Why SharePoint implementation rather than using Shared Drives ?

Shared Drives vs SharePoint Development

We sift through thousands of documents and files to get the relevant information / documents / content in the shared drives. Searching these information in shared drives is like finding a needle in a haystack. Documents and files which are stored in shared drives, over a period of time duplicates due to multiple versions of the same document being stored.

In such a scenario it becomes difficult to retrieve relevant pieces of content due to the presence of duplicate versions in the shared drives. It takes a lot of effort to find the right document or set of information which consumes a lot of time and man hours.

SharePoint development and customization facilitate better information architecture and hierarchy to make information search as well as collaboration easier using its content management features. Before implementing these features in your SharePoint implementation planning, it is important to have a SharePoint consultant build your information structure using end users feedback and suggestions from existing end users. SharePoint consultants can help enterprises plan better content management solutions that can save time and make information worker more productive.

Find relevant documents at One place

SharePoint can be customized to centrally define and manage the content types by using metadata value that captures properties and characteristics of contents and store it in various departmental sites and help in unique identification of each set of content. This enables the user to search contents in a centralized manner and save more time thereby becoming more productive at managing these sundry tasks. SharePoint can also be customized to eliminate duplication of search efforts and helps users become more productive by retrieving relevant content fast.

What are Content types ?

Once the fundamentals of content types are understood it will be easier to understand the whole concept of content management. A content type is a collection of metadata, that encapsulates the characteristics of content or documents belonging to a particular content type and are assigned to documents. This helps unique identification of content matters and helps users get accurate search results. Content types can be used in a SharePoint site hierarchy and can also be used all together in a document library. Content types help in standardizing contents and make it easy to get accurate results.

MS Dynamics CRM & SharePoint 2013 Integration – Document Versions save you a fortune using Shredded Storage

MS Dynamics CRM & SharePoint Integration – What’s in Store for you ?

Microsoft Dynamics CRM and SharePoint integration enable users to use the document management capabilities of SharePoint from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It allows users to store and manage documents in the context of a Microsoft Dynamics CRM record on a server that is running SharePoint.

The best part about this integration is it allows SharePoint users to leverage the SharePoint framework to share, manage, and collaborate efficiently. As the documents are stored on a server that is running SharePoint, it is imperative to understand and optimize server space and cost by managing document versions efficiently.

So here’s a context to set the scene. Suppose you are planning to do a newsletter campaign using Microsoft Dynamics CRM capabilities, where several participants will contribute, modify, review and approve a draft using SharePoint document management capabilities thanks to their integration. Let’s say the file size of the document is 5mb and is supposed to move through various stages of approvals and edits as we discussed earlier. Suppose another employee wishes to edit the newsletter with something as minute as changing the metadata value of the file. As a result a new version is created with these edits whose file size is again 5mb. It is important to note that every time a version is created it consume 5mb (same as the original version size) so now we have consumed 10mb storage space with just a minor edit. Similarly if there are 10 rounds of revisions, edits and modifications from various participants, there will be 50MB of file that will be stored in the content database. Thus we see creating a file of size 5mb can actually end up consuming 50mb of space on the server that is running SharePoint. Isn’t it a costly pursuit ? Can we have a solution to it?

Well the answer comes with the latest Shredded storage feature in SharePoint 2013 that saves only the incremental edits not the whole document time after time thereby save a lot of expensive SQL storage space so that you can effectively utilize MS Dynamics capabilities combined with SharePoint 2013 infrastructure.

What is Shredded Storage in SharePoint 2013 ?

Shredded storage in SharePoint 2013 is the latest feature that helps save expensive SQL server space every time a new version of documents are created. Shredded feature does this by only storing incremental edits or changes in the documents and not the whole document every time a new version is created. Shredded storage finds its importance in collaboration scenarios where a document is exchanged, reviewed and co-authored . With each of these collaborative instances many versions along with the edits are created which consumes a lot of I/O storage space. With Shredded storage we can reduce I/O storage and network space to enable the system to perform efficiently and cost effectively.

Understanding Document Versioning & Why is it important ?

How many times do you edit a document? How many versions of a document are created when a document moves through the workflows or content development stages? How many duplicate versions are created by a minor change in metadata value? Did you know each document version consumes a costly server space equivalent to the size of the original document? Well, that’s how the files were managed by the addition of SharePoint 2013 Shredded storage feature.

In order to understand the importance of Shredded storage it is important to know a little about document versioning and why it is important. Suppose a document has to move across workflows for a review or approval process. There will be instances where many employees would be working simultaneously on that document. The document is edited, updated and reviewed as it moves ahead in the workflow or across content development stages for regular reviews and approvals. Every time if there’s an edit in the document by a workflow participant, a new version will be created and stored in the SQL database. These versions consume a lot of space even if the new version has a minor change. As the document progresses it is assumed that the quality of document is getting better. SharePoint administrator can set limits on the maximum number of versions that can be created in a SharePoint library to save more server space. When the number of versions exceeds the version limits the last draft gets deleted automatically with every incremental version creation above the version limit. Document versioning is important as it helps track the version history and take action in case one has to step back to earlier versions to perform any activity.

How Shredded Storage optimizes incremental Document Versions

Shredded Storage feature in SharePoint 2013 stores changes in the documents (in the form of edits or metadata) as “Shredded BLOBS” in a data table known as DocStreams Datatable which gets created with every fresh content database. Whenever there are changes in a document, the changes are stored as shredded blobs in a row in a table subsequently. In order to uniquely identify these shredded blobs from the source blob a numerical Id is assigned. Then using the blob index all the shredded blobs are merged to create a file. These shredded blobs consume less space in content database which are quite expensive. Hence, shredding the documents in the form of Blobs helps store only the incremental changes and saves extra space in the content database.

Storing these incremental edits or changes in the content database may still be an expensive pursuit especially when you are running both MS Dynamics and SharePoint. Hence, using an external less expensive storage space to manage these changes can greatly reduce your server cost. RBS or remote blob storage which externalizes the shredded blobs in an external less expensive server space can be used optimally along with SharePoint 2013 Shredded Storage feature to save costly content database space.

Visit Trigent’s exclusive report on msdynamicsworld.com

SharePoint 2013 Customizations – Solutions or Apps?

Previous versions of SharePoint has promoted solution model for many customization’s. But with the new SharePoint 2013, Microsoft has introduced a new app model. This new app model allows developers to build applications in multiple languages, using standard web technologies, and hosted on cloud or SharePoint. The new app model comes with a new unified API “_api” that is OAuth enabled, fully remote, with over 2,000 classes and 6,000 members.

All these make a very compelling case for building custom solutions in the new app model. But wait…, what happened to the old “solutions” model – including the less popular sand-boxed solutions for SharePoint online? Should we completely abandon the solution model? Can we migrate our existing “solutions” to apps? What is the Microsoft prescribed way for partners to manage SharePoint deployments and customization?

A newly announced Microsoft webinar may answer these questions. Microsoft says:
“Join Senior Product Marketing Manager, Keenan Newton, and special guest Partner Director of Apps Program Management, Robert Lefferts, as we kick off our new site centered around migrating SharePoint solutions to apps. We will discuss the history of SharePoint customization and where the SharePoint development platform is going. We will also highlight the benefits of the cloud app model and answer any questions that you may have.”
The event is on Monday, May 20, 2013 9:00 AM Pacific.

Register at: Microsoft

Also Read an Interesting article on The “Napa” Office 365 Development tool and SharePoint 2013 App Development

SharePoint 2013 – drag & drop file upload limitations

Drag and drop of files from your desktop to SharePoint document library in the browser window is a cool feature that is very much appreciated by many our clients. Unfortunately, this feature utilizes HTML5 and very much browser dependent.

Based on our tests, IE8 and IE9 does not support the drag and drop. However FF and Chrome seem to support this easily.

Drag & Drop

Simple Excel based BI in SharePoint 2013

Excel is here to stay. IT professionals may hate the proliferation of Excel documents containing important information, floating around the corporate file servers. Users love them – the familiar interface and ease of doing simple calculations and filtering has made Excel tremendously popular with people who work with numbers.

With SharePoint 2013 and Office Web App, it is so easy to turn some of the powerful features of Excel to do simple “BI” – that is, Business Intelligence in lower case. We recently helped one of our clients to share some vital information to their partners via SharePoint based extranet. We used Excel 2013’s PowerView feature to create great looking visualizations with ability to filter and drill through the data. This Excel is uploaded periodically to the extranet document library. And with Office Web App, the extranet user is able to view and interact with these powerful charts right in their browser.

This was one of the biggest attractions of our client’s extranet. This and other improved implementation of the extranet tremendously increased their partner participation compared to their previous extranet implementation.

The cool thing about Office Web App is that to view the files, there is no need for any licenses – it is free.


