Keynote video: Understanding metadata

This is the 2nd in a series of blog posts dedicated to sharing favorite speeches from previous conferences/events. This week I’m sharing Ruven Gotz’s session Understanding Metadata – Working with stakeholders to build the taxonomy. Ruven delivered this session at the 2011 SHARE conference in Sydney, Australia. It explains what metadata is, why it’s important and how you can explain it to your stakeholders. Consider it your metadata 101 course that covers everything from hamsters to soup cans.

The formal session abstract and speaker bio are included at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

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Session abstract:

When it comes to defining the site columns and content types for a project, the first step is to help your stakeholders understand the ‘what and the why’ of metadata so that they can picture how they are going to organise the documents.

Once this is accomplished, you can start to inventory the types of documents that are going to live in SharePoint and then explain the function of content types and site columns.

This presentation will explore some methods that have proven to be successful for explaining these concepts and then organising the taxonomy.

See how to use tools that help users to inventory their documents and capture the metadata (and how to identify the right metadata). You will see how to conduct workshops that help you and your clients to organise this information and then document the taxonomy in a form that can be shared, reviewed and easily modified.

At the final stages, you will see how the required document libraries begin to emerge as part of this process.

Ruven’s speaker bio:

With over 20 years of IT industry experience, Ruven has spent the past seven years delivering award-winning SharePoint solutions for a wide range of clients. As a Business Analyst and Information Architect, Ruven is able to apply his education and experience in Psychology, Computer Science, Economics, Software Development and Training to solve complex problems. He has become a leader in the use of visual tools to help his clients and team members achieve shared understanding of problems and goals and shared commitment towards implementing a successful solution.

Keynote video: Earning the right to seek executive SharePoint support

I’m starting a new blog post series to share some of my favorite keynote speeches from past conferences/events. First on the list is Michael Sampson’s session Success with SharePoint: Earning the right to seek executive support, which was presented at the 2012 SHARE conference held in Atlanta. Michael did a fantastic job on this presentation–he explains why pleas for executive SharePoint support fail and provides guidance on how to change your approach. Some of my favorite one-liners from the session are:

  • “Success is 90% people, 10% technology.”
  • You have to build credibility with your executives. Stop being the excited teenager.
  • You have to earn the right to talk to your executives about SharePoint.

The formal session abstract and speaker bio are included at the bottom of this post. Enjoy!

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Here’s the abstract for this session:

Many IT departments have installed SharePoint and are now wondering how to make the technology deliver business value. A quick answer is often to seek executive support, but before rushing to do so, there are a number of critical disciplines that need to be put in place to earn the right for making this approach.

The keynote will present the roadmap to success with SharePoint, and the role of executive support in transforming SharePoint into a place where great business gets done.

Lessons: – Having the technology available is a common place to start, but you can’t stay there forever – Success with SharePoint involves following a roadmap to success, including vision, governance, engagement, and user adoption – Executives have a role to play in the roadmap to success, but you have to earn the right to seek their support

And here is Michael’s speaker bio:

Michael Sampson is a collaboration strategist. His passion is helping organizations to make collaboration work, when their employees have to work together effectively and efficiency while separated by distance and time. Michael advises end-user organizations in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, and Europe.  He holds an MCom with first class honors in telecommunications-based IT, from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.  Michael is the author of four books on collaboration strategy—Collaboration Roadmap, User Adoption Strategies, SharePoint Roadmap for Collaboration, and Seamless Teamwork.  His blog can be found at and you can follow him on Twitter: @collabguy

Don’t forget to SHARE!

In my last post, I talked about the road to becoming a SharePoint speaker. As SharePoint’s popularity continues to grow, the number and variety of SharePoint user groups, events and conferences has exploded. Whether you’re an IT Pro, a SharePoint developer or an end-user focused on business process automation, there’s a SharePoint event designed for you. The key (and the challenge) is finding the events and conferences that fit your niche.

My niche is leveraging SharePoint to drive business value. From business process re-engineering solutions to studying the latest trends in user adoption and governance, my focus is on business engagement. One of the reasons I love attending SHARE conferences is their dedication to building events exclusively for business users like me. With focus areas like change management, training/resource management, information architecture, workflows & business process automation and social business, these events are dedicated to helping users design and build a business case/roadmap for SharePoint success.

