Monthly Archives: May 2014

8 Key Players in Your SharePoint Rollout

In my previous blog article, Is Your SharePoint Rollout Doomed to Fail?, I took a look at one of the main reasons many SharePoint installations struggle—the lack of user buy-in. Without complete buy-in on your SharePoint solution from everyone from the CEO on down, you might as well put your IT budget on Black-13, spin the roulette wheel and hope for the best.

Assuming you’re not the gambling type, just how do you tackle the training of your company in SharePoint? Who are the key players that require their own unique educational approach? In this post, we will begin to take a look at a typical SharePoint rollout, the roles involved, and what each role should know.

CEO/Executives

Unfortunately, many companies fail to include one of the key roles in any SharePoint rollout, upper management. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting they are purposely kept in the dark. It is more about the level of engagement. Your CEO sets the tone for the company and everyone else tends to follow his or her lead. If the CEO doesn’t completely understand the value, or the ROI, of their SharePoint solution, they will more than likely take a wait-and-see attitude towards the project…especially if the solution is sold and managed by the IT department. This attitude will trickle down and soon you will find yourself with a SharePoint site that no one uses or even cares to use. Why bother? No one has any “skin in the game” as they say.

Proper education of your executive team is important so they understand how their company will benefit by implementing SharePoint. Once they are on board, they will insist that each department be on board as well, and so on. So, does the CEO need to become a SharePoint developer? Of course not. But they need to see the big picture and understand the challenges that your SharePoint project will overcome.

Ok, you have upper management’s buy-in. Who’s next?

Architects

There can be up to four architects required for a SharePoint implementation, depending on the size of your company. Smaller organizations might consolidate the architect roles into just one or two.

The two most important architects are the:

  • Business architect – This person is focused on the business needs of the company and the business problems that the SharePoint implementation is trying to solve.
  • Technical architect – This person is focused on the technology requirements. The technical architect needs to work with the business architect to make sure the organization has the network infrastructure and resources necessary to support the SharePoint implementation.

The other two architects who should be involved are the process architect and the infrastructure architect. Once the business and technical architects iron out a plan, the process and infrastructure architects start working on how to implement it using the available resources.

  • Process architect – This person develops the business logic to support the plan and may even get into where the business logic resides, such as workflows, custom applications, templates, etc.
  • Infrastructure architect – This person works on the network and server requirements. Do we need more servers? Can we provide adequate security? How can we insure high availability?

Do these architects need to understand SharePoint? Absolutely! But here’s the key. Most companies don’t go far enough in getting the people in these roles sufficiently up to speed on all that SharePoint has to offer. Remember, SharePoint is a framework. This means it comes with an infinite amount of uses and many ways to implement. A common mistake is not thoroughly investigating the options available, and therefore going down a road that is misinterpreted as the only road available. It is common for a SharePoint implementation to be crippled right out of the chute due to poor architecture.

The cure…training, of course. Architects that have gone through a detailed, structured training program are more likely to work better together and come up with solutions that lead to a successful implementation of SharePoint. And in the end, this will draw out the architects’ buy-in which you needed all along.

Champions

Different companies label this role differently, but for the sake of this blog I’m going to refer to this particular role as champion. Most companies do not have, nor do they really need, an abundance of architects. But what you’ll find is that once the solution is deployed, everyone wants access to the architects. SharePoint is not a trivial solution and once things roll out, there are few people that really understand the solution at a high level. And unless you have a cloning device tucked away in your back pocket, you’re going to need more people to support the solution.

Champions are the ones that understand SharePoint at a high level and are usually trusted with administrator rights on the servers. They are then available to assist departments with site creation, security, major functional changes in business logic, and the like. It is also common for companies to assign the role of SharePoint Site Owner to these people as well, depending on the overall size of the company. These roles have a lot in common.

Clearly this role also requires getting up to speed in SharePoint. Just like with the architects, the people in this role will need a detailed understanding of SharePoint so they can effectively build and configure sites that are aligned with the goals of the company. With champions on board, your chances of a successful SharePoint rollout are greatly increased.

Next Steps

These roles provide you with a solid foundation to begin building your SharePoint implementation. Education plays a critical role here because it allows efficient communication to occur between all your major departments. When everyone understands the power and wide range of features that SharePoint brings to the table, great ideas and great solutions have a chance to come forward.

In my next blog, I will dig into five more roles that are critical to a successful SharePoint rollout: Administrator, Developer, Designer, Business/Power User, and SharePoint Site Owner. Stay tuned…

About the Author

martysMartin Schaeferle is the Vice President of Technology for LearnNowOnline. Martin joined the company in 1994 and started teaching IT professionals nationwide to develop applications using Visual Studio and Microsoft SQL Server. He has been a featured speaker at various conferences including Microsoft Tech-Ed, DevConnections and the Microsoft NCD Channel Summit. Today, he is responsible for all product and software development as well as managing the company’s IT infrastructure. Martin enjoys staying on the cutting edge of technology and guiding the company to produce the best learning content with the best user experience in the industry. In his spare time, Martin enjoys golf, fishing, and being with his wife and three teenage children.

Git Fundamentals

Watch the trailer for our “Git Fundamentals” course.

Watch the trailer for our “Git Fundamentals” course.

The LearnNowOnline product development team is happy to announce the release of our latest course, Git Fundamentals, with expert Philip Wheat.

Git is a distributed revision control and source code management tool. The Git application can be used by developers, project managers or anyone who needs to control source code.

Our course begins with the history of Git, starting with its birth in 2005 based upon a need for a speedy and simple design. We then dive into the meat and potatoes of how to install and configure Git. You’ll learn the basic operations and advanced commands of Git, and you will see how well it plays with Visual Studio. The course includes a quick reference guide for commands on configuring, creating a repository, and other functions.

The author and instructor for this course, Philip Wheat, is an industry veteran with experience stretching back to the beginning of the PC era. He is on the leading edge of technology focusing on embedded systems, knowledge management, and sensor technologies. Philip has built his own microprocessor and had robotics projects featured in the press and on TV shows around the world. He is one of the few to have worked with SharePoint since the original beta, and is the author and instructor for several SharePoint 2013 courses for LearnNowOnline.

Ready to learn more about Git? Log in to your account and check out our new Git Fundamentals course, or view the course outline on our web site to learn more.

About the Author

BrianBlogpicBrian Ewoldt is the Project Manager for LearnNowOnline. Brian joined the team in 2008 after 13 years of working for the computer gaming industry as a producer/project manager. Brian is responsible for all production of courses published by LearnNowOnline. In his spare time, Brian enjoys being with his family, watching many forms of racing, racing online, and racing Go-Karts.

Watch Now: SSIS Data Flows and Components

Watch the recording of our SSIS event now.*

Watch the recording of our SSIS event now.*

Last week we held our SSIS 2012/14: Data Flows and Components live learning event, presented by Don Kiely. Our thanks to Don for sharing his expertise on this popular topic.

If you missed the live event, you can watch the recording* now. You’ll learn about data flow pipelines, and how to get data from a source, transform it along the way, and store it in various data store destinations.

Our next live learning event, Making Sense of One ASP.NET featuring Mike Benkovich, will be held on Wednesday, June 11th at 11:00 a.m. CDT. Register now

* To view the event recording in Chrome or Firefox, please have the Windows Media Player extension installed. Or right click on the link and select Copy Link Address; then open Windows Media player, click File>Open URL…, paste the link address in the text box, and click the OK button. 

About the Author

BrianBlogpicBrian Ewoldt is the Project Manager for LearnNowOnline. Brian joined the team in 2008 after 13 years of working for the computer gaming industry as a producer/project manager. Brian is responsible for all production of courses published by LearnNowOnline. In his spare time, Brian enjoys being with his family, watching many forms of racing, racing online, and racing Go-Karts.

Join Us for a Look at SSIS Data Flows and Components

SQL Server expert Don Kiely

SQL Server expert Don Kiely

I am pleased to announce our upcoming webinar SSIS 2012/14: Data Flows and Components featuring expert Don Kiely.

Here is Don’s description of what he will be covering in this event:

The Data Flow task is a special Control Flow task that moves data from a data source to a data destination, optionally transforming the data in various ways as it moves. It is so important and complex that, unlike any other Control Flow task, the Data Flow task has its own designer in SQL Server Data Tools. This is where you are likely to spend most of your time when developing any non-trivial Integration Services package that moves data rather than just performs other Control Flow tasks. The Data Flow task is the single most important task in a Control Flow and performs the majority of the work in an ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) process.

During this LearnNowOnline live learning event, you’ll learn about data flow pipelines, how to get data from a source, transform it along the way, and store it in various data store destinations.

This event takes place on Wednesday, May 21st from 1:00pm – 2:30pm CDT. I will be the moderator and hope to see you there!

registernow-blue

 

 

Can’t make it? No worries. Watch our blog next week to access the recording of the event.

About the Author

BrianBlogpicBrian Ewoldt is the Project Manager for LearnNowOnline. Brian joined the team in 2008 after 13 years of working for the computer gaming industry as a producer/project manager. Brian is responsible for all production of courses published by LearnNowOnline. In his spare time, Brian enjoys being with his family, watching many forms of racing, racing online, and racing Go-Karts.

Good Enough?

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Is just any learning tool good enough? Should you settle for watching videos, even though you learn best by reading?

In my last blog, Does Everyone Learn the Same Way?, I described the four main learning styles: Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic. In short, research shows that most people learn in more than one way, and many tap into all four learning styles.

  • 61.2% prefer more than one learning style
  • 34.1% use all four learning styles

Each of us is unique, and we each learn in different ways. There is not a “one fits all” learning style.

One way that helped me see and understand different learning styles was volunteering in my children’s grade school. I would visit their classrooms weekly and help the kids with reading, writing, etc. Some of the kids could hear something and immediately understand it, memorize it, and later recite it.  Some needed to read it one or more times on their own before it would sink in. Still others needed to follow along with the book while I read to them. Occasionally a child would grasp something quickly with one learning method—for example, they couldn’t read well, but if they watched a video of the material they could comprehend it immediately.

It became so clear to me that in order for individuals and groups to learn effectively, they need to have access to many ways to learn.

Each person is an individual and learns differently. Take me for example. I am one of the 61% of people who uses multiple learning styles. When learning something new, I’m at my best when I am able to watch and listen to someone explain the material, read along in a book or on-screen, and then try it for myself. Whenever possible I even try to teach someone else the material…in order to teach something well, you really need to understand it.

So, don’t settle  for a learning tool geared toward only one learning style—like a tool with just videos, or just books—and figure it’s good enough. You’ll learn faster and retain more when you discover what type of learner you are and then choose a learning tool or method that supports all of the ways you learn.

LearnNowOnline recognizes that learning styles matter and offers a Dev and IT learning subscription with something for everyone, including resources that nurture all learning modalities.

About the Author

Craig PhotoCraig Jensen is the President and CEO of LearnNowOnline. Craig has led the company’s change from instructor-led classroom training, to self-study CD/DVD training, to the award winning online learning solutions offered today. Craig is passionate about helping individuals and businesses of all sizes solve their problems through practical learning and technology. He is involved in setting direction for the company, including selecting training content for development with resources to support all learning styles. He is also involved in The CEO Roundtable organization in the Twin Cities as well as the Minnesota High Tech organization. In his spare time, Craig loves to travel, golf, and partake in water sports of all kinds.

Is Your SharePoint Rollout Doomed to Fail?

Why do so many SharePoint rollouts wind up dying on the vine? It certainly doesn’t come from a lack of good intentions. Everyone wants to be more efficient, and why not? Any software that promises you can accomplish more in less time will always get our business.

Don’t get me wrong, SharePoint is a great and powerful framework, and many companies have experienced tremendous success with it. But with all its successes, why do more than 60% of SharePoint implementations wind up stalled, struggling, or failing according to a 2013 AIIM report? The report goes on to say that the biggest ongoing issue with SharePoint is user adoption.

sharepointrolloutchart

 

User adoption means that everyone who will be utilizing SharePoint “buys in” to the project. They understand their role and the benefits of the software, and they are committed to making the project a success.

Getting user buy-in

So how do you get user buy-in for your SharePoint project? There are several things you can do to encourage buy-in and usage, but one sure-fire way is to begin SharePoint education early-on for everyone…and I mean everyone.

Many companies go into a SharePoint rollout with buy-in only from the IT department. Everyone else, from the CEO, to the sales team, to marketing, is simply along for the ride. When the software is rolled out, not only will the team not know how to use it, but it may not even meet their needs if they were never interviewed and included in the planning.

Education is your best deterrent of this situation. Start at the top and get the leadership team on board. Make sure they understand how SharePoint can be used to streamline processes and workflows, ultimately saving time and money for the company. Once they see the value SharePoint can bring to their company, your leaders will require buy-in from the heads of all departments.

Going on to educate and include the entire team in your SharePoint project, you will earn their buy-in as well. It will also lead to better communication between the IT department and department leaders, ensuring that your SharePoint solution is designed and built with each department’s goals in mind.

 IT…the biggest point of failure?

One of the major liabilities in the success of a SharePoint rollout is in the developer team. They will likely buy-in to the project, but if they don’t thoroughly understand SharePoint, the framework, and all its components, it can lead to poor code development, system instability, poor maintainability, and sites that cannot be updated when Microsoft launches their next release.

Case in point, when Microsoft released SharePoint 2013, they introduced the SharePoint App Model which is required for any components that integrate with their SharePoint Cloud solution (SharePoint Online). Companies are now realizing that moving to the Cloud is a not a matter of “if,” but “when.” If their developers are building SharePoint components that cannot integrate, they are going to find themselves in a very expensive situation. Ensuring your development team has a deep knowledge of SharePoint, including latest tools and advancements, is absolutely critical to the success of your project long term.

Next steps

Without a doubt, education across your entire organization is critical for a successful SharePoint rollout. But how do you begin to identify the key players? Where do you start in educating your team? In the future, I’ll take a look at the primary roles involved in a typical rollout and go through the key rollout stages along the way. Stay tuned…

About the Author

martysMartin Schaeferle is the Vice President of Technology for LearnNowOnline. Martin joined the company in 1994 and started teaching IT professionals nationwide to develop applications using Visual Studio and Microsoft SQL Server. He has been a featured speaker at various conferences including Microsoft Tech-Ed, DevConnections and the Microsoft NCD Channel Summit. Today, he is responsible for all product and software development as well as managing the company’s IT infrastructure. Martin enjoys staying on the cutting edge of technology and guiding the company to produce the best learning content with the best user experience in the industry. In his spare time, Martin enjoys golf, fishing, and being with his wife and three teenage children.

SSRS 2012: Preview Performance for Report Builder

When you work in Design view in Report Builder, you are not working with real data, even if you created a data set and attached it to a data region. Report Builder uses that data set design to discern the schema for the data, but uses only a representation of that data. That’s why you’ll want to preview a report repeatedly as you design the report so that the actual data looks as you envisioned it.

When you click the Run button in Design view, Report Builder reads the actual data from the data store and renders the report so you can view it with actual data. It connects to the data source you specified and caches it, then combines the data and layout to render the report. You can switch between design and preview as often as necessary.

This is convenient for developing a report, but it can be a painfully slow process. If the data set uses a complex query that takes time to execute in a database, for example, you might have a significant wait for the report preview. In older versions of Reporting Services, you just had wait patiently.

However, newer versions of Report Builder greatly enhance the report preview process by using edit sessions when you’re connected to a report server. The edit session creates a data cache on the report server that it retains for your next report preview. This way you have to wait for the data only once; subsequently, the report preview appears almost instantaneously. As long as you don’t make any changes to the data set or any report changes that affect the data, report previewing uses the cached data. If you ever need to use fresh data, you can preview the report and click the Refresh button in the Report Builder’s preview toolbar, as shown in Figure 1.

PreviewPerformance

Figure 1. Refresh button in preview mode in Report Builder.

Report Builder creates an edit session the first time you preview the report; the session lasts for two hours by default, and resets to two hours every time you preview the report. The data cache can hold a maximum of five data sets. If you need more or use a number of different parameter values when you preview the report, the data cache may need to refresh more often, which slows preview performance.

You cannot access the underlying edit sessions that Report Builder uses to enhance preview performance, and the only properties you can tweak to affect preview behavior are the length of an edit session and the number of data sets in the cache. But actions you take can affect whether Report Builder is able to use the cached data, so it is helpful to have a basic understanding of what affects the edit session’s use of cached data.

TIP: To change the cache expiration timeout or the number of data sets the cache stores, use the Advanced page of the Server Properties dialog box for the Reporting Services instance from Management Studio.

The following changes cause Report Builder to refresh the cache, which causes a slower report preview:

  • Adding, changing, or deleting any data set associated with the report, including changes to its name or any properties.
  • Adding, changing, or deleting any data source, including changes to any properties.
  • Changing the language of the report.
  • Changing any assemblies or custom code in the report.
  • Adding, changing, or deleting any query parameters in the report, or any parameter values.

This list suggests that Report Builder refreshes the cache conservatively, that is, any time there might be an effect on the data used by the report. But changes to the report layout or data formatting do not cause the cached data to refresh.

TIP: Adding or deleting columns in a table or matrix does not refresh the cache. All of the fields in a data set are available to the report, whether you use them or not, so these actions do not affect the data set.

ldn-expertdkielyThis post is an excerpt from the online courseware for our SSRS 2012 Developer course written by expert Don Kiely. 

Don Kiely is a featured instructor on many of our SQL Server and Visual Studio courses. He is a nationally recognized author, instructor and consultant who travels the country sharing his expertise in SQL Server and security.