Monthly Archives: September 2008
In the consultant/presales arena, demonstrations are king. Being able to customize a demonstration to match a customer’s requirement is even better, but as we know, there isn’t always time for that. Thankfully, Microsoft have released a number of templates for SharePoint called the “Fantastic 40″. These templates expand the out-the-box “Team Site” offering to provide a number of very useful sites. The examples include, but are not limited to:
- Absence and Vacation Schedule Management
- Budgeting and Tracking Multiple Projects
- Bug Database
- Call Center
- Change Request Management
- Compliance Process Support Site
- Contacts Management
- Document Library and Review
- Event Planning
- Expense Reimbursement and Approval Site
- Help Desk
Over and above the “Fantastic 40″, Microsoft have also released role-based templates for My Site that allows you to create your My Site based on the role you have in the organisation. These templates include:
- Administrative Assistant
- All Role-Based Templates
- Controller-Financial Analyst
- Customer Service Manager
- HR Manager
- IT Manager
- Marketing Manager
- Sales Account Managers
What I enjoy about these templates is the fact that they can offer more of a “personalised demontration” to a customer than a demonstration based on the minimal “Team Site” template.
In any event, having a Site Collection with all the templates handily installed is not always possible. Luckily, there are an increasing number of vendors offering preconfigured sites, which means that consultants like myself can use them for demonstration purposes. I recently worked on the SharePoint Experts demonstration site and enjoyed the experience. The “Contributor” right didn’t work, but just being able to navigate through the templates was a great help for me in the field.
So, if you don’t have the time to preconfigure your own virtual machine with all the templates, simply navigate to this site and make use of their offering. Here is the link: http://www.sharepointexperts.com/v3demo.htm
The following site also lists all the templates, and gives screenshots and a brief description of each template: http://www.wssdemo.com/application/default.aspx
And finally, here is a link directly to the TechNet location with more information about the templates and other enhancements: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/windowsserver/sharepoint/bb407286.aspx
Good luck with your demos
“As of Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 with Service Pack 1 (SP1), you can install Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 on Windows Server 2008. You cannot install Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 or Office SharePoint Server 2007 without service packs on Windows Server 2008.”
Go to the Windows Server 2008 Resource Center for SharePoint Products and Technologies for detailed information on this topic.
As we all know the functionality stack in SharePoint 2007 reads longer than a play by play of the NFL Super Bowl. In short, there are a lot of features in MOSS 2007. Most users, even skilled users, don’t utilise even a third of all the cool features within the product. Furthermore, many businesses have the product and don’t even know all its uses.
When implemeting SharePoint, the vendor typically has all the answers. They know how simple features can be used to add an immense amount of value, they know which features are a bit tough to get off the ground and they know which features to steer clear of in the initial phases of the project. In theory, this is how it works. In reality, vendors sell ALL the great features of SharePoint included from the start, thus creating the expectation. FAILURE! The users are so overwhelmed with features that the adoption is actually slower than when users are exposed to the features in a phased approach.
SharePoint is meant to be fluid – it’s meant to evolve, and the adoption of the features as with the metadata/taxonomy should evolve too. I found a great article authored by Joel that explains his deployment model. In the article he categorizes users from Newbie’s to Rockstars with a quick explanation of the level of components that should be exposed to the users at the different stages of experience. You can read it here
‘Agile software development’ is ranked 18th on CNN Money’s 2007 Business 2.0 survey, The 50 Who Matter Now, a “subjective list of people, products, trends, and ideas that are transforming the world of business.”
I found a brilliant post that explains the concept of Planning Poker quite nicely. Planning Poker uses a very simple concept to enable teams to provide better estimates faster, and have more fun doing it.
Although SharePoint is sold as a platform that can be customised / modified to the enth degree to meet all client requirements, certain areas are more difficult to customise than others.
A very good example of this is the alert notification emails. Although the update is not technically challenging from a development perspective, it is certainly not something that is simply done via the interface.
Many clients request this update and here is a great article detailing how it should be done:
I think the following extract makes a good point:
Culture change: Agile processes not only demand a change in the way software is developed, but a change in culture. Agile processes value a culture of openness, cooperation and collaboration. The mantra is “get work done”, instead of “cover your ass”.
I’ve found that trying to kick-start the culture change in our organization from the older Waterfall methodology to an Agile approach is quite challenging, although I suppose I always knew this would be the case. People are wary of change, so it’s no surprise that it’s an uphill battle for most to even consider these new ways of building software. Out with the old and in with the new, as a colleague likes to say…
But at the end of the day, nothing short of a culture change will propel forward this new way of thinking about software development. And evidence of this is quite apparent: ‘Ability to change organizational culture‘ and ‘General resistance to change‘ were the dominant barriers to further Agile adoption in the organizations of 3,061 respondents currently doing Agile projects, according to a recent VersionOne study, The State of Agile Development (PDF).
Educating people about the flaws of Waterfall and the benefits of Agile is challenging, but I feel that it’s something that needs to be done in order to progress. We now have the knowledge to solve problems that have plagued the software industry for years: late projects, unhappy customers, inaccurate project management, cost overruns, despondent teams, and poor quality to name a few. With Agile, we have a set of principles, practices, guidelines and tools at our disposal that can help us improve overall project success.
Striving towards agility is a definite goal for an increasing number of organizations today, as the benefits of an adaptive development approach are hard to ignore. Driving this culture change is hard work and takes time, but I think it is definitely worth it.
“It’s not easy to change cultures…. We have almost 80,000 people working for us these days…. [What we] are working hardest on now is agility. What does it mean to be agile in the marketplace? Agility means that you are able to turn things around, that you can invent new things and yet you can still do things that require scale, discipline and execution.”
For a company the size of Microsoft, Ballmer says he’s trying to cultivate pockets of agile groups, some of which are “incredibly fast, but shallow,” and others that are slower, but “incredibly deep.” “How you knit [together] and enable people to get the best of all the cultural aspects in the organization is a challenge right now.” He insists that Microsoft can become more agile. While there is one overall Microsoft culture, beneath that is a wide range of sub-cultures which operate at different paces.
“Brutal Honesty: Agile or not, someone is going to ask the questions: “How much is this going to cost?”, “How long is this going to take?”, and “What am I going to get?”. The real answers, respectively, are “As much as you’re willing to spend,” “As long as it takes,” and “Whatever you tell us that you want,” but few organizations are willing to tolerate this level of honesty and instead ask for “exact” answers. Striving for exact answers typically results in both time and money being wasted with little improvement in accuracy to show for it. I believe that it is time to admit that we can’t predict the future accurately and cast off the shackles of traditional thinking.“
From Initiating an Agile Project (When you want to launch an agile project, where do you start?)