Microsoft’s eDiscovery Platform SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities 2015 Presentation

Presenting at SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities about Microsoft’s eDiscovery platform found on-premise as well within Office 365. This year I have worked with several clients around both areas and found there are some sticking points that organizations need to be aware of ahead of time before implementing. You can check out the presentation here. Hope you get some good information from there. If you have any questions please post a comment!



Office 365 – Are You Distracted by Shiny Things!

Team CollaborationWithin the last six to eight months, Microsoft has made a tremendous push by adding more features to Office 365. As I am talking with my clients about these features, I am always asked “So now what are we going to do?” or “That new feature is really cool!”. Most organizations will look at these new features and say “We are going to restrict the use until we have time to figure out what this can do”!. They do not want to have the “Shiny Thing” issue that can happen when new features are implemented. Additionally, they never really get to it because IT is distracted by many other internal activities.

So what are some of the features we are talking about? They include:

  • Office 365 Groups
  • Delve
  • OneDrive for Business
  • Sway
  • Yammer
  • Video Portal
  • SharePoint Online (not new but still being improved upon all of the time)

Additionally Microsoft has promised more things will be added in the future such as Infopedia and Office Planner.

With that said, it is important to not be caught up in the “Shiny Thing” frenzy that sometimes happens within organizations. So what does an organization do? Really, nothing different than what you are currently doing. Make sure you are continually answer the following questions:

  • What type of content do we currently have?
  • How do we communicate and collaborate internally and externally of our company?
  • Where does our content live and how do we want it available?
  • What type of business processes are users interacting with daily, weekly, or monthly?

When you look at the “Day in the Life” of a user within a department, you will be able to answer these questions and then determine the eventual solution. I have found that not talking about the technology and focusing on what users are doing helps to create an safe meeting that participants give us useful information.

After the information has been gathered, then you need to look at all of the functionality that is available not only within the SharePoint online area but anything that Office 365 has available. This will mean diving in and understand what Office 365 features can do. As you determine the best solution for your business units, it is important to document the best practices to ensure end users know what is the overall solution for this type of business requirement.

Here are some examples of business requirements and possible solutions that involve Office 365. I purposely made these examples similar in nature so show how business requirements may change the end delivery.

Example 1

Business requirement: The sales department primarily collaborates using emails which typically contain document attachments of content they are working on. Additionally the email conversations can become very lengthy and rarely include everyone that needs to have a say. Additionally the sales manager would like to move this information out of Outlook and centralize document sharing because IT has a mailbox quota in place.

Possible solution: Combination of SharePoint Online team sites for centralized document collaboration, embedding Yammer group feed into the team site and using the Post to Yammer feature already integrated into the platform. Additionally, the organization should implement Identity Management components to enable seamless single-sign on between applications.

Example 2

Business requirement: The sales department primarily collaborates using emails which typically contain document attachments of content they are working on. Additionally the email conversations can become very lengthy and rarely include everyone that needs to have a say. Because they are Sales, they live and breathe through their Outlook client. Their focus is centralizing their content around the conversations they are having within Outlook.

Possible solution: It is highly recommended the Sales team uses Office 365 Groups and Outlook 2016. Office groups allow the department members to still utilize Outlook 2016 to connect with the group. The Office Group also has a OneDrive for Business area to allow the group to collaborate on content.

Example 3

Business requirement: Currently the Marketing department is utilizing DropBox to send files to external consultants. The Marketing director has had a hard time when someone leaves the company and they need to retain an of those files that were used in DropBox. The marketing director also wants to leverage Microsoft products because of their integration.

Possible solution: Implement OneDrive for Business (ODFB) for the Marketing group. This solution allows for files up to 10 GB to be added into their person ODFB, they are allowed to share externally to other users and information is retained using Active Directory security. Additionally Information Rights Management can be implemented to ensure that intellectual property is retained.If someone leaves, all files can be made available to the Marketing manager. Additionally, with ODFB desktop sync, it allows for files to be made available locally.

Example 4

Business requirement: Currently the Marketing department is utilizing DropBox to send files to external consultants. The Marketing director has had a hard time when someone leaves the company and they need to retain an of those files that were used in DropBox. The marketing director also wants to continue to leverage DropBox because of some of features.

Possible solution: Implement Azure AD Premium which allows the organization to have single sign-on functionality with DropBox. Once established, DropBox is integrated into Outlook Online as well as iPad/iPhone apps. This also allows IT and Marketing director the ability to have access to the content if someone leaves the company since it is controlled by Azure and the companies Active Directory.

When it comes down to it, business requirements will still need to be met no matter how “Shiny” the features are. If they do not provide a solution to an existing problem then hold off on implementing. Good luck and remember not to be distracted by the “Shiny Thing”!



SharePoint Online Feature Set

Many times as I am working with a client I find it important to understand which version of SharePoint they purchased and what features are available. That way I can build out the environment with these features in mind. With all the recent changes to the SharePoint Online environment, it can be very difficult to keep up with these changes.

There is a great website on MS TechNet that lists all of the different features associated to the versions of Office 365 that are available. Just like anything else on TechNet it maybe difficult to wade through the masses of information that is available. Recently I have been playing with the Excel 2013 add-in called Power Query (Download Add-In Here) and the ability to scrape information from a website (See this Office Support page for Importing data from web page). One of the nice things about Power Query is that I can go in and refresh the information in the spreadsheet (depending if webpage has not physically changed) it should update the information. The following is the results of playing around with this Excel 2013 Power Query feature. Hope you are able to use this information.