This year I’m speaking at two SHARE events–SHARE Johannesburg in March and SHARE Atlanta in April. I’ll be delivering the following four sessions over the course of both conferences:

  • Escaping the land of confusion: How to create effective business process solutions in SharePoint
  • In search of the SharePoint tipping point
  • De-Mystifying ROI calculation for SharePoint
  • SharePoint doesn’t have to be hard: Setting the stage for SHARE success

The recurring theme through all of these sessions is Do something. Don’t sit back waiting for someone to give you permission to try something new. If you have an idea, go after it. The mere act of starting something increases your chances of being successful. For more on this “do something” theme, check out Seth Godin’s blog post “Reject the tyranny of being picked: pick yourself.”

And if you’re a SharePoint business user, don’t miss your chance to register for a SHARE conference near you. I look forward to seeing you there!

Don’t miss your chance to win the Golden Lifeguard Award

If you’re a SharePoint governance pro, you have to check out Axceler’s new Golden Lifeguard Award. The award “honors an individual or a team that has conceived, developed and defined best practices around governance that resulted in a notable increase in security and compliance within their SharePoint environment.”

All award submissions will be evaluated by a team of judges, including myself, Michael Pisarek, Susan Hanley, Ruven Gotz, Veronique Palmer, David Rubinstein and Owen Allen. The winner will be unveiled at a gala event on November 14th at the Tryst nightclub in the Wynn Resort during the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas.

To submit an award nomination, go to: There is no cost to submit, and you do not have to be an Axceler customer to participate.

The nomination deadline is October 18, 2012.

SharePoint Fest Chicago 2012 recap

Last week I had a whirlwind trip to Chicago for SharePoint Fest Chicago 2012. This was my first time attending a SharePoint Fest event, but I really enjoyed its blend of business and technical sessions. I was also impressed with the attendance–the sold-out event had 350+ attendees and a huge array of community/ISV sponsors. Here’s a quick breakdown of the sessions I attended:

  • Revolutionizing your organization with SharePoint 2013 – Dux Raymond Sy
    Dux never disappoints, and his opening keynote was fantastic. He did a great job highlighting upcoming 2013 features and made a solid case that to stop being an IT toy, SharePoint has to be implemented successfully by the business.
  • Be the “Find It” Super Hero – Chris Geier
    Chris’ session offered a couch-to-success plan for using enterprise content types, managed metadata services (including terms, term sets, etc.), information management policies and the content organizer.
  • Creating Reusable & Transportable Workflows in SharePoint Designer 2010 – Asif Rehmani
    Asif’s training sessions are ALWAYS fantastic. He does a great job explaining technical concepts to a wide variety of audiences/knowledge levels. Two of my favorite demos from this session were implementing Parallel Blocks within workflows and using Visio as a workflow modeling tool.
  • A Pragmatist’s Guide to Designing Enterprise Content Types – Chris Beckett
     This was my first time meeting Chris, but I enjoyed his practical guide to analyzing and organizing content. And yes, I was thrilled to raise my hand when he asked for any “lone wolf” librarians that happened to be in attendance. Frankly, I’m surprised I don’t run into more librarians in the SharePoint community. SharePoint’s feature set and focus on content management, enterprise content management, managed metadata, structured content, business process automation and taxonomy/folksonomy management are a natural fit for our time and talent.
  • SharePoint in Practice: 15 Real World SharePoint Solutions that Drive Business Value – Ross Freedman
    Prepare for the tidal wave! This session was jam-packed with examples of successful SharePoint solutions. From New Balance’s new corporate intranet to Medtronic’s collaboration platform designed to connect scientists from around the world, this session showed (in living color) what SharePoint success looks like. Very interesting.
  • Creating Data-Centric Composite Applications Using SharePoint Designer 2010 – Asif Rehmani
    This session was all about the XSLT List View Web Part and the XSLT Data View Web Part. Asif provided background context on where they came from (yes, think Front Page 2003) and how they’ve evolved, while incorporating some great demos to show their power and versatility.
  • Hypermiling with SharePoint Data Protection – Sean McDonough
    I snuck into several of Sean’s sessions at this conference. (My farm admin would have been so proud!) Sean is an excellent presenter, but he gets the hero award for being able to teach hyermiling, disaster recovery and the joys of caching to a librarian.

I also delivered my De-Mystifying ROI calculation for SharePoint session at the conference. I had a great interactive audience, and really appreciate Dennis and Chris for sitting up near the front and serving as my session victims (uh….I mean volunteers). For those of you that are interested, I’ve posted an excerpt of my slides to SlideShare. Check them out below.

