I once gave a webinar and had a fire alarm go off for five minutes in the middle of it. This Document Review webinar we tried to do this week made that look like a picnic. Back in July we discussed marketing initiatives with the Vizit team and I suggested we do a webinar on Document Review Workflows. When I made this suggestion I had no idea it would turn into my equivalent of climbing a mountain. Before I begin to describe why I’d like to say to all you marketing coordinators out there, I salute you. And to those who tried to attend this webinar I apologize.
“To all you marketing coordinators out there, I salute you”
When we discussed doing a Document Review Webinar back in July the Vizit team consensus was we simply didn’t have the bandwidth. At that point I invoked my CEO privilege and overruled everyone. I told the team I could handle this. I’ve got a 16 year old son, I’ve heard that before, and I should have stopped myself right there.
“I can handle this” I should have stopped right there
Instead I pushed forward and began putting the webinar together. As CEO, your contribution is usually putting together the content and showing up to speak. When you’ve been in the business as long as I have this is not as big as it sounds, but I even found a way to screw that up this time. I put together what I thought would be a good webinar, but then showed up at the wrong time to deliver it. This was truly embarrassing, but only the beginning of my trip up the mountain.
I rescheduled the webinar, and created an email letting people know the new time. Shortly thereafter I began getting messages asking why I scheduled a webinar for 4 am. We realized at that point that I scheduled the webinar for 10 pm versus 10 am Eastern. I assure you this wasn’t by plan, but I figured better to go through with it then reschedule again. We do business in 39 countries, so it was a great time in Asia.
On Wednesday at about 10:30 am Eastern I realized that I didn’t let the people who signed up based on the email, which advertised 10 am, know that we were doing it at 10 pm. Big mistake on my part, and again I apologize.
Didn’t Einstein say time was relative? He obviously didn’t try to attend this webinar.
At 10 pm Wednesday I started the webinar, got to about the 3rd slide and it was pointed out that I wasn’t showing my desktop, oops. At slide 7 I played a video, and from that point forward the sound went out. I tried to pass it to someone else, but from that point forward the presenter could not be heard (I love you Go To Webinar).
What a disaster, and it was all on me. We did however create some good content, and Jacob Lauzier did a real nice technical segment. Above you’ll find what we intended to deliver. I hope you take the time to see it because I think you’ll find it useful, and I hope you don’t hold this against us. It was an out of control CEO nothing more than that.
Are you finding an inconsistent user experience when using SharePoint 2013 search result hover panel. Check out this video for more:
Document reviews are a necessary part of most businesses. Many times they are required because the organization is attempting to manage some form of financial or legal risk. Other times document reviews are required to simply ensure the completeness of a plan before deploying resources. For the most part at their root SharePoint document reviews serve a vital purpose in businesses.
It is not unusual to find that the extent of the plan for doing a document review is sending the document to key stakeholders with a deadline for response. Most SharePoint document reviews have not evolved beyond placing the document in a SharePoint library and utilizing SharePoint workflow to inform people of its existence and the need to provide feedback.
These methods of doing review lead to a lack of engagement and participation. The document goes out and nothing comes back. This is often followed by unproductive meetings to gather feedback in person that are also less than productive. A big part of what drives this is that reviewers either don’t know what is expected of them, or think someone else is providing the feedback. To address these issues and to simply improve SharePoint document reviews overall I’d like to suggest you add the following steps to your planning:
1. Define the Objectives of the Review
Step back and ask why are you doing this review? The odds are there are really good reasons for the review, they have simply never been communicated or have been forgotten over time. It is important that the objectives are clear and communicated to everyone who is a part of the review.
Take for example financial reviews. Most organizations will conduct these on a monthly basis and comparing current results with what was budgeted for the period. I had a manager once tell me “budget heroes live a short life around here.” The financial reviews at this company took one of two forms: a pat on the back, or a trip to the woodshed. The pat on the back part lasted about five seconds and the trip to the proverbial woodshed took up the rest of the hour meeting.
Those who participated in these meetings saw the meeting’s purpose as punishment for those who missed their budget. The meetings were really put in place for three reasons. First, to spot negative trends and head them off before they go too far out of control. The goal was not to punish the manager, but to make sure they had a plan to address their short fall. The reviews also were designed to help senior management understand trends so they could adjust forecasts where necessary and communicate effectively with investors. They also focused management on important issues in the business. No one won just looking at it as a woodshed moment.
If the objectives are clear and understood reviews will be more effective.
2. Assign Roles and Expectations to all Participants
There is an old saying “don’t shoot the messenger”. At the “woodshed company” smart managers realized that it was better to send a subordinate to the review when you missed your budget. Why subject yourself to ridicule when you can send someone else? Not only did this company lose sight of the objectives of the reviews, but also the roles people were playing in them, so the second step is to define the roles and expectation of each participant.
Using my financial review as an example, roles might be defined as follows:
First line management: is responsible for explaining any budget variance greater than 10% either positive or negative. Negative variances must be defined as either one-time events or potential on-going issues. For on-going issues managers must also work with their supervisor to provide an action plan to address the issue, or work with their manager to submit a budget exception.
Second Line Management: Must summarize input from first line management and provide a revised forecast for the next three months along with any action plans to address systemic variances.
Defining the roles of the participants and expectations help keep reviews focused on the objectives of the review.
3. Plan for Document Reviews to be Iterative
A problem with most document reviews is they assume someone will provide input and they’re done. This is rarely the case. In most instances a person will provide input which will prompt a dialog that goes back and forth numerous times before coming to conclusion.
Using the financial review again as an example, it wouldn’t be unusual for a second line manager to receive an explanation of a variance that they don’t understand. This might be because there is some assumed knowledge that they don’t have, or the explanation itself might not be clear. My experience is the dialog is proportional to the size of the variance, but more to the point it is important to provide a forum for this back and forth dialog and a method for the senior person to declare it closed.
Nothing wastes more time than continuing to explain things that have already been explained.
4. Recognize that reviews rarely are about the entire document
Whether you’re writing a new report or reviewing financial results the review is likely not going to be about the entire document. It is important to think through how to communicate the subject of the dialog.
In paper this is typically done by dog-earring pages and highlighting sections being discussed. To do a proper SharePoint document review you ideally want to keep the document out of paper and keep the focus on the copy of the document in the SharePoint library. To do this you’ll need viewing, mark-up/annotation and commenting capabilities. Users should have the ability to highlight sections of documents and comment on them. They will also need the ability to approve or reject section revisions.
An alternative to viewing, mark-up and commenting is coming up with a common method for indicating page and location information in email or notes. This can be very time consuming and inaccurate and is not recommended.
5. Capture an Audit Trail
Someone once told me that legal contracts are not intended to be used on a daily basis. They tend to be kept in a file and only used when something goes wrong. Audit trails are very similar in this sense. A good audit trail will record all of the tasks assigned to people, the dialog that occurred during those tasks, and the actions taken as a result of that dialog.
Audit trails have two purposes. First, they are proof that the document review actually occurred. In many organizations this is required to demonstrate compliance to governance policies. They also capture what happened in the review in case someone needs to reference it later.
When we go back to reviews it is typically because a problem occurred after the review happened. Using my financial review example again, let’s say we described a budget variance as a one-time event but it continues to occur in the following months. It is really useful for that person’s manager to have a record of the dialog occurring over those months both to coach the employee and ultimately to support any punitive action should coaching not work.
Take people issues out of the equation and the audit trail serves to help us understand the decisions we made at any point in time and the dialog that led up to those decisions. Understanding the context of decisions often brings us back on course when we’ve run astray.
