Thursday, February 21, 2013

Definitions #8: SharePoint Designer

This one is going to be short and sweet, as it is easy to define and explain.

A SharePoint Designer (not to be confused with the SharePoint Designer client) is a person who specializes in customizing the look and feel of a SharePoint site. The individual should be well-versed in basic HTML and have experience with medium to advanced CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Javascript and jQuery skills are also important.

In addition to HTML and CSS, the Designer should also have an eye for aesthetics and be able to present a smooth but rich user experience in web sites. Also, the ability to create excellent graphics through graphics editing software and stock images is essential.

Résumé Search Keywords: CSS, HTML, javascript, jQuery, SharePoint, SharePoint Designer, Web Designer.

Recommended Resources

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Word on Office 365 / SharePoint Online

Office 365 and SharePoint Online are very valuable tools that Microsoft offers to both large and small businesses but is affordable enough for a stand-alone IT professionals to utilize to hone their skills or gain a new skillset.

Depending on which level of service you subscribe to, you can take advantage of just basic features, or go into full Enterprise SharePoint, chocked full of features like Managed Metadata, syndicated content types, pretty much everything but Project Server 2010... All without needing your own server hardware or network infrastructure. All you need is a PC with an Internet Explorer browser.

One of the biggest limitations of SharePoint Online in its current form (SharePoint 2010) is the restriction from being able to use true SharePoint functionality on the public-facing site collection offered with the E-level Office 365 subscriptions. Many people would love to use those features on public facing content and are not advised of these limitations before they buy the subscription, so, needless to say, Microsoft has had to deal with a great deal of backlash. But those days will be over soon... Supposedly.

Microsoft has issued news stating that the new 2013 public facing SharePoint sites offered as part of Office 365 will indeed provide the full functionality of SharePoint.

Even though the current SharePoint online fell short of expectations on the public facing website, someone trying to learn SharePoint 2010 can still use it as a learning and test lab for prototyping solutions using the popular collaboration platform, up to the site collection level. I believe it to still be a bargain for this use, all without having to set up your own hardware, hosting, and configuration.

Key Recruiter Takeaway: Learn SharePoint with Office 365 or with your company's existing enterprise SharePoint portal!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Definitions #7: Microsoft Project Server Administrator

A Microsoft Project Server Administrator is an extension of the SharePoint Administrator role / skillset. A Microsoft Project Server admin should be intimately familiar with SharePoint Administration, somewhat familiar with Microsoft SQL Server, be a good reader, and a good researcher and troubleshooter. Why does the individual need to be a good researcher? Because publications and good instruction for Project Server setup and administration are rarely found in a single, easy-to-read-and follow location, whether that be in print, online, or otherwise. And if the admin will be working with an ITIL-compliant organization, they are going to run into severe organizational roadblocks, and there will be butting of heads within the organization.

Finding the correct pieces to make it all work takes time, some money for good books, and a lot of patience. This is especially true when configuring the extended features of analysis and reporting / BI.  If the Project Server instance is being installed in an enterprise environment on a shared enterprise DB cluster, make sure the SharePoint Administrator has a good, POSITIVE give-and-take relationship with the DBA, because they will need to be able to a) trust you with elevated permissions, even for service accounts, b) allow for additional component software to be installed on their server, and c) make changes to their server by adding new databases, OLAP cubes, etc.

The Project Server admin should be able to learn the basics of navigating Microsoft Project Professional, or, even better, have access to a seasoned project manager who can assist with familiarization of project management tasks within Project Server. The Project Web App performs many of the tasks that Microsoft Project Professional client provides, all through the browser.

Intermediate to advanced proficiency with Excel and PowerPivot is essential if you are going to be using the reporting and analysis capabilities in the Business Intelligence portions of Project Server.  While the use of the reporting capabilities is not a requirement for use of Project Server, your enterprise leadership will definitely want to leverage it if they know it exists, so be ready and prepared to learn the steps for implementation. The admin MUST follow all installation steps carefully, or there will be troubles, hence the need for someone who can read and follow a manual. The Microsoft Technet online video overviews even stress over and over again the necessity of completely reading all instructions before beginning installation.