And no conference would be complete without a mention of the many SharePoint experts that I feel privileged to call friends. Thanks to Wes Preston, Sean McDonough, Richard Harbridge, Doug Hemminger, Chris Geier, Liam Cleary, Kim Frehe, Jeff Willinger and Dux Raymond Sy for the insights, the laughs and the late-night root bear floats.

SharePoint Fest Chicago is coming soon!

I’m thrilled to be heading to Chicago in September to speak at SharePoint Fest. David Wilhelm and the rest of the leadership team have put together a packed schedule, with 75+ sessions in 10 different tracks. Come to the event to attend sessions on:

  • Enterprise Content management (ECM)
  • Social SharePoint
  • Power Users
  • Workflow
  • Search
  • Business Value
  • Governance, Taxonomy & Architecture
  • Infrastructure & Administration
  • Developer
  • SharePoint 2013

I’ll be attending sessions in several tracks, but am also looking forward to delivering Business Value session #102 – De-mystifying ROI Calculation for SharePoint. Here’s the abstract for my session:

ROI is a “fancy” acronym for Return on Investment. While ROI implies success, it usually involves mysterious mathematical formulas that many people can’t see or understand. So how does an everyday SharePoint business owner tackle the ROI puzzle? Do you just “flip the switch” on your implementation and move on? Or are you so busy with post-launch support that you don’t have time to circle back and quantify your results?

This session will help you demonstrate the business value for your SharePoint implementation. We’ll examine common ROI calculation methodologies while providing strategies for identifying your ROI niche and quantifying the business value of your SharePoint implementation.

The session will set the stage for an interactive discussion about ROI–how it can be measured, standardized and communicated. If you’re interested in seeing the session live, register for SharePoint Fest. Use the Haase discount code to register and you’ll save $100!

#SHARE2012 Conference Recap

Last week I was in Atlanta at the SHARE conference. There aren’t many events that would inspire a 3:30 am wake-up call to catch a flight, but SHARE conferences are the exception! Designed strictly for SharePoint business users, SHARE provides a unique opportunity to learn from SharePoint practitioners embedded in active business teams.

While The Eventful Group has had great success holding SHARE conferences in Australia and South Africa, this was the first U.S.-based SHARE event. To ensure the mix of sessions and topics was bang-on, The Eventful Group hosted a series of focus groups and information gathering sessions. Based on the feedback they received, The Eventful Group built the SHARE conference around several key topic areas:

  • Governance
  • Information Architecture
  • Search
  • Training
  • User Adoption
  • Realizing the Value of SharePoint (my personal favorite)
  • Executive Sponsorship
  • Culture & Enterprise Change Management
  • Enterprise Content Management
  • etc.

While the conference included fabulous industry experts (Ruven Gotz, Dux Raymond Sy, Sue Hanley, Jeremy Thake, Richard Harbridge, Adam Quinn, Christian Buckley, Ramin Mobasseri, Bonnie Surma, Michael Sampson, etc.), it also afforded the opportunity to meet new SharePoint business folks from across the country. With case studies from companies like Siemens, Del Monte, eBay, Turner Broadcasting, Nielsen, Diebold and National Gypsum, I was able to see and learn how many of my peers are implementing SharePoint successfully at their organizations.

Here are some of my favorite one-liners & key messages from the event:

  • “Start with a solution that solves a problem” – Sue Hanley
  • Governance in 3 words: “No Sharp Edges” – Sue Hanley
  • It’s not enough to have a governance plan. It must be CONSUMABLE – Sue Hanley
  • Executives vs. SharePoint believers: We don’t talk the same language and we have different goals. – Michael Sampson
  • “Success is 90% people, 10% technology.” – Michael Sampson
  • You have to build credibility with your executives. Stop being the excited teenager.  – Michael Sampson
  • You have to earn the right to talk to your executives about SharePoint – Michael Sampson
  • Make user adoption FUN: “SharePointober-fest! (Inebriate while you Collaborate)” – Scott Smith
  • Blogs are the breeding ground for thought leadership. Read and comment on other’s blogs. – Jonathan Lightfoot
  • “Governance = Balance. Balance between the wants of end users and the regulations of how to use the tool.” – Adam Quinn
  • “Aim to provide Order and Enablement.” – Adam Quinn

I also had the good fortune to present a few sessions at this event. My track session “Turning the Tide: From Chaos to Clarity” went very well–right up until I nearly killed myself (and everyone else) by getting too close to the audio speaker. I still have a faint ringing in my right ear…

The governance panel I participated in with Richard Harbridge, Sue Hanley and Adam Quinn was also well-received. Jeremy Thake did a GREAT job moderating the discussion and several of the attendees commented afterwards that the session was very useful.

