TEKDOG University Nintex Training

TEKDOG is a passionate little company based out of Columbus, Ohio. The newly renovated facility dons a great modern décor, giant televisions to see step-by-step instruction, and new desktops to work along on. Not to mention the pet friendly atmosphere, it’s nice to have dog interaction while being away from home.  I have had the pleasure of spending the past two days learning Nintex Forms with a great group of Ohioans.

TekDog Classroom - courtesy of www.TekDoginc.com

TekDog Classroom – courtesy of http://www.TekDoginc.com

Jason Keller, a die hard food lover, takes the time necessary to insure all students are on point with learning. I have felt comfortable navigating, creating, and automating various business use cases within Nintex and SharePoint. These are features that I have not been able to find from product sponsored courses in many instances… Either the instructor is dull or I get stuck watching some ancient slide deck, which who learns from either of those situations. Being able to realize the ROI during a class has been  a much different perspective, learning how software works prior to even considering a purchase grants an architect the ability to look at this from their everyday perspective and evaluate which functions would be easy for end users to adapt to.  Attending a class to evaluate a piece of software is a much better investment, even if it’s not purchased, than having buyers remorse at a later date.

TEKDOG University - courtesy of www.tekdoginc.com

TEKDOG University – courtesy of http://www.tekdoginc.com

With user adoption of SharePoint being a constant issue within every organization I see the value of investing into well prepared training materials.  It makes all the difference to have reusable reliable content with baked-in best practice.

Spending time at TEKDOG isn’t like setting at a classroom. It’s spending time getting to know other individuals who are passionate about SharePoint and SharePoint products. While working out in the field it isn’t an everyday opportunity we are granted. Sharing solution ideas, pains, and workaround has been a really great experience over the past two days, it has made me realize there are certain aspects of my organization that I absolutely love… and that is a good perspective to gain.

It will be exciting spending the rest of the week with Jason, Kerry, and the rest of the awesome TEKDOG staff. The verdict may still be out on if we want to introduce Nintex to our environment. But, I will say though that the verdict is in on TEKDOG – they rock.


Setting up Team Sites and Publishing Sites.

When I’m approached and asked to just “spin up a site” I stop and ask my end users a few questions. Many users may find themselves confused about what they are looking for. I find it difficult to also shut down someone’s enthusiasm to use SharePoint.  It takes some time to work through your end users wishes. I’ll include in my post these questions I like to ask, which I will follow with my rational for asking.

What do you envision on your new site?
Starting out with this question is going to quickly knock off people actually looking for a library. If they respond with “See we’ve noticed that we have X items, and they no longer fit in Y library.” They need a new library. If people are finding there area such as OneDrive or a library becoming cluttered with similar documents… they probably need a library.
Now when your approached with a rational… If they respond with “Well have decided that our three programs have become very large, and we’d like to see them in specialized areas so they can have calendars, contact lists, and placed to put X,Y,Z documents so it is organized to meet ABC organization’s reporting needs.”  You may need to investigate this need even deeper. A new sub site could be in their future depending on planning.

How do you see permissions on your new site? Who needs access to this information?
Understanding the rational behind permission an individual is looking to find may be a great way to direct them to look at one drive. If someone starts talking about “Well, I share this document with Joe, and only Joe needs it.”  This may be a great bridge to asking “Is this document important to the organization as a whole, if you and Joe were no longer with us?”
Depending on how the answer this second question… it could be this item is just something Joe and this person works on to add (copy/paste) to another report. At this point I’d advise Joe and company to consider keeping this one off on the One Drive for Business.  Now, if his answer is different and he starts explain the use, and who receives it, and who accomplishes what with this information we may need to look into a document library or a workflow possibility.

After receiving this bit of information I ask the requestor to grant me the time to assess the needs to see if we are looking at a bigger information architecture or business process issue. This time could include taking the liberty to ask other departments about their current interaction with this information. Taking time to investigate needs will lead towards a better information architecture.

Planning for next year’s project? Listen to your end users.

It’s that time of the year again, strategic planning.

Personally, I enjoy this time of the year. The organization as a whole gets to join together and talk through goals, needs, and pain points. Hopefully this isn’t the moment when you are beginning to gather your project ideas. If it is, that’s okay just get caught up, you don’t want your budget needs to be overlooked. In this article I’m going to outline some tips for picking up on your end users needs throughout the year, and during your strategic planning as well.

Spend Time In Various Departments

I am guilty just as much as the next person. It’s human nature to be attracted to departments that make you laugh, has great discussions, or just provides the most snacks. Other departments may be the quiet few that slip from your radar, these departments still have great input into your enterprise system development.

Grant yourself time every quarter to make house-calls. Larger organization may have many branches or buildings, go visit your colleagues. This time doesn’t need to be spent on technology projects, but just a visit. There is no need to for you to schedule a meeting, or find a room. Just stop into their space, watch how they are working, and ask questions. Here’s a couple great questions to get the conversation going?

  • How do you like working in your team site?
  • Is there anything your having trouble finding?
  • Is there any information you’d like to see added?
    • Leave this one open ended.. it could be metadata, libraries, custom lists, who knows…

Attend outside of work organization functions

Networking with your colleagues and peers outside of work is a great opportunity for them to begin opening up to you about their dreams of an ideal workplace. I’m not saying go out and become friends with your entire organization, but make an effort to step out of the office to do networking during off hours. Individuals that may be afraid of voicing opinions around management staff could lend great ideas to an organizational wide project. Remember, knowledge workers that are on the front line are going to use SharePoint much more than senior level staff.

My job is boring…”

Hopefully you don’t think your job is boring! End users have a tendency of down talking what it is they do on a daily basis. End users that are either afraid of change or hating talking will tell you “My job is boring…” or “I don’t really do anything that important…” peers like these will typically be your technology fence sitters. Getting to know these end users better may produce large quantities of processes that are currently inefficient, making their lives easier may free them up to learn other job roles that they may not consider to be so booorrring.

End Users may throw the line out that their job is boring, or that they don't do anything important..

End Users may throw the line out that their job is boring, or that they don’t do anything important..

Planning season should be fun, entertain others ideas because you never know where your next innovative solution to human issues may come from. If you have a topic you’d like to see covered, I’d love to hear about it! Till next time… Happy SharePointing!

Hello, World!

Hello! My name is Ashley. After spending many years working around various careers I’ve stumbled upon a great topic (SharePoint) that I can get excited about to teach people about, and find myself spending countless hours trying to learn more about.

In the spring of 2015 I was invited to begin attending meetings with my current employer. During this time we covered topics that were very vague for the SharePoint Strategy team. Assisting the team grasp these concepts using insights I’ve gain through my Master’s of Public Administration program I began assisting our consultants in the process of clearing out the fog of uncertainty. We worked for many weeks answering tough questions, building sustainable policies, and creating a strong structure for our SharePoint platform moving forward.

Currently as an organization we are setting forth to build out the road-map that had been charted earlier this year. As this process continues, I have found many treasures of knowledge that I would like to share with other small companies (250 – 500 employees) using the SharePoint platform. Since I wear many hats on a daily basis you can expect to see topics such as SharePoint 2013, Project Management, SharePoint Administration, Requirements Gathering, Building a Users Group, SharePoint Policy, Data Migration, Workflows, Taxonomy, O365, K2, and more.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions or topics you’d like to see posted.