HRM

Lanteria HR Management Solutions on SharePoint and Office 365


Overview of Lanteria SharePoint Products for SharePoint

Every organization has a human resources department. Every company struggles with determining which software to use for acquiring, strengthening, and managing those valuable resources. From recruiting to learning management needs to core HR documents and forms around onboarding and succession planning, each one of these areas could be a different system for your Human Resource Management System (HRMS) needs. It’s not a challenge to realize that human resources is key to an organization; employees are the center of the organization and, in most cases, the most valuable assets. In this agile world we live in, it has become increasingly difficult to keep up with variety of different HR platforms including learning management systems (LMS), Recruiting, Performance Management, Employee Onboarding, Employee Portals, and so on… Many departments continue to keep their business policies, and teams manage their documents and resources in SharePoint sites. Many even keep key employee data in special HR sites. In the buy verses build choice we all face when considering any product, this solution comes a long way in providing common business processes that companies need for managing their HRMS, which can simplify the decision of a growing business. In this Product Overview you’ll see a variety of different modules and see a small piece of this large HR investment from Lanteria. If this is an area you are in need, I recommend spending time on their website and seeing a demo for yourself.

I recently spent time with the Lanteria team and was impressed by their great progress. I had a chance to review their solution a couple of years ago. It has come a long way with many new modules including reporting, finance, budgeting, training, and more.

One thing that is clear is the focus on the various roles needed for effective HR solutions. Effective interfaces for the employee, the manager(s), and the HR teams all providing insights that can provide for happy employees, more effective managers, and the reports the HR team needs to succeed in making the right choices at every step of the way, from recruiting to onboarding to learning and performance management to final succession planning.

Lanteria HR is a SharePoint based HR and Talent Management solution, which facilitates and automates a company’s entire HR management cycle. The modules organize centralized storage of all HR information, including training, performance, leave and so on for each employee and organization as a whole. The solution provides both employee self-service as well as comprehensive HR Management and reporting in one place.

Human Resources

Lanteria HR management system provides 7 modules for operating different HR processes:

  • Core HR
  • Time and Attendance
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Recruiting and Applicant tracking
  • Performance
  • Learning management
  • Talent and succession

Budgeting

  • Lanteria Budgeting

Some thoughts on Lanteria’s Approach

The Lanteria approach of “why not take advantage of your platform investment” is a breath of fresh air for many who have both become familiar with SharePoint capabilities. Adoption by the business of SharePoint continue to be a challenge, for others it’s integrating existing business process with the popular collaboration platform. When you’re using dozens of tools to get your work done, it’s a challenge to gain the necessary insights and analysis that is possible in simple out of the box reporting.

Figure 1: HR Performance Dashboard


Employee Tools

The Learning Management Catalog provides employee assessment in a company by planning and delivering targeted training programs. Adding your own videos, trainings, and documents is simple. Light weight workflows capture the essentials to see employee progress and capture feedback.

Figure 2: Lanteria Learning Management Solution – Learning Catalog


Core HR includes org charts to simplify employee lookup and employee information with only a few clicks. Both management and HR can see additional information that assists in the management of the entire company’s hierarchal structure, and allows one to define the relationships between the various departments, teams, employees, and their leaders within the organization.

Figure 3: Lanteria Core HR Org Chart – Employee Chart


Figure 4: Lanteria Core HR – Employee Details


Time and Attendance

The Time and Attendance module provides you with the proper tools that help set up the time available for employees, including holidays, sick time and vacation time. It also includes company’s absence policies, tracks employee leave records, and can include details such as time spent on various projects and activities.

Figure 5: Lanteria Time and Attendance – My Absenses

HR Management Solutions Examples

Performance Management

The Performance module streamlines the management of employee performance and appraisal processes, making it quicker and easier to track, quantify, and rate productivity for each employee.

Figure 6: Lanteria HR Performance – Performance Review Form


Goal Management

Employees and managers add goals and track progress providing transparency that makes review time much more effective and time well spent focused on the goals of the team and of the company. Reporting and analysis in this module, as well as many others, is rolled up for HR as you’ll see in the dashboards.

Figure 7: Performance: Goal Management DashboardFigure 8: Lanteria HR: Compensation Dashboard


Recruiting

The Recruiting module is an HR software that unifies and automates the entire recruitment process to ensure that you get the right people onboard. With Vacancy Tracker as part of the Recruiting module, managers can provide needs, and HR can more effectively staff and work with managers to find the resources with transparency with simple dates, roles, locations, and organizational information. This streamlines the hiring process.

Figure 9: Lanteria HR Recruiting: Staffing Vacancies


Once interviewed, all data can be collected in a single place for the most effective decision making and review cycle.

