Transitioning Users to Office 365

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Microsoft Office 365 users in the commercial space have grown to over 85 million, up more than 40% in a year. It’s likely your organization has made the move or will soon be moving to Office 365. If your company has invested in Office 365, the first decision you’ll need to make is where to begin. With the current applications already offered (pictured below), users can be overwhelmed. It’s up to your Office 365 leaders and experts to help users decide what technology or feature to use and when to use them.

o365tiles

The chat-based digital workspace – Microsoft Teams, launched earlier this month, is the latest service offering that will entice more users to use Office 365. This is the new work area within Office 365 that provides a modern conversation experience. It integrates with Skype for Business, so teams can participate in voice and video conferences. Along with Office 365 Groups, it brings together the full breadth of Office 365 into one central hub for teams to collaborate. Applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint, OneNote, Planner, and Delve are all integrated into Microsoft Teams. The main goal for this latest service offering is to provide users with all the information and tools they need securely on any device at any time.

While Office 365 provides an ever growing set of features, the challenges for IT professionals typically focus on whether the features are mature enough to deploy in their organization. The decision to deploy what functionality the organization needs include business need, compliance, user experience, and support. The decision in deploying new technologies should also be focused on how to prevent users from stumbling over all of the available applications and features in Office 365. To help your organization realize business value faster with Microsoft Cloud, a service called ‘FastTrack’ is provided by Microsoft. The image below from Microsoft Ignite shows the most recent capabilities of Microsoft FastTrack. To further assist your organization, a step-by-step guide with the FastTrack site is available here.

fasttrackcapabilities

A whitepaper from 2toLead on “When To Use What In Office 365” has been published to help guide organizations and users accelerate their usage and adoption of Office 365. This is a great start for organizations that are planning to move to Office 365 or ones that have already deployed it.

Some important factors to help users adopt Office 365 include:

  • Cultural Change – Users will need help moving from their client based to cloud based applications. Establish daily tips to improve understanding and awareness of the new technology.
  • Embraced by Leadership – Business stakeholders and influencers must be identified and engaged early in the new technology
  • Establish Governance – Set clear policies for usage, security, and management of content
  • Pilot – Before rolling out a new application or feature to the enterprise, test usability with a small group of users from different areas of the organization
  • Campaign – Create an effective internal adoption roadmap and channels to capture user feedback

Understanding and providing ways to help business challenges are keys in gravitating users towards Office 365. Adoption is a continuous cycle that doesn’t end after launch date. As your business needs change, and new service offerings are released in Office 365, the adoption cycle will continue to be a key component for your organization. Office 365 is in a state of constant change, the public roadmap can help you keep aware of new features or updates that may be beneficial to your organization.

To learn more on how Centric Consulting can help you with Office 365 adoption, visit us at CentricConsulting.com

Migrating SharePoint to Office 365 – Best (Recommended) Practices

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Microsoft Office 365 user population has recently hit 85 million commercial users (http://www.winbeta.org/news/office-365-install-base-increases-to-85-million-active-commercial-and-24-million-consumer-users). As the user base continues to grow, we’ve seen a growing interest amongst our clients in moving their on-premises SharePoint farms to Office 365. The most critical part of a SharePoint migration project involves planning for the migration itself. With the different number of factors involved including the limitations of out-of-the-box migration options, this can complicate the project and introduce undesirable risk. It is critical to plan a SharePoint migration carefully and fully take into account all variables involved in the migration process.

Once a decision is made to move your SharePoint sites to the Office 365, you will need to consider – what does success look like to you? Whether the new platform is SharePoint Online or Hybrid, the following recommendations could be used as starting points for your migration.

Pre-migration:

  • If you have SharePoint On-premises, run the OnRamp for Office 365 Tool to assist you with discovery activities related to Office 365 deployment (screenshot below)

office365onramptool

  • Custom domain – if you plan on using your own domain (ex: contonso.com), make sure this domain has been verified
  • Make sure Office 365 tenant is ready – licenses, connectivity (network/firewall), and security must be in place
  • On-premises AD schema and forest functional level – MUST be at Windows Server 2003 or later if you plan on using Azure AD Connect
  • Prepare Active Directory before synchronize – run IdFix on your on-prem Active Directory and fix errors on accounts targeted to be synchronized
  • ADFS – if you consider deploying ADFS, you’ll need to use SSL Certificates
  • Take an inventory – this includes content, information architecture, design, and custom solutions
  • Decide what to move – take only what you will need – archive and delete redundant and/or legacy data
  • Prioritize and classify all content – tag content with metadata including Business Unit, and any other relevant data. Prioritize content with criteria such as business critical, important, nice to have, etc.
  • Select the right migration tool – Many commercial tools are available to assist with migrating to Office 365
  • Communication – some people tend to forget – make sure to communicate, communicate, and communicate

Migration:

  • Start with a pilot migration – use a representative sample of data to confirm technical feasibility of the migration, and identifies gaps
  • Migrate in batches – for larger organizations, divide content in batches to migrate

Post-migration:

  • Testing and validation – validates the success of the migration from the perspective of whether or not the infrastructure of the target environment meets the requirements of the business; this includes network latency, permission, custom solutions, etc. Repeat this process for each batch of the migration.
  • Transition of users – this includes ‘freezing’ the source environment, and perform one final synchronization of changes, and transitioning users to the target environment. Again, repeat this process for each batch of the migration.

In conclusion, migration of existing business content to SharePoint Online is not trivial. Ideally, organizations should spend time planning, discovering, and auditing the content, starting with the pre-migration checklist above. Lastly, whenever possible, comprehensive testing after each migration batch should be performed to minimize risk.

Centric has assisted many organizations with SharePoint and Office 365 upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your upgrade or migration, visit us at CentricConsulting.com

Upgrading vs. Migration to SharePoint 2016

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Choosing the right path to the new version of SharePoint, whether on-premises or online, can be overwhelming. Should you upgrade or migrate? It is important to understand that upgrade and migration are not synonymous. Some may disagree, but I truly believe that these are two different processes. Let’s get a better understanding of both options.

Upgrade

The technical terminology of upgrading is the physical transformation of a SharePoint content database from one schema version to the updated schema. The most common upgrade process is attaching your existing databases to the new SharePoint farm. The content remains the same, even though your new farm may be on a new hardware. From a non-technical perspective, it’s similar to remodeling your home – taking what’s old and making it new with a few more modern conveniences.

spupgrade

Migration

Migration is the physical move of SharePoint containers, data and associated attributes from one SharePoint farm to the new updated farm. The process is typically carried out with the aid of commercial tools. Again, using my non-technical comparison of a migration, it’s like moving from a house to a condo.

spmigration

Now that we’ve seen the differences between the two, the next question is making the choice of whether to upgrade your platform or to migrate out of your current implementation.

Here are some examples of where an upgrade is recommended:

  • You’re running an out-of-support version of SharePoint
  • You need to upgrade the SharePoint farm operating system
  • Your site collections and content databases are properly architected
  • Your existing taxonomy / information architecture is well-formed and supports your current organizational structure

And here are some examples of when a migration is recommended:

  • The source document repository is not SharePoint
  • You’re migrating to SharePoint Online (Office 365)
  • You’re migrating from older SharePoint versions (SharePoint 2010 and previous)
  • Your taxonomy / information architecture needs to be redesigned
  • Content databases are too large and need to be split to improve performance or to meet your Recovery Time Objective (RTO) or Recovery Point Objective (RPO)

In summary, upgrade and migration are two different options. The best approach depends on your requirements, constraints, and business objectives. It is important to mention that certain considerations must be taken into account when deciding whether upgrading or migrating is appropriate for your organization.

Centric has assisted many organizations with upgrades and migrations. To learn more about how Centric Consulting can help with your decision to upgrade or migrate, visit us at CentricConsulting.com

SharePoint On-Premises vs. SharePoint Online (Office 365) – Informed Decisions

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We are now seeing many organizations moving to Office 365, often starting with Exchange Online and Active Directory Federation Services in Azure. Companies that have already invested in SharePoint on-premises deployment are also considering moving to cloud as well. Before making the move to the cloud, take a look at some key decisions in the tables below.

We all know of the significant capital investment that comes with deploying SharePoint on-premises. Companies with on-premises deployments benefit from owning the environment and the full functionality of SharePoint. This also means that you are responsible for administering and supporting the environment. With this in mind, should you go down the Office 365 route?

If you’re not looking to pay for hardware and software up front or for the ongoing maintenance and support costs, buying subscriptions to Office 365 may be a better option. While the monthly operational investment will be a lot lower than the capital expense of buying infrastructure, over time the subscription costs can add up. However, benefits of Office 365 include more robust hardware and services including patching, backup and disaster recovery.

Where should you start?

