Friday, June 20, 2014

Synchronizing SharePoint Managed Metadata with External Business Data

The primary gap in SharePoint 2010 and 2013 Managed Metadata Service Application is the lack of ability to synchronize the Term values in a Term Set with an external business data source (No, you can't do this with the out-of-the-box Business Connectivity Services feature).

For example, if you could automatically on a schedule, synchronize a Vendors Term Set with the Vendor names that exist in your Purchasing system's database, this would allow you to:

  1. Assign the appropriate Vendor name to a SharePoint document, such as a contract, that relates to that vendorAs I noted in my article earlier this week, assigning metadata values to documents in SharePoint can really improve findability of documents.  (If Vendor names is not the best example for your organization, how about Customer names, or Product names, or Facility names, etc?)
  2. Rely on the existing business process to keep the Term values up-to-date because the external system (Purchasing system in this case) is maintained by the appropriate individuals that handle that part of the business.

Enterprise-ready SharePoint Self-Service Site Collection Creation for FREE

In previous posts, I discussed the pain involved with creating new site collections in an enterprise environment.  There was a tease in my last post about a free solution for this.  We've been excited about this for several months and it's finally here.  Site Provisioning and Governance Assistant - Free Edition is now available from PremierPoint Solutions.

Enterprise ready SharePoint self-service site collection creation for free
SPGA Free fills all the deficiencies with both manual site collection creation and SharePoint's self-service site creation.

With SPGA Free, administrators define the types of sites available for request, along with other optional parameters, such as who to assign as site collection administrators, where the site goes in your farm, and which quota template should be used.  Those optional parameters can also be directed by the information completed in the request form if you choose.  Your users have a place to easily fill out a form and start the process.  Standard SharePoint approval workflows may be used to ensure proper approvals are obtained prior to provisioning.

This is very exciting news for SharePoint administrators.  Best of all it is completely free, and you can get it installed, configured, and provisioning sites in less than an hour.  

I really think this could be a real game changer for SharePoint administrators and users everywhere.  Give SPGA Free a try and let us know what you think.

SPGA Free Edition Quick FAQ
  • Where do I get more information on the new free edition of SPGA?
  • What is the difference between the SPGA product PremierPoint Solutions has sold for years and this new free edition?
  • How can I get support?
    • SPGA Free has a full set of documentation, including articles, to help you in installing, configuring, and using the product - click here to view.
  • What if my company requires or desires a formal support contract for this product?
    • You do have the option of utilizing PremierPoint Solution's professionally staffed support engineers to receive the same level of support available with the Premium Edition of SPGA.  Click here for more information on obtaining formal support.
  • I'd like to use the free edition to start.  What if I decide to upgrade to Premium or just want to try the premium edition out at some point?
    • The installer is the exact same.  The features that are active are based on your license key.  So you may start with the Free Edition, and then trial or purchase the Premium Edition and simply update your license key.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Enterprise Ready Self-Service Site Creation

In my previous article, What process do you use to provide new SharePoint site collections to your users, I made mention of SharePoint's out-of-the-box self-service site creation process not being an enterprise ready solution.  This is a widely accepted opinion for very valid reasons. 

Working as a SharePoint Administrator, and with other administrators, there are two main reasons self-service site creation is not a viable enterprise solution.  The first is lack of approvals.  There should be someone, or some team, that ensures the request makes sense for your SharePoint environment.  Without approvals, there is no way to do so.  Everyone I have worked with required some sort of approval process, usually a business owner over an area and an IT approval as well.  You don't want the approval to become a bottleneck, just a brief stop along the way that ensures the integrity of your SharePoint environment.

How Much Value is Your Organization Getting From SharePoint Managed Metadata? – and, My Top 5 Benefits

SharePoint Managed Metadata Term Store ToolI can remember sitting in the session at SPC 2009 in Las Vegas where the Microsoft Program Manager in charge of the SharePoint 2010 Managed Metadata Service Application proudly proclaimed that Managed Metadata was the best new feature of SharePoint Server 2010.  Normally, I don’t care for braggarts, but after seeing how the features worked and how good it was, I really felt like this guy truly had a license to brag on himself and his team.  They did a great job!

We will soon be coming up on five years of organizations having the opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of Managed Metadata.  How much value has your organization got out of this feature set?  Have you even started to use it yet?

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What process do you use to provide new SharePoint site collections to your users?

SharePoint Site Collection Creation Process can be frustratingA better way to create SharePoint sites is a topic that has been around as long as SharePoint itself.  There are many pain points to the process that any SharePoint administrator, and user for that matter, go through.  Let’s just start off by making the assumption that you want a little more control than what self-service site creation offers.  Some SharePoint experts have commented that self-service site creation in SharePoint is not an enterprise ready solution My next my post will go into more details on that topic and offer a solution that is enterprise ready, but in this post I’d like to share some of the problems from my experience and give our readers a chance to chime in. 

So let’s discuss what you do based on the above assumption that you require something better than SharePoint’s out-of-the-box self-service site creation.