Figure 10: Lanteria HR Recruiting: Applicant Tracking


Supported Platforms:


The solution is available on SharePoint 2010-2013 as an install on your on premises farm as a solution with support for SharePoint 2016 coming soon. It also is available as a hosted SAAS solution and integration with Office 365.

No additional hardware is required. Licensing of Lanteria is based on the number of employees and the modules you are interested in purchasing.

Demo’s and free trials are available, as well as many more videos and screenshots on the Lanteria website.

Conclusion

Lanteria has done an effective job of focusing on three distinct audiences, the core HR function, the employee and the manager. This audience-based approach to usability including work streams, business processing, and reporting has really made the solution come together. Realistically I do see it as a great example of a solution. In the real world many will find they already have X Y or Z that’s part of this solution. Maybe you already have something for budgets, or something for performance management or LMS. The flexibility here of choosing the modules you need definitely makes that a better sale, but also in the extensibility and integration of what you get. The solution is designed to be the core solution or can be integrated with other information stores. As a modular solution where you can add what you need and only pay for what solutions you’re interested in, it provides purposeful solutions. The purpose is simply to work together as a solid team, increase performance and efficiency and achieve company goals.

I once worked at a company where employee profiles where in PeopleSoft and employee performance data and salary and compensation was in Oracle, but the users and HR documents and processes were in SharePoint. Having gone down the build vs. buy road on this one, we already had a lot of the platform decisions already made, but hand coding a single module from forms, workflows to lists and database integration in SharePoint was extremely timely and expensive and to say the least, the maintenance, upgrade and upkeep will plague them for many years. While it was great to show the solution as fully in SharePoint with backend Oracle and PeopleSoft integration, the resources we could have saved by using an off the shelf solution like Lanteria HR could have saved us a ton of time and money.

Managing employees can be one of the biggest tasks of a company, since they represent it and if they aren’t happy, clients will know it. Through an HRMS, the Human Resources department has a better view of the current heartbeat in the company, as well as being able to better connect with and reach out to employees with their needs over time, or as they evolve through their position in the company.

Interested in more?


Watch the overview of Lanteria video on demand or request a demo or trial


And visit their website at http://www.lanteria.com/ for the latest information on Lanteria HR.

This product overview was written by Joel Oleson for the benefit of both Lanteria and the SharePoint and Office 365 community to provide awareness and further information on products and solutions that help with adoption of Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies. Joel Oleson is a top SharePoint and Office365 influencer that enjoys seeing solutions that address technical product gaps and further address business problems and promote business productivity.

SharePoint 2016 Officially Launches – Plus A Few Thoughts

So great to see another SharePoint milestone as SharePoint Server 2016 reaches the release milestone. Read more on the Official SharePoint and OneDrive blog at SharePoint 2016 RTM and the future of SharePoint event. (Be sure to mark your calendars. It is important announcements. Really!) While it will be a while before we see a lot of SharePoint 2016 in production, I think there’s a lot of reason to celebrate. First this is the first release where the software is based on SharePoint online. That’s a big deal. It’s comforting to know that with this release coming from SharePoint Online, it will be easier to keep in sync with the cloud and have further consistencies and easier to build apps between the two. There’s a lot to be said about that from a dev and IT perspective. I do think there are a few distinct messages to the main audience of the product as you approach SharePoint.

Developers

The 2016 launch is a message of API consistency and another push out of SharePoint development as the core mechanism of building apps and solutions. While you own the servers in on prem and can essentially build whatever you want against it. You’ll find Microsoft more and more saying stay out of adding things directly into the SharePoint Server. SharePoint developers shouldn’t be developing in SharePoint, they should be developing in .NET, C#, and Java and so on. Use your language of choice in an app of your choice that’s in Azure that consumes SharePoint APIs. Use Javascript and other client side objects to build apps and interfaces. Wide variety of APIs that can be consumed from the cloud or on prem, but we should be feeling the pinch on SharePoint development as less about building features and server solutions in SharePoint.

IT Professionals

Stability, availability, reliability, performance. Sure there’s a lot of infrastructure changes in the profile, min roles, compliance, reporting, analytics, hybrid, and so on, but nearly 80% of the backend is about hybrid and integration with Office 365. Most of the changes should streamline your role. You’re now running your own private cloud. Once configured a SharePoint 2016 farm should be more rock solid than ever… Disaster recovery, and business continuance planning and governance, then start your upgrade. Post upgrade, an administrator should find ways of adding value by digging into the services stack. Dig into mobility, search, identity, Azure, and powershell scripting. Your farm should be deployable via a script and replacing any given server should be elastic… fluid.