My last session was the event’s closing keynote. While I love the topic (session title = “It Doesn’t Take A Miracle: Driving Successful User Adoption”), I quickly realized it isn’t easy being the happy hour prequel. The attendees were fantastic, though. By the close of the session, we were all looking to find the “first follower” that would transform us from being the lone SharePoint nut to the SharePoint leader at our organization!

A big thank you to The Eventful Group for including me in this event. It was great to meet, connect and learn from new friends (Ryan Mattison, Wendy Neal, Zuri Stanback, Charles McCann, Jovan Breckenridge, Daniel Patton, et. al.). And with a hotel room on the 45th floor of the Marriott Marquis, the conference even afforded me some time to work on my fear of heights!

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SHARE conference recap

I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the 2nd annual SHARE conference in Sydney this week. Put simply, this was one of the best events I’ve ever attended. The Eventful Group thought of everything, providing a great venue, outstanding business-centric sessions, fabulous support for all the speakers and great follow-through for all the attendees. A big thanks to Vanessa, Ali, Renee and Jason for making this a fun and memorable event! 

The conference also some of the best SharePoint one-liners I’ve heard. Here are some of my favorites:

  • “When you had a baby, did you budget for food for only the first year? No! Just like kids, SharePoint requires an investment year over year.” — Garth Luke (AvePoint)
  • “Build the fence but don’t scare the herd.” – Joe Snyder (VGT)
  • Definition of a cowboy project: “I’ll start coding. You go find out what they want.”  – Ruven Gotz (Navantis)

I had the opportunity present two sessions at this conference–including my first keynote. Thanks to everyone that attended my sessions! I also had the opportunity to meet a ton of news folks from the land Down Under. These people are engaged and passionate about building out the best SharePoint solutions possible, and I enjoyed talking with all of them. One of the highlights was meeting a fellow librarian-turned-SharePoint-guru. Fabulous! A special callout to Michael Sampson, Andrew Jolly, Paul Culmsee, Deborah Gotz and Michelle Goodwin. Thanks for the laughs, the flowers and the Vegemite! 

I also got to spend time with some of my favorite international SharePoint speakers, including Veronique Palmer, Richard Harbridge, Ruven Gotz, Jerry Smith, Joe Snyder and Ramin Mobasseri. See if you can guess “who’s who” in the Share-feet pic posted below!

For more on the sessions I attended and key lessons learned, see the session-by-session recap below. Pics from the event are included at the bottom of the post.

We’ve Installed SharePoint – Staff Will Just Use By Instinct Because It’s Intuitive (by Veronique Palmer). Veronique did a great job highlighting the need for user adoption strategies and end-user training. She also outlined the need for a SharePoint evangelist to promote business use. Ideally, these evangelists come from inside the business (as opposed to being hired fresh into the role). The evangelist’s existing business knowledge and contacts enable them to maximize influence and have the most widespread impact. Veronique usually finds natural evangelists when they attend her end-user training classes. She then works with the management team to build a formal or informal evangelist job description/role.

Helping Users Solve Business Problems – Not Providing a One Size Solution to Everything (by Scott Thomson). Scott did a great job summarizing his team’s approach to SharePoint 2003, 2007 and 2010. There were 2 important points I took from this presentation:

  1. We need to acknowledge that while we have changed due to being here (at the SHARE conference), we will return to offices where everyone else has remained the same. We need to take what we’ve learned while being aware that we must be the catalyst for change.
  2. Consider leaving some features unsupported instead of disabling them altogether. This will allow some enterprising users to experiment and make use of key features without leaving you on the hook for supporting everything.

Dynamic leadership in a crisis (by Peter Baines). Peter did a great job with this motivational session, highlighting ten key leadership qualities:

  1. Move quickly. You can’t wait to step in until you have all the questions answered and things are well-defined.
  2. Act with sensitivity.
  3. Act with an awareness of cultural diversity.
  4. You need structure.
  5. Don’t overcalculate things. Lead with simplicity. Act with good intent and integrity. Even if you make the wrong decision, you won’t be weak. Don’t fail to make a decision out of fear you may be wrong.
  6. Understand the value of leadership presence. It ensures your teams can’t say that you don’t care or that you don’t know what is happening.
  7. When you want to motivate people, find out what they’re passionate about and buy into it with integrity.
  8. Results, not excuses.
  9. If you want to make long-term change, you have to make a long-term investment.
  10. Courage is in making hard decisions and living with the outcomes.

