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August 14
IT as a Service Organization – a Real World IT View

Never before have I been so excited to be in the SharePoint space. Not because I now work for Microsoft as their Director of Strategy & Adoption in the collaboration & app spaces for Microsoft IT and not because of the release of SharePoint 2013 or O365, though both of those things for me are worthy of excitement. What I'm really enthusiastic about is the evolution of the portal experience and the transition of IT from a project & commodity based business to a service organization.

In follow up questions to my keynote speech at SPTechCon in Boston I was continuing my explanation on both topics so I thought I'd blog about it as well. This article will focus on transforming IT into a service organization.

First, IT has often been looked at by those in the C-suite as a cost center. Both in people and hardware a mature, global IT organization can be a large entry on the expense side of the balance sheet. Now, leaders in the IT space are realizing what many of us have known all along. IT generates revenue. We enable sales, employee collaboration, customer awareness and product delivery. What we're not great at however is connecting the dots between the technologies we implement and the outcomes that we influence.

Further, unless you are a deep technology professional many of the things we deliver in IT seem to be an artful combination of "jazz hands" and "magic pixie dust". Our peers in HR, marketing, legal, or the corporate communications departments do not have our deep technical knowledge nor do they spend their off hours building servers or writing code. So when we come to their meetings and lay at their doorstep a long list of acronyms and technology features we become disconnected from each other.

There is a solution. In IT we must make the transition to being a service organization. Much like other mature technology consulting and implementation companies we have to utilize our own internal marketing and communications teams to package our capabilities in terms that our peers can understand. Then with our partners in those other organizations we can connect the dots between the capabilities we deliver to the revenue and behavioral outcomes we jointly prioritize.

This has very concrete effect on our structure, thinking, personnel and priorities as an IT organization. In Microsoft IT we are busy maturing our capability to go to our internal market with service offerings that are easy to understand and adopt. In the SharePoint space this is very helpful as the full breadth of capabilities that can be delivered by SharePoint as a platform are staggering.

As an example in SharePoint we know and understand that having a working taxonomy and tagging content is fundamental to driving personalized experiences. If we extend this idea to include metadata gathered from our profile store via Active Directory and other sources we can deliver rich, personal experiences that connect people to each other and relevant information with more speed and accuracy. The underlying enterprise services that drive this outcome are very complex and require technically driven architecture, design and implementation.

What Tom in sales really wants however is for his customer to login to the extranet and be presented with the relevant documents, conversations, people and supporting information in a modern UX. Tom might even want to provision this type of experience before the deal is closed to streamline the conversation of replying to the RFP. By delivering this experience we can increase the close rate on sales, drive enhanced brand awareness and streamline communications between our employees and our customers.

In our SharePoint practice driving this experience would mean selecting the following services from our service catalog:

  • Create a Site
  • Share with External Customers
  • Get Started with Tagging
  • Get Social Capabilities

If you just wanted to talk to someone to understand what services would enable that scenario you could select "Collaboration Consulting" and an Engagement Manager would discuss your business needs. After a knee deep analysis we'd select the services for you, complete a Scope of Work and after approval hand off to the delivery team.

As we expand the capabilities of our service catalog we will ask you a few questions when we are provisioning your site. Are you using it for project management? If so we'll turn that feature on for you. Will you be publishing any sort of news, status updates or announcements? If so we'll turn on publishing and connect you to our Enterprise Publishing portal to share your news with others.

These examples reflect an outside-in approach to discussing IT capabilities. How does the customer see us and what do they need? Categorizing our services in this way helps us drive adoption, reduce IT costs by reusing components and increase satisfaction with our internal customers.

Now is the perfect time to be rethinking how we engage with our internal customers because we are dealing with so much change. New requirements, product capabilities and business scenarios are driving a large degree of change within our industry. Our job in IT is to drive the success of our respective companies by delivering technology solutions that meet their strategic needs. Changing the way we discuss, package, design and deliver these services will provide a competitive advantage to our people.