Business Users

There should be less to complain about. It should feel more and more intuitive with less to complain about. Drag and drop should just work. Sync should just work (still getting there). The multi and mixed file upload experience should be much improved with much improved performance and handling. Cross site navigation, cross The UI for working with lists should work better. Mobile is somewhat better (still not where it should be, definitely add the Responsive UI pack, but you don’t have to wait long for even more improvements), and integration with the mobile apps is more intuitive and easy. For the most part the average user won’t even notice the servers have been upgraded. They will simply start to have improved navigation and integration with cloud services. Hybrid will start to light up for things as they are or if they are configured. Shouldn’t require much training at all. A good 30 minute video could introduce your users to the new features and get them excited.

 

Catch up on the new features and announcements:

Reviewer’s Guide for SharePoint 2016

Download SharePoint 2016 then get language packs

TechNet Details for SharePoint 2016 including planning, installing and exploring the features and deprecated features

Top 10 Features for Business Users in SharePoint 2016

More links and resources on the SharePoint blog

SharePoint Releases 2016 bits – Redmond Magazine

Microsoft Announces SharePoint 2016 Release to Manufacturing – eWeek

SharePoint 2016 and Office 365 Predictions!

One year later and it’s time to review past predictions and set out the new ones. It was exactly 1 year ago that I wrote up my predictions for 2015. I’ll let you determine how I did, but I wrote up some of my thoughts. I’m not looking at those as I write my new predictions.

 

10 Predictions for SharePoint in 2016


Office 365 Maturity

SharePoint will be seen as the lynchpin in an Office 365 deployment. Microsoft will consider Office 365 tenant not fully utlized until SharePoint is in real use.

Mobile will become more important in SharePoint world

Mobile in 2016 is really important. We’ll hear fabulous announcements and will finally start to see mobile as one of the major deployment considerations in SharePoint deployment. We’ll also look at things very different from how we do today after Jeff Teper’s vision gets realized. (Something he mentioned at the European SharePoint Conference)

SharePoint 2016 will launch to simple MS fanfare

SharePoint 2016 launch will go off with surprising not much fanfare. The community will celebrate it more than Microsoft. Sad to say this as a prediction. I do believe release 1 following SharePoint 2016 will be the more exciting thing. The real news of this launch is SharePoint 2016 is the first child of the cloud.

Ignite

Ignite will be the big SharePoint moment when the thing that follows SharePoint 2016 gets revealed and the community goes wild. We’ll also use this event as a community revival that will get all of us re-engaged and super pumped up.

SharePoint gets cool again

This will happen at various events throughout the world as people say this feels like it used to. Some will say it’s been hard these past couple of years, but see a brighter future.

SharePoint for the Long Haul

Customers will start to understand it is ok to have Office 365 sites and internal deployments with simple integration we call hybrid. Long term strategies will start to come out that really make sense. This next wave will start to bring clarity to people as they say, it’s still got some confusion, but I see a long term strategy now.

Groups

Groups will be lauded as the next big thing, but most customers won’t get it this first time around. There will be campaigns by Microsoft to help people understand the value and adopt it, but adoption will be much lower than expected. Some people in our community will go crazy about groups and say it can eliminate your yammer and SharePoint team sites.

Sway

Sway will be confusing for the business for this next year, but the some consumers will go crazy for it. As Docs.com gets legs and people realize this new set of services it will see some real advocates in the cloud community. It will fly under the radar for most of the year because Microsoft won’t give it enough Marketing dollars.

Business Critical

Office 365 will see an outage that isn’t their fault and this will get people screaming that Office 365 is business critical and Microsoft will take even more drastic measures to ensure they control things end to end.

OneDrive

The OneDrive team will push OneDrive as the killer app. It will be so seemless between home and work that businesses will be afraid of it. Some integration by the OneDrive team to other applications that are similar will really surprise us. OneDrive will be seen as the gateway drug for Office 365 to introduce SharePoint in the cloud.

 

 

Please refer to the 2015 post to see the comparison to 2014. Below are the original comments followed by my commentary.

“1. 2015-2016 is the year of Hybrid – The word hybrid will become ubiquitous with things that customers need to make Office 365 work.  More and more solutions will be built to integrate, manage, report, and bring governance, search, and unity across these environments.  Even things like OneDrive as the OneDrive for consumers and business will become known as a hybrid solution even though they are both cloud solutions.