Accessing SharePoint Online Content Through QR Codes

Recently Microsoft made an update to SharePoint to help with allowing mobile to quickly access documents from SharePoint online. They added the ability to access a QR Code that will take you directly to the select document.

You can access the QR Code by going into the Open Menu (ellipsis) associated to a document within the SharePoint online environment. Within the menu you will now see a Mobile icon that will allow you to access the QR Code.


QR Code

Once this has been selected you will receive the QR Code link to the document. This information can then be embedded and distributed as needed.

QR Code 2

If you have not heard, Microsoft is leading with making changes to the SharePoint online environment before releasing them to on-premise. So it will be interesting if this is one of those features that will eventually be released.


Windows Server Update Issues with SharePoint

Recently my colleagues and myself have run across situations where Microsoft Windows Server updates have been causing issues within the SharePoint environment. We have started a list of those that we have recently run across however we know that this is not a comprehensive listing, so please feel free to add comments on more that you may have found.

Typically with any of these issues the fix is as simple as uninstall and a reboot of the server. Also make sure whatever updating software you are using that you suspend these updates from being installed in the future.

    KB 2844286 – Server 2008 R2 SP1 (More Details)

    KB 2844285 – Server 2003 SP2 (MS has released an update More Details)

    KB 2844287 – Server 2008 SP2 (More Details)

    KB 2840633 – Server 2012 (More Details)

    I will update this list when we find more or if Microsoft actually fixes these fixes!


SharePoint 2013 and Project Management – MN Project Users Group Presentation

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at the MN Project Users Group about using SharePoint 2013 for Project Management. Within the 2013 realm there are multiple options for Project Management depending upon what your overall needs are.

Ultimately during this and a previous version of the presentation I heard organizations are looking for different types of solutions for different types of projects. Light weight and low cost solutions for small and medium projects and more robust solutions for enterprise level projects. Personally what I have seen as utilizing SharePoint out of the box features (2007 to 2013 versions) works for those smaller and medium size projects. And those large projects that need a lot of oversight, visibility, time tracking, etc. you would want to use a product like Project Server 2013.

Now I am not a Project Server guru, but I do understand the capability of needing to roll-up projects for visibility. I also know that in the past Project Server has been a little clunky. However from what I saw from the co-presenter for this session made me become more of a believer of the product.

Here is the SlideShare for this event. Hope you enjoy it! MPUG SharePoint 2013 and Project Management


SharePoint 2013 and the New Visual Best Bets

Last week, I had an opportunity to dive into SharePoint 2013 and the Search Query Rules for a presentation I did at TechFuse. Part of that presentation was talking about Search Query Rules. This feature in SharePoint 2013 replaces Keywords and Best Bets found in 2007 and 2010. This feature allows for organizations to target specific content based on the keywords and synonyms that are search on. This can be used for a variety of different scenarios including (for the intranet) targeted company information such as benefits enrollment. One of the best features is the ability to set a review and publishing start and end dates.

Most of the features are the same as in previous versions of SharePoint with exception to the visual best bet. In SharePoint 2010 if you had FAST installed there is a feature called visual best bet which allows you to point to an image or page stored within SharePoint. This was pretty straight forward. In SharePoint 2013 they now have a checkbox where you check to “Render the URL as a banner instead of as a hyperlink”. This replaces the Visual Best Bet.


By checking that box if your page is a web page you will receive the following associated to your best bet.


Upon looking at the item SharePoint is embedding the promoted item banner as an iFrame in the search results with a fixed width of 500 pixels x 150 pixels. That does not render well and is a problem in my opinion. Based on this information if you were to use an image and create a secondary promoted item you would have to crop that image and get it to be just right.

Another innovation within SharePoint 2013 is something called Image Renditions. SharePoint allows any image that is added into the environment and has a content type of an image the ability to render different versions. For example:


Out of the box options for Image Renditions include:

  • Display Template Pictures 3 Lines: 100 x 100 pixels
  • Display Template Video: 120 x 60 pixels
  • Display Template Picture on Top: 304 x 100 pixels
  • Display Template Large Picture: 468 x 220 pixels

Also, when you are in Image Renditions for a specific image you have the capability of adjusting the picture to focus on a specific part of the image.

Based on this new feature we can have some fun with Promoted Items and Image Renditions.

    1. Create a new Image Rendition by going to Settings > Site Settings > Look and Feel section > Image Renditions
    2. Click on Add new item just above the existing Image Renditions
    3. Give a name such as “Promoted Result” and give a Width of 500 and Height of 150 and Save


  • Navigate to a Media Library within the site collection and add an image
  • After upload hover over the image and click on the More ellipses (. . . ) to access the image menu
  • Choose Edit Renditions
  • Adjust the focus of the image by finding the new Promoted Result image rendition and click on “Click to change”
  • Once completed then copy the URL, which now includes RenditionID syntax “http://~CorporateHero.jpg?RenditionID=5”
  • Go into Search Query Result found in Site Settings > Site Collection Administration > Search Query Rules and use the copied URL

Once completed you should see the results immediately when searching.


Personally I love the Image Renditions feature and plan on using it for other day to day activities within SharePoint 2013. Enjoy!

<Update June 4, 2013>

Keep in mind when working with SharePoint there seems to always be a catch. The catch here is that publishing features need to be enabled for image renditions to work. You will also need to enable Blob Caching in order for the feature to be available. Here is a post by Tony Phillips that describes that process: