Realizing True Records Management with Microsoft SharePoint 2010 – the Webinar

I’ve just signed up for a webinar that KnowledgeLake are holding entitled “Realizing True Records Management with Microsoft SharePoint 2010“. 

KnowledgeLake were gold sponsors at the SharePoint Best Practices conference that I went to in London earlier this year, and, I have to say, it was a top-notch event. I had visited KnowledgeLake’s booth and I’m curious about how good their product actually is.

So, it was with interest that I read the “Reasons I should attend“. These included the following:

  • LEARN how records management on SharePoint 2010 can lower cost and risk through transparent application of compliance policies and consistent disposition of content
  • DISCOVER why SharePoint will succeed in records management where other ECM platforms have failed
  • WATCH the demonstration of a document lifecycle in SharePoint: the capturing of paper and electronic files including email, application of metadata and classification criteria, search, retrieval, viewing and application of record declaration
  • RECOGNISE how to outline an enterprise approach for the implementation of SharePoint 2010 records management
  • HEAR the customer case study by MOEITS and how they are using SharePoint. The solution saved the union nearly $1 million and realised a return from their investment in four months.
  • CONTRIBUTE to the Question and Answer session

Now, the first reason seems to be pretty standard when describing the virtues of any content management system. As is a demonstration, as well as hearing a customer case study..(Just change the name of the ECM system.)

What really grabbed me by the short and curlies was the second reason “Discover why SharePoint will succeed in records management where other ECM platforms have failed“. Now, this is interesting…I want to hear about this secret sauce that McSharePoint has.

Reason 4 is also one that got my attention. Here the phrase “enterprise approach” really stood out. I’ve been involved with SharePoint since 2007, and, coming from an ECM background, it was very evident to me that SharePoint 2010 is now being hawked as a bigger beast. And this is not only in the “functionality” of SharePoint 2010, but also in other ways. There are more “enterprise-level” whitepapers out now, and the official Microsoft SharePoint training is focusing more on the “business-side” rather than just pure technology.

I’ve registered for the webinar. I’ll be taking notes, and will try and report back on my findings.

Reference Links

  • Realizing True Records Management with Microsoft SharePoint 2010
  • KnowledgeLake
  • European SharePoint Best Practices Conference 2011

Is Microsoft a Religious Experience?

A Tweet by @pelujan the other day started me thinking. The tweet was:

I responded to his tweet because I do remember “workflo”. It was something that FileNet developed back in 1985. I admit that this was indeed 10 years before I got into IT (having spent those 10 years doing stuff in laboratories), but I was very aware of it as it played a big part in a lot of their technology.

In fact, my first introduction to ECM was PC Docs, and also FileNet’s early Content Management application “Saros Mezzanine”. This was followed by their Image Management Services application running on an AIX system. It stored scanned images on WORM disks in an OSAR unit, and had a robotic arm jukebox. It was a bloody impressive , but also daunting, system (especially when you are new on the job, and you’ve been told to support this system at a very hostile client site).

Over the years I got more an more involved with FileNet and their products, getting to know the idiosyncrasies of each one. I worked as a consultant, and each client had its own unique requirements, environments, and situations.  Very often I would go home  at the end of the day feeling beaten up.

At the end of 2006 I moved into a position working with Documentum, and quickly after, SharePoint. However, this time, I was the client, and so if something didn’t work, someone else was responsible for “fixing it”. This gave me more time to think about the potential of the systems in terms of the industry I was now working in. I actually went home feeling a lot more relaxed.

Now, the one thing that always struck me, when I was working with FileNet, was that, compared to a Microsoft product, there was not a lot of material available. The majority of what you learnt came about through personal experience. You were on the battle field getting the scars. You felt that you had “earned it”.

Of course, there were forums available, and FileNet themselves had a great store of answers to questions, etc. (I used to trawl their partner site just to pick up nuggets of knowledge). Documentum (now EMC) have the same thing which I still use.

At the end of the last century (gawd – that sounds awful) I got my MCSE, and have kept up to speed with Microsoft technology since then. In 2007 I developed a Portal site that hooked into Documentum, and then, having got some scars with that, I got my SharePoint 2007 certification.

Is Microsoft a Religious experience?

Now I am trying to build up my knowledge of SharePoint 2010. This time I’m trying to take a more business application view of the technology. I did AIIM’s SharePoint Master course, which gives a more “real” view of SP2010, especially with regards to Document Management. (See this post, and this one.) However, I realise that it’s still handy to have the MS certification under my belt, so I am working towards Microsoft SP2010 certification also.

I’m don’t want to pay for a course, and so I’m using the over-abundant resources that can be found on the internet (white papers, MS videos, MS learning material, etc). The more material I cover the more I am aware that the same message is being thrown at me – “how great SharePoint 2010 is”. (I’m not going to get into a discussion regarding this, as this has been covered by multitudes of blogs and forums on the internet).