2015-2016 is the year of Hybrid – Hybrid has been embraced by Microsoft and many of the adopters of Office 365. AzureAD is a huge example of a successful solution that’s purely designed for hybrid. The other thing we see released in 2015 was the Hybrid Cloud Crawler for SharePoint. I think while Hybrid was big for 2015, it will continue to be seriously important for 2016. The early push for hybrid came across as a temporary solution, now positioning is long term hybrid solutions with no end in sight. SharePoint had many 2016 hybrid announcements beyond even Identity and Search, including Delve and Office Graph, and a bunch of things in SharePoint 2016 like OneDrive, Sites, reporting and auditing, compliance center and mobile device management with InTune. 2016 will see many of these releases and many more announcements. We’re definitely not done with hybrid and my estimation last year was that it would continue into 2016. Today you’ll see me suggest it isn’t even close to being done. 2017-2018 and beyond we’ll still be talking about Hybrid.

“2. Fewer Paid but More Important SharePoint Conferences – Microsoft Build and Ignite are going to be a huge success.  The biggest party of the year!  I know this isn’t a stretch, but I think it’s important we all do our part to make this prediction come true. I want this to be a big reunion for all my SharePoint friends, so we can celebrate the new SharePoint vNext.  SharePoint Saturday will get rebranded or at least include Office 365 and Azure tracks in many markets.  Microsoft will continue with Office 365 conferences to try to unite communities.”

Not sure how noticeable it is to you, but I have seen a number of conferences have their last events. SharePoint Summit closed its doors last year. I haven’t seen an announcement for SharePoint Evolution which has been a regular event. We also didn’t see the annual Sweden SharePoint Exchange Forum, but that you could say was consolidated with European SharePoint Conference, which will be happening again next winter in Austria. SharePoint Connections more consolidated this year and rebooted as IT Unity Connections in Amsterdam, but SharePoint Fest, SPTechCon, and Share are going strong in the US. There are other notable events. In Australia and New Zealand the Australian SharePoint Conference is now “The Digital Workplace Conference” I’m looking forward to that one in April. So there’s movement and those that are happening with solid marketing will be great in 2016. It does speak to the consolidation of events. Note that Microsoft did some serious serious consolidation with Ignite this past year consolidating TechEd, IT Forum, Exchange Conference, SharePoint Conference, and more. So the prediction of Fewer, but more important stands from my perspective. Some of that info may have already been available in late 2014. The travelers going from one event to the next to the next still happens quite regularly. Follow Naomi, Ben, Dan, Marc, or Michael Noel and you’ll see there are a few of us who live out of our bags for more than a week at a time.

3. Wearables buzz combined with Cortana and Siri starts to buzz about coming to the enterprise – Microsoft Band, Apple Watch, pebble and more will be big in consumer and people will start to think about enterprise applicability. We’ll see this pop up at Ignite keynotes for example.

We did see Cortana in the Ignite keynote coming from Windows in the enterprise. Not exactly wearable, but 2 out of 3 is pretty good. Microsoft’s apps on the newly launched apple watch was a surprise to many. Seeing powerpoint, outlook, and onenote on my watch is still pretty wild. I think we’ll see a pause on Cortana being pushed for a year or two, but definitely expect to see more and more people talking to their phones and watches.

Integrated Cortana in Windows 10 was a big one, but I still think there’s more. Wearables may seem like they blew a lot of steam, but much of that was hype. Apple and Fitbit neck in neck led in 2015 as the most common wearables.

4. Office 365 brand continues to Over Shadow SharePoint brand – SharePoint is Dead will be said more and more as the Office 365 brand gets stronger.  Of course it’s not dead, but is the backseat driver with Cloud First.

Office 365 definitely was a strong brand in 2015. SharePoint is Dead was a mantra in early 2015 until Ignite and WPC especially. Once the bits became available people are starting to get excited again.

5. Search Driven Enterprise Apps – Successful consumer tools will be replicated in many enterprises with new products coming to market.  I’m still waiting for cool apps like Yelp, Amazon, and Cortana for the enterprise.  I want to see enterprise catalogs with serious integration… unlock the power!

Still waiting.

6. Confusion will continue – Despite the fact that consulting companies know where they make their money, customers will be confused about investments they should make and when to make bets.  Clearer strategies are needed and Ignite should help, but know there are at least 2 or 3 paths for customers this year.  More confusion in the short term, with less in the longer term.

I think Azure AD has helped to bring some clarity around building long term solutions in the cloud and hybrid solutions. We’ll see more clarity as time goes on, but the confusion is far from over.