Some key decisions for staying on premises:

Pros

Cons

You already have SharePoint deployed Large initial capital expense for hardware and software
The free version (SharePoint Foundation) is still available Cost of scaling up or out and disaster recovery
You can control when updates are applied Downtime required during patch/update
You have full control of solutions deployment SharePoint 2016 requires Software Assurance for new feature packs
SharePoint 2016 is not the last version of on-premises

 

Some key decisions for moving to SharePoint Online:

Pros

Cons

New features made available frequently Constant updates
No server maintenance Migration requires a third-party tool
Microsoft SLA for 99.9% uptime Custom deployment
Cost based on subscriptions Critical third-party solutions/tools are not supported
Redundant with multiple data centers Limited integration with internal services
Potential need for upgrading internet connection to account for the additional traffic required by O365

According to the research conducted by The Radicati Group, Inc. in 2016, market share for SharePoint on-premises is still higher than SharePoint Online as shown in the figure below.

onpremisesvcloudsharepoint2016

However, my experience, especially in the past year, has shown a dramatic increase in the number of organizations considering SharePoint Online.

The bottom line is that your decision of where and how to host your SharePoint deployment might not be a simple one. There are many key decision factors and relevant considerations. The limitations of some cloud-based functionality may not be suitable for some companies, but this is likely to change as SharePoint Online matures. Regardless of which direction you want to take, both short-term and long-term costs must be taken into consideration.

At Centric, we have used this method and other tools to help customers understand the details and make the best business and financial choices. As always, please feel free to contact us at CentricConsulting.com for any assistance you might need.

SharePoint Deployment – Employee Adoption Challenge

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According to the Nielsen Norman Group, SharePoint has a strong foothold on the intranet market and its market adoption is projected to grow at an annual average growth rate of 20% over the next four years. Moreover, 9 out of 10 winners of the 2016 Intranet Design Annual awards use SharePoint with an average organization size of 12,500 employees.

Even with these impressive numbers, organizations are still facing the same challenge with employee adoption according to AIIM’s Impact of SharePoint 2016 report. AIIM conducted a survey with a selection of 195,000 community members in June 2016. Some interesting key findings include 11 percent of organizations have reached a plateau in terms of SharePoint adoption. 22 percent say their SharePoint adoption is facing challenges from the user community.

So why is the adoption number so low? Most of the responses were very common, inadequate user training, and lack of senior management support.

The figure below shows the results of the survey on the pace of SharePoint adoption.

sharepointadoption

Clearly, these adoption numbers don’t look so great, organizations do realize challenges still exist. Nevertheless, there is some good news; 58 percent of organizations are making SharePoint training a priority and 50 percent plan to update and enforce their SharePoint governance policies.

So, what can you do to build a positive SharePoint experience to increase the rate of adoption.

Some points to consider from business users’ perspective:

  • Did it make any daily routine simpler?
  • Is it easier for me to find information I need?
  • Can I get to the information I need at any time form any device?

Some points to consider from the SharePoint support team perspective:

  • How can I make the UX design user friendly?
  • How can I improve or automate solutions to help uses’ daily routine easier?
  • How can I lessen IT from becoming a bottleneck?

I recently worked with a client where I used the examples above as guiding principles. The result was a high rate of adoption that translated into measurable benefits to the organization.

To learn more on how Centric Consulting can help you with SharePoint adoption, visit us at CentricConsulting.com

SharePoint 2013:Subsite Creation Error

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Users with ‘Full Control’ permission on a site collection, even site collection administrators, could not create a subsite.

The only error they receive is “Sorry, you don’t have access to this page”SubSiteAccessDenied

First, I thought it had something to do with permissions on the hidden list (/Lists/TaxonomyHiddenList).  I granted the users ‘Full Control’ on this list.  Nope, that wasn’t it.

Then, I thought it was related to the Master Pages or Page Layouts.  I granted the users ‘Full Control’ on this list, too.  Nope, that wasn’t it either.

After digging through the ULS, I found the following entries.

FollowedContent.FollowItem:Exception:System.UnauthorizedAccessException: Access is denied. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80070005 (E_ACCESSDENIED))     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Utilities.SPUtility.HandleAccessDenied(Exception ex)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Library.SPRequest.AddOrUpdateItem(String bstrUrl, String bstrListName, Boolean bAdd, Boolean bSystemUpdate, Boolean bPreserveItemVersion, Boolean bPreserveItemUIVersion, Boolean bUpdateNoVersion, Int32& plID, String& pbstrGuid, Guid pbstrNewDocId, Boolean bHasNewDocId, String bstrVersion, Object& pvarAttachmentNames, Object& pvarAttachmentContents, Object& pvarProperties, Boolean bCheckOut, Boolean bCheckin, Boolean bUnRestrictedUpdateInProgress, Boolean bMigration, Boolean bPublish, String bstrFileName, ISP2DSafeArrayWriter pListDataValida… 667d969d-3189-d082-cda8-1bb13d261267
…tionCallback, ISP2DSafeArrayWriter pRestrictInsertCallback, ISP2DSafeArrayWriter pUniqueFieldCallback)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPListItem.AddOrUpdateItem(Boolean bAdd, Boolean bSystem, Boolean bPreserveItemVersion, Boolean bNoVersion, Boolean bMigration, Boolean bPublish, Boolean bCheckOut, Boolean bCheckin, Guid newGuidOnAdd, Int32& ulID, Object& objAttachmentNames, Object& objAttachmentContents, Boolean suppressAfterEvents, String filename, Boolean bPreserveItemUIVersion)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPListItem.UpdateInternal(Boolean bSystem, Boolean bPreserveItemVersion, Guid newGuidOnAdd, Boolean bMigration, Boolean bPublish, Boolean bNoVersion, Boolean bCheckOut, Boolean bCheckin, Boolean suppressAfterEvents, String filename, Boolean bPreserveItemUIVersion)     at Microsoft.SharePo… 667d969d-3189-d082-cda8-1bb13d261267
…int.SPListItem.Update()     at Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.SPSocialDataStore.WriteFollowedItem(FollowedItem item, FollowedItemData data)     at Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.SPSocialDataStore.Follow(FollowedItem item, FollowedItemData data, Boolean checkLimit)     at Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.FollowedContent.FollowItem(FollowedItem item, Boolean isInternal) 667d969d-3189-d082-cda8-1bb13d261267
Could not follow the url http://myportal.local/dept/<SiteCollection/<Sub-Site>/ 667d969d-3189-d082-cda8-1bb13d261267
SiteFeedFeatureReceiver: exception thrown while trying to auto-follow the web: Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.FollowedContentException: InternalError : Could not follow the item http://myportal.local/dept/<SiteCollection>/<Sub-Site>/ at Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.FollowedContent.FollowItem(FollowedItem item, Boolean isInternal)     at Microsoft.Office.Server.UserProfiles.FollowedContent.Follow(Uri url, FollowedItemData data)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.SiteFeedFeatureReceiver.AutoFollowWeb(SPWeb web) 667d969d-3189-d082-cda8-1bb13d261267
Feature receiver assembly ‘Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal, Version=15.0.0.0, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=71e9bce111e9429c’, class ‘Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.SiteFeedFeatureReceiver’, method ‘FeatureActivated’ for feature ’15a572c6-e545-4d32-897a-bab6f5846e18′ threw an exception: System.Threading.ThreadAbortException: Thread was being aborted.     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.SiteFeedFeatureReceiver.AutoFollowWeb(SPWeb web)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.Portal.SiteFeedFeatureReceiver.FeatureActivated(SPFeatureReceiverProperties properties)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPFeature.DoActivationCallout(Boolean fActivate, Boolean fForce) 667d969d-3189-d082-cda8-1bb13d261267
Feature Activation: Threw an exception, attempting to roll back.  Feature ‘SiteFeed’ (ID: ’15a572c6-e545-4d32-897a-bab6f5846e18′).  Exception: System.Threading.ThreadAbortException: Thread was being aborted.     at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPFeature.DoActivationCallout(Boolean fActivate, Boolean fForce)     at Microsoft.SharePoint.SPFeature.Activate(SPSite siteParent, SPWeb webParent, SPFeaturePropertyCollection props, SPFeatureActivateFlags activateFlags, Boolean fForce) 667d969d-3189-d082-cda8-1bb13d261267

From what I can translate, the “Site Feed” feature was not able to be activated thus not allowing the new site to appear (or written) to “Sites you’re following” on the user’s My Site. This is true when selecting a Team Site, Project Site, or Community Site template.

I realized that all My Sites have been set to read-only (Governance Policy).  By switching from ‘Read-only’ to ‘Not locked’ via Central Admin, the users were able to create subsites successfully.

Read-Only

Learn more about Centric’s Portals and Collaboration Practice

There has been an error while loading the form

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Have you ever tried just simply clicking on an item in a list and get the following error?

“There has been an error while loading the form because the fields in the form and SharePoint list do not match.”

LoadFormError

As you can see in the error message above that the ‘Approver’ field is the root cause of this error.

In my previous post when I was getting the workflow error on this list (I’ll call it List A), I changed this column for allowing multiple values from ‘yes’ to ‘no’.  Now, I can’t even open an existing item from List A.

The same settings were also made on a different list (I’ll call it List B) on the same site, and List B continues to work.

After much head scratching, I started comparing form settings of both lists.  List A has two options for loading forms.

FormDefaultOptions

While List B has only one option.

FormOptions

Both lists use out-of-box SharePoint list form, after selecting ‘Use the default SharePoint form’, I was able to open list items on List A again.

Learn more about Centric’s Portals and Collaboration Practice

 

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