Sack Justin Bieber with SPD2010 and Forms Services – Part 2

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This is part 2 of a quick (but huge) post on my experiences working with SharePoint Designer 2010 workflows and Forms Services. In part 1, we used the scenario of an employee termination form, and sacked Justin Bieber. Now we want to ensure that the SharePoint user experience for sacking Justin Bieber is seamless and intuitive.

Truth be told, I have never actually heard a Justin Bieber song because we have not had a television in the house for over a year. Ignorance is bliss, but I have seen enough news reports that I still want to sack him!

In part 1, we examined the ability of SPD2010 to leverage InfoPath for tailoring forms used by workflows. We then covered creating a workflow utilising the Start Approval Process action, which enables us to do a couple of cool things without custom programming.

Now we are onto the next two steps.

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Sack Justin Bieber with SPD2010 and Forms Services – Part 1

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Hi all

A very long time ago now, I had the ambition to write an end-to-end blog post series called “A Humble Tribute to the Leave Form”. The intent was to show InfoPath Forms Services 2007 in all its glory – from its initially seductive, demo friendly first impressions, through to all of the dodgy workarounds and .net code required to get it to adequately handle a relatively simple business process like employee leave applications.

As it happened, I got through seven and a half blog posts and never finished it as events kind of overtook me. Its a pity because I didn’t get to the nasty bits. But one of the side effects of getting as far as I did, was that I ended up getting a lot of work developing leave forms!

Thus, now that SharePoint 2010 is upon us, it was inevitable that I would eventually get called to develop a leave form for this new edition. I now have done so, and in the process learnt a couple of new things that I thought were blogworthy – especially around getting things to play nice in a sustainable manner.

I came to realise that anytime you write any content that involves InfoPath, you end up with a stupid number of screenshots, and you are perpetually torn on the amount of detail to cover. So this time, rather than do a twelve post monster, I’ll just do 2 posts (real programmers will still find this post waffly but hopefully normal humans won’t).

I am not going to do a total beginners course here, I will assume instead you have done some basic InfoPath and SharePoint Designer workflows previously, and now want to know some interesting ways to do a general approval type process using SharePoint 2010. My main focus here is to deal with handling browser based InfoPath forms with SharePoint Designer workflows.

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Announcing the SamePage Alliance

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This is really great, and something that’s been a long time coming. On behalf of my partners at Seven Sigma, I’m announcing the formation of the SamePage Alliance. A strategic partnership with Seven Sigma and 21Apps, founded by Andrew Woodward, as founding members. SamePage is a commercial relationship where we will be pooling the respective talents of our organisations together and expanding our service offerings to clients.

I first met Andrew in San Diego in 2008, the SharePoint Best Practices Conference, where I was a very nervous first-time presenter, wondering if all of my wicked problem stuff would resonate with the US audience. Andrew was there, presenting on TDD and Scrum, and apart from having someone in the US I could talk about the cricket with, it was immediately clear that we had a hell of a lot in common. It was like he held a big piece to a puzzle, and I held another piece. The irony was that I never got to see his talk as, if I recall, we presented at the same time. But back then (Feb 08) I made a rather prophetic statement at the end of my report of that conference.

“I feel some future collaboration in the very near future.  Andrew Woodward will definitely be a part of it (although he doesn’t know it yet…Hehehe).”

Funny how things turn out. We have collaborated on a number of different things since then, both within the SharePoint realm and beyond it. The common interests run deep and between 21apps and Seven Sigma, there is a lot of experience there. During the SharePoint Evolutions conference, where a certain volcano prevented me attending, Andrew ran my wicked problems/SharePoint/IBIS talk for me and did a tremendous job (I watched all the tweets from Perth).

In terms of practicalities, we will be reselling each-others products and services. Seven Sigma entered the training space this year, writing the SharePoint 2010 Governance and Information Architecture course that 3Grow and Microsoft New Zealand use to certify gold partners for SharePoint prowess. Seven Sigma also developed a unique 1 and 2-day SharePoint Governance f-Laws course, with content drawn from our sensemaking work that we ran in the New Zealand and Sydney conferences. When it came to who could possibly teach Seven Sigma courseware, the obvious answer was Andrew Woodward, given our shared interests and his sterling job at Evolutions.

21apps released their first SharePoint product into the marketplace this year – 21scrum, and 21apps authors and teaches workshops and training for development teams looking to improve their quality of development around the SharePoint space.

Further to this, we will be co-developing products as well. Seven Sigma has been brewing some things in the cauldron for some time and 21apps will be part of this development effort.

