3 min read

Atlassian Releases Confluence SharePoint Connector

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 13, 2012 11:00:00 AM

The latest release of the Confluence SharePoint Connector is loaded with new features that help make the static content you store in SharePoint easier to embed within the dynamic content you create and share in Confluence.

Access Content in SharePoint From Confluence, Fast

Confluence 4.0 delivered a new intuitive editing interface that lets users create rich content with extraordinary speed and simplicity. Combine the content storage benefits of SharePoint with the new content collaboration power of Confluence and you’ve solved your team’s collaboration struggles.

SharePoint’s often used to store legacy documents. There are times when you need to make these documents accessible in Confluence where everyone’s collaborating around projects and getting their work done. Atlassian’s made it even faster for the users that live in Confluence to embed custom SharePoint Lists and link to SharePoint documents in Confluence pages with Macro Autocomplete.

 

It’s also easy to jump over to SharePoint from the lists embedded in Confluence pages with a new View in SharePoint link accessible from the macro property panel.

 

Lastly, Atlassian’s made the integration that the SharePoint Connector provides more discoverable to Confluence users by including the SharePoint Document Link and List macros in the editor’s Insert Menu.

 

Faster Linking to SharePoint Content

Let’s face it, collaborating around the content in SharePoint is a burden. However, pulling content stored in SharePoint into Confluence will not only save you time, but your mental health too!

Improved SharePoint Document Link Macro

Effortlessly create links to your SharePoint server’s Office documents while editing Confluence pages. Links inserted using the SharePoint Link macro let users open and edit SharePoint documents directly in the appropriate Office application, such as Excel or Word, without having to load the SharePoint site.

SharePoint List Macro

If you’ve got a group of related documents – like collateral for an upcoming product launch – that are stored in SharePoint, the the SharePoint List macro makes it easy to share those documents with other stakeholders that get their work done in Confluence. The macro can display most SharePoint list types and document libraries giving you the ability to access and collaborate around all of your SharePoint documents in Confluence.

 

Watch Confluence Content from SharePoint

If you’re viewing a Confluence page or blog post within a SharePoint site you can now choose to Watch it to receive email notifications whenever changes are made.

Up-to-date Content, All the Time

Even better, if someone edits the Confluence page or blog post while you are viewing it, the Confluence Web Part in SharePoint will automatically refresh so you’re guaranteed to be viewing the most current version. Keeping up-to-date with the dynamic content that lives in Confluence just got easier.

Available Today!

To try Atlassian’s SharePoint Connector 1.5, click the link below – and to learn more about SharePoint or Confluence and what they can give you, drop us a line.

     
Topics: atlassian blog confluence sharepoint documentation download integration
2 min read

Atlassian: SharePoint Gets Social With Confluence

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 7, 2011 11:00:00 AM

The latest release of the Atlassian’s Confluence SharePoint Connector is loaded with new features that turn SharePoint into the social collaboration platform you always wished it was. Best of all, it’s available for download today…here’s the scoop:

Unlock Documents and Lists stored in SharePoint
With Atlassian’s redesigned SharePoint list macro, anyone can insert their favorite SharePoint lists into Confluence without needing to know wiki markup.

1. Smarter SharePoint List Macro
New ‘Smart Fields’ for the ‘SharePoint List Macro’ in the Confluence ‘Macro Browser’ make light work of finding your ‘Lists’ from SharePoint and embedding them into a Confluence page for others to see.

2. Custom SharePoint List Views in Confluence
We’ve also made it easy for users to reuse the custom list views they’ve configured in SharePoint. Getting your personalized SharePoint experience in Confluence is now just a couple of keystrokes away.

Bring Social Collaboration into SharePoint
Experience the collaborative advantages of Confluence inside SharePoint like never before with new social features for SharePoint users.
1. Bring Confluence Blogs into SharePoint
A new Blog Post Web Part lets you bring the rich discussions and newsworthy content shared in Confluence, into SharePoint. And, with the power of Web Part Connections, you can connect a Blog Post Web Part to the new Blog Post Tree View Web Part. This lets SharePoint users browse all the blog posts in a Confluence Space directly from SharePoint. Now everyone can stay-up-to-date on the important announcements published in your intranet.

2. Post comments on Confluence content from SharePoint
Users can now make comments on the Confluence pages and blog posts they consume in SharePoint allowing more people to contribute to the conversations taking place inside your Confluence wiki.

For Administrators…
One-step Farm-wide Settings
We’re always striving to make the life of administrators easier. In this release we’ve added a huge time-saving feature – connecting your entire SharePoint farm to Confluence is now single-step process. Now when you add more SharePoint sites to your Farm, they’ll be automatically connected to your Confluence wiki.

Available Today!
There are even more improvements in the SharePoint Connector 1.4. Go get it, try it out, and let us know what you think. Check out the release notes here, or go ahead and download!

Topics: atlassian blog administrator confluence release sharepoint wiki collaboration download integration macros
1 min read

We [Also] Offer SharePoint, Custom Development Services

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 8, 2011 11:00:00 AM

We do SharePoint. So do other companies. We develop custom software and web parts. So do other companies. If you walk outside, you may hear to the cacophony emitting from the rooftops: “Need SharePoint? Custom this? Custom that? Talk to us. Talk to US. TALK TO US!”

We participate in this because we have to. That’s how messages get heard. And now for a cliché marketing statement: we’re different from our competitors. But get past the cliché and consider our competitive advantage:

As a small firm, we’re able to execute our projects with more care and intentionality than most large firms. You’ll be acquainted with most of our team, including our Founder, throughout the course of the project effort – which creates a better sense of commitment and accountability in our relationship with you. Our small team has broad capabilities: whether you need SharePoint hosting, ITIL consulting, custom development, process improvement, …you’ll be working with the same group of people.

As social entrepreneurs, we leverage a unique type of capital in business. Market capitalism is built on such tangibles as land, labor, and financial capital, while social capitalism is built on creative, intellectual, and social capital – and a strong sense of community and involvement in the surrounding community. We strive to be engaged in what’s going on around us, using our resources to respond to the needs of our customers, community, and industry. As both businesses and individuals, we’re responsible for the collective well-being of our communities.

Praecipio Consulting is improving the community by enabling businesses to reduce their process-generated waste – making our environment more sustainable while reducing our clients’ costs. With competitive pricing, diverse capabilities, and a commitment to our services that isn’t based on numbers alone, we offer an experience that’s literally different than what you’ll find out there.

So, need SharePoint? Need custom development? Talk to us. We [also] want to help you.

Topics: praecipio-consulting blog bpm business management process sharepoint waste consulting-services continuous-improvement development itil bespoke
3 min read

SharePoint 2007 vs. SharePoint 2010

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 1, 2011 11:00:00 AM

There are many long, thorough comparisons of SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 out there. This isn’t one of them. Instead, we’ve created a brief list of what’s new in SharePoint 2010, so SharePoint 2007 users can quickly learn about the advantages of upgrading to 2010 and weigh their decision criteria.

We’ll start with the “big” new features. They include:

Office web apps. Work together in Microsoft Office web apps (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote) simultaneously and see team members’ changes in real time. The web apps allow light edits to documents; document formatting and content are maintained when changes are made from the web.

Co-authoring. With co-authoring, you can work together in Microsoft Office applications and see changes from other team members tracked in SharePoint 2010-hosted documents.