Building a Robust Framework for Social Networking at Work (by Ramin Mobasseri). Ramin provided great insight into eBay’s enterprise social networking (ESN) initiative. Their motivations were clear–a dedication to better employee productivity and increased employee retention. Their primary use cases for ESN included:

  • Streamlined communication
  • Network with colleagues
  • Find an expert
  • Social learning
  • News streams
  • Broadcasting
  • Social media
  • Idea management
  • Content aggregation
  • Onboarding
  • Microblogging
  • Mentorship

Key functions of their ESN approach include:

  • Two search textboxes on their Intranet–one for searching on people and another for searching “everything else”
  • Development of an iPhone app that enables employees to search on people, events, facility maps and conference rooms
  • Social networking one-stop shopping, including the ability to post a status update on the company Intranet that will simultaneously post updates to Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer, etc. Very cool!

Cleaning up Decades of Information Sprawl at Santos – From Document Mess to SharePoint 2010 (by Kartic Kapur). The folks from Santos have done some great work retooling for SharePoint 2010 and driving end-user adoption. Some of their key drivers for business engagement included:

  • Recording a video with their CEO to get top-down motivation for SharePoint onboarding
  • Looking for change champions already embedded within the business.
  • Talking with managers to formalize change champion roles. This ensures that champions get time to focus on SharePoint and recognition for their efforts.
  • Holding content migration parties.
  • Hiring new college grads to be extra sets of tagging hands at content migration parties.
  • Creating marketing postcards. (While these cards looked great, they failed miserably. Kartic’s recommendation is to study your corporate culture first and then determine what kind of marketing will work. Don’t just blindly create marketing materials.)

SharePoint Governance Home Truths (by Paul Culmsee). This was my first opportunity to see Paul present, and I was blown away. He gave a flawless presentation that clearly summarized the classical SharePoint governance challenge. He took it several steps farther, however, outlining the “platitude trap” that many SharePoint leaders find themselves mired in. I got so engrossed in Paul’s session I failed to take adequate notes. A travesty, I know…

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For – Collaboration – The AGL Experience (by Michelle Goodwin). Michelle was one of the funniest and most engaging speakers I saw this week. Just call her “the hammer!”

Effective SharePoint Workshops – From Requirements to Roadmap and Wireframes to Workflow (by Ruven Gotz). As always, Ruven shines! His closing keynote finished the conference off on a high note, outlining key strategies for engaging with end-users and defining effective requirements. Ruven’s mantra is “Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity.” The goal is to hear (directly from the end-users) all the requirements during the information gathering process. Then work with the management team to prioritize the requests. Some requests will fall into Phase 1. Some will fall into Phase X while others fall into Phase Never. But the key is listening to and gathering all the requirements. This draws people into the process and ensures they are fully engaged.

Ruven also did a great job highlighting key software tools he uses, including MindManager from Mindjet for mapping out taxonomy/information classification and Balsamiq for building wireframes. Both of these tools have strong visual impacts, enabling you to make the most out of your requirements gathering sessions so you can deliver (and get quick feedback on) your wireframes.

Helping Users Embrace SharePoint: Strategies for User Adoption (by Michael Sampson). Michael did a great job leading this full-day post-conference workshop. He presented a series of jigsaw puzzle pieces you can use to engage your users and build a user adoption strategy. Also included were key guidelines around valuing your SharePoint investment, including an annual satisfaction survey that focused on year-over-year calculations for measuring resistance, tolerance, exploration and advocation.

An amazing opportunity (subtitle: Sydney, here I come!)

I was in La Jolla, California last March, speaking at the 2011 Best Practices Conference. Conference day 1 dawned and I woke up at 4 am with a horrible sore throat. I went back to bed in denial and woke up 2 hours later feeling even worse. Sore throat, head spinning, you know the drill. Eventually I managed to get it together and head down to breakfast. After a bit, Ruven Gotz stopped by to introduce me to Steve Morris. We chatted for a few minutes, got acquainted and discussed some common interestes around information architecture, taxonomies, business process automation, ROI, etc.. We parted ways and had a great conference (despite my cold).