The fact is I find myself slowly, (and blindingly), convinced. I’ve started chanting the mantra, and doing the dance.

Microsoft has produced so much stuff on their latest “shiny object”. It’s amazing. There books, videos, whitepapers, forums, faqs, technet articles, etc, etc, etc. There is also a conference/user group/gathering for the devout, almost every second week. And there are “evangelists” – people who spread the Word.

Got to admit, I am going to one of these conferences in April – the Best Practices Conference, being held in London (#bpcuk). The US one has just finished, and I was following the tweet stream (#bpc11). The funny thing was – I got to the point where I was “religiously” checking on the progress of the conference, and the activities of the participants (albeit the more “tweetal”  – think of the word “vocal” but in terms of tweeting – amongst them). And I found myself just wishing I was there, wishing I was with these people and seeing, and sharing, what they were. (Quick – slap me!)

I never got this “ecstatic feeling” with FileNet. It was all mud and barbed wire. You were earning your stripes “old school”. And even though I have attended the Documentum user group conferences (Momentum) for a few years now (which is one of the high-points of my year – have only missed one over the last 5 years), I’ve never felt the (illogical, zealot-like) fervour that I am starting to experience now.

Related Links

  • Is the SharePoint Community Past Its Prime?
  • Best Practices Conference 2011 – Europe
  • Best Practices Conference 2011 (US) Twitter activity (thanks to @VeroniquePalmer)
  • Momentum (2010)
  • AIIM SharePoint Course

SharePoint “Upgrades” and discovering a small compatibility issue.

Recently a friend of mine was working on creating a Document Management portal.

That is, he was using SharePoint as the user interface, and was populating the pages with web parts that would allow the user to interact with a back-end document management system.

He had built up the Portal using SharePoint 2007, and had created several sub-sites that contain web parts that were relevant to the requirements of specific groups of users. He had run some informal testing and had confirmed that the web parts were offering the business users the functionality that they required. He had also spent some time on the design of each page. He was using a standard master page  so that each sub-site had the same look and feel, but had made small tweaks to each page so that the presentation of the web parts was optimal.

Then he wanted to move the system to a SharePoint 2010 system. Fortunately the Portal site was not yet in use, and nothing extra, or unknown, had been done to the sites, so was pretty sure there wasn’t any customization. However he wasn’t sure what the best way to get his Portal from 2007 to 2010. So he called me.

We had a look at the options:

  1. In-place upgrade,
  2. Database Attach
  3. Build the site from scratch.

SharePoint 2010 had already been installed on a new, suitably spec’d server, so an in-place upgrade was not an option.

We examined the database attach method. This would involve making a backup of the 2007 content database, restoring it in the new SQL Server installation on the the new server,  This sounded like a good option. The only thing we were worried about was the third-party we parts (the ones that hooked into the third-part document management system). We weren’t quite sure how these were going to respond.

We considered the third option – building the site from scratch on SP2010. This also introduced new challenges. Could we migrate the default. master from 2007 to 2010? I knew that 2010 didn’t use default.master, but now used v4.master. What impact would that have? We also had the ribbon to contend with, as well as the “Tags & Notes”, and “I like it” buttons.  (The sites were meant to be static, offering only the ability of users to work with their documents. It was not meant to be a “social” site.)

One other benefit of an in-place, or database attach upgrade, was the fact that SharePoint 2010 offered a “Visual Upgrade”. That is, the 2007 look and feel is maintained, and there was the ability to “preview” how the sites would look in 2010. Once you were happy with them, you could make the changes permanent.

This would have been nice, but, because of the fact that we wanted to make sure that we could document how the Portal was built up, we decided that option 3 would be the best option.

So – the decision was made. The first step was to install the third-party web parts. And this is where it got interesting. We were using the latest version of these web parts that were SharePoint 2010 compatible, so we thought there would be no problem.

Except there was one small thing…

The third-party web parts were designed to use WSE.  WSE, or Web Services Enhancements, is an add-on to the .NET framework that offers improvements to security and communication. It was released in 2005. The SharePoint server had been installed by another department according to a “standard”, and this included WCF, or Windows Communication Foundation. WCF was brought out as the “next-generation web service/interoperability framework”.

So here was the question: Do we get the department that installed the SharePoint server to uninstall WCF, and install WSE? Or do we ask the vendor to test, and certify that their web part technology will work with WCF?

Removing WCF and installing WSE would have very little impact to the overall scheme of things (the server was not being used for anything else), BUT it would mean a non standard installation.

On the other hand, the vendor has stated that their application was compatible with SP2010, and one would assume that it would be designed to use the newer WCF component.