Easy access to templates. You can access document templates stored in SharePoint 2010 via the New Document wizard in Office 2010 applications.

Reusable, content-based workflows. SharePoint Designer 2010 supports reusable workflows and workflows attached to content types.

Online presentations. Audiences don’t need PowerPoint 2010 to view presentations; they can see the presentation with high quality online.

Direct saving. You can save Office 2010 documents directly to the SharePoint 2010 document library from Office Backstage view.

SharePoint 2010 also boasts these new capabilities:

Read and write capabilities. SharePoint 2010 allows you to create web parts that read and write data to external data sources.

Web analytics. An improved set of out-of-the-box Web Analytics reports, offering insight into the behavior of your SharePoint users.

Full-fidelity mobile viewing. It’s much, much better than 2007 mobile views.

Editing to mobile. Perform light edits to Office documents from your mobile device via Office web apps.

Contextual ribbon. Customizable, context-sensitive ribbon menu atop each SharePoint page. Informative Slideshare from Shai Petel here.

Microsoft Silverlight. SharePoint 2010 comes with out of the box Silverlight web parts, making the inclusion of Silverlight apps much easier.

                                         Typical SharePoint 2007 view

                   Enhanced view in SharePoint 2010, with customizable ribbon

You’ll also notice these improvements in 2010 – along with many unlisted improvements that make some 2007 operations easier to execute:

  • Metadata/tagging at the item level; tag clouds; tag profiles
  • Keyword suggestions
  • “Ask Me About” web part in profiles (helps users find answers from qualified co-workers)
  • Noteboard (enables users to comment on any SharePoint 2010 site)
  • Recent Activities
  • Bulk check-in/check-out
  • Organization Browser
  • Enterprise wikis
  • Compliance everywhere
  • Flexible records management
  • Shared content types and managed metadata service
  • Content organizer
  • Rich media management
  • Word automation
  • Better support for accessibility standards
  • Search “in context”
  • Social behavior improves search relevance
  • Thumbnail previews in browser
  • KPI details
  • Enhanced filtering
  • Javascript object model
  • Powershell scripting
  • Better fidelity with Excel workbooks
  • Integrated filter framework
  • Improved visualizations

At this point, if you don’t have SharePoint and are preparing to implement it, we strongly recommend you go with SharePoint 2010. Not only is this important to ensure compliance and compatibility for the future, but it allows you to take advantage of 2010 features. If you already have SharePoint 2007, you could do fine without upgrading so long as you’re okay with lacking the social features, improved mobile access, and better cross-browser performance of 2010 – that decision depends on what you need/value technologically. If you have SharePoint 2003, upgrading is becoming imperative in order to stay above water, so to speak.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint workflows microsoft marketplace-apps
2 min read

SharePoint for iPhone: SharePlus

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 17, 2010 11:00:00 AM

As we mentioned in SharePoint in Safari Mobile, we neglected to review SharePlus – another popular SharePoint for iPhone (and in this case, iPad) app. SharePlus takes the cake from the four apps we reviewed in Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps.

 SharePlus, by SouthLabs, $14.99
SharePlus offers a more extensive user capabilities, as you see below.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: YES (via Documents To Go)
  • Upload documents: YES
  • Email documents: YES

A key advantage SharePlus has over other apps is its ability to add pages as “Favorites.” All of the apps we’ve reviewed, including SharePlus, organize a SharePoint site’s lists, libraries, etc into one alphabetical list – very counter-intuitive in comparison to how you’re used to navigating SharePoint from a browser. With Favorites, however, you can at least choose which lists and libraries you access most frequently to prevent having to scroll through a huge list. Then, when you open the app, simply click on the Favorites page to have your frequented pages ready to go.

Other perks include an email and refresh button on every page, so you don’t have to restart the app to speed things up. Page load times are decent in areas with good cell or wireless coverage, depending on the size of your site. Be aware ahead of time that the initial loading of your site to the app will take a few minutes.

The $14.99 price is by far more than any of the apps we’ve reviewed. We see both sides of the coin here. The ability to edit documents, email documents, cut down on search time with Favorites, and operate via iPad are legitimate advantages. But you’ll have to weigh the cost of those extra capabilities against the basic functionality of other apps.

Our take: if you need to edit and send documents frequently from your mobile phone, SharePlus is worth your investment. If you hardly use that functionality and just need to view documents on-the-go, you may need to consider your decision more thoroughly.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
1 min read

SharePoint in Safari Mobile

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 9, 2010 11:00:00 AM

As we said in Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps, iPhone users now enjoy on-the-go access to SharePoint with a slick user interface. The latest versions of Safari mobile enable SharePoint to appear on a device as it does on a desktop monitor.

After testing popular SharePoint apps for iPhone (with the exception of SharePlus, a late-comer we plan to review soon), we found that accessing SharePoint from Safari mobile was either just as good or better than using an app – especially because of its capability set:

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

There were some trade-offs, of course. Using an app allowed us to find information a little more quickly, for example, since page reloads weren’t a part of the search process. On the flip side, exploring sites and folders on the app was a bit counter-intuitive since we’re so used to browser-based navigation.

Also, SharePoint pages configured for mobile access loaded quickly in Safari; pages that weren’t loaded more slowly and showed up very small, requiring us to use our fingers to zoom in to make page text readable. Configuring a SharePoint page for mobile access isn’t rocket science, but does take a little effort and forethought.

Overall, however, mobile access via Safari was good enough to lead us to this conclusion: there’s just not a huge advantage either way. While apps offer easier access to information on sites with good information architecture, browser-based access offers similar performance – and a look/architecture you’re used to.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
3 min read

Comparing SharePoint iPhone Apps

By Praecipio Consulting on Nov 2, 2010 11:00:00 AM

A few years ago, the idea of accessing a powerful application like SharePoint on a mobile device was jaw-dropping. Today, the experience itself is dropping jaws.

iPhone users now enjoy on-the-go access to SharePoint with a slick user interface. The latest versions of Safari mobile enable SharePoint to appear on a device as it does on a desktop monitor – and offers slick browsing performance on SharePoint’s mobile pages, which we’ll talk about in more detail on 9 November.

If browser navigation isn’t for you, a handful of iPhone apps have made it easy for users to perform most basic SharePoint tasks from their phones. We’ve taken the time to compare four of the best SharePoint apps on the market, contrasting their capabilities. Here’s what we found:

 

Attaché by Lûcrum, $0.99
Attaché has a decent-looking user interface (UI), but there are some key things missing – including a refresh button, document properties, and SSL connections. In addition, some lists and libraries are incompatible with Attaché, and simply aren’t shown.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: NO
  • Search capability: NO
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

 

Moshare by Moprise, $1.99
Moshare’s key advantage: it allows you to email documents. It also imports your SharePoint contacts into your iPhone address book, making it easy to email documents on the fly. In addition, you can change the way list items and documents are sorted by tapping sort buttons at the bottom of the screen (which match the list or library’s attributes field).

On the down side, however: like Attaché, there’s no refresh button, and some lists and libraries are incompatible and not shown.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: YES

 

iShare by Spyk Software, FREE
iShare, unlike each of the other apps we reviewed, allows users to add and edit list items – perhaps the most practically valuable capability on our list. This enables users to update project status on the go.

