Web Seminar Recap: Getting Started with Microsoft Project Online

written by: Christie Marsh on January 15th, 2016

On January 14th Bryon Brewer presented a great free web seminar about Microsoft Project Online.

Microsoft Project Online is a flexible online solution for project portfolio management (PPM) and everyday work. Delivered through Office 365, Project Online enables organizations to get started managing projects fast, manage resource pools, and prioritize project portfolio investments—from virtually anywhere on nearly any device. In this webinar, we introduced you to the features of Project Online, how it differs from Project Server, and how you get your projects and team online quickly.

Missed the web seminar? No worries. Download the slides and recording here.


How to Implement Information Management Policies in SharePoint 2013 – Part 2 of 2

written by: Tom Robbins on November 11th, 2015

In my continuing discussion around Information Management Policy in SharePoint 2013 I want to give an example of a real-world use case and then detail how to implement the policy.

This first example is designed to explain how to create Information Management Policy at the Site Collection level to give an organization a way to manage different retention schedules across the information stored within the Site Collection.  Specifically, the division whose sites are contained within the “PMO” site collection has 2 distinct information retention processes that they want to implement.  First, there is a policy for certain documents that states the document should be retained and after 1 year, all previous draft versions should be deleted.  Secondly, after 5 years, the document should be permanently deleted.  This is a requirement of IT Policy 14.19B.  These two processes can be implemented by creating Information Management Policy at the Site Collection level and then applying the policy across documents within the Site Collection.

The steps to accomplish this are detailed below:

1)      At the Site Collection access Site Settings > Site Collection Administration > Content Type Policy Templates


2)      Under Policies, select “Create” and specify the policy information as shown below:


3)      Create two retention policies by selecting “Add a Retention Stage” as shown below Click to continue »


How to Implement Information Management Policies in SharePoint 2013 – Post 1 of 2

written by: Tom Robbins on November 4th, 2015

In an ever increasing litigious world, it is more important than ever for organizations to have clear policies for managing information. It’s no longer an option in your information management system to avoid having clear policies and procedures for how information is regulated. Policies that govern who can access your information, what they can do with the information, the retention periods of records, and the auditability of information must be in place. Regulators and examiners have very specific guidelines about how retention and auditing must be implemented.

SharePoint 2013 provides very useful tools for regulating the creation, interaction, and disposition of content using Information Management Policies. These Information Management Policies are a set of rules that are assigned to content within SharePoint. These rules will define the retention schedule, auditability, and barcodes (Labels were deprecated in 2013).  These policies can be defined for multiple content types within a site collection, a list, a library, or folder (location-based retention policy). Policies can be created at the Site Collection and used within Content Types as well to enforce consistency.  Policies can be deployed across Site Collections for enterprise-wide policy deployment.

These policies provide a structured way for content owners and administrators to define the relevant retention policies and apply them consistently across all relevant information. These policies help keep users from having to think about when to apply policies as they are applied automatically once defined.   Management of these policies is not complicated. The configuration is GUI driven and is included in the SharePoint interface.  The policies configuration is accessed in Permissions and Policies under Information Management Policies in a List or Library.

The following are the types of settings available when defining policy:

  • Retention   The Retention policy feature lets you define retention stages, with an action that happens at the end of each stage. For example, you could define a two-stage retention policy on all documents in a specific library that deletes all previous versions of the document one year after the document is created, and declares the document to be a record five years after the document is created.

The actions that can occur at the end of a stage include the following:


    • Moving the item to the Recycle Bin
    • Permanently deleting the item
    • Transferring the item to another location
    • Starting a workflow
    • Skipping to the next stage
    • Declaring the item to be a record
    • Deleting all previous drafts of the item
    • Deleting all previous versions of the item


  • Auditing   The Auditing policy feature logs events and operations that are performed on documents and list items. You can configure Auditing to log events such as the following:


    • Editing a document or item
    • Viewing a document or item
    • Checking a document in or out
    • Changing the permissions for a document or item
    • Deleting a document or item


  • Labeling   The label policy feature has been deprecated and should not be used in SharePoint Server 2013.
  • Barcode  The Barcode policy feature enables you to track physical copies of a document by creating a unique identifier value for a document and inserting a bar code image of that value in the document. By default, bar codes are compliant with the common Code 39 standard (ANSI/AIM BC1-1995, Code 39), and you can plug in other bar code providers by using the policies object model.


Defining policies at the Site Collection level which can then be used as published policies within the Site Collection.

An organization will first determine what policies need to be defined, and then scope of those policies.  In this example, we will define a retention policy which can be used within the Site Collection.

  1. From the top-level site in a Site Collection, Open Settings > Site Settings
  2. Under Site Collection Administration, select Content Type Policy Templates



  1. Click Create
  2. Give your policy a name, administrative description, and policy statement.  It’s important to define the policy statement as this is displayed to your users.
  3. For a retention policy template, click the check box beside Enable Retention
  4. Select Add a retention stage
  5. Select This stage is based off a date property on the item
  6. Set to Created Date + 1 years
  7. Select Move to recycle bin
  8. Click OK



This policy can now be used when creating Content Types to define a retention policy on those content types.

In the next blog post, we will define a content type using this “Employee Information Policy”.


How to Use Content Organizer in SharePoint 2013 Part 2

written by: Tom Robbins on November 3rd, 2015

The Content Organizer is a SharePoint feature that can automatically manage some important library tasks. This saves organizations time and effort but is also a useful tool in Business Process Automation. It takes much of the “need to know” away from end users so they can focus on their jobs while SharePoint handles categorization and classification of information.

Content Organizer offers the following features: routing documents to different libraries or folders, Drop Off Library, folder size management and automatic folder creation, duplicate item resolution, and auditing.

Content Organizer is another of the powerful tools offered in SharePoint 2013. This tool allows organizations to manage information automatically. While much of classification and categorization requires thought and intention, many users don’t understand the big picture of an organization information management. Tools like Content Organizer help an Information Management professional to facilitate the automation of the process in order to help reduce human error.

Content Organizer is a Site feature and must be enabled on the site where the function is required.  Upon activation of the feature SharePoint will create a library titled “Drop Off library”.  This is the default drop box for incoming files that will be routed by the Content Organizer.

Creating Rules:

NOTE    You must have at least Site Owner permissions to create rules to route documents.

  1. Navigate to the site for which you want to create Content Organizer rules.
    1. Open your Site Settings
    2. On the Site Settings page, under the Site Administration section, click Content Organizer Rules.
    3. On the Content Organizer Rules page, click add in Click to add a new item.
    4. In the Rule Name section, type a name that describes the rule’s conditions and actions.
    5. In the Rule Status and Priority section, choose Active to apply the rule to incoming content. Then, select a priority that will determine how content is routed should it match more than one Content Organizer rule.
      If you do not want this rule to apply to incoming content, choose Inactive.
    6. In the Submission’s Content Type section, associate the rule with a content type. By doing this, submissions to the organizer are labeled with the selected content type and properties used in the conditions of the rule are identified.
    7. Select the appropriate content group. The group that you select determines the content types that you can choose from in the next step
    8. Select the appropriate content type.
    9. If the content type that you selected has a different name on another SharePoint site, select the check box under Alternate names. Then type the name that is used on the other site in the field provided, and click Add. Names for alternate content types appear in the list underneath.
    10. In the Conditions section, select the conditions that a submission’s properties must meet for the rule. You might, for example, want the rule to apply to all documents that have the word “budget” in the title. You can add more conditions by clicking the Add another condition link.
    11. NOTE- The properties available from the Property drop-down list differ according to the content type that you selected in step 6.
    12. In the Target Location section, type or browse for a location to place content that matches the rule. Select the Automatically create a folder check box to group similar documents together in folders. For example, if you have a property that lists all documents for projects in your organization, you can force the organizer to create a separate folder for each project.


How to use Content Organizer in SharePoint 2013

written by: Tom Robbins on October 27th, 2015

The Content Organizer is a SharePoint feature that can automatically manage some important library tasks. This saves organizations time and effort but is also a useful tool in Business Process Automation. It takes much of the “need to know” away from end users so they can focus on their jobs while SharePoint handles categorization and classification of information.


Content Organizer offers the following features: routing documents to different libraries or folders, Drop Off Library, folder size management and automatic folder creation, duplicate item resolution, and auditing.

Content Organizer is another of the powerful tools offered in SharePoint 2013. This tool allows organizations to manage information automatically. While much of classification and categorization requires thought and intention, many users don’t understand the big picture of an organization information management. Tools like Content Organizer help an Information Management professional to facilitate the automation of the process in order to help reduce human error.

Click to continue »


Designing a SharePoint Team Site: Part 4

written by: Tom Robbins on October 20th, 2015

This final post in the series is all about planning “How” your users see the content on the pages.  There are a number of tools available that allow us to customize content.  The most valuable of those are list Views.  With List Views we can create a filtered display of the data stored in a list so that the users see data that is relevant to them.  For example, we can display only current items from a Calendar or show only tasks assigned to a specific user.  Some web parts also provide the ability to use “Audience Targeting”.    So, for a moment, let’s look at “Audience Targeting”.

