Alex Franklin continues his blog post series on Information Architecture in SharePoint. This post focuses on search-ability and find-ability in SharePoint and what steps you can take to improve this for your users.Read More
By Alex Franklin
We often find our customers are enthusiastic (or, hopefully, excited!) about introducing SharePoint, as well as the many other facets of Office 365 within their organisations. They understand the great potential it has to re-invigorate their working practices and increase both efficiency and productivity in the workplace.
Once we get through the shiny exterior, and in to the detail, it’s often the case that customers struggle with the underlying architecture associated with their company data, and how it can (or should) be effectively managed to ensure that;
Information is logically and consistently stored
Relationships between data types are created and harmonised
Content is easily retrievable, not just by those “in the know”, but those who are not (for example, new starters) with minimal (if any) training
This article is the introduction to a series of blog posts that we are publishing to help introduce you to the concepts associated with Information Architecture, with a focus on SharePoint and other areas of Office 365. We will cover common challenges and scenarios faced by organisations, and provide guidance for how to effectively plan and implement an infrastructure that not only builds a rock-solid setup for day 1 but does it in a way that can naturally grow along with your organisation. Information changes and your environment should be able to change and adapt in line with those needs.
Topics in this series
Links and descriptions to the various parts of this blog series can be seen below. Links will be added as and when each blog article is published.
Overcoming common frustrations end users have with finding important content easily. Remove the need to unnecessarily extend the time required to find content through personal networks, convoluted user journeys and content duplication by implementing elements like Taxonomy, document versioning and intuitive search.
Building a simplified, intuitive navigation model to ensure the distance and effort of the user journey to key areas or content is kept to a minimum.
Part 4 - Site Structures
The options available to you as an organisation when building out your wider site structure in SharePoint, and the circumstances under which each may be of greater benefit. This includes effective management of the end result to ensure it remains managed and controlled, while still allowing for growth in line with business and user needs.
Part 5 - Security
Important considerations to make when building an effective security model across your information estate, as well as common historical bad habits that should be broken.
Part 6 - Governance
Building your Information Architecture doesn’t stop when you go live. It is essential that on-going management is in place to ensure the rules you have incorporated not only remain adhered to, but are regularly reviewed to ensure that they continue to be relevant to the position of the business.
This blog post will cover the areas to keep in mind, and potential strategies that can be implemented to maintain a tidy, organised architecture that provides the greatest benefit to your users.
Speak to us
A robust Information Architecture is essential to the management and on-going growth of your platform. However, whilst there are principles to follow, remember that there is no single right answer for everyone. What’s important is what’s right for you.
Here at Cielo Costa, we have highly qualified experts, advisors, architects and developers who can help construct and tailor the experience according to your specific business needs. Get in touch with us and find out how we can help.
By Ben Weeks
Here at Cielo Costa, love PowerApps. We use it both internally and externally for our clients. It enables fast application development without the use of full traditional pure “development” tools and skills. This allows for the potential to deliver solutions quicker than traditional pure development projects. However, that’s not to say it’s always the most appropriate technology for a project. From the large number of projects that we have now used PowerApps for, we have drawn up a loose set of rules we use at Cielo Costa when considering the use of PowerApps. Therefore, here are our 5 “golden” rules of when NOT to use PowerApps:
In a little more detail, the rules are as follows:
> 2000 items
If there are likely going to be more than 2000 items that you need to display within the app then consider the use of a different solution. PowerApps allows for the delegation of queries for larger data sets, however, these can be difficult, limiting, and the documentation is lacking (in particular with regards to limitations to SharePoint).
Proceed with caution if there are more than say 50 questions as this can be difficult to maintain (such as the positions of these questions).
More than 5 screens
Proceed with caution if there are going to be more than 5 screens as this can be difficult to maintain (you will end up with repeat logic in the various screens). It can become tricky to maintain a consistent navigation, aligned, and look and feel across multiple screens.
Keep the forms simple. Advanced logic can be difficult to maintain and debug. There are also no easily re-usable functions. You may find with complex apps that as you fix one issue, you create another. Dealing with permissions (e.g. enabling or disabling buttons for users) can be tricky. In addition, it’s not so easy searching and navigating through the app to find the area that needs to be amended. Lastly, the editing experience compared to your usual tools such as say Visual Studio Code can be frustrating.
Application LIFE-CYCLE Management (ALM) required
PowerApps is a power users tool. That is, they can be built by technically savvy users who aren’t necessarily developers. This allows for solutions to be built quickly for the business. However, it does have some limitations if you want to integrate this into the Application Life-cycle Management of a Solution. For example, trying to integrate PowerApps into your release pipelines can be difficult (not all steps can be automated and connections need to be repaired making it time-consuming to do a release). This process may not also be compatible with your power users (as a very development orientated process) and make supporting it slower and more difficult.