In addition, iShare offers search, refresh, and secure access to each of your site’s subsites. To choose between sites, simply tap the site’s name in the list of sites. None of the titles or properties are truncated, allowing for a less annoying viewing experience.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: YES
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: YES
  • Edit list items: YES
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

 

Sharetica by Jacek Rutkowski, $0.99
Sharetica’s a fairly good app to navigate and view SharePoint in. You can’t add or edit list items or upload/email documents, but if you just need to view a document on-the-go, Sharetica’s got you covered.

One kink we noticed: document properties are truncated if they don’t fit the iPhone’s vertical screen, and there’s no way to toggle over to view the whole thing. Flipping the screen to landscape mode helps, but doesn’t always catch the full property. All of our documents have important properties, so this was pretty annoying.

  • SharePoint 2007: YES
  • SharePoint 2010: YES
  • SSL: YES
  • Search capability: NO
  • View list and document libraries: YES
  • Add list items: NO
  • Edit list items: NO
  • View documents: YES
  • Edit documents: NO
  • Upload documents: NO
  • Email documents: NO

Of these four apps, iShare impressed us most. The ability to edit and add list items is a key “on-the-go” capability, and the easy navigation between subsites made jumping around SharePoint quick and easy. Moreover, iShare’s free as opposed to the others.

As for user interface, all of the apps looked similar aesthetically – as most iPhone apps do. We were slightly opposed to Moshare’s slimy green theme, and a little annoyed by iShare’s abundance of pumpkin orange. But hey, we’re talking about accessing SharePoint from a mobile device, not which shades of colors we’re subjectively inclined to enjoy.

Topics: blog mobile sharepoint tips tricks marketplace-apps
3 min read

How To Organize SharePoint: Getting Away from Folders

By Praecipio Consulting on Oct 5, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

 

Humans have been coming up with new ways to organize their information for years. The need to find the information you need quickly has perpetuated for centuries. When information began to be digitized, that need transitioned into the digital world – and soon we found ourselves with a pile of virtual files wondering how to manage them responsibly.

Since the 1990s, the most common way to sort through this file pile – or at least the best way to arrange them coherently – was to put the files into a “folder tree.” Folder trees are complex hierarchies of file folders that, if you mapped them out on a whiteboard, would look like your typical Christmas tree – with the high-level folders at the top, slowing segmenting downward to reveal subfolders, and the subfolders of those subfolders, and the subfolder’s subfolder’s subfolder. Say that three times fast.

The problem with folder trees is that as a company grows, their folder tree can easily turn into folder sprawl. As the tree grows, files can be buried deeper and deeper – meaning the search for a particular file takes longer in most cases – not to mention the time it takes to save a new file in the right location. And the more time it takes to find something, the more company time is wasted. That’s inefficient.

“But what about the Search function?” you say. “Can’t you just search for the file?” Youcan, actually. But in order to find the correct file, you need to know all or part of the file name – which you can’t guarantee. In order for Search to be affective, you’d need to be able to search for the things about the file you DO know – like, for instance, when it was written, who wrote it, what it was for, etc.

That being said, a better way to organize information is to forget the folder tree altogether – or at least in theory. It sounds crazy, but if done right, it can make your information architecture far more efficient than you think.

The better way involves assigning relevant attributes to every file in your system – where each file has a set of attributes that describe it, telling us what it is, what type of file it is, when it was last modified, and who modified it. Consider a hypothetical worker’s compensation form, for example, stored in a content management system. If I didn’t know what the worker’s comp form was called, but knew it had to do with insurance, I could type “insurance” as a search query – and if “insurance” was a keyword or attribute of the form, presto. I’ve got it.

                                    Document Library in SharePoint

                                      HR Request List in SharePoint

Attributes should be unique to every folder, library, or department, users associate with documents differently depending on what they are. For example, this HR request list in Microsoft SharePoint looks a lot different from the Employee Agreements document library. For one, it stores requests – not actual documents. It’s meant to track requests made to Human Resources, so each request’s attributes tell who requested it, what type of thing was requested, some details, and its approval status.

By assigning attributes to every file in your system, you’re guaranteeing faster search times and implementing a more intelligent information architecture for your organization – avoiding the messy, high-maintenance folder sprawl we mentioned earlier. By making the search process more efficient and repeatable, you’re making your company more profitable long-term.

Good technology, good process, good profit. To more learn about that or tell us how YOU organize your stuff, visit our blog.

Topics: business library management sharepoint company documentation information intelligence microsoft organization
3 min read

Version Control in SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 23, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

Listen to the video or read along below:

Some of you may remember when shared drives were a revolutionary way of sharing documents throughout a company. Business documents were stored on a drive within a massive tree of folders that most employees could access. The problem with shared drives was that whoever edited a document last won – and by that I mean if Joe in accounting and Sue in management were editing the same document, there was no way for them to know if anyone else was editing it at the same time. So if Sue saved the document and overwrote it on the shared drive, and Joe finished and saved it an hour later, Joe’s version would become the document – and all Sue’s work would be lost, resulting in wasted time, wasted money, and…well, extreme frustration.

This is why SharePoint‘s version control is so useful. Here’s how it works in a document library. Click on Settings, then Document Library Settings. // Here, under General Settings, click Versioning Settings. // Here’s where you’ll set this up. Content Approval’s asking if you want to approve or reject submitted documents or changes – you would want to do this if you didn’t want everyone with access to the library to see approved, pending, and rejected drafts…for this example, I’ll turn this off for the sake of simplicity. Document Version History is want we really want here. I want a new version to be created every time I update a document – and I want the old versions of the document to remain available in case I mess up and need to revert to a previous version. Right now, No Versioning is selected – so I’ll change that. I can choose major versions or minor versions. I recommend major and minor versions for precision – if someone merely changes the punctuation in the document, I don’t want the document to jump from 2.0 to 3.0.

Below, I can choose how many older versions to keep on file. 2.0s and 3.0s are considered Major Versions, while 2.1.1s and 3.1.1s are considered minor or “drafts.”

Draft Item Security lets you choose who can see every version of a document. You can choose to extend this visibility to anyone who can read items in the library, to those with editing capabilities, or only to users who approve changes. I’m not requiring an approval process for this library, so I can’t choose the last option – but I’ll choose only those who can edit documents, since those are the people likely to be on the team with access to this library.

Lastly, Requiring Check Out is very important. Checking out a document to edit it tells the rest of the world you’re editing that document – if you don’t do that, you revert to the shared drive scenario I mentioned earlier. I’m selecting “yes” here to require my team to check out a document to edit it. You can learn how to check documents in and out in a separate videoblog.

So now let’s test this…let’s say we need to update our Worker’s Comp Form. I’ll click Edit in Microsoft Word – notice I’m “about to check out and edit this” – // and in Word, I’ll make the changes. Now I’ll check in the document – and notice it’s asking me what type of version I’m checking in. These were minor edits, so I’m checking in a minor version or draft – so I’ll select that, and let people know what I did…then click OK.

Now I can click on the Version History of this document and see my latest version here. If I click the drop-down arrow, I can choose to view or unpublish my version – or restore the version below. I can also delete all minor versions – all the small drafts – and keep major ones, the 2.0s and 3.0s, to make things simpler.

That’s the scoop on versioning. Visit our blog for more.

Topics: how-to library sharepoint videos control documentation microsoft
1 min read

Client Spotlight: EPB of Chattanooga

By Praecipio Consulting on Sep 21, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Electric Power Board (EPB) is an electric and telecommunications company owned by the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. EPB provides electricity, cable, and as of this month, the fastest internet in the US to greater Chattanooga.

