23
Feb

Apps for SharePoint 2013 carry their own set of implementation risks

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthLarge organizations with an instance of Microsoft SharePoint running on premises may be thinking about migrating their customization process over from full trust solutions to a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Microsoft refers to this combination as the “SharePoint App Model”. A similar combination called the “Office App Model” is also being promoted for requirements to modify the components of Microsoft’s Office suite (“Office”) to meet the unique requirements of specific organizations.

Despite what I refer to as a near “binary” presentation, where the strengths of these app models (the “pluses”) are presented in direct comparison with the weaknesses of their full trust solution ancestors (the “zeroes”), readers with similar interests will benefit if they include a governance plan for customization along with the other migration components. Here is why:

jQuery is a popular function library for JavaScript. Since jQuery is actively supported in the user community, the library continues to evolve. Hence there are many different versions of the library. But not all features of all libraries are the same. So conflicts can arise from customizations built with earlier versions of the jQuery library. Especially when these customizations are actively used alongside other customizations built with other versions of the library.

The negative impact of these conflicts is greater when a central IT organization steps back and opts to empower line of business (LoB) units to build their own customizations for an on-premises complex computing platform like SharePoint 2013. On the surface this approach may look to be the correct one to take, especially if this stance has evolved after several years of an active BYOD policy.

Some proponents of Dev/Ops may recommend this kind of flexible posture on the part of enterprise IT. But if there is no central control over how jQuery libraries are to be implemented, then the risks of a breakdown in computer processing take on a more palpable shape. A far better policy calls for enterprise IT to directly arbitrate with LoBs on the question of how customizations are to be managed. In fact, enterprise IT ought to publish a set of standards for how customizations are to be built with SharePoint and/or Office apps. Finally, a set of tools should be implemented (and developed if they are not found to be available given the unique needs of a specific organization) capable of detecting processes running on internal on-premises computing systems to ensure any/all examples of app customizations are in conformance with this policy.

Without this kind of governance plan, larger organizations will face much the same odds of poor return on development investment from app model efforts, as would be the case if they simply proceeded with “legacy” customization techniques.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

4
Feb

End users benefit from in-context access to tech training content when new computing platforms are implemented

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthAdoption initiatives accompany almost any type of platform change for enterprise computing consumers. These projects are so common a whole industry developed around them. Back in the 1990s the business was referred to as “business process re-engineering”. Today the same type of work is rolled up and into something called “change management”.

The core objective of almost all of these efforts is to convince a specific group of computing users within an organization — usually “end users” — to adopt the new platform. The strategy powering the project is to provide end users with the technical support and methods they need to successfully transition from one way of doing the computer tasks they face on a daily basis, to another. The tactics include technical support teams, training intensives, and management testimonials on why the platform change was required in the first place.

Readers should not consider cloud systems to be somehow miraculously free of this burden. The adoption challenge big, mature ISVs like IBM, Microsoft, and even Google face when they partner with customers to help end users transition from on-premises computing systems to SaaS and/or PaaS offers in the cloud are the same ones faced just 20 years ago when IBM was seeding enterprise computing markets with Lotus Notes. Adoption is adoption is adoption . . . Or so the saying should go.

One of our clients, Rehmani Consulting, Inc. has brought to market a solution capable of making the whole adoption process easier. VisualSP is a help system built for Microsoft’s SharePoint computing platform. The “one-two punch” of the product amounts to a combination of:

  1. a unique method of exposing, in-context, the kind of technical training content for which enterprise end users have demonstrated an appetite, meaning short, right to the point presentations of computing procedures. The process by which end users absorb the content is referred to as “on-demand training”
  2. and lots and lots of video content

We have marketed the solution since July, 2012. In this space of time we have worked with some very large, prominent, multi-national corporation to help them accelerate their adoption effort with this product. Perhaps as many as 500K SharePoint users are now benefiting from the VisualSP system.

There is no reason why a solution like VisualSP cannot deliver comparable benefits to ISVs in need of a method of stimulating adoption of a computing platform. Our solution is built with modern software tools — HTML 5, JavaScript and CSS. If you would like to learn more about how our solution may help your efforts, please let us know.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved