The success of the 5th SharePoint Saturday Vietnam marked a new step forward of the Vietnam SharePoint community, but that was not the last stop in our journey. The 6th event is gone successfully accompanying over 100 SharePoint enthusiasts. I consider myself very lucky to be able to have Duane – an international speaker – speak at the event.

Topic: Corporate social network get meet core value

If the 5th event I talked about the new social features on the SharePoint platform, the 6th was started at the same point but covered more concepts about social network development insightfully. One of our active members – Mr Nhut, currently working as a SharePoint consultant for Harvey Nash – shared his point of views as to why social networking would change awareness and deliver business value for organization. Nhut started his topic by introducing some remarkable social networks and respective popularities. For example, 66% (approximately 700 million people) of online adults are using Facebook, or Twitter has 50 million fanatical users. The term social in his use seemed like “collaboration” as I’ve seen on his slide. It’s something that has announcement update, user profile, conversation, engagement across departments or so on. As you see the features of Facebook, people get connected each other through it. They can share picture, status and information in a central or personal place. Moreover, they are able to have access to information they get allowed.

(Credit image)

Researched by IDC and Forester, companies spend $5 million in salary expense each year on time wasted looking for information that is never found that for 1,000 employees. Continuously talking about social network, he pointed out knowledge management that would be leveraged by social network. Another research came up in his slide that said the cost of lost productivity when a new employee joined a team. Costs assume a weekly wage of 1,000 USD. That’s true if your company doesn’t have solution for knowledge management. A new employee coming to company will probably cost for training.

Next, Nhut brought out the fact that many companies were using public social networking tools to recruit top talent from all over the globe through referrals, talent searches, and informal interaction. My concern at this point is how they can get data from other environments that are privately used because almost corporate social networks tend to be internally deployed. Nhut then came up with a common consideration of leveraging people by gamification strategy based reputation score.

(You may love to read my series of SharePoint 2013 social feature starting from here)

Here are some reasons as to why social I put in my slide when talking about social features in SharePoint 2013 at the 5th SPSVN:

  • Connect people to collaborate in an unified environment.
  • On a practical level,  you can say that it helps retain knowledge, share best practices, push pertinent information out, and reduce one-off questions” said Bert Sandie, EA’s Director of Technical Excellence.
  • Share, Share and Share to improve knowledge.
  • EA People uses words like “humanizes”, “bonds”, “better communication” and “High Levels of Trust

He finally ended up his presentation talking about the return-on-investment of the social network built on top of the SharePoint 2013 platform. He, however, just wrapped up the principles of ROI rather than showing real numbers. In my opinion, when you come up with ROI, there must be at least one of the following calculations:

  • Return as a percentage of investment over fixed period
  • Return after deducting investment for a fixed period
  • How long until return equals investment

The factors used to identify cost of building a social network must be more than what Nhut listed in his slide. I believe training and applying your user adoption plan take much time and money. Another note is that identifying a real cost of social network investment isn’t easy as you think. There are many human factor issues occurring even you already have had a great solution. Social network needs to be combined with other things (Search, Information Management) to make an overall picture of organization face rather than each stands independently. Otherwise, it will be useless and people will waste time on it.

Topic: Consider performance & Security for SharePoint

The next topic covering performance and security when building SharePoint solution or application was presented by Mr. Hai –a familiar friend of SharePoint Vietnam community. When starting a SharePoint project, deployment team needs to potential performance (heavy loading page, product, configuration, network, system) and security issues in the plan. Having that plan will help you avoid complaint from end-user due to bad performance. To security issue, management executives don’t have to worry about the leakage of sensitive data.

He just boiled down main effecting aspects of SharePoint performance. There were a few in-depth points as to why SharePoint performance problem surface, e.g. queries on large list by CAML query. Another example is BLOB and caching that helps improve the speed at which Web pages load in the browser. SharePoint 2010 has three types of caches: the BLOB cache, the page output cache, and the object cache but one more type added in the 2013 edition is the anonymous search results cache. The BLOB cache enables you to cache image, audio and video files, together with .css and .js files. This is extremely helpful for publishing websites that have large numbers of pages and multimedia files.

Hai introduced one of the integral tools to SharePoint development called MSOCAF (Microsoft SharePoint Online Code Analysis Framework). The tool helps you in validating components and factors around SharePoint code at the testing phase before you submit your custom solutions to Microsoft.

(You may love to read the article Best Practice fix issues from MSOCAF checking)

The last tip Hai shared was to turn on Developer dashboard. This feature allows you to trace information and performance of rendering time of SharePoint pages. It can only be turned on by PowerShell.

Topic: Always think content type

This is the topic I was looking forward to hearing a little more SharePoint content type. Duane from Avantility had a great presentation talking from end-to-end solution to managing information with content type.  According to Microsoft, a content type is a reusable collection of metadata, workflow and behavior and other settings for a category of items of documents in a list or document library. However, Duane has a bit more different explanation to the content type but easy to understand, especially he said content types were like classes.

Not having content type deployed will probable lead to many problems in terms of information management. One of the very common problems is the lack of culture in organization to understand value of information.  Another note is inconsistency of the shape of information. Imagine you have different columns, metadata, rules in the same information so you will have to update every of them. For example, the product A has many attributes e.g. color, brand, size, price. The product B has some similar features but two more different one. When you want to change price that is used for the two products, you have to go to each and manually update both. With SharePoint content type, you only need to update in a central place where content type can be configured. In a nut shell, content type is managed in a centralized location and it can be flexibly reused across sites in SharePoint.

From a strategy perspective partially, Duane suggested SharePoint administrator to evangelize content type by asking question, building awareness and training proactively. This means content type should be promoted through your organization. Reach out to ask either developer or business user many questions about content type. Administrators need to design content type hub and subscriber as well as plan for managed metadata service application. For developers and solution architects, he highly recommended encouraging them in incorporate closely with SharePoint administrators to define content type before creating list. Duane then highlighted the importance of administrator role in every SharePoint projects. But these days I’ve seen people only hire developers to do SharePoint because they think their developers can do everything on such a customizable platform.

With the flexibility, SharePoint content type provides you seamless way to manage information and workflow across site collections. SharePoint IMP (Information Management Policy) bases content type to provide the ability to automatically route data to another place for archive or retention. There are many more benefits of content type.

The last part of his presentation was some real-world cases utilizing the power of SharePoint content type. For example, a customer has a project list to track different kinds of projects. In the list, if a project manager selects Times and Material at Project Type field then he will be able to see Hourly Rate, Estimated Effort but can’t see value of Bid Amount. If the project type is Fixed Bid then the list will display Bid Amount but hide Hourly Rate, Estimated Effort column. That would be worth seeing if the Internet connection wasn’t terrible at the time.

There were some foreigners attending the 6th event. I met and said HI to Chris Harvey formerly working as the CEO of Vietnamworks.com. He is currently starting a new adventure with ITviec.com. I also met and talked a little bit with Scott Sugar – my colleague at previous company.

Many heartfelt thanks have been sent to all of the sponsors as well as the community. You guys keep getting the SharePoint Vietnam community growing up every minute.

Stay tuned!