EPB has showed itself as one of the most progressive public utilities in the US by, in addition to providing 1GB internet, actively building a 100 percent fiber-optic Smart Grid. EPB had already begun their Smart Grid program before the Obama administration included billions of dollars in grands for Smart Grid projects in the 2009 economic stimulus program. EPB’s internet offering piggy-backed off the fibers laid in place for their Smart Grid.

EPB’s Smart Grid has created a platform of innovation for the city of Chattanooga as a whole. In addition to offering an array of R&D opportunities, the Smart Grid has essentially invited companies from across the US to use the grid and 1GB internet streaming to work on complex projects and develop next-generation applications – a huge stimulus for the regional economy.

We’ve been proud to be involved with EPB’s innovative efforts since 2007. We share EPB’s passion for innovation, efficiency, and sustainability; sustainable energy practices and technology are critically important for our future. During our time in Chattanooga, we’ve:

  • provided Project Management for the development of EPB’s two new websites, EPB.net and EPBFI.com
  • implemented robust Microsoft SharePoint process frameworks for managing and facilitating legal matters, RFPs, and a host of other business processes
  • developed Process Lifecycle Management methodologies that have improved EPB’s operations
  • implemented ITIL-based methodologies and best practices, making EPB’s IT processes more consistent and repeatable

…and a whole lot more. Good technology supports good processes; good processes make for good profit and reducing expenses. It’s been great to help EPB reduce expenses during a critically important (and exciting) time.

Read more about EPB on their website – and check out the cool 1GB-powered things happening in Chattanooga at ChattanoogaGig.com.

Topics: blog assessments efficiency implementation internet management optimization process process-consulting project sharepoint smart development grid itil lifecycle microsoft bespoke
3 min read

FAQ's

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 31, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Since we’re a consulting firm with a funky (we prefer “unique!”) name, we’re always armed with answers to the questions that follow “we’re Praecipio Consulting.” It would be a little silly to have an FAQ page on our website for such questions – so we’ve set out to answer the popular ones here. Ahem.

What does “Praecipio” mean?

For starters, it’s not a food or spice. Praecipio is Latin for the English words anticipate, advise, and instruct. We chose the name because its meaning matches our meaning. Praecipio, by definition, is what we do. You can read the full scoop on our name in Praecipio: It's What We Do.

So you do process management and bunch of software stuff – doesn’t that mean you’re just IT consultants?

No. Our partners are experienced in consulting in numerous areas – process lifecycle management, project management, custom software development, etc…and, of course, IT. All ends of a company, though, impact one another. One department’s initiative may impact another department just like the motion of a foot can impact the balance of the body.

When we say we work in all of these different areas, we mean to stress that we have to understand how the body works if we’re going to operate on the foot, so to speak.

I heard you host Microsoft Exchange, but couldn’t find much information about that on your website. Is that rumor true?

Yes. We offer Exchange migration, hosting, and support for businesses large and small, available upon request. We don’t advertise this heavily because it’s not our primary offering; we currently host Exchange for a handful of small businesses and have the solution ready and available for our clients’ benefit. Hosting has become a truly affordable and secure way to manage corporate email and content management systems.

We also host Microsoft SharePoint, offer cloud backup solutions, and re-sell / offer migration to Google Apps. If you’re considering any of these hosting solutions, talk to us now. We’d be happy to offer you advice and perspective.

You mention Microsoft technologies extensively. I run a Google Apps-based business – are you relevant to me?

Of course. Again, we re-sell Google Apps – and offer migration and configuration guidance to businesses who choose to “go Google.” Microsoft solutions aren’t best for everyone just like Google solutions aren’t best for everyone. We suggest the solutions that are best for our clients – not those with a particular brand name.

We do, however, have extensive experience with Microsoft SharePoint in particular. We have implemented SharePoint-powered solutions that have greatly lowered our clients’ operations expenses. Due to the success, we want to market that kind of solution to people we may be able to help, offering the proven track record as assurance. It’s rewarding to see our clients reduce their costs and grow using our solutions. Our SharePoint solutions have done just that, and if you think you can reduce your costs with a similar solution, we’d love to talk to you to learn more.

I’m a small business that doesn’t have an IT department or anything like that. Can you help me? Or do you just cater to the enterprise?

Yes, we can help you too! Partnering with smaller businesses (even one-man shops) offers us the chance to help you grow over time – which is essentially what we’re after with any work we do. Small businesses can take advantage of our free two-hour consulting sessions (we offer this to any first-time customer) for guidance and perspective. They can then have us as a point of reference as they grow.

Our hosting opportunities (Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, cloud backups, Google Apps) are most appealing to small businesses, since very few small businesses (and large ones, for that matter) want to own a server of their own. We take care of hosting and support for businesses who want to take advantage of those tools without all the overhead.

You mention “process automation” on your website. Are you taking away people’s jobs?

Certainly not. We’re not deploying robots, either. Read the full scoop in 4 Misconceptions of Process Automation.

I noticed you didn’t cover [this] on your blog. Do you plan to tackle that topic in the future?

Sure. If you have a topic you’d like us to discuss on our blog, just throw us the idea – we’ll have our quills ready. Call us, email us, tweet us…or just post a comment on the blog.

We’d love to meet you. Talk to us here.

Topics: management process project sharepoint tips tricks development hosting lifecycle microsoft bespoke
2 min read

How SharePoint Quick Launch Works

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 23, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

 

 

One of the most important things to consider when designing a SharePoint site – or designing any site – is creating easy and intuitive access to data with logical organization. In SharePoint, it’s useful to store frequently-viewed pages, lists, and libraries in the Quick Launch bar on the left side of the page.

The Quick Launch bar allows you to quickly navigate to pages you commonly need. Here we have landing pages that aggregate related data and furthermore may limit data to those things that are important to the specific user logged inYour SharePoint developer determines which pages, lists, and libraries appear in the Quick Launch bar. It’s important to not consider the Quick Launch bar as a site index – remember, not all pages, lists, and libraries of your SharePoint site…unless your site is very, very small…should appear in the Quick Launch bar. Only those needed frequently should be stored there.

The Quick Launch bar can be specific for every site or sub-site in SharePoint. A quick etymology lesson: we’re working inside a sub-site right now. This Demo sub-site is a sub-site of our main SharePoint site, titled Brothers Lane Collaboration Site – as you see in the top left. Sites may divide into sub-sites, and sub-sites may divide into pages. There is only a Home page on our Demo sub-site. If there were another page, titled Sales or Legal Matters, etc, you’d see it here. So the Quick Launch menu can vary from site to site or sub-site to sub-site, but not from page to page. All pages on a site or subsite will have the same Quick Launch menu.

You can add a library or list to the Quick Launch bar by using the Settings tab, as you see here in Test Library B, and clicking on Title, Description and Navigation. Here you see the option to “display in Quick Launch.” I’ll select yes…and here you see Test Library B in the Quick Launch.

Find other SharePoint how-to’s and learn more on our blog.

Topics: efficiency enterprise how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos collaboration
1 min read

Introduction to SharePoint for End-Users

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 10, 2010 11:00:00 AM

There are many browser-based business productivity apps to choose from. Some help you manage projects. Some are accounting tools. Others enable you to share and edit documents. Few applications, however, allow you to do all of the above.