Be warned! After installation is complete, learning the permissions for Project Server is a huge challenge because of their complexity, granularity, and the fact that they seem to run somewhat counter to permissions assignments in SharePoint.  The permissions are assigned and filtered at several different levels, so it is best to use only groups and categories, preferably the pre-defined ones, as they are out-of-the-box.

Key Recruiting Take-away: Before I get too off-track with technical detail, you, as a recruiter, should be ready to find someone with the existing experience, depending on the needs of the hiring company, especially if they need someone ready to hit the ground and get the installation/implentation done in short order. That existing experience will probably cost you extra. If you have some time to ramp the person up, still be ready to send your existing SharePoint / SQL admins to training and invest in some textbooks if you want to save yourself a bunch of headaches when the admin goes to deploy and implement Project Server.

Résumé Search Terms: Project Server (2007 or 2010), SharePoint Administrator/Administration with SQL Server.

Textbook recommendation that got me through the install process: Implementing and Administering Microsoft Project Server 2010 | Second Edition


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hard Truth #2: Clients Don't Always Know What Their REAL Need Is

You get a job req for a SharePoint Administrator, though what you need is a SharePoint Business Analyst or Site Collection Administrator, or you get a req for a SharePoint Admin when what the role actually calls for is a SharePoint Developer. You can also get a request for a SharePoint Developer when what you need is a well-versed Site Collection Administrator.

Please do yourself a favor and make sure that the job title you're given matches the description below it, and that the needs of the hiring manager / client company match their true needs.

I have seen stark differences in style on how to get the best person for the job. Some companies go for the most EXPENSIVE skillset, while others go for the most EXPANSIVE skillset, and others give job titles that are a total keyword mismatches, or just too generic.

There is nothing wrong with combining job titles. Use the "/" to your advantage. Let's say that you're looking for the total SharePoint guru. Simply state that you need a SharePoint Administrator / Developer, SharePoint Engineer, or SharePoint Architect if what you need is someone who can do both administration and development.

Most importantly, make sure you communicate with the people who submit the openings to you. Make sure they've given you the information you truly need to submit the right candidate. Everything I've stated here may seem like common sense, but I wouldn't be writing about it if I hadn't experienced someone who, somewhere along the chain, has messed this one up.


Friday, February 8, 2013

Definitions #6: InfoPath Forms Author

InfoPath is the one component (add-on?) of SharePoint whose future may be in question. With the robustness of out-of-the-box SharePoint increasing with every new version, the need for InfoPath to extend the capabilities of SharePoint are decreasing.

That said, InfoPath is still widely used and supported in the enterprise.

What is InfoPath?

InfoPath is a XML forms authoring tool. InfoPath forms can be published to SharePoint or can be used stand-alone or integrated into e-mail to collect user-entered data, create reports, and also perform some calculations. InfoPath can easily utilize some of SharePoint's native web services to send and receive data, as well as auto-populate user profile information and other information. 

One of the most important thing to remember about a trained forms author is that he or she can implement a solution in InfoPath at a fraction of the cost of a full SharePoint developer and in a fraction of the time... and all without code.

InfoPath came to its peak (or so I believe at this time) with the 2007 version, and the capability of digital signatures in particular. InfoPath was improved but also morphed a bit in the 2010 version, adding a Contact Selector (aka People Picker) control natively. A contact selector was available as an Add-In for 2007 but a lot of configuring was required. With the improvements in SharePoint 2010 and the introduction of JQuery, tasks once limited to InfoPath can be easily accomplished with out-of-the-box SharePoint or with some additional manipulation with JQuery. Note: JQuery requires some knowledge of javascript. However, InfoPath requires no code in most cases and can be learned by someone with zero coding experience. Even though InfoPath is less needed with newer versions of SharePoint, it is still around and supported, and may still be utilized at any time.

From a qualifications standpoint, an InfoPath forms author should be well-versed as a Site Collection Administrator with experience with SharePoint Designer. This experience is necessary because the author will need to have to be a Site Collection Administrator to be able to publish forms, create workflows, customize permissions, etc.

Key Recruiting Takeaway: While InfoPath is a hard skillset to find, it is fairly easy to search for. Just type "InfoPath" in your resume searches and you should be able to find good matches, if they exist in your résumé databases.