The 12 Networking Truths as applied to SharePoint (according to Bill)

As described in a couple of my recent posts, I have been attending AIIM’s SharePoint Master class in London.

The tutor was Bill English from Mindsharp. Someone I was honoured to meet.

In the beginning of the course Bill mentioned “The 12 Networking Truths”. These were originally documented in RFC1925 in 1996.

Bill has written a post where he has fitted the 12 Truths to SharePoint. You can read it here: Bill has a great sense of humour.

And…to see the original RFC, goto

AIIM SharePoint Master Course – Day 2, 3 & 4

Day 2 was the second day of the Practitioner’s part of the course. The day was very similar to the previous day – we covered the course material, which Mr English interspersed with real world examples, along with “Bill’s take” on a particular subject. The members of the class also contributed with their own experiences.

To summarise, on Day 1 we covered:

  • Product
    • Core Capabilities
    • Components and Parts
  • Function
    • Records Center
    • Document Libraries
    • Imaging & Capture
    • Report Management
    • Forms Design
    • WCM/Sites
    • Workflow & BPM
    • Email Management
    • SharePoint & MS Office Integration

On Day 2, we covered:

  • Design Elements
    • Content types
    • Classification
    • Search
    • Workflow
    • Communities
  • Infrastructure
    • Architecture
    • Governance
    • Site Provisioning
    • Admin & Maintenance.

The Practitioner’s course gave a good overview of the capabilities of SharePoint 2010 within the framework of content and records management. The people attending were made up of consultants, Record Managers, Business Managements and similar. When necessary Bill would delve into the technical realm of specific parts of SharePoint 2010, but this was not frequent as the course was not a technical one.

On Day 3 we started the Specialist course. The class was smaller as several people had only been attending the Practitioner’s part.

The material covered for the Specialist course included:

  • Assess
    • Information Gathering
    • Strategy
    • Business Case
  • Transition
    • Documenting Requirements
    • Records Management
    • Governance
  • Implement
    • Customisation
    • Integration
    • Migration
  • Sustain
    • Change Management
    • Test, train, sustain

Initially I felt that a lot of the material covered in the Specialist course could be used in any ECM decision making process.

However, upon re-reading the material I see that it is applicable to SharePoint, in the sense of deciding whether SharePoint is actually the best solution for the business needs, as well as outlining SharePoint strengths and weaknesses. Many useful assessment and decision making strategies tools are described.

Much of what was covered in this course, was of a “dryer” nature (i.e. more conceptual) than in the previous course, and this would result in a slight drop in the attention, and enthusiasm of everyone.

Because many of Microsoft‘s definitions, or descriptions, do not quite match the global “standard” definitions/descriptions found in the Industry (in Records Management for example), often there would be healthy discussions. The specific functionalities of SharePoint were often questioned and the “intended purpose” of such functionality was debated. These times were really valuable, as everyone present had a good understanding of “real” Records Management.

At the end of the course we were presented with an 8 page Case Study. There were three assignments that, because of their group nature, were to be completed during the course, with a third assignment that needed to be done outside of the course, and then presented to AIIM. This, along with passing an online exam are requirements for achieving SharePoint Master Certification.

I felt that two days was not long enough for this course (especially if done in a class). As mentioned in my post on Day 1, the value of doing such a course in the classroom is the ability to ask questions, get feedback on comments, as well as expanding on topics through describing “real-world” situations. This requires extra time, and often we found we were racing through the material, so that we would have enough time for the Case Study assignments.

However, besides that one comment, I really enjoyed this course, and was happy with the material covered. As mentioned, the AIIM SharePoint Master Class is not a technical course, but one designed to describe the concepts and technologies of SharePoint as well as the best practices for implementing SharePoint. I think the course achieved that.

Day 1 of the AIIM SharePoint Master Class

Today was the first day in the AIIM SharePoint Master Class.

The class is being taught by Bill English. Bill is the CEO of Mindsharp, and has authored quite a few books and whitepapers. In fact, Bill’s whitepaper on SharePoint Indexing really helped me when I was struggling with the whole crawl/index process when I first got involved with SharePoint.

AIIM offer three SharePoint Certification tracks:

  • SharePoint Practitioner – concepts and technologies;
  • SharePoint Specialist – best practices for implementing solutions in SharePoint
  • SharePoint Master – provides a thorough understanding of SharePoint with the main elements from Practitioner and Specialists tracks.

For a detailed description of what each of these tracks offer, refer to my post where I also compare the AIIM offering with the Microsoft “equivalent”.

This course is the Master course, and covers both the Practitioner course, as well as the Specialist course.

As well as myself, there are 13 other people in the class. Some are there for just the Practitioner part.

We were supplied with a very thick book containing the course material for the first track.

And Bill started off going through it. However, one of the real advantages of having Bill English give this course is that he has an incredible amount of “real world” experience. This was apparent when he would (frequently) diverge from the course material and give us in-depth explanations on things as well as describe many real-life situations he has experienced. Bill is also not a fan of teaching by PowerPoint reasoning that we all can read the PowerPoint slides ourselves in the handout material. He takes a more “sum up 10, or 12 PowerPoint slides into an overview, and a discussion.

Before I go any further, I also need to explain that the course is more focused on the “Best Practices” approach to planning & deploying SharePoint implementations rather than a pure technical discussion. This fact meant that we often looked at things more from an “architect”, and business user, perspective than just from an IT perspective.

Two other things that I really found valuable: the first was that even though Bill “knows” SharePoint, he is a “SharePoint Realist”. He was not afraid to tell us of the weaker sides of SharePoint 2010, as well as the down-right bad sides of the product.

The second was that the people in the class all come from a Records Management/Content Management background. They all have their own real-world stories and experiences as well. And this would open up some really great discussions.

What is interesting (and this is something Bill mentioned) is that, in the stable of courses/certifications that AIIM offer, this is the first one that is product specific. All the others are more concept specific. For example AIIM has courses on ECM, BPM, ERM, E2.0, Information Organization and Access, and Email Management (for a full list refer to this site), but the SharePoint course is the first one that is focused on a particular product. And this is good, because the main design philosophy behind SharePoint is self-service. That is, SharePoint is designed to allow the end-user to be in control of what SharePoint is used for. This in the form of site collections, sites and sub-sites. The end-user is able to create, and design, and administer sites without the (direct) involvement of IT. And this is where it can be dangerous. In fact, at one stage, someone described SharePoint as a cancer – it just spreads, and spreads. It can take on a life of its own. One of the main messages being given by the course is the undeniable need for governance and training. And thus, this is most likely the reason that AIIM have a product-focused course.

I am very impressed with the course so far. I found the combination of real-world experience by the instructor, as well as the input and feedback offered by the other students gave richness that on-line course, or course taught by “full-time trainers” (without any real-world scars), don’t give.

This has just been day one of the course….

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