Currently the discussion is going back and forth between the two options.

One thing though, this small compatibility issue wouldn’t have become quite so obvious if we had not decided to build up the Portal from scratch.

Related material:

  • Determine upgrade approach (SharePoint Server 2010)
  • Interoperability between WCF and WSE 3.0
  • What’s New in WSE Version 3.0
  • What Is Windows Communication Foundation


Issue with MindManger and a PDF attachment.

I’m studying the AIIM SharePoint Master course at the moment. (Refer my earlier posts here, and here).

I’m a “wolkjes” sort of a person (“wolkjes” is a Dutch word for clouds).

That is, sometimes to really get to grips with things, I like a visual overview (or as my wife puts it – I think in “wolkjes”).

So – I was mapping out all the information using MindManger, and had attached a PDF to one of the topics in the mind map. When I clicked on this, MindManager crashed on me.

Just to vent, I tweeted this fact. And then went straight to MindManager’s website. Within 30 seconds I had found a fix to the problem:

When attachment or MJC secondary document is opened, MindManager immediately crashes.

An issue has been identified when MindManager is used with the anti-virus software AVG v8 also installed.  When a topic attachment or a Mindjet Connect secondary document is opened, MindManager utilizes The Windows anti-virus API to scan the document.  With AVG installed, it also attempts to scan the document.  With two scans happening simultaneously, a crash can occur. Mindjet is working on a solution to this issue.

In the same knowledge base article was a file that could be downloaded, and copied into the folder where MindManager is installed.

I did this, and restarted MindManager, opened my mind map, and clicked on the PDF attachment. It opened beautifully in Adobe Reader as expected. I was really happy to be able to resolve the problem so quickly.

In the interests of sharing, I jumped back onto Hootsuite, and tweeted that I had found the fix quickly on the MindManger website (and included the link to the kb article, of course). At the same time I noticed that Mindjet support (@Mindjet)  had seen my initial tweet, and had responded asking for more information. This doubly impressed me!

My hat is off to Mindjet support! The ease in which I could find the fix, and the rapid (pro-active) response I got back via Twitter is an example of excellent customer service.

SharePoint & Powershell – a great post from Joel Olesen

Joel Olesen (SharePointJoel) has a great post out about Powershell and SharePoint. It is packed choca-full with information about Powershell.

I really recommend it:


Mark J Owen LinkedIn: blog: twitter: @markjowen GuysFound this great post on Powershell for SharePoint:

Mark J Owen LinkedIn: blog: twitter: @markjowen

  • Use PowerShell Cmdlets to Manage SharePoint Document Libraries – Hey, Scripting Guy! Blog – Site Home – TechNet Blogs (
  • Current Script Path in PowerShell (

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….

  • AIIM – SharePoint Training Courses
  • Inaugural AIIM Trendscape™ Report Highlights A “Cloudy” Future For Businesses
  • Digital Signatures for SharePoint and Other ECMs Explored in Research Report by AIIM
  • 2010 AIIM State of the ECM Industry Survey Looks at Social Media

SharePoint 2010 Training/Certification – A comparison of the Microsoft & AIIM offerings

It’s always useful to have certification from a recognized “authority”. It gives you the ability to transfer your skills & experience into something quantifiable. (However, certification on its own, without some real-world scars, should be, in my opinion, considered as just an “intention” to learn more).

I’ve been working in the world of Document/Content Management for quite a few years now  and have worked with many document management, content publishing, search, static content storage, e-mail archiving, etc, applications from different vendors (PCDocs, Tower Software, FileNet, Documentum)

Then a new kid arrived on the block (SharePoint). Fortunately I was given a fantastic opportunity to work with this product in a few large, international, projects. The longest one took over two years, and definitely gave me some scars.

So I did the next logical thing and got my Microsoft certification for SharePoint 2007. Now that SharePoint 2010 is here, I’d like to get some meaningful certification for that.

My first instinct was to see what was required for the Microsoft certificate for SharePoint 2010. But I was also aware that AIIM had their own SharePoint 2010 training course/certification offering so I took a look at that.

It looked good, but I was curious how it stacked up against the Microsoft certification.

I made a list of comparison items and created a mind map (using Mind Manager)

Note – I’ve created an interactive flash file of this mind map. This can be viewed and downloaded from here.


Below, I give an overview of the two offerings:

AIIM SharePoint Certification

AIIM has three different levels of SharePoint certification – SharePoint Practitioner, SharePoint Specialist, and SharePoint Master. Each build on the previous.It was developed based on the requirements of 37 international companies. For a list of the companies refer to the Master Class Info Sheet (see Reference Links at the end of this post)

Each certification is accompanied by a corresponding training course

  • SharePoint Practitioner – covers concepts and technologies for SharePoint.
  • SharePoint Specialist – covers global best practices for implementing SharePoint and
    complementary solutions. Accomplishment of the Practitioner certificate is a prerequisite.
  • SharePoint Master – As well as the previous two levels of certification, the SharePoint Master level requires planning, designing and implementing a SharePoint project.