Efficient document reviews avoid time wasting activities and keep knowledge workers and management focused on the job at hand. Make sure review processes have clear goals and objectives, everyone knows their roles and the expectations of their participation, plan for back and forth dialog, and capture everything that happens for compliance and reference purposes. These are the keys to doing efficient reviews.
SharePoint remains the fastest selling server solution Microsoft ever produced. Quite a feat when you consider Microsoft’s many other successful server products, such as Exchange, SQL Server, and Dynamics. Despite the sales, it seem like the harder IT works to control SharePoint, the slower SharePoint adoption becomes.
SharePoint Adoption Creates a Massive IT Headache
The first SharePoint branded products showed up in 2001 as SharePoint Portal Services and SharePoint Team Services. The portal product helped businesses organize information through navigation and search. Team Services helped teams get sites up quickly to manage files and schedules. The two products didn’t work very well together, which inhibited their adoption.
In 2003, SharePoint Portal Server (SPS), and Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) arrived. While SPS was licensed separately, WSS came as part of Windows Server. These two products were built on the same foundation with SPS offering deeper portal and search capabilities and WSS offering core file sharing and collaboration features.
“It was WSS that lit the match that started the fire that devoured the forest”
Most organizations found themselves owning a license to SharePoint, because it came with their Windows Server. It seemed natural to let users create sites on the SharePoint server for sharing files. After all, that was much easier to manage than local file stores or the numerous network file sharing solutions available at the time. Without a great deal of thought, IT departments replaced the “E: Drive” and let sites spin up out of control resulting in what is now commonly called SharePoint Sprawl.
SharePoint was truly on fire when Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007 arrived in the fall of 2006. SharePoint 2007 heavily leveraged the .NET Framework offering master pages and web parts. This let the SharePoint partner network truly take the product to the next level. SharePoint 2007 sold over 100 million licenses, but for the most part it was a glorified file sharing solution needing a bunch of third party widgets to be usable.
By 2010 IT departments were faced with so many sites, the challenge had shifted from adoption to control. SharePoint 2010 offered numerous features to begin consolidating sites and getting the files under some form of document management.
Users Look for a SharePoint Alternative
While Microsoft and IT departments were focused on controlling SharePoint sites, users were finding SharePoint more and more difficult to use. In 2007 a couple of MIT computer science students Drew Houston and Arash Ferdowsi, started a company named Dropbox. They had a simple goal: “We want you to have your stuff with you wherever you are, and that requires that we remove anything that gets in the way.” They built a file share that was a seamless extension of your computing environment. They had modest success up until 2010. But when IT departments began to try to exert control over SharePoint, Dropbox took off like a rocket!
Most people believe comparing Dropbox to SharePoint is like comparing Apples to Oranges, but is it really? When SharePoint took off users adopted it to solve similar problems. They wanted to have their files available everywhere and on every device. They needed a backup. And they needed to share files with other people. What Dropbox offered was a brain dead way of solving the same problems. 50 million subscribers later, it is kind of hard to argue with their success.
With IT now excerpting itself to control SharePoint, it is getting harder and harder for users to deploy a new SharePoint site in their organization. Yet, the speed of business isn’t slowing. It’s increasing every year. The average CEO is demanding a 20% increase in productivity from their knowledge workers, while trying to squeeze IT budgets at the same time. Users, pressed for time and pressured to increase productivitity, aren’t going to wait for IT.
Today, if a business user needs to create a site to share files and collaborate using SharePoint they need to go to IT. IT is reacting in three to six month cycles on these projects. Business users typically need to solve the problem in hours or days, and are no longer thinking in months. So, they are seeking alternatives to their IT-controlled systems and finding them with Dropbox, Box, Drive, Amazon, etc.
Industry analysts are painting Dropbox as a consumer solution because it doesn’t meet the security standards of IT. This doesn’t mean that business people aren’t using it. Of the 50 million subscribers, about 5% pay for their subscriptions. If you listen closely to any of the Cloud file sharing companies you’ll hear a common theme: the paying users are business users.