Summary:
Use Excel 2013 with its new features, many in the BI area. Learn more about Excel 2013.
Use SharePoint 2013 with Office Web App. Learn more here.

SharePoint Development for Investment Consultants/Asset Management Companies

Investment Consultants Functions and Goals

Investment consultants formulate strategies and guide investors to make correct long term or short term investments. They constantly manage and monitor clients’ portfolios to meet financial goals. Their aim is to preserve and grow clients’ investment/asset over a long term and keep them abreast of latest financial products.

Further, they have to manage a large pool of client specific documents/artifacts and seamlessly mentor them over a long period of time.

Challenges for Investment Consultants

With a dynamic economic environment, Investment consultants face a lot of challenges before them both at macro and micro level. They have to review asset allocation more frequently than the fundamental ways owing to concurrent market swings. They have to calculate the magnitude of losses and constantly track macroeconomic variables.Their existing IT infrastructures are obsolete to handle these needs.

Internally, they have to manage a large pool of data, documents, artifacts pertaining to clients and constantly collaborate with them in order to meet their financial goals. At present environment, clients are seeking consultants who can offer personalized and value added services. A high turnaround time in responding client queries often results in competitor switch. Also, the absence of collaborative communication may hamper their relationship with clients.

Apart from the above challenges there are several in-house challenges that linger in current investment consulting firms:

  • Investment Research
  • Investment product evaluation and performance measurement
  • Customer relationship management
  • Lack of Value added services offered to clients
  • Usage of Obsolete/Legacy Systems to manage clients data
  • Un-Structured Data Management
  • Downgraded system performance
  • Single Point Access to Data
  • Low collaboration with clients

How a SharePoint Set-up help?

A SharePoint Set-up renders a collaborative platform in the form of Corporate Intranet for investment consultants to share information related to clients’ activities, better interact and engage with clients, enable value added services by providing customers with research reports, whitepapers etc. It can build a central repository of data and can allow single point access to fetch relevant documents pertaining to clients’ portfolios. Apart from these SharePoint 2010 offers host of other features to manage document types, retention policies etc. Investment consultant can also utilize other SharePoint features like document versioning, task listing etc. to improve task visibility and employee collaboration. Configure indexing services and build custom search service for faster, accurate search results. Learn More about SharePoint Installation.

SharePoint Integration with Existing System

SharePoint Consultant can help integrate existing CRM with SharePoint to overcome native functionality limitations of CRM by creating a central repository of data. They can facilitate integration of SharePoint with other in-house customer LOB application used to generate research col-laterals.

SharePoint integration enables consultants to have a consolidated view of data residing systems to improve TAT and user experience.

SharePoint Customization & Application Development

Apart from host of in-built features, SharePoint can also be customized and developed according to clients requirement. SharePoint Custom Scripts can help monitor database growth and compartmentalize database to keep system performance optimal. It can also help migrate obsolete clients data from legacy systems to SharePoint for better exception handling and control. SharePoint can also be developed using custom codes for data clean up and maintenance to reduced maintenance overheads. To know about our services, Visit SharePoint Consulting

SharePoint Adoption and Social Media Features That Help

SharePoint as a social media platform

Nice article on how Microsoft SharePoint scores as a Social Media platform for internal users. SharePoint evangelist Christian Buckley compares SharePoint with platforms like Facebook, Jive Salesforce, Yammer and Ning.
SharePoint’s Social Media Scorecard.

It is interesting to see how SharePoint has evolved from a simple intranet application to a social media platform for collaboration between employees and partners/vendors. Thousands of web parts are getting added daily, for work and for fun which you can add to your intranet. There is even a free Dilbert Web Part at Amrein Engineering which I thought was fun.

In our experience social media applications dramatically increase SharePoint adoption within organizations. Typical applications are sharing information through wikis, departmental discussion boards, surveys and blogs. SharePoint 2010 Profile Pages can be customized to look similar to Facebook pages with social content like a Facebook wall. Social tagging features include Social tags, which enable users to save and share items of interest, a Note Board, Ratings and Bookmarklets for tagging content that is external to the SharePoint site. A few social features and a couple of daily organizational workflows, all that is needed to get your organization’s users hooked on to SharePoint. Consider this, Microsoft says they are adding 20,000 users a day!

For more web parts and white papers visit here.

Meanwhile enjoy the last week of the fall color season. Just a few more days to go before the mighty trees on the Old Man Of The Mountain shake their leaves off….

Also Read The Birth of Yammer in SharePoint 2013