Microsoft SharePoint is one of those tools. And SharePoint doesn’t only do “all of the above” – it handles anything from serving as an address book to automatically finding, logging, and articulating key performance measurements from every area of an enterprise. It’s fully customizable, and lets users build in unique operations that fit their business needs. You can make SharePoint fit you.

Think of SharePoint as a concrete foundation. While other web tools that serve one business need are like pre-built homes, SharePoint is an empty lot upon which you can build whatever is best for you. Why buy seven houses you have to adjust your needs to fit when you could buy one that’s designed to fit you? In this scenario, you can start out with the basic bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen, and build out as your business grows. As your business starts offering more services and acquiring more employees, you can add on metaphorical bedrooms and garages as the needs arise. You can even build a storage shed in the backyard.

SharePoint is a foundation for business that consolidates the things that make your business run – data, documents, processes, collaboration – into one software. It puts every part of your organization on common ground. While an employee in a company’s legal department may use SharePoint to store documents, a developer in IT may use it to create workflow that automatically documents sales transactions in a custom database. The software benefits BPM, CRM, ITSM, and every other kind of “M” by saving employees time.

The take-away here is that SharePoint is a highly-scalable tool that all employees can benefit from by using it for every-day business operations. The more you invest in the software, the more you get out of it – likewise, the more a business invests in SharePoint, the more money it saves over time from using SharePoint to promote efficiency. 

Topics: blog automation bpm business how-to management process project sharepoint
3 min read

Microsoft Office 2010 vs. Google Docs - Can They Compete?

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 30, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Microsoft Office 2010 vs. Google Docs conversations aren’t just happening in the break room. Microsoft and Google themselves have taken some careful shots at one another over the last few months – the most explicit of which include Google’s claim that Google Docs makes Office 2003 and 2007 better (don’t adopt Office 2010) and Microsoft’s counter blog claiming “that’s not true.”

If Google Docs and Microsoft Office 2010 were as similar as tom-ay-toe and tom-ah-toe, we could simply lean back in our chairs and laugh at this whole thing. Problem is, they’re not. There are still differences between the two’s capabilities. Here’s the skinny:

Google Docs. An innovative, free way to create, edit, and share documents online. The browser-based office suite includes slimmed-down comparisons to Microsoft’s Word, Excel, and PowerPoint – which allow you to do almost every basic operation you need.

The advantages:

  • Collaborative editing in real-time (though SharePoint 2010 now has real-time editing also)
  • Easy document sharing
  • Gradually maturing security platform and enterprise capabilities
  • Google Docs is free; Google Apps for Business is just $50 annually per user

The disadvantages:

  • Lacks formatting and template abilities compared to Office 2010
  • Lacks ability to open/save a wide variety of file types
  • Lacks integration with most enterprise IT platforms
  • Still depends heavily on an internet connection

Office 2010. Microsoft’s freshest batch of office tools – Office’s power set (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) plus OneNote, Publisher, Visio, etc. – accompanied by the debut of the online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Similar to Google Docs, these browser-based versions offer higher quality tools with lower quality collaboration. Their web apps marketing video indicates they’re meant for on-the-fly editing.

The advantages:

  • Scalability of the software – i.e. the ability to perform high-level operations
  • Broad formatting and template ability
  • Integration with Microsoft SharePoint; online 2010 version a la Google Docs
  • Established enterprise reputation

The disadvantages:

  • Software and licensing costs, plain and simple
  • Alleged “forced integration” with other Microsoft products – a claim Microsoft has reversed and applied to Google

Who Wins? That depends. As you can see, Google and Microsoft’s business suites have pros and cons over one another – the most notable of which is Google’s outright victory from a cost perspective. Businesses who don’t need extensive document formatting options may benefit from Google Docs while businesses who use their office suite for high-level operations may not.

One of the more “on the fence” issues here is security. The security of Google’s business suite has been questioned consistently in recent months. Those questions, however, are beginning to taper off as more large public agencies adopt Google Apps for Business as their office platform. Notable recent adoptions include Boise State University, the District of Columbia, the City of Orlando (FL), Kansas, and New Mexico.

The biggest news here occurred this Tuesday, when Google announced Google Apps for Government – an Apps Premier edition that meets the US’ federal security requirements. The new edition received an FISMA-Moderate rating from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) – meaning it’s authorized to host sensitive (but unclassified) data if stored on servers within the United States.

While Google Docs doesn’t yet have an excellent reputation in terms of security, these recent adoptions indicate they’re gaining ground. The fact that most federal and public agencies are strapped for cash and looking to cheapen technology costs, however, doesn’t allow us to let go of our questions just yet.

That being said, the gap between Google Docs and Microsoft Office still remains – though it’s narrowing by the day.

Topics: blog business efficiency enterprise google management process sharepoint value collaboration microsoft marketplace-apps
2 min read

SharePoint Orientation

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 14, 2010 11:00:00 AM

This text mirrors what you’ll hear in the video.

SharePoint provides a common framework for helping you do your work efficiently and effectively, and to improve communications between you and your colleagues. This introductory video is intended to provide you with a base understanding of Microsoft SharePoint – so we’ll cover the terminology you need to know to make your way around the software.

We’ll start with Lists. Within SharePoint, data is organized in to collections called Lists. Lists are like a table in a database or an Excel worksheet in that they contain many individual records or rows.
List attributes are shown as column headings, as you see here. They help distinguish list items from one another.

A list item is a discrete record within a list that has the same attributes as every other list item in that list. These attributes can be of many types including, but not limited to, numbers, strings, dates, files, and system users. It should be noted that file attributes are attachments to the list item.

The next important term you need to know is Document Library. Document Libraries, like Lists, are collections of data – but unlike Lists, Document Libraries are meant to be a repository for documents, including Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets, etc. As you see, this library is already populated with some documents. The attributes of those documents are shown again as column headings.

A Document Library Item is a discrete record, and more importantly, a discrete document. Each document in the document library will have the same attributes as other documents in the library – though each document may have a different template. You can create a templates for files within your document library – and select one to use for a new document in the New tab. Two important features to note are:

  • Number one, the Document Control feature, which allows a single editor to check out a document to edit it, thereby restricting access to only one user at a time. Permissions can be given to users to allow for read-only or more restricted permissions.
  • Number two is Document Versioning, which allows for changes made to the document to be tracked over time.

The next term is Workflow. A Workflow is a packaged set of instructions that can be executed in a repeatable fashion for any given List Item or Document Library Item. Workflows may be executed automatically by the system on the creation or modification of a list or library item, or manually by the user.

The button you see here shows where to access Workflows for this List Item. You can see it by using the drop down and on the display form. Note that not all lists will have workflows associated with them. Only workflows that are manually executable will be displayed here.

The next term is View. All Lists and Document Libraries present the information contained within them by using Views. Views are similar to a simple database query where you can specify what kind of records you want to see (filtering) and how they should be presented (grouping and sorting).

Here I’m showing a view of Test List A using the All Items by Status view. You can select a different view – even a custom view you create – in this box in the upper right of your screen.

The last term is Web Part. Web parts are sections of a web page meant to share related information. These web parts can have many uses throughout a web site.

Here I’m showing a Web Part within the display form for a Test List A item. This web part shows only those documents where the related Test List A Item is the same as the list item being displayed above.

Now you’re familiar with the foundational elements of SharePoint. Our how-to videos will show you how to perform basic user and developer-level operations using these elements.