If business users are adopting at these rates, what were they doing before they got here? The answer is: they were using SharePoint. Which brings us back to the question at hand: Is the fuel that fed SharePoint’s growth now feeding the rise of Dropbox, Box, etc.? I would have to answer yes. With each iteration SharePoint becomes more challenging to use for basic file sharing and IT exerts more control. This is driving business users to seek out systems that are easier to deploy and less restrictive than SharePoint.
End-of-Sale and End-of-Life Announcement for All Versions of VizitSP, and Vizit Essential and Vizit Pro Versions 3.x and Prior.
Vizit announces the end of availability of all releases of VizitSP™, and releases 3.x and prior of Vizit Essential™ and Vizit Pro™. This announcement also includes advanced notice of discontinuance of support for all versions of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Prior, and various browsers (see below).
Customers are encouraged to migrate to Vizit Essential and Vizit Pro 4.x and higher at their soonest possible convenience. Customers will continue to receive support on all products listed above until the end of their active maintenance agreement or through July 31, 2014 whichever comes sooner. New sales and downloads of the listed versions of Vizit software will be discontinued as of this notice.
Browser support impacted by this announcement includes all Internet Explorer versions 8.x and prior, all Google Chrome versions 9.x and prior, all Mozilla Firefox versions 3.x and prior, and all Apple Safari versions 4.x and prior.
|End-of-Life Milestones and Dates for Various Vizit Products & Support|
|End-of-sale announcement date||The date the document that announces the end of sale and end of life of a product is distributed to the general public.||August 1, 2013|
|End-of-availability date||The last date the product may be downloaded from the Vizit web site. The product is no longer available after this date for download or purchase. No new maintenance agreements will be sold after this date, this includes renewing existing agreements.||August 1, 2013|
|End of software maintenance releases date||The last date that Vizit Engineering may release any final software maintenance releases or bug fixes. After this date, Vizit Engineering will no longer develop, repair, maintain, or test the product software.||December 31, 2013|
|Last date of support||The last date to receive service and support for the product. After this date, all support services for the product are unavailable, and the product becomes obsolete.||July 31, 2014|
For additional information or questions, send e-mail to Vizit support at email@example.com.
For more information about Vizit products, please contact your Vizit sales associate and/or Vizit Channel Partner.
I’m sure by now you’ve heard that Microsoft is providing file previewing in SharePoint 2013. This is a very valuable feature that really provides a level of usability that didn’t exist in previous versions of SharePoint. Vizit has been a market leader in SharePoint file previews since 2009. We recognized early on that SharePoint became much more usable when the user could see the content (duh).
I didn’t write this blog earlier, as I was certain it would just be viewed as sour grapes. Now that SharePoint 2013 has been out there for a while and more people have had a chance to play with it let me give you our take on SharePoint 2013 previews.
WHAT’S RIGHT ABOUT SHAREPOINT 2013 PREVIEWING
When Jared Spataro and the FAST team took over leadership of SharePoint you had to know previews would become a key feature in SharePoint 2013. Search practitioners have known for years that previews are a key to improving the odds a user will select the right search result. The search background of the SharePoint team really helped strengthen the foundation of SharePoint 2013.
The Bottom Line Is SharePoint Users Need Previews
A couple of years ago I was at a SharePoint Saturday in Chicago and a user came up, watched a demo, and said you guys eliminate “SharePoint click and wait”; I loved that line. What he was describing were users clicking on links, waiting for file downloads, and then getting the wrong file. This is the plight of the SharePoint user and it is a completely frustrating experience.
Previews next to library items and search results help the user choose the right item more often. It also draws the user’s focus away from the SharePoint Ribbon, which has become so busy it is more of a distraction than a help to the user. Put simply, previews just make SharePoint more usable.