In my next article I'll discuss the evolution of the portal experience and how these services will enable people to embrace the future of SharePoint and other collaboration technologies.

October 25
Planning for SharePoint Migrations

As a new Microsoft employee today is a pretty exciting day. Having spent the majority of my career in the Microsoft ecosystem being on the inside of this glorious machine is thrilling. Yes, there are challenges that face us as a company and an industry moving forward but that has always been the case. The reality is that we are uniquely positioned to provide a high quality end to end experience for enterprise users. The advent of Windows 8, the Surface and SharePoint 2013, just to name a few of our launch events this season, provides the type of technology tools that great innovations are built upon.

As as self-described SharePoint Enthusiast I’m thrilled at the ability to evolve the adoption of this platform for users everywhere. My job primarily focuses on driving adoption of platform components within Microsoft, however, everything my team does has an impact on the industry as a whole. Being able to sit with such smart folks and discuss the evolution of modern collaboration and how we can produce experiences that are compelling is a pleasure.

At SharePoint Intelligence in Portland, Oregon today I discussed this new paradigm in more detail. Now more than ever there are some key messages that I want people to focus on. As anyone knows who has followed my blog, my tweets or my speaking engagements knows I am primarily focused on driving business value from real world scenarios. I am just as enamored with the new technology as anyone else, however my time in business management has taught me the value of ensuring people understand the measurable value they are getting from technology implementations. As we discuss moving to the cloud, migrating to SharePoint 2013 and doing application development for new form factors this is a paramount concern. I feel that as an industry segment (SharePoint people) we can do a better job of measuring & communicating value. I’ll be discussing this in detail with members of my team from Discovery & Collaboration in MSIT at the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas. Here are a few high level pointers on this topic:

Understand Your Organizations Strategic Roadmap:

You will be best placed for success if you have a clear understanding of your stakeholders “big bets” for the coming years. Is your company launching new products, expanding existing services, taking on new partners to collaborate with? As always understanding the pain points that exist in the C-suite will help to narrow your focus and provide solutions that matter.

Let Strategic Needs Dictate Technology Investments:

You can’t do everything all at once. Not if you want to be successful. Therefore, understanding strategic business needs will help you to select the technology path that will best serve your company. You are then positioned to make the best budget and resource decisions available to you. Recognizing that this is a multi-year investment will help you to select key programs that can be built out over time. For example maybe you need to have better extranet capabilities for information collaboration and process transparency with your external partners. If so then investing in O365 and continuing to migrate data to the cloud will be a strategic initiative for you. Ensuring that the mobile and tablet experiences are tailored to the needs of those users in that experience may be a phase 2 project under that program. I’m not aware of any company who has unlimited resources so strategic decision making at this point is critical to success.

Over-communicate with Your User Community & Stakeholders

As we move to the cloud and evolve our SharePoint platform we continue to ask people to embrace new behavior. Asking someone to post to a newsfeed instead of send an email is a change in their normal routine. Changing human behavior requires not only an edict from IT but a vision that people can emotionally engage in. Whether that vision is the success of their company or product or simply an understanding that being more efficient will empower their ability to embrace a stronger home/work life balance our communication skills as technologists must be stronger. Build in communications planning to each program & project plan you have. It’s essential to high quality change management practices.

Further, we need to embrace a more regular cadence of communication with our stakeholders. In clear and simple terms, with metrics that support our positions, we need to show the value we are delivering as SharePoint and information technology professionals. My personal belief is that your ability to have those discussions successfully will play a large part in your platform and career successes.

Embrace Social – It’s Here to Stay

Whether you’ve been able to leverage social for business value yet or have completely rejected the idea of it you can rest assured it’s here to stay. The social features of SharePoint 2013 integrate enterprise social features with all the other collaborative goodness that we’ve come to know as SharePoint. Our acquisition of Yammer only serves to solidify our presence in that space. We clearly believe that the ability to quickly collaborate with others has value. Each company will have to identify the audiences, both internally and externally, that can get value from these tools. It’s time to embrace these tools, if you haven’t already, for the game changer they are.