In general terms, we offer great SharePoint competencies across training, governance, infrastructure, development and delivery. Our combined offerings means that we can offer:

  • Global software development and round the clock SharePoint managed services and support
  • World-unique strategic advisory services and collaborative facilitation services, incorporating goal alignment, shared visioning and performance framework development, large group facilitation, user and community engagement, enquiry by design, risk analysis, critical thinking and decision methodologies, process improvement
  • Beyond SharePoint, we can provide full enterprise architecture and analysis services over the program life cycle
  • The first output of this new arrangement is a two-day course to be run in London in mid November. Andrew will be there too, and we will cover my SharePoint Governance f-Laws course as well as material from the recent Information Architecture course in New Zealand. If you have SharePoint competencies and find yourself having to bridge the gap between organisational aspirations and SharePoint as the enabler to that aspiration, then this session is for you.

    You can find out more about this event and register at the 21apps site.

    Looking forward to seeing you all there!

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    Share2010 – A new kind of SharePoint conference

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    Having spoken at the odd SharePoint event over the last three years or so, I’ve always lamented on the lack of a purely business focused SharePoint conference. Whilst the conferences I attend do cater for non technology oriented topics – particularly the best practice conferences, there is usually an equal or greater proportion of content aimed at the nerdier aspects of SharePoint.

    Sadly though, nerds don’t often sign the cheques. Those who do sign them, are rarely interested in deploying SharePoint via Powershell, or why sandboxed solutions are a good thing or not. They are looking for the ways and means to take SharePoint (the enabler) and work out what the hell SharePoint is enabling and to work out if it has done so properly.

    Some time back, via a reference from Kristian Kalsing, I received a call from the organisers of the forthcoming Share2010 in Sydney, asking for feedback on what I would like to see in a good business focused SharePoint conference. In speaking to Steve from Eventful Management and his team, it was clear that something unique was in the making here.

    Fast forward several months and after a whole lot of market research and round-table discussions from SharePoint customers (including a couple of our clients), we have a conference that puts many critical topics close to my heart, front and centre, namely governance, user engagement and adaption, business process automation and workflow; information architecture; collaboration; document and records management; resourcing and support; social networking; ROI; security and so on.

    I am honoured that I was also asked to participate as a speaker at this conference, along side the likes of Dux Sy, Erica Toelle, Andrew Jolly and Michael Sampson. You will find that speakers from this group have one thing in common: Their focus on the softer areas of SharePoint. There are also speakers from some of Australia’s leading organisations (and some international ones too), who will share their trials, tribulations and lessons learned. This is real problem/real solution type stuff and I am seriously looking forward to being part of it.

    I’ll be involved in the initial festivities on the Sunday evening, conducting a special interest kickoff session called SharePoint Governance Home Truths. This session aims to present a lot of my work in a more relaxed, entertaining manner and hopefully, set a good tone for the rest of the event.

    I will also be running a special event on Wednesday called “Microsoft SharePoint Governance f-Laws: Handy Hints for Those Who Question Business as Usual”. I am really excited about this. Developing the content for this session has been a labour of love for me since November last year – and is a kind of magnum opus of everything I have learned in my IT and non IT work. I have been very fortunate to work on some very large and complex non IT projects and worked with some amazingly talented people in the areas of project management, cognitive science, facilitation and community engagement. I can absolutely guarantee you that there will be many aspects to this session that would not have been seen before in one place in this distilled form. I am super excited about delivering this in full at Share2010 – there simply could not be a better conference for this type of workshop.

    By the way, I used elements of this material in the SharePoint 2010 Governance and Information Architecture course that was developed for the Microsoft NZ/3Grow Elite Program. The feedback from that course speaks for itself.

    The outcomes to expect for attendee of this session are:

    • Understand the SharePoint governance lens beyond an IT service delivery focus
    • Develop your ‘wicked problem’ radar and apply appropriate governance practices, tools and techniques accordingly
    • Learn how to align SharePoint projects to broad organisational goals, avoid chasing platitudes and ensure that the problem being solved is the right problem
    • Understand the relationship between governance and assurance, why both are needed and how they affect innovation
    • Understand the underlying, often hidden forces of organisational chaos that underpins projects like SharePoint

    There is a large amount of content and activities in this session that has never graced CleverworkArounds. In fact, if I ever get around to posting some of the content, I could blog for months. But more importantly than the content, you will have a lot of practical tools to leverage as well. Attendees to my session will receive a CD containing end-to-end governance artefacts ranging from IBIS maps, goal alignment and performance framework outputs, envisioning workshop sample outputs, Information Architecture mind-maps, BPMN diagrams, wireframes, user engagement tools, ROI calculations and more.

    As it happens, I collaborated on a lot of this stuff with Erica Toelle, so it is terrific that she is speaking at the event and her “Don’t reinvent the wheel” talk should not be missed, as well as her Tuesday keynote. If I ask her nicely, she might just pop a few of her goodies onto the CD as well!

    You can register here, for this unique event, and let’s hope that there are many more to come. There is opportunity for one on one meetings with speakers like myself as part of the deal.

    Thanks for reading



    Paul Culmsee

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