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Build a List in SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 8, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

1. Click SITE ACTIONS in upper right
2. Click CREATE
3. Click CUSTOM LIST in fourth column
4. Name list and assign attributes
5. Click CREATE 

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos
2 min read

SharePoint ROI: It's Up to You

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 6, 2010 11:00:00 AM

ROIs matter most in high-effort, high-impact business decisions. Today, we put SharePoint ROI to the test.

Typically, the ROI from SharePoint depends on how it’s used. As Robert McDowell said in his book In Search of Business Value: “Technology provides no benefits of its own; it is the application of technology to business opportunities that produces ROI.”

There’s always buzz in the BPM world about how great information architecture/content management can drive organizational efficiency. Google’s “Return on Information” (ROI) Whitepaper explains why. Vendors have cited Google’s study to justify out-of-the-box document storage systems, relaying Google’s claim that an average employee spends 16 percent of their week searching for information (compared to Microsoft’s 30% estimate) – and that only one in five searches yields desired results. Companies have flocked to content management solutions to increase efficiency and provide for better project management with version-controlled documents and more organized collaboration. PM solutions like Basecamp have sprouted from this.

SharePoint has shown up as a project management and content management solution. Companies have leveraged SharePoint’s ability to:

  • Manage projects individually using customizable project pages
  • Develop project-specific document libraries with version control
  • Manage tasks/consolidate team collaboration
  • Improve employee productivity
  • Aggregate critical enterprise information
  • Provide fast, easy access to content

While these are legitimate SharePoint benefits, they account for only a fraction of what SharePoint was designed to offer. SharePoint is an enterprise platform. While it can be leveraged as a PM platform, using SharePoint solely for PM isn’t likely to yield the satisfying, long-term ROIs the business is looking for.

The highest SharePoint ROI occurs when the organization realizes SharePoint’s purpose and gradually adopts it as a platform that supports:

  • Content management
  • Process automation
  • Systems integration
  • Custom application development
  • Specific solutions (ex: RFP/Lead Management system for Sales, employee time log system for Accounting)

SharePoint’s options are limitless. The organization can integrate a SharePoint workflow, library, or collaboration portal for just about anything they want.

Today, however, the SharePoint ROI question may not center around how much/how little it will be used. The question is whether to adopt SharePoint or a combination of web-based applications for specific needs – something addressed in Forrester’s assessment of SharePoint 2010 adoption. Quick-fix 2.0 apps are the make-or-break factor here. While SharePoint has evolved over the last decade, it failed to keep up with the enterprise’s leveraging of social computing.

This issue, however, comes back to the original question: why are you using SharePoint? If you’re in the market for an out-of-the-box, quick-fix project management system, then a web-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) that integrates well with collaborative software is a great solution. If you’re looking for something that integrates well with existing systems and provides for better performance measurement over time, you’re clearly batting in a different ballpark. The ways you measure ROI for these two options are different.

We usually expect out-of-the-box, SaaS solutions to have better adoption rates (they look pretty), and therefore a faster ROI. We can measure its success by how much it improves productivity. SharePoint, however, is not a quick fix. In this way, adopting SaaS is like renting an apartment – you get what you need on a monthly basis, but you can’t knock down any walls or add that new patio you’ve been wanting. Adopting SharePoint is like building a custom home – you start off with an empty lot, and design and build the house to fit your wants and needs. And if you get tired of the linoleum floors you put in the kitchen, no problem. It’s your house. Rip ‘em up!

The ROI of SharePoint is up to you.

Topics: blog bpm enterprise management process project sharepoint saas collaboration
1 min read

How to Check Documents In and Out in SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Jul 1, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

Method One:


1. Click the drop-down arrow on the document
2. Click CHECK OUT
3. Open document for editing by clicking the drop-down menu
4. Click EDIT IN MICROSOFT WORD
5. Edit document
6. In Word, click the top left menu
7. Under PUBLISH, click CHECK IN
8. Enter latest version comments
9. Click CHECK IN or OK

Method Two:

1. Click document name in SharePoint
2. Select EDIT, click OK
3. In Word, click top left menu
4. Under PUBLISH, click CHECK OUT
5. Edit document
6. Under PUBLISH, click CHECK IN
7. Enter latest version comments
8. Click CHECK IN or OK

You can always correct any mistakes by closing your document and checking in/out from the SharePoint page. 

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Customize a SharePoint Document Library

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 17, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Add FOLDERS and/or ATTRIBUTES to make your SharePoint library easier to navigate.

To add folders, click NEW, and then NEW FOLDER.

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Create a Document Library in SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 10, 2010 11:00:00 AM

1. Click SITE ACTIONS button in upper right
2. Click CREATE
3. Click DOCUMENT LIBRARY, top of left column
4. Name/assign settings
5. Click CREATE

 

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos

How to Upload Documents to SharePoint

By Praecipio Consulting on Jun 10, 2010 11:00:00 AM

 

 

1. Click UPLOAD tab
2. Click UPLOAD DOCUMENT or UPLOAD MULTIPLE DOCUMENTS
3. Find and select desired documents from your system
4. Click UPLOAD
5. Name and assign attributes
6. Click OK

More SharePoint how-to’s on our blog or on our YouTube channel.

Topics: how-to sharepoint tips tricks videos
2 min read

SharePoint as an Enterprise-Level BPM Tool?

By Praecipio Consulting on Apr 13, 2010 11:00:00 AM

As we’ve noted in previous posts, BPM enables businesses to map, analyze, and test business processes in order to make them more predictable, repeatable, and efficient. An enterprise can assume they’ll accomplish those goals by leveraging BPM software from EMC, Lombardi, or Savvion…but with Microsoft SharePoint? Isn’t that for enterprise collaboration and document management?

A recent Forrester report found that 47 percent of 220 IT decision-makers said SharePoint serves as their organization’s “business process management platform” – ahead of competitive products from EMC, Lombardi, Savvion, IBM, and Oracle. That number comes as a surprise to BPM vendors, since Microsoft touts SharePoint as a collaboration tool, not a BPM product.

SharePoint has proven itself as a successful Microsoft product, bringing in $1.3 billion in revenue in 2008 alone. Forrester’s report said that number has grown 25 percent annually. Though their poll indicated that SharePoint is faring decently as a BPM suite, Forrester said SharePoint is better fitted for BPM if augmented with other BPM tools.

That’s not to say SharePoint can’t be leveraged as a BPM tool. Though SharePoint isn’t an out-of-the-box BPM suite, customers may take advantage of SharePoint’s robust, flexible platform by building in a custom BPM suite of their own.

However, most companies don’t have the time or capability to carry out such a project. In this case, they opt for a solution from BPM leaders that’s ready to roll.

The fact that 47 percent of IT leaders are confident in SharePoint as a BPM platform validates the speculation that some have built upon SharePoint’s foundation to make a powerful BPM tool. To be sure, SharePoint can streamline business processes by facilitating process automation with decision-based workflows – and can capture and monitor process metrics from data points placed intentionally throughout business processes. Those capabilities ensure long-term process efficiency, if properly nurtured over time.

We’ve leveraged SharePoint for ourselves and for our clients as both a collaboration tool and BPM suite. Using SharePoint for both is entirely possible – and remarkably powerful. Pulling such a feat off in-house, however, is challenging and sometimes impossible.

