Finally, the No-Code SharePoint Solution You’ve Been Dreaming Of

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “How can you as a SharePoint power-user, or even as a developer, make some really powerful solutions without the use of programming or coding?” Then you’re luck. Asif Rehmani, VisualSP founder and CEO, has been teaching on these topics for many years. At the 2015 SPTechCon in Austin this February, Rehmani will present two sessions related to no-code development in SharePoint.

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  • 8:30 – 9:45 am: “Create Powerful No-Code SharePoint Designer 2013 Workflows in Office 365 and On-Premise”
  • 12:00 – 1:15 pm: “No-Code Solution Creation Options for Non-Developers in SharePoint 2013”

 

 

 

SharePoint is such a robust program capable of solving many different kinds of problems— which has both benefits and a drawbacks. Power users and SharePoint developers appreciate the program’s wide capabilities, but typical users may be daunted by the options presented to them.

SharePoint for Non-Programmers

That’s where Rehmani’s presentations come in. He understands that not all SharePoint users are developers or know how to code. But, as a SharePoint Server MVP, he knows that SharePoint can solve many business problems, even without knowing how to code. So long as an end user grasps the basic building blocks of SharePoint, “those building blocks can be put together nicely without extreme programming or Visual Studio, to make some really powerful solutions for your group, for your team, for yourself.”

Rehmani and his team want to ensure that SharePoint becomes and remains a valuable investment for the businesses that choose to use it. For example, companies could use it to seamlessly integrate their marketing automation software with their CRM. But instead, too many businesses allow SharePoint to become “shelfware” because they’re too frustrated by its intricacies.

That’s why Rehmani’s company, VisualSP, provides “help system software which plugs into SharePoint,” among a number of other helpful products and resources. VisualSP will also have a booth presence at SPTechCon this year. Attendees are welcome to stop by learn more about the company’s offerings, take a demo of their SharePoint Help System (a one-of-a-kind platform that installs as a HelpTab directly in the SharePoint ribbon providing in-context, on-demand help for end users), and get their badge scanned for a chance to win great prizes (including a new HDTV). Beyond that, interested parties are encouraged to learn more about the ways that their company (formerly known as SharePoint Videos) “empowers, educates, supports, and trains” a wide variety of SharePoint users.

To learn more, listen to the embedded TechnologyAdvice interview.

 

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This interview was provided by TechnologyAdvice, an Inc. 5000 company that connects buyers and sellers of business technology through meaningful relationships. Interview conducted by Clark Buckner.

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VisualSP-Webinar: Q&A

Last Thursday, Sept. 4th, Asif Rehmani delivered a very informative webinar to discuss in-detail our SharePoint Help System, VisualSP.  VisualSP provides in-context, on-demand HELP to end users delivered via a Help Tab in the SharePoint Ribbon. This solution helps to reduce workload on support team and empowers end users by giving them the support they need when they need it most!

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VisualSP is available for SharePoint 2010, 2013, and Office365.  There are different versions of the solution available to meet the needs of every organization.

  • VisualSP Express lets you control Help content at the Page and Site Collection level (for all your site collections in the farm)
  • VisualSP Standard lets you control Help content at Page, Site Collection, Web Application and Farm level.
  • VisualSP Enterprise has all capabilities of the Standard version plus the ability to view analytics on product usage data.
  • Each of the paid versions allows for help content to be hosted on-premise (vs. the cloud) and allow for customized help content.
  • There is also a FREE version (VisualSP-Lite) available for organizations that are looking for some basic help content. This version does not allow for any type of customization.

 

Learn More About VisualSP->

 

Webinar

 

Below is a summary of some great Questions & Answers that were asked during the Webinar.

You can Watch the Full Webinar Here->

 

Q: What is the cost, and is it per user or a fee per site collection, etc?
  • A: The cost for our Express product is per farm. For Standard, or Enterprise, the cost is based on the number of production WFEs. For our App for SO O365 the price is per user.
Q: Are you partnering with companies to promote this?  We have SharePoint Lunch and Learn meetings with prospective clients and might be interested in demoing this, along with those sessions.
Q: Do you have any data on what are the most common “help” questions?  It would be good to know what are the top queries?
  • A: Any of our customers for our VisualSP Enterprise solution will be able to collect usage data on their specific environments on what are the most popular videos for their community of SharePoint users.
Q: On the Wiki quick reference, can you click on the red comments to be directed to step by step instructions?
  • A: You would need to add links to the training content to the quick reference for this to work.
Q: is help enabled per site collection or at farm level? (tenant on O365)
  • A: With the paid version of our VisualSP App for SharePoint Online, Office 365 you will have the option to shut the system off on a site collection by site collection basis.
Q: is there a way in the help system for a end user to suggest a topic/request a video for something they need help understanding? 
  • A: Neat idea! Thanks for the suggestion. We will add to future features list. For now, why not use the SP Poll feature to provide users with a method of remarking about specific content exposed to them by the VisualSP Help system.
Q: Are the controls contextual by content type?  I see the help for the wiki page displayed on the wiki page “Help” ribbon.  Is that customizable by content types?  And how does that work with lists and libraries with multiple content types?
  • A: Yes. Help items are related to the type of content and follow the user around as they are working in SharePoint.
Q: Are the help files relegated to only the videos you produce, or can we use materials produced internally by our business?
  • A: You can certainly use your own content!
Q: Can help be applied to custom content types?
  • A: Unfortunately not presently. Great Idea. we will add to future list
Q: Can you customize the Help Icons that are displayed with your own?
  • A:Yes.
Q: What about analytics? Do you have the ability to query use?
  • A: Yes! this is part of the Enterprise solution.
Q: Also can you print the Analytics/graph?
  • A:  You should be able to print the graphs fine.
Q: Can you present different contextual help based on user group membership?
  • A: Sorry, not in present version. We will add to our list of future features. Thanks!
Q: Can the help content be business oriented, and not just for SP functionality? For example, help on a custom List Form.
  • A: Certainly! our system can be used to expose any content our customers use directly from the SharePoint ribbon.
Q: does the vsp comes as msi or wsp
  • A: We have upgraded our original set up program (which was a WSP) to an executable
Q: how easy it is deploy?
  • A: It should be very easy to deploy for any SharePoint Farm administrator
Q: do we have ability to control who can see the help tab in sharepoint 2010?
  • A: Security trimming is a feature of our control to manage help items
Q: how do we upgrade with bug fixes or new releases that you release very quarterly?
  • A: Upgrades are included in the first year. After that, as long as you purchase the annual maintenance, you will automatically receive these.
Q: does JPMchase own the product?
  • A: Not yet. I would be happy to work with you on this. please use my email to contact me: Mike Blonder.
Q: Also does this product use jquery and will it affect other addons we’ve added like EZTabs
  • A: We do use jQuery. Our system should play nicely with other implementations of jQuery function
Q: Will we receive a copy of the PowerPoint presentation at the end?
  • A: Yes – The PPT & recorded video presentation will be available for everyone after.
Q:  will the same content on the help tab be the exact same across every single list or can each list have specific content
  • A: Each list can be configured as a separate scope, with its own content
Q: are the items on the help tab sorted alphabetically? can we determine the order in which they appear?
  • A: Good idea. We will make note of this notion for a future version. Currently, the order is fixed.
Q: Is VisualSP available as an App I can install from the browser or do I have to install it on the Server?
  • A: We have a VisualSP App for Office 365. This app works with SharePoint 2013, as well
Q: Help is showing up as the first tab (on the left). Is it possible to have it be the last (on the right)?
  • A: Unfortunately the position of our tab in the ribbon is not user configurable. The spot is fixed.
Q: What about browser compatibility? My company has issues with IE11. We are on IE8 now and will likely go to FireFox as the corporate default browser. Will this work OK with Firefox?
  • A: It should work fine with IE 8. We offer a 30 day trial so you can try it right on site.
Q: Will migrating from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 affect VisualSP if you install it on SharePoint 2010 first?
  • A: VisualSP is a farm solution. There are separate solutions for SharePoint 2010 and for SharePoint 2013. So you will need to install the version for SharePoint 2013 once you have completed the migration.
Q: Just joined, sorry if its been covered already, is this implemented as a SharePoint Solution package (.wsp) or as an APP?
  • A: It is a farm solution, but we have written an executable as our set up program.
Q: After purchasing will there be support if something is not encountered or it is a fixed package?
  • A: We provide support after purchase
Q: What is the product you sell regarding forms? My company is very much interested
  • A: Please send me an email Mike Blonder. I will be happy to provide you with a link to the appropriate training set on forms for your community of SharePoint users.
Q: Is pricing for the paid version per server or otherwise structured?
  • A: As we just answered for another question, the pricing for the Standard and Enterprise version are based on the number of production WFEs. Our SO O365 App is priced per user
Q: I installed the lite version on office 365 and noticed there is only one icon in the ribbon that opens a popup with a list of help topics. Is configuring topics in the ribbon available only on the paid version?
  • A: Unfortunately, branding requirements for SO O365 restrict the number of items that can be exposed directly from the ribbon. So we can only have one icon on our ribbon tab.
Q: can the help be different for page, site, site collection, or one help for everything
  • A: You can certainly create custom scopes for specific pages, libraries, lists and even apps. You can also use our webpart to provide a unique set of content on a specific page.
Q: are these analytics part of the SP or they are part of the solution that comes with the help
  • A: They are part of our solution.
Q: Can end users see an index of help items, or are they only visible on the relevant pages?
  • A: The end users will work with the items as they are exposed on the ribbon tab. Site Collection Administrators and Farm Administrators will have access to the complete index of content
Q: will this plugin help with making forms?  My org is trying to move away from paper forms to a sharepoint site
  • A: We sell a custom training sets on SharePoint forms for 2007, 2010, and 2013. For SharePoint 2010 and/or 2013, with VisualSP you can certainly add content from the appropriate set to the system.
Q: Can you make additions to your help system..?
  • A: Yes, every paid version of VisualSP includes management control to add content to the system.
Q: What about help in the SP admin pages..?
  • A: We do have a scope for site setting page where, we assume, only administrators will be able to access the content.
Q: So for O365 its based on our O365 user license..? How do you police that.?
  • A: No, you provide us with your user count and we will provide you with a cost. We do not work off of the O365 user license.
Q: So when my user base increases I have to purchase addition licenses..for O365?
  • A: Correct.
Q: How do i set the scope to say the “Sales Quote List” and only this particular list?
  • A: You create a custom scope for that specific list
Q: How do i set the scope to a particular list instead of a type of list library?
  • A: You create a custom scope for only that list
Q: Please explain how to set the scope of an item to a single, particular list, as opposed to a category of items. Was this already explained?
  • A: If you send me an email I will be happy to call you and explain how this is done. Michael Blonder
Q: I guess as we are training clients we can recommend Visual SP and they can buy it from you
Q: Is the light version available on Office365
  • A: Yes

 

Thanks again to everyone who attended the webinar.  If you did miss it, no worries! You can Watch the Full Webinar Here->

For more information about VisualSP, visit: www.visualsp.com

 

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After 13 years…Why do End Users Still Struggle with SharePoint?

Clark Buckner talks with Asif Rehmani to discuss a bit more about why people still struggle w/ understanding the SharePoint software since its inception in 2001.

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Listen to Full Interview

Rehmani explains that 13 years have passed since this product was first introduced, and even with the lack of adoption from end users…SharePoint still thrives. Why?  1. It’s a great platform that users can do so much with.  2. there’s nothing else like this in the world.

Why do End Users Struggle?

  • SharePoint is different that anything else Microsoft has introduced
  • it has a different interface (so it’s not intuitive)
  • it requires some understanding of navigation & processes

Once users get it, SharePoint will likely make their job easier and allow them to be more productive.
It’s the initial understanding that becomes the hurdle…once organizations can get the user to the next level of understanding, they can start really using it more effectively.

Overcoming that hurdle requires training. Asif & Clark discuss a bit about how training has evolved in the last 13 years.

How to Effectively Train
An important consideration, Rehmani explains, is the the end users are not SharePoint experts. They have their own “regular” job (i.e. dentist, para legal, etc.)
End users use SharePoint just as they would use Word, Excel, etc. It takes getting used to.  And, just like excel (i.e. learning how to use macros, pivot tables, and other advanced features) – users have to take initiative to learn “more”.

Trying to show end users how SharePoint works from beginning to end, does NOT work
The users will forget what they learned! What users tend to do instead is they “search” for help when they need it without overwhelming them with too much information!

What SPVideos has done is try to understand what end users need while they are working within each different areas of SharePoint. The next step was to provide support.
– SPVideos started out by offering short SharePoint training videos on the website, giving end users access to quick tutorials on the specific subject they are struggling with.
– Now there is also a solution which attaches directly w/in the environment that users working in. They don’t need to step-out of SharePoint to get the info they need.
This solution (called VisualSP) manifests as a help tab w/in the SharePoint ribbon. For example, if an end user is creating a document and is having trouble sharing that document, they will find a short video (or tip sheet) right there in the help tab of the ribbon.
The goal is to make them feel empowered…to have them say “i can do this” – rather than feeling frustrated when they can’t find the help they need.

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Learn More about the Different Versions of VisualSP

FREE WEBINAR

Thursday, Sept. 4th, 2014

Sign Up Now

 

 

 

The Interview was conducted by Clark Buckner from TechnologyAdvice (they provide coverage content on loyalty management for businesses, business intelligence tools, gamification trends and much more). Also be sure to check out their Tech Conferences Calendar.
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Train SharePoint Users within SharePoint sites

Training SharePoint Users within SharePoint sites

In my many years of training people, I realize that it’s much easier for users (especially end users, but others as well) to consume training when they are already within a familiar environment. SharePoint has become that familiar environment for many knowledge workers around the world now so why not provide the training they need directly within that environment.

Content of Training

Any training content that can be packaged up in video tutorials, documents and reference images can be served to users within a SharePoint site that they frequently visit. Example of these subjects areas are:

  • Onboarding new employees
  • Safety and regulation requirements
  • Vendor management process
  • Call center operation procedures
  • Branding guidelines

The above are just a few of many processes that companies often wish to train users in.

Challenge

How do you expose the same training modules to your marketing department folks that the human resources department is using?

That’s a common problem. If you just simply copy and paste the links to resources, it’s not dynamic anymore. What if the main list of resources change? Now your lists are not dynamic anymore. Not cool.

Solution

How about having all variety of your training content defined in one location farm-wide and then just simply dropping a web part on a page where you wish to see some particular content?

So for example, you define the metadata for each piece of training content (title, description, location to where it’s located, etc.) all in one central location grouped by the type of training it is: Onboarding, Vendor Management, Branding, and so on. Now, when a site collection administrator or even a site owner wants to show any of these training modules, they can do so on any of the pages they want by simply inserting a web part on that page and defining one parameter which tells it which type of training to show. Just by doing that, the web part will now show the dynamic links to the relevant training content. Something like the following image shows –

This feature is part of the VisualSPTM Help System. The VisualSPTM web part can be placed on any page to accomplish this goal. All content is live and changes to it can be controlled at the farm, web application and site collection level as needed.

Check out the following short video to see what I mean.

 

 

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