7. They took our Jobs! – Many will find their skillsets are becoming out of date, and will scramble to learn Office 365 identity management, Office 365 provisioning, and API development and scripting (powershell).  Azure will be expected knowledge for IT Pros.  I worry about a wave of IT Pros that won’t retool fast enough and will wonder what they should be doing and what certifications they should get.  Take a look at the new SharePoint Certifications and look at what is required… Surprise it requires Office 365 Identity and that’s step 1!  Even step 2 doesn’t feel like SharePoint.  Prerequiste to SharePoint Solutions Expert is MCSA Office 365 certification.  Don’t wait around… you need to retool!  IT Pros I worry about the most, but Devs totally got to learn a lot to stay relevant in this mobile first cloud first world.

The Certification program has been a mess. I feel bad for new hires. I expect to see more churn on certs. We still don’t have the MCSE equivalent. Those that have invested in Azure and Angular have been seeing payoff.

8.  ISVs that were SharePoint exclusive will branch out.  Our little ecosystem of SharePoint only ISVs will branch outside of just Office 365 and SharePoint…

This is definitely happening. Many are now building services in the cloud that can be consumed stand alone. It hasn’t happened as much as I’d expect, but in fact what I’m seeing more is ISVs outside of SharePoint coming to the Office 365 SharePoint world to plug in and hoping it will work. In reality the Office 365 ISV market is still a mess in my opinion. Still not as simple as it should be. Requires A LOT of marketing to get a little traction. The idea of the app store is great, but it’s very broken in an enterprise sense. Still not simple and definitely the reviews and ratings are broken… don’t work (most apps have very very few reviews).

9. Mobile and SharePoint Online and On Premises will get much better –  I’m not just talking about apps here.  I think we’ll see some announcements related to the vNext release that will also pay off in Office 365 that are waiting to be announced.

The Office mobile apps have nailed it. They are some of the most popular downloads on Android and iOS. Still waiting for more of the SharePoint announcements, but the mobile apps are really awesome. Most of the community doesn’t know how good they are, but 200 million downloads later, I think many will figure out that the Office mobile apps rock!

10. Community Cross Polinization – We’ll see more of the Exchange folks popping up at the Office 365 events, and even on twitter the SharePoint, Exchange, and SQL experts will get a lot closer.  The Microsoft family will come closer as a result.  Walls will come down, and the cool kids at events will be a stronger mix of people.

I’ve seen this in Azure and Office 365 and some of the events that have gone with a Digital Workspace slant and Connections will help prove this out more over the next year. I have seen Azure and Office 365 pop up more and more in SharePoint Saturday events. Microsoft’s city based Office 365 events did help bring smaller communities together in a small way.

Bonus: A lot of companies that said they’d NEVER go to the cloud will start lining up, barriers will fall!

Deployment numbers are great. Fastest growing business in Microsoft history isn’t joking around. I’d love to see this more newsworthy to see real public case studies.

 

 

Matchmaker

Not a sell out! It’s Matchmaking

I recently read a Facebook thread about a new MVP who was being approached by a vendor and asked if they’d do a review or join them on a webinar. The question they were asking their colleagues was if they were a sell out by participating in these activities. I was surprised by the first few responses suggesting that they NOT work with the vendor, then some more seasoned community folks joined in to explain that we all have to make decisions around who we work with and what is worth our time and where the line is in terms of endorsement deals.

Since IT and the technology industry isn’t fraught with Subway ads, or Nike shoe deals, many don’t understand how one can realistically partner up with a company or even try to take an unbiased approach to working with vendors on webinars and such.

As someone who gets at least weekly invitations to post something on my blog, or join a vendor in an expo hall, webinar, and so much more… I’ve personally asked myself this question over a hundred times and that line has shifted since the beginning. I’m sure there are haters out there that would say I’ve taken too many deals to call myself unbiased, but in the same vein, how can you call me biased if I simply work with nearly everyone or at least nearly a hundred vendors over time.

As a consultant I’ve frequently been in the position of recommending or suggesting vendors and partners to customers, so knowing what the best solutions are is extremely important. Awareness is the absolute biggest challenge in the vendor space. There are literally thousands of vendor solutions out there, and there is no perfect app store that lets the best solutions rise to the top. Instead it’s a game of what partners are willing to spend at an event. At a typical paid SharePoint Conference it’s not unusual to pay $15,000 for a booth and fly out the vendor team to talk to a hundred or so people that may happen to come by the booth. Believe me, I’ve spend a ton of time in vendor halls and the little candy bars and tchotchkes may have little return on investment, but spend more and the Xbox One, motorcycles and massive parties do provide names and hopefully more leads. Why couldn’t a small percentage of that vendor marketing spend be spent with the community influencers to delivering webinars and getting awareness of product through a broader variety of means such as product write-ups, analysis, overviews and such. I understand people may say a review can’t be unbiased if it is paid, but then again isn’t it better to have someone check it out and tell us how they think a product may be valuable even if they don’t rip it apart? Would you rather these vendors spend their money on google ads or share that money

I hope the solutions delivery companies today build alliances with their preferred vendors based on NOT on how much of a cut they get, but relationships are actually forged based on the products which sell the best due to the solution being the best for the customers along with customer service levels. The worst solutions and worst companies should weed themselves out as the solutions fail to sell and lack of deployments.