After I’d been back home for a few weeks, I received a call from Steve Morris about speaking at the SHARE conference in Sydney, Australia. I started working with Steve’s colleagues at The Eventful Group and learned what a great job they do organizing these conferences. The team spends months talking to business users to find out what their unanswered SharePoint questions are. They distill all these conversations into a series of target themes for the event and work tirelessly to find the right mix of speakers and topics to address these key themes. The results are amazing, with The Eventful Group winning the prestigious “Best Asia Pacific Conference 2010” award for its inaugural SHARE 2010 conference in Sydney.

The Eventful Group has done it again, building an amazing conference schedule for this November. The upcoming SHARE conference will feature notable experts Veronique Palmer, Ruven Gotz and Richard Harbridge. These folks inspire me to think and do better every day, and I am both honored and humbled to be presenting alongside them. Here are the abstracts for the 2 sessions I’ll be delivering:

Keynote presentation: “Turning the Tide: From Chaos to Clarity”

Has your SharePoint implementation gone rogue? Do you suffer from uncontrollable site sprawl and a lack of business user/site owner knowledge? Do you want to implement a stronger Governance model, but aren’t sure how to get started?

This presentation examines how a large electronics retailer is changing the course of its SharePoint implementation. Gone are the days of unchecked site growth and using SharePoint as just an online file repository. The new focus is on best practices, granular data management, workfl ow automation, using SharePoint as a business process re-engineering tool and documenting ROI (Return On Investment). We are building an array of knowledgeable site owners and site collection administrators that understand the depth and breadth of SharePoint’s feature set so they can guide business users through decisions on when and how to build their sites/site collections.

  • Where we came from and how we evolved our vision of SharePoint success
  • The opportunities and challenges that come from working in an innovation-focused environment
  • How a few individuals with some “different” ideas can change the landscape
  • How we built our plan for change and achieved management and business user buy-in

You will leave this presentation with a clear understanding of where we started and how we’re changing our trajectory. You’ll also walk away with tips and tricks for completing this type of metamorphosis in your own organisation.

Breakout session: “De-Mystifying ROI Calculation for SharePoint”

ROI is a “fancy” acronym for Return On Investment.

While ROI implies success, it usually involves mysterious mathematical formulas that many people can’t see or understand. So how does an everyday SharePoint business owner tackle the ROI puzzle? Do you just “flip the switch” on your implementation and move on? Or are you so busy with post-launch support that you don’t have time to circle back and quantify your results?

This presentation will help you demonstrate the business value for your SharePoint implementation. We’ll examine common ROI calculation methodologies while providing strategies for identifying your ROI niche and quantifying the business value of your SharePoint implementation.

  • A definition of ROI – along with details on how it can change your life!
  • Common methods for valuing your SharePoint implementation
  • Real-life SharePoint implementation examples (along with their resulting ROI)
  • A detailed roadmap for designing, constructing and validating your own ROI methodology
  • Ideas for engaging business users and management 

Want to learn more about the upcoming SHARE conference in Sydney? Visit the web site at

SPC11 – The progressive blog post

In about 48 hours I’ll be boarding a plane to head to Anaheim, CA for Microsoft’s SharePoint Conference 2011. Next week won’t feature much sleep, but it will include some great presentations and the chance to reconnect with old (and new) SharePoint folks. What I’m looking forward to most, however, is the energy of the event–the excitement and the enthusiasm of people who are willing to look at technology in new ways.

Rather than doing a conference recap after I return home from the event, I’m going to do a progressive blog post during the course of the week. Here’s the opening entry:

Friday, 9/30 (conference countdown)

Fred Baer, Matt Ruderman and I locked down the last changes for our SPC presentation this week. We’re presenting on Thursday, 10/6/2011 from 10:30 – 11:45 am. The title of our session is “True Business and IT Partnership: Best Buy Governance and SharePoint 2010.” Our session tells the story of SharePoint at Best Buy–where we came from, the challenges we’ve faced and how we’re succeeding. We’re passionate about what we do, and hope you all enjoy the session!

I’m also trying to square away some of the evening events for next week. I’ll likely be attending events hosted by RBA Consulting, Metalogix, K2, etc. as well as going to the Disneyland event on Tuesday night. Don’t tell my kids!

Sunday, 10/2 (travel to Anaheim)

Yep, we may have been cursed. Everything looked good when we got to the airport and onto the plane, but a missing “radio 2” (whatever that is) prevented us from leaving on time. After sitting on the plane for nearly 3 hours, we were asked to deplane. The initial word was bad–no open seats on any other flights to Los Angeles until Monday. Fortunately, we were able to get on a Sun Country flight to San Diego. Unfortunately, my checked bag was still on the plane headed for Denver–which was now rolling back from the gate!