Nevertheless, leveraging SharePoint for collaboration and BPM can lead to more consistent decision making across the entire business long-term. It can also promote more accurate and organized data in each department of the enterprise that buys in to the tool.

When it comes to out-of-the-box software vs. foundation software, the software that serves as a concrete slab for a custom home usually wins out long-term due to its flexibility and customizable nature. That makes SharePoint a legitimate contender in the BPM market.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Image courtesy of Patrick Lane Photography.

Topics: blog automation bpm business efficiency enterprise management predicatability process sharepoint value collaboration lifecycle
3 min read

SharePoint vs. Google Wave vs. Basecamp

By Praecipio Consulting on Feb 1, 2010 11:00:00 AM

[important note, as of 4 Sept 2010: Google Wave will not be available as an end-user application after 31 December 2010.]

People have the tendency to judge a software by its user interface (UI).

Think about it. Most users probably don’t care about your network protocols or what your server topology is. Those users will, however, think it’s awesome to drag and drop documents and pictures from location to location. Most folks are used to this since most of them interact with Facebook, Twitter, and all the like. They’ll probably think it’s cool.

Since we use SharePoint to execute most of our services, it has been brought to our attention many times that the current version of SharePoint lags heavily in UI from this perspective, unless you do a load of custom development work for the sole purpose of aesthetic improvement. SharePoint 2010 is promising a well-crafted UI improvement, in addition to a handful of Outlook revisions– but for now, SharePoint users may still gripe about the lack of 2.0 usability. They may venture to ask “how will SharePoint fare once Google Wave is released?”

Google Wave is not a competitor of SharePoint. It is not comparable to enterprise collaboration software. Wave will, as an open source development platform, bring great innovations that may be integrated into the SharePoint– but doesn’t have the scope of capabilities (process automation, workflow execution, data repository) SharePoint has to improve enterprise collaboration. Perhaps the employees griping about SharePoint’s “Windows 98-like interface” need to learn a bit more about what their software actually does.

If Wave should be compared to anything, it should be compared to Microsoft Outlook. It’s a collaborative space to exchange messages and files, and functions chiefly as an evolution of what we know as email.

Some of Wave’s key promises:

  • Open source: Wave code will be open source, to, in Google’s words, “foster innovation and adoption amongst developers.”
  • Wiki functionality: Anything written in a wave can be edited by an authorized person. You can correct information or add your own commentary within a developing conversation.
  • “Embeddability:” Waves can be embedded into any blog or website.
  • Applications and Extensions: Just like a Facebook application, developers can build their own apps within “waves.”
  • “On-the-fly” translation: Google Wave can translate sentences into other languages as you type them. It can also correct your spelling as you write.
  • Drag-and-drop file sharing: No attachments; just drag your file and drop it inside Google Wave and everyone will have access.

Wave’s integration of feeds and UI capabilities are without a doubt impressive. Their innovative HTML 5 capabilities may very well be integrated into software like SharePoint down the road. But the purpose of Wave is not to compete in the enterprise collaboration market. Their purpose is to revolutionize the way people collaborate online through real-time, open-source technology.

But what about Basecamp? It’s an undeniably effective project management tool that we endorse for pure project management purposes. But how does it fare against Wave and SharePoint?

It doesn’t. At least not in the way most think it does. All three of these tools can facilitate project management. All three, however, are ultimately very different.

  • Basecamp is a superb project management tool if you’re looking for an easy-to-use tool that integrates well with social networking and mobile phones, offers online storage of documents for collaboration, and connects those working on a project in an organized way. These capabilities are remarkably value for project efficiency; Basecamp’s built a great tool. If you’re looking for anything outside of these capabilities, though, you’re looking in the wrong place.
  • Wave, as we’ve said, is an evolution of email. It’s open-source nature and real-time abilities offer superb capabilities that can be used inside Wave or dropped into other sites. Wave isn’t as project management-focused as Basecamp, however, and doesn’t compare to SharePoint either.
  • SharePoint, borrowing Microsoft’s words, “helps improve organizational effectiveness by providing comprehensive content management and enterprise search, accelerating shared business processes, and facilitating information-sharing across boundaries for better business insight.” SharePoint is a content management server that allows for the custom development of workflows for process automation. It’s an enterprise collaboration and IT platform. It’s not Basecamp or Google Wave.

So: Wave, Basecamp, or SharePoint? Our answer is… yes.

Thirsty for more? Contact us here.

Photo by Brian Nunnery, Praecipio Consulting.

Topics: blog automation bpm business enterprise google management process project sharepoint value wave collaboration continuous-improvement it lifecycle operations
1 min read

CPR Keeps Your Efficiency Alive

By Praecipio Consulting on Jan 22, 2010 11:00:00 AM

Documenting performance tactics, improvements, and process methodology is considered a standard practice in business. The information documents ways a firm has improved its business processes over time, and how those processes can be applied to the daily execution of tasks. Spreadsheets, docs, and presentations should populate the collection. If updated regularly, the information serves as a reference when it’s needed—but is only successful if the information is timely and easily accessible.

The information described above should be considered a core asset to the firm. As a core asset, the information should be used daily to explain how and why the processes we use today work. If a firm’s operations are remarkably efficient, that efficiency should be explained with conceptual and metric information. The information should be an instant reference for employees.

Since instant access is the only way to achieve efficiency in the digital age, bookshelf-binder documentation won’t ensure success. A centralized process repository (CPR) will.

A CPR stores this information electronically, and should be active in reporting, monitoring, and managing business processes. They should constantly collect knowledge from employees, creating a reference system by merely holding the documents employees use daily to execute their projects. Ideally, the CPR provides information about:

  • The definition of each process
  • How the process is applied
  • Who is responsible for executing it
  • Inputs and outputs

…and information about how to measure their success and improve their steps.

Making the repository accessible at any time, with only a few clicks ensures efficiency. We believe centralizing information can lead to less complication and clearer information flow. It’s instantly profitable. Process-driven workspaces with document storage and automation abilities give firms the ability to centralize their data and use a central location to collaborate on projects and daily tasks. The CPR accomplishes this in any industry.

We emphasize to clients that well-defined processes identify conceptual or metric information worth capturing. When captured, this information can yield valuable decision-making information—a lifeline for success. Not to be cheesy, but this is where the acronym CPR gets its meaning. The centralized information repository literally keeps a business’ efficiency alive, without the mouth-to-mouth.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog automation bpm business efficiency enterprise management process sharepoint value collaboration lifecycle
2 min read

SharePoint is as Expensive as You Let It Be

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 19, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Critics of SharePoint often cite the collaborative software’s cost as its biggest deterrent. But is SharePoint really that expensive?

Only if you let it be. WSS SharePoint can be leveraged affordably from a variety of hosting providers. These providers acquire rights to become a SharePoint reseller and provide accessible SharePoint management at a low cost.

Typically, for example, hosted WSS SharePoint services cost $50/month for about 2GB of storage, a relatively low cost that reflects the hosting provider’s markup. Even with the markup, it’s considerably cheaper than purchasing SharePoint directly from Microsoft. Hosting providers offer various bandwidth and server options to fit their clients’ business needs.

We know this because (spoiler alert) we are a SharePoint hosting provider. From our experience implementing SharePoint, we know that how much you choose to benefit from SharePoint is entirely up to you. You control your own destiny, to put it plainly.