As someone who has now done hundreds of webinars, events, reviews and various activities with vendors I consider my knowledge of third party product as extremely valuable. It is an asset I bring with me as I work with a company. Understanding the rich ecosystem of products and the vast network of employees who participate in this space is of great value. I consider myself a matchmaker and I don’t need to apologize for participating in a webinar with a vendor. If we can focus on the challenge that customers have and see vendors as having solutions to those problems we’ll have a greater appreciation for the Microsoft ecosystem and sharing in the marketing budgets and giving back to the community in a share the wealth proposition we can travel further and strengthen our community and network. I’ll tell you that’s my strategy. Pretty much every dollar I make from a vendor goes back into the community by helping me subsidize my event travel, but I wouldn’t blame someone if they decided to put that dollar toward their kids school or paying your mortgage.

Love to hear your thoughts!

Vendors that are looking to get more involved with the community can reach out to me through twitter @joeloleson or linkedin or email at joel.oleson@gmail.com. There are plenty of influencers, bloggers, speakers, and product companies to go around. Happy to help you gain awareness for your product or solution. There are other great examples in the community who have been able to turn their evangelism for good for sharing their talents to share their knowledge and educate.

(Curious about the photo? Yes, I’m the one in the plaid shirt next to the babushka who lives in Chernobyl. I was speaking in Ukraine at a paid event which helped to subsidize this trip where I was also able to travel to Azerbaijan and speak at a User Group that has never been previously reached by anyone in our global community. I couldn’t have done it without their assistance. To put this in context I do also put in a lot of my own money in my travels, but I appreciate being able to share the wealth.)

Top 10 Improvements in SharePoint 2016 for Business Users

All this talk of IT Pro SharePoint 2016 What’s New and SharePoint 2016 What’s in it for Developers made me decide there really needs to be some messaging for the users. There’s definitely business value in the box, but the usability, performance, and improvements for mobility and integration with everyday life that make a difference when you go try to get users excited about SharePoint 2016. Make sure you’ve put together your list of favorite features for your users when you get ready to tell the business that you want to spend time learning or deploying SharePoint 2016.

Enjoy!

  1. App launcher and Site Pages pinning – easily navigate across SharePoint through a consistent global app launcher experience users have become familiar with in Office 365, now for SharePoint 2016. This global navigation will help make certain apps like Yammer, OneDrive, and Delve more of a seamless experience. Can quickly navigate between the cloud or on premise. It’s extensible. Users can pin their own sites or developers can extend apps across Office 365 and on premises. You can also pin any sites to the sites page. Follow sites and their folders are more accessible. They are also easier to get to through the app launcher global navigation previously mentioned.


  1. Simplified Usability – The difficult to use ribbon has been simplified based on Microsoft usability testing for the tools users need most. These simple controls have been integrated into the default UI without having to click to find the ribbon. Image and Video previews now available in libraries by simply hover or click. OneDrive has improved synchronization for taking files offline and for sharing, more on the OneDrive blog. OneDrive has also been enhanced with an easier to access Recycle bin in the left nav.

    Keyboard shortcuts are provided for the following document tasks:

    1. Alt + N – New
    2. Alt + E – Edit
    3. Alt + U – Upload
    4. Alt + M – Manage
    5. Alt + S – Share
    6. Alt + Y – Synchronization

     

    1. Share – Sharing has been added to pages. This sharing experience of simply adding the users that you want to share the page with will automatically be added with permissions. This will simply user permissions as well. It’s a concept that started in OneDrive that’s making it into sites. This sharing behavior also consists of faces along with user friendly names. You may see these features grouped as people focused file storage and collaboration. New invitations and one click approve or deny requests though email.
    2. Large File handling – While most users won’t notice that the 50MB default limit is now possible to go up to 10GB, but for those who have been bothered by the 2GB limit will definitely know due to support for large media, videos etc… Not only do you get larger files, but you also get better support for more files. The popular 5000 item limit is no longer… what is will be is yet to be seen. Farm Admins can still restrict this, so end users may not actually be able to use the new limits.
    3. Character Restrictions Removed – Use any characters you want. Want to use an & or + in the file name. It’s no problem. I see this also along with the features around durable links which is a bonus user feature.
    4. Hybrid Delve – Users previously had to just use Delve in Office 365 to show online files. Now with Cloud Hybrid Search, users can get experiences from data Online or on premises. Users can create boards with items from either environment and across farms.
    5. Unified Search – Users use to have to search both Online and On premises, now in 2016 they can have a united search experience in the native SharePoint 2016 search UI.
    6. Zero Downtime – Some will say Zero Downtime Patching sounds like IT features, but ultimately it’s the users that are getting the benefits of no downtime. No one wants to see emails that say their servers are down for maintenance. Getting 99.99% availability which MS says is possible with SharePoint 2016 is definitely a benefit to users.
    7. Touch Mobile Views – mobile, tablets, desktop the experience. There is talk about Responsive Design, which we are seeing in some areas in the IT preview, more to come I’m sure. The integration of the mobile apps with the new mobile UI is much, much smoother. While the mobile views are much better than they were, I’d really like to see the pages more responsive as well. We are seeing some of this in the preview and other examples such as in Delve and Video Portal. I’d like to see this on the search results page and default home pages of team sites and responsive portals. Remember this is beta. I do believe Microsoft is hearing we want more responsive pages and not just mobile views.



    1. Improved Auditing Compliance and Reporting – The word is auditing and reporting is going to be better. New DLP, Data encryption, improved security for mail transport. You’ll also see features listed as personalized insights. New compliance features for SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview include the document deletion and in-place hold policies. See more on compliance features on TechNet. As well you can read more on encrypted connections. Unified auditing features is another place to look for more information on this. Auditing is really being overhauled as you may see “view auditing” referred to as legacy.
    2. Better Performance – BITS or Background Intelligent Transfer Service is built into the system. There are other areas of the product that also get faster including faster site creation. Faster search.

 

Additional Reading:

New and Improved Features in SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview

Download SharePoint Server 2016 Preview

SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview Quick Start Guide

SharePoint Server 2016 IT Preview

TechNet: What’s in SharePoint 2016

SharePoint Server 2016 Update

SharePoint Browser Wars Chrome vs. Edge

Microsoft’s Browser Wars Just Got Complicated for SharePoint and Office 365 Users

If you’ve been following the browser wars, you could say the launch of Microsoft Edge was a step forward for Microsoft, but there is some real oversight by the Edge team. Drag and Drop doesn’t work on Microsoft Edge with SharePoint 2013 or Office 365, the work around was using the IE 11 option, but that isn’t so great either no data grid editing capabilities.

Microsoft Edge and SharePoint

Watch the Video of “Side by Side Microsoft Edge and Chrome on Windows 10”

In addition, on Windows 8.1 I just got a prompt to upgrade an “important” update which is to update IE on my work desktop. It wants me to upgrade to IE 11. Neither Edge nor IE 11 works with SharePoint & Office 365 SharePoint Online Data Grids for quickly updating a list in SharePoint. Am I dead in the water on these controls? Nope. There’s a work around. Use Google Chrome. Seriously??? How Chrome got this to work is impressive and should be noted. We still live with ActiveX in SharePoint and I’ve been begging MS to take note of our dependencies on legacy technologies that even the latest versions of IE don’t support (hasn’t worked since the 64 bit IE was introduced). A few of the ActiveX Controls in SharePoint have not worked in Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer Data Grid being a great example.

How crazy is it that Chrome is currently the best browser to use on Windows 10? Is this the new Microsoft?

As a Windows 10 early adopter if you need to edit lists and upload lots of files to Office 365, hands down, you’re best experience is on Chrome…

I’m hoping that the MS Edge team takes note of this oversight so users can make the decision for themselves. Pretty much drag and drop doesn’t work on most web based apps. It’s been disabled. You’ll see an old school No sign (circle with a strike through it) as you attempt to drag and drop to your SharePoint libraries. Verdict? I go back to my recommendation that IT may have to have 2 browser standards. One that supports legacy apps and one that supports modern editing. What’s your option with Windows 10? Best of both worlds apparently today is Chrome. Your move Microsoft Edge team! Talk to the SharePoint team… pretty pleaseJ. The SharePoint 2016 beta experience from my testing of the “alpha” at ignite and I’m finding there is no difference. I don’t want to have to recommend Chrome to my SharePoint friends, but I am. I’ve only been told 3 times when I bring up this issue. Well, the work around is use Chrome. Ok? Really? I’m not anti-google, in fact I use Chrome quite a bit, but I like to offer companies and users a choice. Let’s get back to choice.

 

Office 365 & SharePoint Users: Wait or Upgrade to Windows 10?