Thanks to a quick yell from me (and a quick-thinking Frontier agent), they were able to stop the plane long enough to find my bag. We retrieved my bag from baggage claim and jumped on the light rail over to the other airport terminal to catch our backup flight. We’re feeling optimistic at this point…..we’re going to make it! And then we get to the Sun Country ticket counter and find out that our newly-bought tickets haven’t cleared the security hurdles yet.

We get that squared away and we’re off to go through security again. By the time we got to our second gate we’re tired and hungry. And then they announce that our plane hasn’t arrived yet so we’ll be facing a small delay. Ugh!

Finally, we take off at about 3:45 pm. This is only 5 hours after our first flight was scheduled to depart. The flight to San Diego was uneventful, though. We got our bags and our rental car, and we were on our way to Anaheim! Three hours (and miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic later), we pull up to the Anaheim Hilton just in time to register before the 9 pm cutoff. All in all, we made a 8 hour trip in just over 14 hours.

The biggest disappoint was missing the SharePoint Salon dinner tonight with Ruven Gotz, Sue Hanley, et. al. Sigh.

Monday, 10/3 (conference opener)

After a short few hours of sleep, we’re up and ready to kick things off today. They did a great job kicking off the keynote. They talked about SharePoint’s growth as a platform, pointing out that if SharePoint were Microsoft’s only product they’d still rank in the top 50 software providers in the world. (Cool stat.) Jared Spataro also shared some love with the broader SharePoint community, calling out the grassroots SharePoint user groups and SharePoint Saturday events being held worldwide. It’s great to see the support Microsoft is giving these events. The remainder of the keynote included some cameo comedic appearances by Florence Henderson, Alan Thicke, Carmen Electra and Luke Perry as well as customer vignettes highlighting how Spacex and eBay are using SharePoint.

The rest of the day went well. I attended 2 sessions:

  • Karuana Gatimu’s “Oranges, Rocket Ships and Six Pack Abs – What your SharePoint Corporate Portal is lacking”
  • Tricia Mercaldo’s “How Turner Broadcasting System Turned On Employee Engagement with SharePoint 2010.”

I particularly like the Turner session. They did a good job showing how they’ve built temlate solutions for a diverse set of business groups. They’ve also built a well-rounded SharePoint team from scratch. And rather than going out and hiring SharePoint experts they’ve taken internal candidates and taught them SharePoint. Interesting approach, and it is clearly working for them.

Tonight featured a Microsoft event at Tortilla Joe’s in Downtown Disney. I got to spend time with folks from Hallmark, Thrivent Financial, 3M, Medtronic, Ameriprise, etc. and discuss SharePoint, wikis, ROI calculations and SharePoint Saturday. Great learning opportunity!

Tuesday, 10/4 (conference day 2)

I was up early again today, gearing up to attend several sessions. Of particular interest was Susan Hanley’s session on “Measuring the Value of Your SharePoint 2010 Investments.” All too often, we fail to loop back to our launched SharePoint projects and evaluate their worth. Susan presented a compelling case for doing the leg work and building your SharePoint valuation model while also providing a set of guidelines for getting started. I also love Susan’s “Don’t take it away” metric. She recommends sending your end-users a survey that (among other things) asks users whether the new SharePoint solution should be kept in place. If more than 66% of the user base answers “yes” to the “don’t take it away” question, you have a solution that WORKS and should be measured.

Want to know more? Check out Susan’s web site ( and download a copy of her new white paper “A Practical Framework for SharePoint Metrics.” It provides a deep dive on all the elements discussed in today’s session, from collecting user stories to recording serious anecdotes with dollar-value punchlines.

I attended several other sessions today as well. Here are some of my favorite sound bites:

  • “Is your SharePoint balloon out of control?” (Dave Martin, SPC109)
  • “Your organization doesn’t have a test farm? No. You don’t have a production farm” (Dan Holme, SPC224)
  • “User adoption is not always equal to measured success” (Susan Hanley, SPC248)
  • “You don’t want to be working on a sideshow project. You want to be part of the main event” (Susan Hanley, SPC248)
  • “What have you done for me lately” (Susan Hanley, SPC248)


After a full day of attending sessions and learning in the hands-on lab and exhibit hall, it was off to dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse and on to the evening event at Disneyland. My only mistake was going on Splash Mountain too early in the evening. Even folks from Minnesota get cold walking around Disneyland soaking wet in 55-degree weather!




