Our recent webinar, “Enterprise Information Management with SharePoint 2010: Secrets to Success” was a great success and attracted a huge worldwide audience of records managers as well as SharePoint professionals. If you didn’t get a chance to attend the live event, you can now view the on-demand version.
In the webinar, Dan Vasey, Director of Records & Information Management at Fortune 500 cable operator, Charter Communications, shared the strategy, methods, and tools that enabled his organization to successfully deploy the Charter Online Information Network, an enterprise-wide SharePoint 2010 based solution for records and information management. Dan was joined by Ben Henderson, Solutions Specialist at Colligo Networks, who discussed best practices for SharePoint email management and accessing SharePoint content offline.
To view this very popular and informative webinar on-demand including access to the webinar slide deck, click here.
During the live webinar, we received many good questions from the audience. All of the questions along with their answers are provided below:
Questions for Dan Vasey, Charter Communications
Do you have anything documented in terms of governance on SharePoint? When to use the product, when it becomes over extended, when not to use it?
SharePoint governance can be a tricky topic; mostly because everyone has a different definition of governance. We do have a governance document but unfortunately I am not able to share it outside the organization. Having said this, I can share with you some of my general approaches for governance relating to your question.
1. Our strategy is to keep information management simple. Provide a limited number of locations for information to be stored and make sure users can access these stores. We chose SharePoint as our primary storage location for unstructured documents.
2. You also need to clearly define the rules for using the solution, including when and how to use it. For example, we require a content type (actually it is a managed metadata field in SharePoint) for each document that is saved to SharePoint. This content type controls access and retention lifecycle.
How long did it take you to implement this solution and what was the greatest challenge you had to address?
We are still in the process of implementing the solution across the enterprise. Given the complexity of our environment and number of users, we chose to implement the solution on a department by department basis. We chose this strategy mostly because of the change management and clean up efforts required.
The most challenging aspect of the project to-date is trying to get people to adjust to a different way of storing and retrieving information. Most of our users were using network drives with deep tree structures. They were used to drilling through folders to find information. Metadata in SharePoint takes the place of complex tree structures and helps to flatten the taxonomy. This can be helpful but also a bit scary for a user in the beginning. Many of our users were anxious and had to learn to trust the search capabilities of SharePoint. This is an ongoing issue that we will have to continue to address by ensuring accurate search results, providing proper training and communication.
How do you organize unstructured data in SharePoint including email?
Our unstructured data is organized into three different site collections depending on the kind of collaboration that needs to take place. We use MySites, department (team) sites and project sites. Since the content type and other metadata (including full text search) drives the lifecycle management and search, the site a user chooses to store data in drives how they will collaborate with others. Email is a bit unique because it has its own metadata fields. We have created specific email template libraries for users to use on any site collection so they can store email separately if they wish. It’s not a requirement but because the default view includes columns unique to email (sent to, received from etc.)
Questions for Ben Henderson, Colligo Networks
We currently host our SharePoint outside of our environment, on a different Active Directory structure. Is the type of integration being discussed here an option or does the SharePoint Server need to be in the same environment as your Exchange environment?
The SharePoint server does not need to be within the same domain as Active Directory as you can provide specific credentials when connecting to the SharePoint site.
In SharePoint, you can email to a list having the right settings. Does Colligo Email Manager add that support in an Office 365 environment?
Colligo Email Manager does not add the ability to email to a document Library. This is out of the box functionality with SharePoint which currently, for security reasons, is not available in Office365. Colligo Email Manager doesn’t require the lists to be email enabled. You can create columns to map email metadata, however this isn’t a requirements and it would work well with an out-of-the- box Document Library.
Does Colligo Email Manager work in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI)?
In short – Yes. Colligo Email Manager does work within a VDI although I have seen many different types of these and some are more complex than others and hence, more problematic. You should contact email@example.com and speak to a Sales Engineer who will be able to discuss your particular requirements and see how best we can support your environment.
Can I host my files on my local server and just have SharePoint link to them, so that my users will not have to use the server folder and just use SharePoint for all files?
I believe what you are looking for here is a solution that presents items within SharePoint to the user and when they click on the item they are viewing the item on your server and not on SharePoint. If this is the case then the Colligo solution won’t meet your requirements, and I feel that what might be your best option is to have the SharePoint Search capability index your local server so that when people use the search on SharePoint it will surface these folders.
Re-tagging emails with metadata. How is this done for bulk copies? Can you define values to be used across multiple messages?
When moving items to SharePoint with Colligo Email Manager, you can move more than one item and then specify the metadata on each item, a number of items, or all of the items. Anything that you specify will overwrite the values for the selected emails, but this feature is very useful when you have custom metadata and bulk move items that all relate to the same topic.
Printing from iPad – Do you have a solution or do you rely on users having deployed another product to enable this? Also, do you support Android?
In regards to Colligo Briefcase, we don’t have our own solution for printing but will support other applications that enable this functionality. You can also open the documents in 3rd party applications. For Android applications we have this pencilled in on our roadmap, and it will depend largely on customer feedback and demand.
Colligo Contributor is nice, but in my experience (I installed a trial) it appears to only map to one site at a time to Windows Explorer. SharePoint does this OOTB. What we’re looking for is the ability to navigate through a hierarchy of SharePoint sites in Windows Explorer.
Currently when adding sites using the Colligo Contributor interfaces, such as the Colligo Contributor Client, you need to map one site at a time, and these sites all appear at the same level. With our newer product, Colligo Email Manager, you can navigate through sites to sub-sites. Within File Manager (the Windows Explorer integration piece within Colligo Contributor) you will need to add each site individually. What SharePoint doesn’t do out of the box is prompt for metadata and then check the item in. If your document library has metadata requirements on it then using the out of the box functionality will leave document checked out and other users will not be able to see this.
Any products for Mac?
Colligo Contributor and Colligo Email Manager only work within a Windows environment and an Outlook email client. However, we are releasing a product for iPad called Colligo Briefcase.
Can you disable the offline storage of documents? I would prefer docs to stay in SharePoint.
Yes, using the Colligo Email Manager product, all content including documents and email is stored in SharePoint. For Colligo Contributor File Manager, which provides a Windows Explorer interface, the documents are required to be taken offline. This improves the speed of opening and saving the documents, and Colligo will make the changes to the SharePoint site when a synchronisation next occurs. The synchronisation happens in the background to give the users the best experience of dealing with their SharePoint documents. The documents that are cached can be filtered on Folder or SharePoint view so that you can store on the documents that you are working on.
Will Colligo work with all email platforms such as Lotus Notes?
Using Colligo Contributor File Manager, content from Lotus Notes can be opened and saved to SharePoint from Lotus Notes. Colligo Email Manager and Colligo Contributor Add-In for Outlook only work within a Windows environment and an Outlook email client.
Does Colligo have capability to automatically name non-email files when dragging and dropping using Windows Explorer to avoid duplicate file names?
When you drag and drop using Colligo Contributor File Manager, you are prompted for a Name and a Title, these are the default metadata values in a standard Document Library in SharePoint. Colligo gives you the option to rename these. If you choose not to and an item already exists with this name, you will be prompted to provide a resolution. That resolution could be to change the file name.
Does Colligo Administrator allow you to push out installs of Colligo products to desktops?
Colligo Administrator doesn’t do the pushing of the software; I expect that most large organisations have an SMS software distribution application that will do the deploying of the software, the Colligo Administrator configures the software so that users don’t need to configure the application on the desktop, it will already be set up and ready to start using.
Will Colligo Briefcase work with Android?
Colligo Briefcase currently supports iPad only. We would love to talk to you further about your Android requirements, please contact Sales at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have opened up Corporate User Devices and now support Blackberry, IPhone, and Android phones. So what’s Colligo’s roadmap or level of support?
Currently our support is limited to the iPad, however we would love to talk to you further about your other device requirements as it pertains to our roadmap – please contact Sales directly at email@example.com.