Share Conference April 2013 in Atlanta: Why you should go…

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Hi there…

In a couple of weeks from now, I will be heading to the US for the only time this year – to participate in the Share conference in Atlanta. This will be my first US SharePoint conference since early 2011 and I’ll be delivering one of the keynote talks as well as a 1 day workshop.

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The Share conference is always a great event, for both its focus (business users and key decision makers) and its execution (via the highly experienced eventful group). There is always a great line-up of speakers and this year, the key topic areas include user adoption, governance, envisioning and developing roadmaps, business process automation, information architecture, training, change management and upgrade planning.

My keynote is on Friday morning and is called SharePoint Governance Home Truths. The synopsis for the talk is:

You might think that after a decade of SharePoint deployments there would be a yellow brick road of best practices that we could follow that would lead to success. Yet for many organizations, SharePoint governance does not exist, or is enshrined in 100-page monster manuals that weigh as much as a door stop, and that no-one will ever read, let alone understand.

While we persist in methods that deliver sub-optimal results, we will continue to deliver those results! You can have all the documentation and process in the world, but will your users adopt your solution? If Information Architecture for SharePoint was as easy as putting together SharePoint building blocks the right way, then why doesn’t Microsoft publish the obvious best practices? Why is success so difficult to achieve, even if your system is rock-solid, stable, well-documented, and processes-defined?

The secret sauce to a successful SharePoint project is an area that governance documentation barely touches. In fact, documentation is rarely the answer, because SharePoint projects typically have certain characteristics that are different than most other IT projects. Therefore, to understand SharePoint governance, one has to understand the nature of the problems SharePoint is deployed to solve, why traditional delivery approaches often fail, and what to do about it.

Lessons:

  • The top five reasons SharePoint governance efforts fail
  • The reality of how we actually solve new or novel problems
  • The one best practice you need before you consider any other SharePoint best practice

I am also really excited to be able to facilitate a pre conference workshop called Aligning SharePoint to Business Goals: Don’t Just Say It, Do It!. I have had a lot of requests to bring more classes to the US, but living in far flung Australia, makes this difficult. So this is your one chance to participate in one of my workshops in the US this year. The synopsis for this workshop is:

It is common to hear consultants wax lyrical about how we have to align SharePoint to business goals. While this and other popular cliches like ‘obtain executive support or ‘obtain user buy-in’ are easy to say, in practice they are much harder to do. After all, if this was not the case, then business goal alignment would not be near the top of the list of SharePoint challenges.

In this workshop, Paul will offer practical guidance, tools, and methods for taming this complex problem. This in-depth workshop will build upon the presentation on ‘SharePoint Governance Home Truths’ and provide a deeper, more detailed focus. Paul will demonstrate how to guarantee that all aspects of SharePoint delivery clearly align to organizational aspirations, ensuring all stakeholder needs are considered and at the same time, creating the understanding and commitment via an inclusive, collaborative approach.

  • Why SharePoint belongs to a class of problems that are inherently hard to solve 
  • Why aligning organizational goals is hard 
  • What to do when organizational goals are unclear 
  • How to avoid chasing platitudes 
  • Tapping into the wisdom of crowds 
  • Structuring and running a great goal alignment workshop 
  • Creating a walking deck 
  • Building on foundations – next steps

Now if that wasn’t enough to whet your appetite, then how about a discount! If you register for the conference online and use discount code DELEGATE10 to save $300!

Hope to see you there…

Paul

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New videos: Demonstrating the value of Dialogue Mapping

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Hi

In December I recorded a podcast with Nick Martin over at workshopbank.com. This was a fun interview for two reasons. Nick is a really smart guy and great to talk to, and it was Friday afternoon, close to Christmas and I was drinking a beer Smile

In any event, these two videos present an overview of what Dialogue Mapping is all about, some of the case studies where I have used it, and a demonstration of its utility. You will learn:

  • What Dialogue Mapping is and what it can do for you and your stakeholders
  • Learn when to use Dialogue Mapping and when not to
  • Learn how there is no setup or training that the participants have to go through when they’re in a Dialogue Mapping session
  • Learn how all participants feel like they’re being heard when being Dialogue Mapped
  • Hear an great case study when I used Dialogue Mapping for the first time…
  • Hear how as a mapper, you don’t need to be an expert in the subject being discussed
  • Glean a few insights about the Heretics guide to best practices book

To view the interview and demonstration, head on over to workshopbank.com

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thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

www.hereticsguidebooks.com

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Making Sense of SharePoint and Digital Records Management…

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Hi all

One of the conversation areas in SharePoint life that is inevitably complex is that of records management since there are just as many differing opinions on records management as there are legal jurisdictions and different standards to choose from. Accordingly, a lot of confusion abounds as we move into a world dominated by cloud computing, inter-agency collaboration, changes in attitudes to information assets via the open data/government 2.0 movements, and of course, the increasing usage of enterprise collaboration systems like SharePoint. As a result, I feel for record managers because generally they are an unloved lot and it is not really their fault. They have to meet legal compliance requirements governed by various acts of legislation, but their job is made all the harder by the paradox that the more one tries to enforce compliance, the less likely one is to be compliant. This is because more compliance generally equates to more effort on the part of users for little perceived benefit. This results in direct avoidance of using record management systems or the plain misuse of those systems (both which in turn results in a lack of compliance).

As it happens, my company works with many government agencies primarily in the state of Western Australia, both at a state agency and local government level. We have seen most enterprise document management systems out there such as HP Trim, Objective, Hummingbird/OpenText and have to field questions on how SharePoint should integrate and interact with them (little known fact – I started my career with Hummingbird in 1998 when it was called PCDOCS Open and before SharePoint existed).

Now while I am sympathetic to the plight of your average records management professional, I have also seen the other side of the coin, where records management is used to create fear, uncertainty and doubt. “You can’t do that, because of the records act” is a refrain that is oft-levelled at initiatives like SharePoint or cloud based solutions to try and shut them down or curtail their scope. What makes it hard to argue against such statements is that few ever read such acts (including those who make these sort of statements). So being a sucker for punishment, I decided to read the Western Australian State Records Act 2000 and the associated standard on digital recordkeeping, published by the State Records Office. My goal was to understand the intent of these standards and the minimum compliance requirements they mandate, so I could better help clients integrate potentially disruptive tools into their compliance strategies.

I did this by starting out with the core standard in Western Australia – SRC Standard 8: Digital Recordkeeping. I created an IBIS Issue Map of this standard using Compendium software. What I soon discovered was that Standard 8 refers to other standards, such as Standard 2: Recordkeeping Plans and Standard 3: Appraisal of Records. That meant that I had to add these to the map, as well as any other documents they referred to. In the end, I followed every standard, policy or guideline in a recursive fashion, until I was back at the digital recordkeeping standard where I started. This took a while, but I eventually got there. You can click the image below to examine the standards in all of their detail and watch the video to see more about how I created it.

Map   

Now I need to make it clear that my map is not endorsed by the State Records Office, so it is provided as-is with a disclaimer that it is not intended to drive policy or be used as anything more than an example of the mapping approaches I use. I felt that by putting the standards into a IBIS based issue map, I feel I was able to reduce some of the complexity of understanding them, because now one can visually see how the standards relate to each other. Additionally, by taking advantage of Compendiums ability to have the same node in multiple maps, it allowed me to create a single ‘meta map’ that pulled in all of the compliance requirements into a single integrated place. One can look at the compliance requirements of all the standards in one place and ask themselves “Am I meeting the intent of these standards?”

Reflections…

In terms of my conclusions undertaking this work, there are a few. For a start, everything is a record, so people should just get over the whole debate of “is it or isn’t it”. In short, if you work for a government agency and are doing actual work, then your work outputs are records. The issue is not what is and is not a record, but how you control and manage them. Secondly, the notion that there has to be “one RMS system to rule them all” to ensure compliance is plain rubbish and does not stand up to any form of serious scrutiny. While it is highly desirable to have a single management point for digital recordkeeping, it is often not practical and insistence in doing this often makes agencies less compliant because of the aforementioned difficulties of use, resulting in passive resistance and outright subversion of such systems. It additionally causes all sorts of unnecessary stress in the areas of new initiatives or inter-agency collaboration efforts. In fact, to meet the intent of the standards I mapped, one by definition, has to take a portfolio approach to the management of records as data will reside in multiple repositories. It was Andrew Jolly who first suggested the portfolio idea to me and provided this excellent example: There is nothing stopping records management departments designating MS Exchange 2013 Site mailboxes as part of the records management portfolio and at the same time having a much better integrated email and document management story for users.

For me, the real crux of the digital records management challenge is hidden away in SRC Standard 8, Principle 5 (preservation). One of the statements of compliance in relation to preservation is that “digital records and their metadata remain accessible and usable for as long as they are required in accordance with an approved disposal authority.”  In my opinion, the key challenge for agencies and consultancies alike is being able to meet the requirements of Disposal Authorities (DA’s) without over burdening users. DA’s are the legal documents published by the State Records Commission that specify how data is handled in terms of whether it is archived or deleted and when this should happen. They are also quite prescriptive (some are mandated), and their classification of content from a retention and disposal point of view poses many challenges, both technically and organisationally. While for the sake of size, this article is not going to get into this topic in detail, I would advise any SharePoint practitioner to understand the relevant disposal authorities that their organisation has to adhere to. You will come away with a new respect for the challenges that record managers face, an understanding on why they use the classification schemes that they do, why records management systems are not popular among users of the systems and why the paradox around “chasing compliance only to become non-compliant” happens.

Maybe you might come away with some insights on how to better integrate SharePoint into the story? Then you can tell the rest of us Smile

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

paul.culmssee@sevensigma.com.au

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Interested in learning the craft of Dialogue Mapping in Auckland?

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Hi all

I have spent a bit of time in New Zealand over the last few years, met a lot of really interesting people and frequently get asked about conducting a Dialogue Mapping training workshop over there. I’m really happy to announce that this is finally going to happen in Auckland on May 30th. It should be a really interesting session with a mix of SharePoint people, community development practitioners and organisation development consultants.

Just to be clear, this is not a SharePoint class. I am teaching the techniques of Issue Mapping, the core technique that enables you to become a great Dialogue Mapper. The class is very activity driven and helps you acquire a hugely valuable life skill that not only equips you with a great technique for tasks like business analysis and requirements elicitation, but also allows you to get involved with more complex problem solving scenarios like strategic planning. If you enjoyed my book, the Heretics Guide to Best Practices, this course teaches you the same techniques outline there.

To sign up for the class, head on over to eventbrite. For a full breakdown of the class structure then check out the class brochure.

The workshop will be held at the following venue:

Quality Hotel Parnell
20 Gladstone Rd
Parnell, Parnell 1052
New Zealand
Thursday, May 30, 2013 at 8:30 AM – Friday, May 31, 2013 at 5:00 PM (NZST)

If you would like to see and hear more about Dialogue Mapping, then take a look at these two video’s hot off the press by workshopbank.com. In the first video I speak about Dialogue mapping in general and the second is a very apt demonstration of the approach given that the next class is in New Zealand Smile

Experiences of a practicing Dialogue Mapper
Lord of the rings IBIS style

Thanks for reading

Paul Culmsee

HGBP_Cover-236x300

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