In the first part of this article I was talking about how it is important to use SharePoint the right way in order to become productive. It sounds obvious right? However the most obvious things are not always the easiest to reach. It’s like seeing the princess in the tower, guarded by the fierce and evil dragon. Now in the second part of this article I will focus more on the Infrastructure. On the things I need to have with me in order to slay the dragon, climb the tower and rescue the princess from her horrible fate. So let’s pick up the sword and start our adventure.
May peace favor your swords fellow heroes…
So in a way, it’s how the “Soft stuff” is interacting with the “hard stuff”. It’s very much also about how the information architecture is built and the information is presented to the user. SharePoint really offers a powerful framework to present information to the End User on the silver tablet. It also helps to save an immense amount of time to find, use and share information. In other words to also consolidate and reduce communication channels. This is something you should drive for when optimizing your SharePoint infrastructure. Make it as simple as possible for the End User to do her or his daily job. Like this we create added value for the business and can have increased business output.
Let’s first continue with an other more painful topic when talking about SharePoint infrastructure quality. Let’s talk a bit about metadata. Ok, we understand the importance of metadata, how they can help us to organize and find content in an efficient way. But why do we still struggle with the metadata quality in most of the SharePoint environments out there? There are several reasons for this issue. One reason is about Change. Humans are by default very lazy beings. We like traditions and patterns and things what we can control, predict and understand. It is very hard from us to unlearn habits and do things differently, only because my boss and an overpaid consultant said so. The key is here in showing the true value of the new and powerful way to organize content by metadata rather by its physical location. So what I want to say it’s very hard to unlearn our way of categorizing things by folders and location. It’s difficult for us to embrace flat hierarchies when we are used to work with verticals. If you have the same issue in your organization, think about ways how to show the real value of making things more smart than pushing it through the hard way.
Ok let’s look at some different approaches how to tackle this challenge.
Method one: The hammer of the berserker method
We just make all metadata fields must-fields. We definitely will have high quality metadata but a lot of complaints coming from the End Users. In some cases this method makes sense, but definitely not in your overall information architecture.
Method two: The End User courtship method
We kindly ask the End Users to fill in the metadata, because it would be so awesome to have high quality metadata and it would be the greatest thing on earth. Yes, if we don’t show the value and what benefits it will bring to the End User, we can continue our courtship for a while.
Method three: The tournament method
This has a gamified aspect to that. So we link the filling of metadata to a certain narrative and more relevant to a certain reward. By meaning, the one which fills the most metadata by end of the week shall be named Ser Metadatalot and will receive a coupon or a voucher from the organizational store or the cafeteria for a free goodie or coffee. Important here is, that the winners of the tournament will get the bragging rights of being awesome and that it is visible that they achieved this goal.
Method four: The wizards approach
We try to get the metadata created automatically. There are several 3rd party tools out there, which can produce metadata automatically according the content of the document. However magic is never perfect and there would be always some sort of human interaction needed in order to make things perfect.
One of these products is Novo Mail from some fellow Knights in south Germany. Check it out!
The most effective approach would be to combine all the methods together, when we would have the berserker courting the wizard during the tournament J.
As we have seen, when talking about SharePoint infrastructure topics, we do not only talk about Server response times. It is more about how the IT and business department, as well as the Hard and Software talks together.
SharePoint, Strength and Honour