The AIIM certification is aimed at the Business Managers, IT Managers, Compliance Officers, Risk Managers, Records Management Professionals, as well as for solution integrators and providers, sales consultants, project managers, and technical staff.

Microsoft SharePoint Certification

Microsoft has four levels of certification – MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist), Microsoft Professional (MCITP and MCDP), MCM (Microsoft Certified Master), and MCA (Microsoft Certified Architect. Each level builds on the previous one.

  • MCTS (Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist) – highlights area of expertise and helps validate the knowledge and skills working with an enterprise Office SharePoint Server environment
  • Microsoft Certified Professional – helps demonstrate the ability to use Microsoft SharePoint 2010 to excel in a specific, market-relevant job role.
  • Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) – This is more extensive with whiteboard discussions, demonstrations, and goal-based labs.
  • Microsoft Certified Architect – involves an interview with the MCA Review Board

The Microsoft certificates are aimed at people working with SharePoint either as Administrators, or as Developers.

My take on the two Certificates

The Microsoft offerings, are world-recognized (for good or bad). They are quite in-depth, and there is a plethora of training support material, as well as a large community of Microsoft certified people. It is very technical, and gives a person a great opportunity to get down to the “nuts and bolts” level of the technology, as well as the architecture level.

The AIIM training and certification, is not quite so technical, and focuses more on the use of SharePoint in the business, as well as industry best practices. It is also not quite so well-known as the Microsoft Certification. This may be considered a disadvantage, but at the same time, it may also be seen as an advantage. (Thanks to a deluge of paper-only “certified MS” people, the Microsoft certification lost a bit of credibility for awhile there – something that Microsoft have worked on/are working on to rectify.)

So – different courses for different horses. For a side-by-side comparison of the two, have a look at the mind map that I put together (

Reference Material

Microsoft SharePoint Server Certifications

AIIM SharePoint Certification Program

Discussion on the “value” of AIIM certification (from LinkedIn group)

Unique SharePoint Training Program to Focus on Practical Reality of SharePoint






SharePoint Will Not Own ECM (At Least, Not Anytime Soon) – My 2¢ worth

Came across a post via via the other day…

@SharePointBuzz retweeted  @JoeShepley about a post that was written by Linda Andrews in response to a post Joe had originally written about SharePoint 2010. (You may have to read that again).

Here’s Joe’s original post:

And here’s Linda’s response:

I read Linda’s post first, and started writing a response. Once finished, I thought it might be prudent to read what Joe had originally said, and tweaked my response slightly. Originally I was going to post my response as a comment on the page of Linda’s post. But then thought “Nah – I’ll post this on my blog to give it the glory that it deserves”…

Here is my contribution to the debate:

Hi Linda

Interesting article – thanks.

I’ve been working in the ECM for about 16 years now, having cut my teeth on FileNet, and have worked for the last three years with Documentum (and also SharePoint).


When SharePoint 2003 appeared on the scene, it did not even show on my radar. I was aware of the name, but that was it. When SharePoint 2007 took to the stage, I watched the hype and excitement that it bought with it for the first 6 months, but watched that die quickly. While its strengths definitely didn’t lie with ECM, it did offer a lot to collaboration.

SharePoint 2010, on the other hand, I am treating with a modicum of respect, and I have been looking at the “threat” that it is supposedly bringing with it.

I have read Joe Shepleys original post. He makes some very valid points, and while, in principle, you do too, I’d like to share my own thoughts…

For many companies that already have an existing ECM solution in place, the cost, as you pointed out, of swapping to SharePoint is more a reason not to. To uproot a working system, as well as to migrate the documents is not something undertaken lightly.

However, consider a minus of some of the big ECM products. The cost of licences can be quite hefty. This does make SharePoint attractive (even taking into account the points you have made in Reason #3). Any smart company will try and reduce the cost of something that is considered an overhead. As a result, during times of document management system upgrades, it may be that the move to SharePoint could be worthy of consideration.

And, with that in mind, I would like to reiterate Joe’s Shepley’s closing paragraph, by saying that it is not unreasonable to consider that, for the sake of reducing costs, a change in expectations may also be considered. Analyse the actual business process and, if the cost savings are really worth it, adapt it. Maybe a less complex process, that has been built around the “reduced” functionality that SharePoint has, could be put into place.

I’m not going to make any hard predictions, but, maybe SharePoint will actually start owning more and more of the ECM world…

  • AIIM White Paper on SharePoint Deployment (