Get Your Metrics Together:

If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. That has never been truer. Knowing a baseline of user analytics around processes and content is key to evaluating what to migrate and what to kill. Additionally, its good business to understand the usage patterns of your user community. Make sure these features are turned on and that you are reviewing actual data on a periodic basis. As you move from launching portals to developing apps understanding usage patterns will be more important than ever.

We are at a pivotal time in our industry. Now is the time to grab your enthusiasm and your skills and plan for the future. Embrace the new Windows, our new form factors and SharePoint 2013 as tools of business transformation. We are here to support you in this journey and I personally couldn’t be more excited! I hope to see some of you at SharePoint Conference and online! Do not hesitate to come up and ask me questions anytime. Let’s #MoveForward together!

June 27
My Dream Job Has Arrived!  Thanks Microsoft!

Sometimes the Universe is a wonderful place!  I'm happy to announce that on July 2nd I will officially join the ranks of Microsoft. I have accepted the role of Director, Enterprise Collaboration & Solution Management for the Strategic Enterprise Services-IT group. 

Based in Redmond, WA this amazing position puts me in a leadership role for the direction of Microsoft's own global SharePoint implementation.  While working with world class developers,the product group and many others I'll be able to increase the level of collaboration and value through SharePoint services delivered to Microsoft employees around the world.

Even more exciting is the requirement to have the person in this role share that knowledge with Microsoft customers and partners. The teaching and SPUG leadership that I've been doing for years on top of my responsibilities at SKECHERS will now be a critical part of my job.

I could not be more thrilled to take on this challenge.  We are at an important time in our technology evolution.  I am enthusiastic about how the industry has implemented SharePoint but even more so about the future.  Having the opportunity to expand on the great work that's already been done, both inside Microsoft and in the partner / client community is a dream come true.

Most importantly however I would not have been in the position to accept this job without the support of so many of you in the SharePoint & ECM community!  Thank you for all you have done for me. I'm excited to have an even bigger platform from which to give back to the people who have so graciously accepted and supported me! 

Onward & Upward!  The Adventure Continues!


April 16
The Five Things I Learned Teaching at SharePoint Saturday


This past Saturday I had the pleasure of participating in SharePoint Saturday Los Angeles.  I founded this event with Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet) and this year it was wonderfully led by co-chairs Nedra Allmond (@nedraallmond) and Wahid Saleemi (@wahidsaleemi).  Attended by over 250 people it was held on the same weekend as the Long Beach Grand Prix the committee selected the theme “Race to Collaborate”.  Our keynote provided by Mark Miller of End User SharePoint (@eusp) gave us some wonderful insight on the nature of social, collaboration and the trust we build as content providers in this industry.

The most important lessons I learned however were in the class I taught, Getting a Green Light – How to Pitch a SharePoint Project and those I attended later in the day. 

1. Everyone has Valuable Experience:  There were many new people to the SharePoint community who attended this event.  Often when you are new at something you think you have nothing to contribute.  This is far from true in our community.  While you may be learning the in’s and out’s of this complex platform, your business experience and knowledge of your own company is critical to your successfully implementing any SharePoint project.  Don’t underestimate how important this is!

2. Enthusiasm for this Technology is Everywhere:  While there may be conversation about the health of the SharePoint community out in the blogosphere I think that is all rubbish.  Users, developers and business people are excited about the business transformation that can be achieved by properly leveraging SharePoint and other Microsoft technologies.  I think those of us who question the health of the community need to look at it from a users standpoint more often. They are far less jaded.

3.  The Education Gap Remains:  There is still a gap between the vision that Microsoft is painting and the ability within the community to execute that vision.  That’s where we come in!  It’s remains extremely important to educate members of the community on the balance between technology features & real world implementations.  SharePoint is only valuable when it solves a real business problem. 

4. The Cloud is Up-incoming not Adopted: Business is still trying to figure out how to make the most of the on-premises implementations that they are wrangling.  Now, we are asking them to move to the cloud and hosted solutions.  The gap in strategy between those two implementations must be addressed, not only by Microsoft but by the partner community that supports the technology.  Cloud based solutions, like everything else, have to make sense for business.

5. Help is Available, Even for Free: The good news is that there are many talented, smart people who are actively thinking about these issues and developing smart plans.  These people do not just work at Microsoft or at partners.  Some of the wisest, most savvy people I met at SPSLA were the users themselves who are on the front lines. It is important, for me at least, to help develop these people into the next wave of speakers and consultants who will bring that real world experience into the community and share what they’ve learned.

I encourage everyone to get and stay involved in this burgeoning technology field.  Collaboration and the cloud are both here to stay.  It’s up to us to deliver true business value to our organizations! 

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at more of these events.  If you are in the area come out to our Los Angeles SharePoint User Group on April 26th at the Century City Microsoft Store and hear a case study by some of these talented members of the user community from Cedar Sinai. 


March 30
Community Events – SharePoint Saturday LA & LASPUG

Love SharePoint? Want to educate yourself and get more involved?  April is going to be your favorite month!  Two great community events will be happening and they are both free! 

SharePoint Saturday Los Angeles – April 14, 2012

On April 14, 2012 at Cal State Long Beach SharePoint MCM’s, MVP’s architects, developers, branders and other professionals interested in Microsoft’s SharePoint enterprise software platform will be in attendance at the upcoming SharePoint Saturday Los Angeles event at California State University, Long Beach. This free, all day event is intended to educate technology and business professionals on SharePoint’s benefits and capabilities in a fun and friendly environment.

Held at the Student Union facility on the Cal State Long Beach campus the event will include more than 30 sessions led by working professionals skilled in a variety of SharePoint disciplines. Some of the session topics include:

· Metadata and taxonomy management

· Social computing

· Migration and upgrade

· Business intelligence

· Design and layout

· Enterprise content management

· Workflow, Web Parts, and other SharePoint solutions

· Enterprise Search

· Cloud computing and hosting

· Project Management

Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be served at the venue, and free wireless internet access will be provided by the facility. Giveaways and prizes will also be provided throughout the day.

SharePoint Saturday LA is a free event open to the public, however space is limited. To register for the event, log on to Registration opens on March 14, 2012.

For more information about SharePoint Saturday LA speakers, session topics and venue details visit the SharePoint Saturday site at, follow the event on or via the LinkedIn group SharePoint Sat. Los Angeles. The event Twitter handle is #SPSLA.  There will also be a community table there with folks from LASPUG, Women in SharePoint and other community organizations.

Los Angeles SharePoint User Group April 26, 2012

If that’s not enough the Los Angeles SharePoint User Group will return to its new home at the Microsoft Store in Century City for another fun, free educational event on April 26th.  We’ll have a great case study presentation which will be confirmed shortly.  Stay tuned for more information and join us there.  With 3 hours free parking and great restaurants for some SharePint fun afterwards we are loving our new home. Food will be served at our event which starts at 6pm.  You can register at and space is limited so please register early!  You can follow news about LASPUG and other community events on Twitter via @SoCalSpug.

The Los Angeles SharePoint community is thriving and it is a true collaboration of professionals coming together to learn and network.  Get involved today and expand your SharePoint knowledge.  You won’t be sorry!

January 13
Professional Certifications and Career Development for SharePoint and Beyond

Thanx to a tweet today from Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet) I got to review the pre-reading list for the Microsoft Certified Master program.  Scanning this very long list of content brought home to me ​the depth and breadth of knowledge suggested to master this wonderful thing we call SharePoint.  

At the holidays I also joined an organization out of Chicago called Business Architects Association and am preparing to take the next schedule exam for certification.  As an SPadmin, business architect and all around technology implementation specialist I feel the need to dedicate myself to the pursuit of continuing knowledge.  This is also the reason I'm dedicated to supporting community events such as SharePoint User Groups, SharePoint Saturday​'s and other avenues of training. 

The BAA notes nine key areas of base knowledge required for certification as a business architect. They are:

  • Strategy
  • Finance
  • Business Process
  • Information Technology
  • Human Resources
  • Consulting
  • Systems Dynamics / Holistic Thinking
  • Change Management 
  • Program Management

So as we move forward in SharePoint specific business architecture I see a natural integration of these skill sets - technical knowledge of SharePoint and true business architecture skills.  The list alone is worth delving into to find areas in which further study is required. 

As everyone in this business is aware, some product and technical certifications are not worth the paper they are written on.  I encourage people to find programs that are more robust and speak to business issues as well as technology.  Certifications offered by reputible colleges, organizations such as the BAA and the PMP designation can influence hiring decisions and make you a more well rounded technologist.  

Somehow in my busy schedule I will find a way to add this to my education goals for 2012.  

How are you going to expand your education and develop your career this year for SharePoint and beyond?

October 01
Getting the Most out of the Microsoft SharePoint Conference

As I get ready to set off for the Microsoft SharePoint Conference tomorrow I am once again struck by how overwhelming the conference can be.  I am speaking Monday on driving adoption to your corporate intranet and I hope to see you there.  Meanwhile, there are so many vendors and so much information swirling around that it can be difficult to feel as if you are getting the most for your registration fee and those precious hours out of the office.  Here are a few things I’ve learned over time to help you, especially if this is your first conference of this scale:

1. Pick an Area of Study:  With so many competing sessions its important to select an area that you want to educate yourself about.  This can be tied to your current job responsibilities or an area in which you’d like to increase your knowledge.

2.  Network for Career Development:  There are many great people and companies at this conference. This is a perfect time to network with these individuals that are in your region, industry or future career path.  Though there will be thousands of people in attendance at this conference it is really a very small community.  Most of us can be found on Twitter when searching with the hashtag #SharePoint.  For the conference of course you can view the #spc11 feed of tweets and see many professionals in this field. 

3.  Give Selected Vendors Your Attention: Without the vendors in the SharePoint ecosphere many great educational community events would not occur.  Do yourself (and them!) a favor and select a few that have relevant technology and spend some time in their booths.  Seek out the technical experts and you will find incredibly intelligent, passionate people who have a great deal of knowledge about our industry.

4.  Have Lots of Business Cards:  This is NOT the place you want to run out of business cards.  Bring a lot for new friends, selected vendors and professional contacts.

5. Attend the Social Gatherings:  The SharePoint community is a very social bunch!  We are always doing something fun to share our experiences and support local charities.  Wednesday night there are  some great gatherings including the OktoberFiesta at Tortilla Joe’s and the SharePint at the Tavern Grill.  These events are excellent for expanding your knowledge of the great people in this community.

Whatever you do at this season’s Microsoft SharePoint Conference enjoy yourself! We are involved in a great community with excellent technology. We can use this to make a difference for people in our workplace.  Have fun and see you there!

June 10
SharePoint & Digital Asset Management - It's Not the Technology

I've had the pleasure of being at the Henry Stewarts Digital Asset Management conference in New York for the last few days.  It's very impressive to see what major broadcasting and publishing companies are doing about the explosion of digital assets and metadata.  From point solutions to full end to end digital production & delivery methods the array of technology is staggering.

Like all good conferences this is sponsored by vendors who continue to drive forward innovation, standards and delivery expertise.  Though I'm always annoyed at the plethora of voicemails that I get from vendors there is no ignoring that they (in response to customer demand) are driving innovation forward in our digital age.

However, if there's one thing that I can clearly see from listening to the case studies and customer presentations it's that a clear and present strategy is a key element in the successful delivery of these solutions. In multiple cases I listened to executives talking about monetization models, rights management and other strategies that were the driving force behind the herculean task of standing up a DAM system.

That is never more true than in the case of SharePoint. When I asked my crowd this morning how many had it and then how many hated it the hands that shot up for the latter was a good deal of the audience.  I'm disappointed at our industry for allowing so many failed implementations and dissatisfied customers.  In case you haven't heard:

SharePoint isn't the problem - your strategy & information architecture are.

Whether you are implementing SharePoint for DAM, collaboration, business process enhancement or other tasks don't settle for a substandard installation.  The depth of the bench of MVP's and consultants who actually understand the technology from a business perspective is getting deeper every day. Find someone who can assist you from the business side in architecting SharePoint to meet the needs of your user community.  I’m not referring to the server or services architecture but the architecture of your information, user experience and solutions.  Sorry, but this person usually does not live in the IT Department.  I don't care if they can write a stitch of code.  A true solution architect will save you more money, time and frustration than you know!

Here's to architecting SharePoint 2010 in a way that brings greater satisfaction to the end user community! I've uploaded my presentation over in the Resource Materials section.  Enjoy!​

March 12
Sharing is the Point: Donate for Japan Relief

There are few words to express my concern over the people living in Japan during this difficult and frightening time.  They are a strong and resourceful people however between the earthquake, tsunami and now the exploding nuclear power plant it is most important that they know the rest of the world is willing to step up and be of aid, as well as send our prayers. 

Below you will find a list of links to reputable agencies who are gathering funds and supplies for the relief and rebuilding effort.  Please share the link to this post or create your own. Let's collectively make an effort to be of service to our fellow men, women and children as they recover from this devastating event.  

Donate today and if you can light a candle and send some positive energy to them in your own way. 

The Red Cross In response to the quake, the Red Cross has already launched efforts in Japan. Visit or text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone.
Save the Children​ ​The organization is currently organizing efforts and donations to its Children's Emergency Fund will support outreach.
​International Medical Corps ​To donate or learn about other ways you can contribute to its medical response, visit Also, text MED to 80888 from any mobile phone to give $10.
Doctors Without Borders​ Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is sending two three-person teams to the Iwate and Miyagi prefectures in Japan. To learn more about the organization's efforts or make a donation, visit
Here is also a link to an article on the Huffington Post link to an article on the Huffington Post that outlines some additional agencies and from which I copied this content. 

For those of you tweeting about this situation please note that an iReporter on @CNN mentioned that though the phone lines are down they are staying in communication on Twitter.  She specifically mentioned how reading all the tweets from us around the world is helping them to have the strength to stay calm.  This is the true value of social media!  Keep tweeting.

Our SharePoint community reached out during all of the past disasters.  Lets make sure to do our part again!

March 01
Women in SharePoint Launches West Coast Branch

I’m happy to report that the Women in SharePoint West Coast branch attended its first event at the SharePoint Saturday held in San Diego this last weekend. It was a great event where we got to share our mission of supporting women in the SharePoint field through a variety of educational outreach activities.

WSPWest TeamTattossign

Our table in the vendor area drew a lot of participation and questions from the many women who attended this busy SharePoint Saturday.  Held at the San Diego convention center the organizers went out of their way to have this event carry the torch of enthusiasm that SPS events are famous for. This one was no exception!  For me it was great to see my friends in the community again. 

Women in SharePoint is a national organization which is pursuing its 501(c)(3) status.  I’m happy to be participating in its West Coast branch.  Dedicated to community outreach our own branch leaders met after #SPSSan to discuss our goals and how to achieve them.  This great group of women included Nedra Allmond (Ascent Media Group), Paula Rippenkroeger (Slalom Consulting), Pouneh Kaufman (Warner Brothers) and Melissa A. Layupan (K2). They take after my own heart in their passion for community service, fun and dedication to leadership within the technology industry.

Follow our group on Twitter at @WSPWest and stay tuned for our own website to be launched soon.  Meanwhile check out the site to learn more about this worthwhile organization’s goals or follow their work at @WomeninSP or @WSPDC for the Washington DC branch. 

Shoot me an email if you’d like to be involved as there will be lots of opportunities for all sorts of involvement in the community going forward.  Hope to see you soon!

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 About this blog


Welcome to my blog devoted to SharePoint.  Here I'lls hare my writings on using  SP tools for business process improvement and collaboration.  I'll also post information about SharePoint community events.