Wednesday, 10/5 (conference day 3)

I was thrilled to be able to catch up with Don Zielke from AEP over breakfast this morning. Don and I met at the 2009 Best Practices Conference in Reston, VA. He is an incredibly smart SharePoint-er and someone I’m privileged to know!

After breakfast, we headed to Nikos Anagnostou and Lesly Goh’s session on “Best Practices from the field: Managing corporate metadata and taxonomies with SharePoint 2010.” Being a librarian and taxonomy fanatic, this session was right up my alley. While I can’t begin to share all the great information covered in this session, here are some of my favorite bits:

  • Use of card sorting and taxonomy arrangement exercises to aid in the building of initial taxonomies
  • Taxonomy design best-practices (including the need to start shallow with 2-3 layers):20111007-224914.jpg
  • Breakdown of managed metadata components in SharePoint 2010:
  • Overview of taxonomy benefits & best practices:

I attended a couple of other sessions Wednesday afternoon, including SPC230, where Sindie Henson-Pugsley gave an overview of Hallmark’s new Retail Connect site. They were able to complete a site redesign in an abbreviated window, complete with information architecture, site design, distributed security trimming, etc. I was most impressed with Hallmark’s attention to content ownership, however. According to Sindie, every piece of content on Hallmark’s Retail Connect site has an owner, a content lifecycle, a primary home and a set of standards.

Wednesday night I attended RBA Consulting’s event at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. They had a great mix of attendees, including folks from Cargill, 3M, Best Buy, Polaris, etc. I was able to do some networking and talk with Jared Spataro about our upcoming ScarePoint Saturday on 10/29. Sweet!

I capped off the evening with a stop at the ESPN Zone for SharePint, catching up with Jennifer Mason, Don Zielke, Raymond Mitchell, Mark Miller and Sean McDonough. Sean is one of my favorite SharePoint folks (and a speaker we want to have back for SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities), so it was great to catch up.

Thursday, 10/6 (conference day 4)

Today was the BIG day–our Best Buy session (SPC297) was up at 10:30 am. We had a packed room and some excellent questions from the audience. Here’s a quick overview of the details covered in our session:

  • Best Buy culture (including our key passions, what drives us, and how that impacts our approach to SharePoint)
  • The good, the bad and the ugly of our experience with MOSS 2007
  • Future state: the vision, the strategy and the decimation of file repositories with SharePoint 2010

There was a plethora of tweets during our session (hashtag #spc297). Here are some of my favorite quotes:

  • “SharePoint 2010 is a big carrot and stick that drives governance” (@avisuj)
  • “We learn more from what made you say “Duh! Can’t believe we did that” in your case study. Thanks, Best Buy” (@mikegil)
  • “There are 3 ways to implement SharePoint: Invasion, Infiltration or Both”
  • “Sometimes you don’t need Stonehenge. Styrofoamhenge will do”
  • “Just like you can’t tell someone their kids are ugly, you can’t tell them their file repositories are going away”

I believe Fred Baer wins the award for the most-quoted speaker at SPC11. He is the master of legos, styrofoamhenge and not telling people their kids are ugly. I so enjoy working with you, my friend! Another huge callout to Matt Ruderman, Howard Friedman, Avi Sujeeth and our Best Buy Canada folks for their company on this journey. It was a fantastic experience!

Once the conference was over, it was time for some much-needed downtime. I had a fantastic dinner on the patio at Tortilla Jo’s with Tamara Bredemus, Sarah Oakland, Angela Spores, Don Zielke and Melanie Zakariasen from Medtronic. After some shopping, dancing and drinks at the House of Blues, it was time to pack and get ready to come back home.

Friday, 10/7 (the “we don’t want a 14-hour trip home” day)

So Wes Preston likes to arrive at the airport early. And he likes to make sure the suitcases are packed into the shuttle “correctly.” These are only a couple of new things I got to learn on this trip 🙂 Fortunately, our trip home was anticlimatic. Everything went as expected and we touched down in Minneapolis at 6 pm on Friday night.

I can’t begin to call out everyone that I was excited to see at SPC11, but let’s start with Veronique Palmer, Ruven Gotz, Sean McDonough, Lori Gowin, Mark Miller, Susan Hanley, Don Zielke, Jennifer Mason, Laura Rogers, Joel Baglien, Chris Geier, Bill English, April Wyland, Tamara Bredemus, Sarah Oakland, Richard Harbridge and Jay O’Hara. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon!