Custom Software Apps & SharePoint Consulting

Here at Entrance, I was once known as a SharePoint power user. I was excited about everything SharePoint 2010 had to offer. Then we upgraded to Office 365 (O365) and I got a little scared of the tool. Things worked differently and I was sad. What happened to the good old days? I was a pretty typical user again, negatively impacted by what was actually an upgrade. (In fact, Matt felt he had to shepherd me back to SharePoint!)

Recently, however, I have started to get excited about SharePoint again! We really eat our own medicine around here and its healing powers are kinda feeling like voodoo right now. My new favorite tools, shown to me by our SharePoint consultants are My Sites, SharePoint Lists and automated notifications.

SharePoint 2010 My Sites

At Entrance, we started using My Sites back in April of last year, with associated goals like career management, internal thought leadership tracking and learning what specific skillsets each of  us have. Each My Site provides a place for personal content storage, a place to manage your profile and a place to track your documents’ relationship with other documents and other users.  It also offers the ability look through the corporate Organizational Chart, look for individuals with particular skill sets and a place to keep track of Notes & Tags you apply throughout the portal. All of this has been available ever since the first announcement in May, but what really got me to start using it properly was a discovery I made that one of our software architects (Josh, a rather brilliant consultant) has been keeping a blog of interesting software development best practices. I’ve since been able to subscribe to them and have looped Josh into our blogging process so that developers everywhere can benefit from his software developer tricks.

SharePoint Lists are Magical

Another piece of SharePoint that had originally caught my attention, but recently popped back up on my ‘gosh I need to use this tool’ radar, are SharePoint Lists. I have been planning lunch and learns for our clients and relations and was having trouble keeping track of who’s been contacted and how via separate spreadsheets used by each of our team as a call list. I had used SharePoint Lists before to organize large-scale sets of information, which needed to be sorted in various ways, but hadn’t ever actually used it as a communication tool to keep a team aligned. Now I’ve realized we can upload one agreed-upon database and then go through and interact with the information on-the-fly  and alert each other of new developments as they arise. And to top it off, each of us can set up a view of the data for what we care about.

SharePoint Notifications make me Happy

Finally, I found an old friend again in SharePoint automated notifications. Because we care so much about our software consultants‘ thought leadership and getting their opinions out there, we’re actively involved in social media and there’s no reason to expect others to listen to you if you don’t listen to yourselves! So when I first set up our social media system, I included adding all posts to a list to which others in the company can subscribe. This way anyone interested is automatically notified of new content postings and everyone can skim the overview of what we’re talking about on an ongoing basis. And, of course, when they see something that might be of interest to their contacts, they can repost it as well. As the initial fun of notifications wore off, I was worried it would be hard to maintain engagement, but just last week, a manager came to me asking about an article created in her department she hadn’t yet seen posted to the list. By automating alerts, we skipped a conversation about what had been done and were able to jump to ensuring the best of our thoughts rise to the surface.

January was really a month of rediscovery for me around SharePoint, which was the center of a huge push forward for my department. My old familiar tool, despite its facelift, settled back in to be my comforting companion from times past. I know not everyone uses SharePoint in the same way I do, but it really is a great platform with endless possibilities if you put the tool to good use.

Learn more about loving SharePoint and getting more from your investment…


Nate Richards
Nate has over 18 years of software engineering and consulting experience. He founded Entrance in 2003. Nate is the past President of the Board of LifeHouse Houston, a Christ-centered maternity home ministry, and is past Executive committee member and Treasurer of Houston Achievement Place, a foster care and social skills training non-profit organization.
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Carol Entrance Software Consulting making software better