By using audience targeting, you can display content such as list or library items, navigation links, and entire Web Parts to specific groups of people. This is useful when you want to present information that is relevant only to a particular group of people. For example, you can add a Web Part to the legal department’s portal site that contains a list of legal contracts that is visible only to that department.  You might also want to show only announcements for a specific geographical location so the team doesn’t seem announcements that have no value to them.

Any item in a SharePoint list or library can be targeted to specific audiences. To do this, you use the Content Query Web Part. Any other type of Web Part and its contents also can be targeted to audiences. In addition, you can target site navigation links to audiences. Targeting the links simplifies the users’ experience, because they see only the navigation links that are relevant to them.

To identify a target audience, you can use one or more of the following:

  • SharePoint groups
  • Distribution lists
  • Security groups
  • Global audiences (rules-based audiences that are maintained by SharePoint administrators)

Anyone with at least Contributor permission can specify a target audience, as long as the name of the audience is known. You can search for an audience by its name, alias, or description by clicking Browse  in the Target Audiences list.

There is plenty of information on the Internet regarding “Audience Targeting”.  I’m not going to replicate all of those steps here.  Just go search for “SharePoint 2013 audience targeting”.

So, List Views and Audience Targeting are both options you have for customizing the content on the pages.  This post does not serve to tell you the steps to accomplish these, but to first get you to think about relevance and giving your teams immediate return on the new site investment.

In working with customers and students, there are a number of common/best practices for implementing relevant information on a site.  Listed below are some examples of what I often see displayed on pages, and then how they are displayed.

List/Library/Web Part

How to display the content OR properties

Announcements Create a View to display only current announcements.  You may want to enable Content Approval to make sure announcements go through an approval process before they are visible.
Site Members WP Using the Site Members web part to display member of a specific SharePoint Group.  **Doesn’t work if you use an AD group as a member of the SharePoint group.
Newsfeed Not much customization you can currently do to this web part.  I always recommend placing at near the bottom right of the page because it’s not easy to set the height of it.
Tasks List Display tasks for the current user, sorted by due date, sorted by priority, grouped by project, and limited to 5 in the web part.  You can still see more tasks if you page left and right, but no need to take up valuable real estate on the page to display tasks you won’t get to today.
Discussion Board This is one of the most important enterprise social tools and should always be front and center on the home page.  It gives immediate value to the teams if used correctly.  I use the “Featured” discussions view on the home page and then make sure the moderator has carefully marked the most important discussions as featured so they will show up.
Calendar So often I see the calendar display in Calendar view.  This displays the entire 30/31 day calendar.  This takes up way too much real estate and for those dates in the past, we have no need to see those in most cases.  Create a View that shows events/meetings/appointments starting from now to the future and for 2 days maybe.  Display them as a list, and limit them to 5 items or so.  Users can always click on the Calendar link to see the full calendar.  But remember the page has to have value and is limited in space.
Relevant Docs WP This is a great web part.  It gives you the capability to aggregate content from across multiple libraries.  Similar to the CQWP it gives you some really meaningful info built on queries.   You can display a link to documents: 1) Checked Out by the current user, 2) Created by the Current User, 3) Modified by the Current User.  GREAT to use when you have users that just can’t seem to remember to check documents back in.  Put it front and center on the page as a reminder of documents they have checked out.
Filter WP Any of the filter web parts are also great.  Based on metadata you can filter what is displayed.  These items can be aggregated across multiple lists and libraries.

So there you have it.  A series of posts regarding Site Design.  Not at all exhaustive, but hopefully an introduction for you regarding the process that goes into planning and building a site that has value to your teams.

The most important thing to remember is that you must involve the team in the process.  They are the users and are the ones that will determine if the solution meets their needs.  SharePoint is a powerful technology but it is like a blank slate out-of-the-box.  It requires good planning and even better Governance.


Web Seminar Recap: Understanding Gamification in SharePoint 2013

written by: Admin on October 19th, 2015

How to Drive Engagement and Collaboration in Communities

Exactly what is Gamification and how can it be used to drive Engagement and Collaboration of SharePoint users? Gamification is driving game-like content in non game-like websites. We mostly know about badges, leaderboards, reputations, and points in SharePoint 2013 communities. More often than not, people laugh at this and think it’s silly. That is, until I remind them that eBay works this way as well as the Boy Scouts. It’s all about people building reputations within communities and that indicates to other community members who is engaged and whom we can go to for subject matter expertise.