Often the Next Step is Opening the File
Many files have first pages that look similar. One of the primary functions of a viewer is to let the user rapidly open the file to validate that it is indeed the right one. This may take reviewing several pages to be sure. You don’t want users downloading the files to their hard drives to do this, but this is SharePoint’s default behavior. It is really difficult to maintain governance when the system constantly creates copies of files outside of its control (again, duh).
With SharePoint 2013 the SharePoint team also got this right. Within the SharePoint 2013 search hover panel the user can navigate beyond the first page to verify that the file is the right one before taking the next step. This eliminates creating copies and gives the users what they need, a way to verify they’ve got the right file.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH SHAREPOINT 2013 PREVIEWING
The biggest obstacle the SharePoint team faced in getting previews right was being part of the Office team. Instead of focusing on the user’s needs they got caught up taking Microsoft Office to the CLOUD, CLOUD, CLOUD… Previews became the SharePoint gateway that drives the users to Microsoft Office in the CLOUD, CLOUD CLOUD…. On a side note, if I hear another Microsoft person say Cloud I’m going to SCREAM.
Missing Critical Format Support
They missed little things like supporting email (msg), PDF and TIF file formats with SharePoint 2013 search hover panel previews (really). How long can this company survive ignoring the cold hard reality of the world: PDF EXISTS; get over it already. PDF is one of the most popular file formats on the planet, but the SharePoint team missed it. I have a great deal of respect for Spataro and the team and I don’t think they’re that ignorant, so some greater force must be at play.
By not supporting these critical formats they are forcing the continued click and download methods of the past users hate and that really mess with corporate records management policies. SharePoint has gotten more ECM friendly with every release, but this core flaw seems to betray them at every turn.
Paper Hasn’t Gone Away
Speaking of ECM, as much as we’d like to be done with paper, the paperless office never emerged. We still have to deal with paper in our daily lives, and to get it under SharePoint management we often scan it. When we scan paper documents it almost always becomes a TIF or PDF file. So if you’re dealing with any amount of scanned documents you can count on SharePoint 2013 previews providing no assistance (again, really guys?). There’s nothing quite like creating a space for something on a web page, and then leaving it blank. It leaves the user feeling like they are missing something (and they are).
The Critical Next Step
We did a SharePoint Market Study late last year and over 1,200 organizations using SharePoint participated. One of the key things they told us is the majority of content in SharePoint isn’t being edited. So why did the SharePoint team open the document in an editor versus something more efficient (Office in the CLOUD, CLOUD, CLOUD, it’s still ringing in my ears, someone make it stop).
More often than not, when a user searches for a file in SharePoint they are looking to find a key passage or exhibit and share it. Instead of helping the user find it and share it SharePoint 2013 dumps the user into the Office web apps (you can see why they had to buy Yammer when they think this makes sense). Yes, they provided this neat little function called “Look Inside” but it provides little more than a table of contents that leads the user into the web apps.
The SharePoint team did what I like to refer to as the Right Thing for the Wrong Reason by offering file previews, and as a result they got it only half right. SharePoint 2013 is certainly better than before, but fortunately for us the need for true previewing hasn’t gone away.
Over the last decade we’ve seen a mass migration of file shares into SharePoint. Some say the goal of this effort is to improve search, while others cite collaboration. So why does it seem there is an inverse usability equation to SharePoint – or put more simply why does it seem the more files users put into SharePoint, the harder it is to use?
Out of the box SharePoint search and meta-data are designed to do one thing: help the user find the files stored in SharePoint. SharePoint implementations often produce frustrated users. The reason for this frustration is simple. The users are seeking information they know is within SharePoint, but instead of taking the user to it, SharePoint search produces endless lists of files.
Microsoft and the SharePoint vendor community have attempted to address this by focusing on meta-data as a method for improving search. The SharePoint team also reworked search in SharePoint 2013 to provide a “look inside” feature. Both miss the point that the reason users are seeking information today is often disconnected from the original intent of the file.