When you compare the cost of SharePoint to that of other collaborative software, you’ll probably find SharePoint’s most affordable options to still be expensive in relation to its competitors. Popular startup companies like Basecamp, which charges between $25 and $50/month for portions of SharePoint services, look a lot better on paper than SharePoint itself.

But it’s important to remember what SharePoint provides. It’s practically a kitchen sink for enterprise collaboration! The truth is, non-Microsoft portals can’t provide the same out-of-the-box integration with Microsoft Office. The majority of established businesses run off Microsoft Office anyway, and were built upon it. You just don’t see many businesses other than start-ups using Google Docs and Open Office.

Additionally, employees and executives from these companies communicate through Windows-based software. Chances are many of their business customers/clients still do do. Most employees have spent years in a Windows mindset. Outlook, Excel, Word, Windows Messenger, and Norton Antivirus have been rooted into their thinking. Additionally, business processes have been developed around Microsoft software. Converting to new software would not only require a complete structural adaption, but a thorough adaption of the minds of employees.

SharePoint is not the perfect collaborative software for anyone. There are a number of “under-the-hood” issues to consider. For companies with a large hardware budget, a high-performance Wide Area Network (WAN), and a budget for consulting, SharePoint would be an excellent way to go. For companies with only a modest hardware budget, decent WAN, but other priorities for bandwidth and no consulting budget, other software may be better. It’s necessary to implement a software that’s most efficient for your financial and practical needs.

To conclude, SharePoint is not as expensive as most think. It’s pricey if you let it be. Typically, the companies who complain most about SharePoint’s costs have not used SharePoint to its full capacity. If you explore the idea of purchasing SharePoint from a hosting provider and have the budget to invest in a SharePoint consultant, you can develop a successful long-term foundation for enterprise collaboration.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog business efficiency enterprise sharepoint technology value collaboration information it
1 min read

Why SharePoint? - Considering Your Options

By Praecipio Consulting on Aug 6, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Collaborative software has hugely expanded business’ abilities to communicate, share knowledge, and organize intellectual property. But which collaborative software is the best for your business?

It depends. Has your business been built on Microsoft Windows, and has it run on Office-based applications for years? In this case, SharePoint is likely best. Do the majority of your clients communicate with you using Basecamp? Adopting Basecamp may be best. Is your business Linux-based? MindQuarry would make the most sense here.

After you’ve studied the different kinds of software available, you can apply these questions:

  • Which software is more efficient for my business’ practical/process needs?
  • Which software is more efficient for my business’ financial needs?
  • Which software is most intuitive to the needs and understanding of my employees (or those who will be using the software)?

These questions make up the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what to consider when choosing which collaborative software to adopt. The complexity of the decision, however, illustrates a great point: you need a collaborative software that’s highly customizable to your unique business needs.

Implementing a collaborative software that requires you to adjust your business operations too much is just not a good idea. Example? Implementing software with an interface/organization that’s considerably different than your current interface will require lots of time to get used to. Employee training sessions will take away from productivity, and frustration over the software’s usability will be inevitable. The adjustment in this scenario takes a long time. It also results in a prolonged loss of productivity.

We’re confident that Microsoft SharePoint, accompanied by our expert implementation tactics, is an excellent solution for your business’ unique needs. From our collective experience interacting with clients who use SharePoint, Basecamp, and a number of other collaboration choices, we’ve discovered SharePoint’s seemingly endless ability to be customized.

Managing enterprise information and processes certainly isn’t a trivial exercise. SharePoint configuration work needs to be well-planned and intricately-designed—it certainly can’t be implemented successfully in an ad-hoc fashion. This is why SharePoint consulting, one of our key services, is such a useful tool for implementation.

At Praecipio Consulting, we recognize the magnitude of implementing collaboration software. It’s a huge decision! We want to use our expertise to help your business do it successfully.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog business efficiency enterprise sharepoint technology value collaboration information it
2 min read

SharePoint and Process Management: A Match Made in Software Heaven

By Praecipio Consulting on May 11, 2009 11:00:00 AM

Microsoft SharePoint is debatably the best business information and document management platform on the market—that is, if it is used correctly.

Microsoft’s goal for SharePoint was to provide a simple, familiar, consistent user experience, integrating a variety of applications (email, document storage, data sheets, etc).  Supporting embedded process management modules and the ability to host web sites that access shared workspaces, SharePoint’s management platform can potentially save businesses money by:

  • reducing man hours, increasing the use of electronic forms and allowing faster locating of information
  • reducing printing, paper and associated costs by increasing the use of electronic forms
  • reducing response times and problems associated with lags by allowing employees to have instant access to shared, well-organized data
  • reducing IT support and training costs by offering such a versatile and inclusive platform.

Praecipio Consulting has taken full advantage of SharePoint’s capabilities; for this reason, it has proved remarkably valuable to our business operations. We have deliverable reference, technical, and white paper documents stored for easy, simple open-source access. We also boost our employee productivity by simplifying everyday tasks like reporting common business activities and issue tracking. We even base our accounting operations in SharePoint by allowing our employees to log hourly time and company expenses, governing these operations by making use of SharePoint’s ability to specifically restrict the privileges of individual employees. These restrictions can also be imposed on the editing of important business documents—SharePoint allows authors to create and submit content for approval and scheduled deployment to the Internet. We can therefore effectively manage and re-purpose our content to gain increased business value. Our mindful leverage of SharePoint’s abilities and applications has helped us benefit practically and financially as a business. We value our learned expertise and best practices, and hope to assist other businesses in benefiting from SharePoint in the ways appropriate for them. However, again, SharePoint will likely prove useful to a business if they use it to its full capacity.

SharePoint can be an expensive investment when purchased through Microsoft. Server license prices increase incrementally depending on the size of your business; pricing can steep dramatically with larger companies. In addition to setup and purchase costs, of course, one must consider the cost of training employees to use it and the cost of support from Microsoft (given its clout, Microsoft is able to demand a high price for its support services, which is otherwise unheard of).

In order to save our clients money, however, Praecipio Consulting offers SharePoint hosting servcies. In the past we have driven our clients’ Microsoft Exchange costs down to an affordable monthly price and now offer our clients affordable SharePoint/Microsoft Exchange services. Finding an intelligent, affordable, professional SharePoint hosting provider can be difficult and nerve-wracking, but Praecipio Consulting’s new service provides our clients with a convenient, cost-efficient hosting of their SharePoint instances.

Now, another concern businesses considering SharePoint may have:  SharePoint works best with the Microsoft family; it was meant to integrate the Windows OS, MS Office, Internet Explorer, etc. If a business is looking to collaborate with traveling teams, clients, and partners, they must keep their fingers crossed in hope that such cross-platform interaction will work smoothly. Microsoft obviously desires and nearly induces a full commitment from its customers, and logically has no reason to design its services to run quickly and smoothly in non-Microsoft environments. Fortunately for our clients, we have the ability to implement other frameworks into our SharePoint platform in the event a client operates in a non-Microsoft environment—a huge asset that sets us apart from other SharePoint hosting providers.

If your business plans to take full advantage of SharePoint’s advanced abilities—SharePoint can become a valuable asset to your business and its ability to collaborate with open-source technology.

If your business plans to take full advantage of SharePoint’s advanced abilities—SharePoint can become a valuable asset to your business and its ability to collaborate with open-source technology.

Would you like more from us? Contact us here.

Topics: blog bpm business enterprise management practices process sharepoint value collaboration continuous-improvement operations

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