At Cielo Costa, PowerApps forms part of our solution, but we don’t as a general rule build all-inclusive “super PowerApps” that contain the whole solution, rather it forms a valuable part of the whole, where we often also make use of Microsoft Teams, Flow, Power BI and SharePoint Framework development. In addition, this will often mean we break down a PowerApps into small components.
It should be noted that PowerApps is a fast-moving development, and I wouldn’t be surprised if these rules will need to be addressed again in the next 6-months (so take the “Golden” with a pinch of salt!).
We would be interested to hear if you are also using PowerApps, and what you deem as the point at which you look to more traditional or other development platforms to complete a application/project.
By Dhruvin Shah
Power BI and SharePoint are products with their own distinct capabilities, advantages and usefulness within business. Power BI being a suite of data analytics tools that provide insight into any organisation’s reporting data. Power BI allows businesses to connect hundreds of data sources, then simplify data visualisation, and potentially evoke ad hoc analysis. SharePoint is a web-based collaborative platform that integrates with Microsoft Office, primarily a document management system, which is highly configurable and variable organisational uses.
From our experience at Cielo Costa working with clients, we have observed that organisations require integration with both products: SharePoint (SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premise), end users or organisations can integrate Power BI reports within SharePoint Online or On-Premise.
Last year Microsoft introduced Power BI web part for SharePoint Online users and for On-Premise versions of SharePoint which they have updated Reporting Services Report Viewer Web part. We have observed that clients were engaged by using their Power BI content within the SharePoint platform and have continually benefited from this programmatic relationship.
Microsoft have a clear and concise road map for Power BI and SharePoint:
Users can integrate Power BI with latest release of SharePoint Server 2019 and SharePoint Online. With Power BI Premium, customers have full support of Paginated report (.rdl), Excel workbooks and Power BI reports.
With the latest update of Power BI, users can easily prepare reports based on the tables available from their Excel spreadsheet or csv files stored via SharePoint Online. End users can select files and open in Power BI to prepare fast and integral visualisations of their reporting data. On top of the extended visualisation capability, users can also ensure updates are reflected in the report automatically, also within the original linked data source.
Part of the road map, Power BI have improved their On-Premise Report server functionality by expanding features like Bookmark and Selection pan from Power BI Desktop features to Power BI Report Server. With the July 2018 Power BI release of PowerShell APIs for the developers and administrators enabling easy management of BI content. For an example, within a large organisation an administrator can manage BI content using Power BI admin centre. With the Power BI PowerShell new possibilities are unlocked for administrators that go beyond what’s currently available in the Power BI Admin Portal. Administrator can manage Reports, Workspace and data set using PowerShell commands.
Microsoft have added recently new features within Power BI:
Incremental Refresh: Instead of refreshing an entire data set, premium users can refresh the data from where it was last refreshed.
Support of Aggregations for Larger data sets: increasing performance and scale-ability of the query performance over a big data.
Report Level Tool tips: enhances end user experience by providing report page or customised tool tip when end user hovers over any report.
Bookmark: Bookmarks in Power BI capture the currently configured view of a report page, including filtering and the state of visuals. Users can also create a collection of bookmarks, arrange them in the order they wish, and represent the story of the report to the end user.
Selection Pane: By combining the Selection Pane feature with Bookmark Pane the features become very useful. For every bookmark in a bookmark pane, Power BI provides one selection pane. Performing a slideshow with the Power BI Desktop, unnecessary visuals can then be hidden with a click to focus on other specific visuals.
Every month Microsoft releases new Power BI features with end user and developer advantages. Refer to the following timeline chart indicating Power BI features and their release month.
In Report Server, Microsoft have supported claims-based authentication which enable systems and applications to authenticate users without requiring the user to disclose additional personal information, such as a social security number or date of birth, that are perhaps more than necessary. Microsoft will also support ADFS and Azure Active Directory support which allow users single sign-on across to the system.
Microsoft supports Power BI and SharePoint integration not only for desktop, it supports mobile platforms such as Android, iOS and Windows. Microsoft has released their mobile updates every month to improve this user experience.
Cielo Costa are a dedicated team of Microsoft Office 365 and Power BI experts that have helped deploy and integrate Office 365 and Power BI solutions within businesses. Refer to Cielo Costa’s case studies to see how Cielo Costa can potentially help your business benefit from Office 365 and the multitude of features that assist business efficiency and success.
