Article: Today’s Platform Decisions

Development today is different than it was even 10 years ago.  There’s the obvious shift towards JavaScript – for which there has been much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  However, those changes are just the first layer of the onion.  Behind that are the questions of which platform or library you should use to build a solution.  Do you build the solution yourself with a good probability of knowing when you’ll be done or do you look for a shortcut to possibly get a better solution done quicker.  That’s the build vs. buy decision of today.  It’s not about whether we’re buying off the shelf software or whether we’re developing it – but rather how much of it we’re developing.

What Platform Are You Standing On?

When you use the word platform in a development context the quick assumption is that we’re talking about operating systems.  In other words, the assumption is the question of whether the platform is Windows, Linux, Mac OS, iOS, Android, Windows Phone.  However, there’s more to it than that.  If you’re building a solution today there’s more than just base level operating system platform services that you may want.

A platform may come in the form of a prepackaged software solution that is designed to be extended – like Microsoft SharePoint – or it can come in the form of one of the libraries that have been developed to be plugged in and used by developers.  The key question to think about is why you should adopt a platform or a framework – and when doesn’t that make sense.

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Article: Size and Scale of SharePoint 2013 in the Desert

At the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2012 being held in the desert in Las Vegas, NV, there’s a lot of talk about how SharePoint has grown up. At 11 years (77 in dog years), SharePoint’s grown older and wiser. Instead of being seen as a departmental solution to collaboration needs it’s an enterprise-scale platform for creating content solutions.

Looks like Rain

New in SharePoint 2013 are a host of new features that make multi-tenancy easier, and pushes controls further towards the users.  The ability to configure search settings at a site-level makes it easier for organizations to allow departments to customize their own search experiences.  This is just one example of how SharePoint is making it more powerful for clients who are using shared hosting to customize their experience.

Microsoft’s own Office 365 environment will create a real option for organizations to do their SharePoint collaboration in the cloud.  It’s a big bet that organizations are willing – and able – to make the jump to the cloud for at least some of their collaboration needs.

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Article: 5 Steps to Take after a SharePoint Debacle

A fresh start means a clean stop, a frank assessment, and a good deal of recalibration before you try moving forward again.

The train is off the tracks. Your users hate SharePoint, and they refuse to use it. You know the organization needs an intranet and a collaboration platform, but how do you get back on track and rolling again? Here are five steps for getting to your goal.

1. Stop

It’s really difficult to evaluate a situation as it’s changing and as more energy is being poured into it. If the train is off the tracks and skidding on its side, stop the engines and let it come to a screeching halt. Once the train is back on the tracks, you can get it moving again—in the right direction.

2. Honest assessment 

Step 4 of a 12-step program is making a “fearless and searching moral inventory.” Openly assessing what went wrong in your SharePoint implementation won’t be gut-wrenching, but it’s likely to hurt. The politics of the situation—with everyone wanting to “save face”—won’t make it easy, but openly assessing the problems is essential.


Five tips to transition to SharePoint with Ease

Transitioning from email to an intranet as a primary communication hub is easier than you might think. These guidelines will help get you up and running.

Search the Internet, and you’ll find all sorts of articles on being successful with a SharePoint implementation—from a technical perspective. There are technical challenges, hurdles, and barriers, but they’re not nearly as important to overall success as the approach you take to SharePoint from a communications perspective.

Here are five approaches that will help you find success.

Build content creators, not content.

In organizations of all sizes, the content is actually being created from scratch by corporate communications. Whether the communication happens via email, newsletter, or intranet, the burden is on the shoulders of corporate communicators.

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Article: Seven Omissions That Will Doom Your SharePoint Launch

Review these steps to make sure your implementation meets your objectives and keeps all those involved happy as it evolves.

Sometimes it’s not the things you do that cause problems, but what you forget to do.

Miss a utility bill, and you might be trying to read in the dark. Miss a car payment, and you could end up walking to work.

Here are seven elements that, if missed, might doom your SharePoint implementation.

Define the goal 

Sometimes we get so engrossed in our activities and projects that we forget to look at the horizon and set goals. It’s all too easy to succumb to the pressures of the daily deluge of information and just keep plodding along; however, that makes it difficult to define goals.

In implementing SharePoint, are you trying to get communications out quicker? Are you trying to increase the number of stories or reduce email? I’m sure you’d like all of these results, but what do you want—or need—most? You should remember the broader picture of why you’re putting forth any communication: Is it to improve employee engagement and/or efficiency?

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Article: Secure Search Can Protect Your Sensitive Information

Two guys walk into an office. The first one asks, “Do you know what’s different between searching the Internet and searching your intranet?” The second one exclaims “Just about everything!” Sometimes it can seem like everything that you know about searching on the Internet just doesn’t apply to your intranet. You expect when you search the Internet you’ll find something. (It may not be the right thing but that’s not relevant right now.)

eDiscovery activities can leverage search to dig up more dirt than a Caterpillar convention. Do you want to know the best data discovery tool that auditors have right now? It’s your search engine. You’ve already indexed the content. All they need is an account and they can find any piece of information that you didn’t want found by just anyone in the organization. Maybe they’re searching for credit card numbers for a PCI audit, or social security numbers for a PII audit, whatever it is the search tools are going to find it. And yet, when you want to find something you’re left out in the cold.

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Article: Everything You Think You Know about Learning Retention Rates is Wrong

We’ve all seen some sort of numbers or graphics depiction about how we retain what we learn. The story goes that we retain 5 percent of what we see/hear, 10 percent of what we read, 20 percent with a visual, 30 percent with a demonstration, and so on. The problem is – this is a fabrication. The root source of this information is attributed to Edgar Dale and while the cone of learning – where the hierarchy is covered — is his, it didn’t have percentages on it – and he cautioned about overly generalizing its use.

So why do we continue to see these set of numbers?  Most likely the problem is really that there hasn’t been good research studies on the effectiveness of different delivery modes in education.  There are some good reasons for this since changing the delivery mode means redoing the instructional design, and in doing so doubling the work. Further, instructional designers will have more experience with some modes than others leading to greater effectiveness at some forms of instructional design – and ultimately delivery.  That means that the instructional designer themselves may bias the results.

The other aspect is that the materials change so there’s no good way to do a direct comparison of effectiveness between two different modes – even if both modes are created by the same instructional designer.  That’s bad news when you’re trying to create a reliable study of how things differ because you have to eliminate as many extraneous variables as possible.

Of course, you have to deal with the fact that different kinds of content are more conducive to some delivery modes than others – try teaching someone how to ride a bike by writing it in text only.  Try to teach someone how to do math without written text.  So the type of message being conveyed must be isolated.

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Article: Top 10 Technical Mistakes in SharePoint

I’ve seen plenty of technical mistakes when implementing SharePoint, particularly in larger environments when the risks of failure are higher. Here’s a countdown of my top ten “favorite” SharePoint mistakes:

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Article: Playing Cards for Better [Learning] Catalog Organization

In the last article we worked on some core information architecture concepts and how they can and should be applied to your learning catalog. In this article we’re going to focus on specific techniques which are useful for organizing your catalog in a way that users will understand.


Before we get to the process of defining (or validating) a hierarchy to organize your courses into, it’s important to understand the goal of creating the structure and the reasonable expectations. First, the goal is to get the high-level structure right.  This means that we’ll want to get the hierarchies we want to allow and their children for the first few levels nailed down.  These are the levels where the wrong turns are the most critical and the most difficult to recover from, because you’ll have many steps to get back to these decisions.  Each of the decisions at the lower levels will be so close to the final information that they’re likely to be more right and transparent and are inherently easier to navigate back from.

Second, our expectation should be that we’re trying to create a start.  There will be new courses and courses that are retired from the catalog.  We shouldn’t feel compelled to do the process below with every course.  There will be plenty of changes that would quickly invalidate our testing if we decided we had to cover every course.


Article: Information Architecture for Your Learning Catalog

In the last article we talked about how users find information in your learning catalog. In this article, we’ll talk about what you can do to make your learning more findable. We’ll explore the underpinnings of findability in your learning catalog so that you can evaluate changes with a simple framework. In our next article we’ll cover a specific technique, card sorting, as a mechanism for generating catalog structures.

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