On Friday, October 19th, SharePoint expert Tom Robbins presented the free webinar, Understanding Gamification in SharePoint 2013: How to Drive Engagement and Collaboration in Communities. This one-hour presentation dove into the SharePoint 2013 Community features that help get members engaged and help to find information and connections more effectively.

Topics covered included:

  • Community features
  • Badges
  • Leader Boards
  • Points
  • Reputations
  • Driving engagement and adoption using these tools

If you missed this presentation, you can grab the full audio visual recording and presentation slides below:


Designing a SharePoint Team Site: Part 3

written by: Tom Robbins on October 13th, 2015

In this series of blog posts, we have been talking about designing a SharePoint team site. The first two posts detailed the process of working with the teams to determine the Apps to support collaboration and business processes. I also introduced you to Pages and what they are used for.  In this blog post, we focus more on web design and user interface design. Now, I’m not an expert on either of these, but fortunately with SharePoint, you don’t have to be. Site Owners are not supposed to have to know web design or coding and should not have to rely too heavily on IT to provide this expertise. When it comes to user experience I hope common sense guides me.

Most web sites on the Internet are revenue driven. The web site owners want visitors to frequent their web sites and for most of them there are tons of advertisements that they hope will catch your eye. To keep you coming back, the websites must have value to the visitors. Take Amazon for example. Amazon displays content to each visitor based on past visits and past experiences. Amazon knows what you purchase and they tailor what you see in hopes that they display merchandise that you are most likely to purchase. Another example is CNN. If you have an account and log in, you can customize your news consumption experience and they will show you content that is relevant to you. In both cases, the sites provide immediate and relevant information to the visitor. Otherwise, you would not frequent the site.  Imagine if you visited CNN and the news was 2 weeks old. Or, if you visited Amazon and they kept presenting you with female bath products when you were a guy that leaned more towards electronics as a hobby. In any case, a web site must have valuable and relevant content. This is the most important thing to remember when you as a Site Owner are architecting your sites pages.

Click to continue »


Designing a SharePoint Team Site: Part 2

written by: Tom Robbins on October 6th, 2015

Continuing with my series of posts regarding the design of SharePoint sites, I continue by talking about the process of working with your teams to brainstorm and formulate the requirements for the site as well as the business processes to be addressed in the design.

From as early on as you can accomplish it, you should involve the IW’s (Information Workers), or the team members and users that will actually utilize the site.  They, after all, are the users that will tell you whether the solution works and has value.  So, work with your team members.  Ask them what they need from the solution.  Keep them in the loop throughout the design process.  Ask for their input.  Have them test the solution whether through a formal Pilot period or at some other interval.

39. Site Contents of Team Site of SharePoint Server 2013 Preview

Throughout the design process you will decide what SharePoint Apps (artifacts) you need to accomplish your teams collaboration needs.  You will use some Apps out-of-the-box and some you will highly customize.  You may even use the SharePoint App Store or purchase 3rd party Apps to accomplish your goals.  Regardless, you should have a detailed list of the Apps required for your team.  Those Apps are now part of your site and can be found in Site Contents.  You could simply stop here and have your team navigate to Site Contents whenever you wanted to work with Lists or Libraries.  You may even go one step further and place links to those Apps in the Quick Launch menu.  But this is SharePoint.  SharePoint is a web site that is made up of pages.  Our next step is to design the purpose for these pages and then populate them with content using our Site Contents.

Click to continue »


Web Seminar Recap: Business Intelligence for Project Server 2013 and Project 2013

written by: Admin on September 28th, 2015

Reports – everyone wants reports.

Whether its status reports for management, updates for team members, or presentations for business partners, project managers are constantly asked for reports. Project managers also need reports to make quick decisions to keep projects on track. On September 25th, 2015, Andy Huneycutt presented a 1-hour web seminar, in which he demonstrated how to take advantage of the robust Business Intelligence capabilities in Project Server 2013 and Project 2013. Attendees learned how to start analyzing project data with the reporting capabilities in Project Server 2013 and Project 2013.

Topics covered in this web seminar include:

  • Creating and customizing graphical reports in Project 2013
  • Selecting the right report type
  • Using Microsoft Excel to create reports
  • Which tools you can use to create reports in Project Server 2013
  • Project Web App reporting improvements in the Business Intelligence (BI) Center
  • Changes in the Reporting database
  • OData service for online and on-premises access for reporting

Missed this web seminar? Catch up by downloading the presentation slides and recording.