With the large amount of benefits that come with an Office 365 subscription, it’s easy to overlook some capabilities that you may be missing out on. In this article, we’ll run through some of these hidden gems to make sure you’re getting the most from your subscription as a user.
In May 2018, SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas Microsoft announced their vision and proposed a timeline for the SharePoint Server 2019:
We will identify the new features released in SharePoint 2019 and how it is possible to utilise these features to improve business processes. The current business climate has been changed, organisations expect their employees to be more collaborative across their working networks and including their own devices without any barriers. Organisations thrive on collaboration, communication, and productivity solutions that are both cost-effective and flexible,
SharePoint Server (SPS) 2019 is designed to help business achieve new levels of reliability and performance, delivering features and capabilities that simplify administration, protect communications and information, and empower users to work across multiple devices and multiple screens.
SharePoint Server 2019 is the next-generation server product, building on SharePoint Server 2016 and investments in Microsoft Office 365. The three-major areas of focus for SharePoint Server 2019 are – Modern User Experience (same as SharePoint Online), Engagement across multiple touch points, robust scale, security and compliance capabilities that meet growing demands.
At Cielo Costa we have observed our clients whom are many legal and finance organisations that do not prefer to utilise cloud capabilities due to security concerns and prefer the system On-Premise solution provided by Microsoft. SharePoint 2019 provides a hybrid SharePoint environment which allows businesses to store sensitive information within their own On-Premise environment and that allows other information to go within cloud storage. We can identify that “Hybrid is just not meant to bring your business to the cloud but to bring cloud to your business”. If a business is looking for the technology where their employees can work together within a collaborative manner, hybrid environment to use Office 365 products, no-code and low-code applications then SharePoint Server 2019 takes the next step with the new capabilities to build new business solutions.
Exploring the new features and capabilities offered by SPS 2019:
Like SharePoint Online, SPS 2019 will allow users to create Modern Communication sites which allow user to use stunning and responsive templates available in Office 365.
Fast site creation:
Compared to older version of SharePoint, creation of the Site Collections and sites is very faster.
Increased storage file size in SharePoint document library: With SPS 2019 users can upload maximum file size 15 GB which was 10 GB in SP 2016.
Modern Lists and Libraries:
SPS 2019 supports Modern List and libraries which increase end users experience.
Modern Sharing Experience:
Users can feel modern sharing experience which is already available in Office 365.
Modern Site Pages, web parts and authoring.
Modern Search experience:
When user type anything they have auto suggestion in search which saves end users time. Office 365 already have this feature. Now, SPS 2019 users can also experience modern search experience.
Modern Team site:
Creation of Modern team site is possible with the new version of SPS 2019.
SharePoint using modern IIS APIs (IIS 7+): SP2016 uses IIS 6 APIs.
With SPS 2019 onwards it uses IIS 7+ APIs. The reason is, if you want to integrate any other third-party APIs which uses IIS 7, it is possible with SPS 2019.
SharePoint Home Page:
It’s a great feature which is supported with SPS 2019 which allow users unified access to all the sites—online and on-premises. Navigation become very easy with SharePoint home Page.
SMTP Authentication for sending email:
All the communications are secured and protected, removing the need for anonymous relays as with previous versions of SharePoint.
File Synchronisation with One Drive Sync Client:
Users can quickly access their documents and any information that they choose to sync from their SharePoint sites, no matter where
they are located.
File Path limit increased to 400 characters.
Allow # and % in file name.
New PowerShell cmdlets for User Profile Sync, SP Application credential key and Content database.
New SharePoint Health Analyzer Rule.
Improvement in Recycle Bin Restore function.
Sharing Email Template.
Telemetry Privacy Experience.
Suite Navigation and App Launcher Improvement.
Additional Documentation Link in Central Admin.
New OneDrive for Business (ODFB) and SharePoint App.
Send Email support for Access Service 2013.
Accessibility of Visio Services.
With the new release of SharePoint Server 2019, Microsoft also suggested migration approaches from the older SharePoint environment. It is possible to perform migration from SharePoint 2016 to SharePoint 2019, however a point to note is for older versions of SharePoint like SP2013 first need to migrate SP 2016 and then SP2019.
Investing in the solution which provides reliability and choice, SharePoint Server 2019 provides flexibility to tailor the deployment based on any unique business need, at now lower costs. Cielo Costa are the forefront of implementation of Office 365 SharePoint capabilities, with a team of dedicated consultants and developers who assist businesses on-boarding and effectively using SharePoint throughout their organisation.
Cielo Costa provides future proof Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 suite specific solutions for any organisation, which are designed by our senior and experienced developers and Microsoft solution architects.Read More