For example, think about Mark Twain’s great quote “Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear–not absence of fear.” The reason someone might cite this quote today is highly unlikely to have anything to do with Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar where it originally appeared. Any table of contents to that Calendar is also not likely to be useful. To the user the file and its structure are often completely irrelevant containers that serve only to obscure the information they seek.
We recently conducted a study of over 1,100 organizations using SharePoint and found that approximately two thirds of the information in SharePoint repositories was not being authored, but there simply for reference. Over 68% of the time when a user does a SharePoint search they are seeking something deeper than a file. And it was no surprise that the top three barriers to using SharePoint content were listed as Awareness that the content exists, Search, and general Usability.
Now turn this whole issue over and look at it from the sharing point of view. Our study showed the number one goal of social initiatives was to improve collaboration, and number two was to encourage the use of stored content. Over 80% of these initiatives are expected to improve productivity. How will this occur if all we do is attach or reference a file in a conversation thread? We already know users find dealing with files frustrating, so why focus on giving them more of the same?
The SharePoint product team tells you SharePoint 2013 is a major step forward for enterprise social software, but their efforts don’t seem to connect the content users want with any social collaboration. Is the connection between social and SharePoint about sharing files? When you reference a file in a blog like this, are you really referencing the file or something in it, like a quote or a statistic? How about when referencing a wiki, discussion group, or activity feed?
I’d be surprised if you are even reading this portion of the blog. People don’t consume information in long form. They consume information in small clips and phrases as they go through their day. This is why we’ve focused our energy on extending SharePoint search to find those small clips and phrases, and to provide easy methods to share them in any collaborative environment.
Our goal is to change the inverse correlation equation and get back to an equation where adding information to SharePoint equals increased productivity. This isn’t going to happen until we stop thinking about information in terms of files and recognize that it is the key passages and exhibits within these files that really matter.
Vizit Pro Available for SharePoint 2013
Vizit releases Vizit Pro for SharePoint 2013
Seattle, February 25, 2013 – Vizit a leading provider of search and collaboration solutions for Microsoft SharePoint announced the general availability of Vizit ProTM for SharePoint 2013. Vizit Pro brings a powerful set of document imaging & collaboration features to SharePoint replacing costly traditional enterprise content management (ECM) software. Vizit Pro features include image capture, clean-up, indexing, viewing, and annotating.
Vizit Pro makes capturing paper documents into SharePoint libraries easy. With Vizit Pro SharePoint users can correct anything that goes wrong in the capture process without the need of expensive desktop software. Vizit Pro’s web based interface enables users to reorder images and even spit and merge documents. Once images are captured, Vizit Pro automatically retrieves SharePoint columns and enables the user to easily complete the indexing process.
Document review and collaboration are important in most organizations and Vizit Pro’s integrated user interface provides advanced annotation and markup capabilities to speed up review cycles. Users can easily mark-up areas of interest and enter comments on documents. Annotations can even be burned into select image formats and Vizit automatically manages SharePoint check in and check out for all annotated documents.
Vizit Pro also offers list filtering and searching, so users can organize lists to show the most important items first, creating a prioritized workspace. Vizit Pro enables searching on multiple fields with AND/OR operators, date ranges, with sortable search results.
Vizit Pro has native support for previewing and viewing Microsoft Office, TIF, PDF, DICOM and hundreds of other document formats. Users can quickly view documents before downloading and opening them in their native application. Vizit’s previewer integrates with all SharePoint document libraries, lists and search results, so users can visually find and review documents.
About Vizit, Inc.
Vizit bridges the gap between search and collaboration, enabling users to discover key passages and exhibits within their SharePoint content and share Clips and engage in content centric conversations. For more information contact us at vizit3.wpengine.com, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone US toll free (855) VIZIT-US, International +1 (425) 216-6170.
+1 (425) 658-2587