SharePoint people around the world are asking themselves this question. Should I wait or should I upgrade? Windows 10 brings a lot of improvements to desktop productivity and Microsoft’s push to target Windows 10 far and wide led to millions upgrading on day 1 of it being available. Those using Office 365 and SharePoint have heard rumors that drag and drop doesn’t work on Microsoft Edge browser. Is that enough to hold up your upgrade plans? For some it already has been enough to scare them off. Some are looking for any reason to delay upgrade.

Five Windows 10 benefits for SharePoint and Office 365 users…

  1. Login improvements to Azure Active Directory for Office 365 – There is great potential for eliminating the continuous prompting for authentication for logging into Office 365. Most organizations using Office 365 with an on-premises Active Directory (AD) will synchronize their directory with Azure AD. These improvements alone can create a seemless experience for creating much richer desktop integration with OneDrive for business and quick seamless access to email. The great part of this is with Windows 10 login to you’ll join Azure AD to enable single sign-on (SSO) to Azure AD-integrated services. The ultimate goal of single sign on gets one step closer for the enterprise cloud with this component of Windows 10. Note it must be configured and when done properly this is typically setup during the install process of Windows 10. TechNet describes this as bringing the cloud to the desktop: “Choosing the first option (This Device Belongs To My Company) and clicking Next leads to a dialog box that prompts you to set up “your work or school PC.” That dialog box is intended for Azure Active Directory credentials, such as those linked to an Office 365 account.” As well just because you’re getting a good experience with the cloud doesn’t keep you from getting a decent Single Sign on for On Prem.
    Windows 10 PC’s and tablets that are joined to Azure AD will also provide SSO to on-premises resources when connect to the corporate network and from anywhere with the Azure AD Application Proxy.

  1. Automatic MDM enrollment. Windows 10 PC’s and tablets can be automatically enrolled in an organizations device management solution including Office 365 Mobile Device Management including InTune as part of joining them to Azure AD. You can control the messaging, a logo to support enforcement with a friendly management experience, including free text such as contact info and phone numbers for support. There is also support for 3rd party MDMs.

  1. Windows 10 Unified Sync Client for OneDrive – Improvements to sync have only just begun with OneDrive and OneDrive for Business in Windows 10. Once you login with your MSAccount you’re really setting your hooks and configuring the synchronization settings. Configure it to sync as little or as much as you’d like. If you want to keep what is in the cloud, “in the cloud” then uncheck all the sync options. What you get in the box isn’t the last word on sync. I’ve already seen this on Jeff Teper’s list of Top priorities. (Don’t let me oversell this. This is still not yet what it should be, but this is an ongoing investment. I’ll let you know when I think this is fixed.)
  2. Recent Documents includes SharePoint and Office 365 docs – One of the improvements that begins in Windows 10 but also continues with Office 2016 is the concept that cloud doesn’t start outside of the desktop. Now documents you’ve worked on in the cloud will be in your recent documents in nearly all native apps. It gets even better in Outlook Mail when using attachments as they now have little indicators to show where they are coming from such as OneDrive for Business in SharePoint or Office 365. The cute little cloud is a nice touch and may definitely encourage users to be less scared about saving a document to SharePoint or OneDrive.

Figure: When attaching items SharePoint and OneDrive and OneDrive for Business all show up with the Cloud as part of the Icon.

  1. Touch and Responsive Apps – Tablet Office 2016 – If you want your users to get use to the new world of Office 2016, one of the best ways to introduce them to the new productivity features of Office is through Windows 10. Your older versions of Office work just fine on Windows 10, but the native windows productivity apps behave like the Office 2016 ones will. As well the tablet based touch version of Office 2016 has shipped with Windows 10…

Figure 2: Notice the menu on Word 2016. The ribbon and menu items try to continue to be useful even at very small resolution.

 

Taking Notes on MS Edge browser and putting them in OneNote and saving that to OneDrive for Business in Office 365 is probably one of my favorite reasons to upgrade, but the Edge experience on SharePoint is fine as a reader or casual browser, but not so great when working with SharePoint as a contributor. In my follow up post I’ll show you the real deal and pit Chrome against MS Edge, IE 11 and Firefox. On Windows 10 there is today a clear winner when using SharePoint or Office 365 and you may be surprised.

The jury is still out on whether you should upgrade. I think it is time for early adopters, but I also think Microsoft has some work to do to support Drag and Drop as well as Datagrid with MS Edge. Do that at a minimum and we’ll call the calvary to start pushing for Windows 10 upgrades. Otherwise you’ll have an exodus to Chrome. Microsoft also needs to get a better handle on ensuring IT is control of the patching situation. Impromptu updates can be a nightmare.