with tasks is tracking. Just as shown above, for a simple editorial process you may end up with dozens of little tasks. No need to keep them spread around in your email folders. Same applies to your sales and marketing pipeline, your support requests. Tracking will ensure you keep you promises while remaining sane and not drowning in a flood of email.

Below is an example of on-boarding view where your team members responsible for on-boarding can easily see the process and execute it if required in your absence.

onboarding.png

Another step further is automating some of the activities with workflow tools like Zapier or Flow. For example, using our on-boarding example, you can automate electronic contracts or offer letter signing and filing directly into SharePoint without using any code with Flow or Zapier. This will eliminate at least 2 or 3 emails for each of the participants and keep documents securely stored and accessible by those who need to see them.

Using these techniques we were able to significantly reduce the amount of interruptions our team gets daily and keep on track with our deliverables providing visibly better service.

How are you using email and what are things you're thinking about automating? We'd love to hear from you.

ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. 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


Automatic SMS Appointment Reminders with Twilio and Microsoft Flow in SharePoint Online

You know those SMS reminders you sometimes get from shipping companies etc ... well in this video you'll see how you can implement your own in literally few minutes using Twilio and Office 365.

These are great use cases for appointment reminders at dentist office, salons, repair shops and other appointment driven businesses:

Enjoy and we'd love to hear your feedback!

 
ypentsarskyy_2016_small.jpg

Yaroslav Pentsarskyy is the Director of Product at Origami. 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