Mike Shea – InFocus Blog | Dell EMC Services https://infocus.dellemc.com DELL EMC Global Services Blog Tue, 07 Aug 2018 19:04:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.7 Modern Microsoft SharePoint Design: Overcoming Common Challenges – Part 1 https://infocus.dellemc.com/mike_shea/modern-microsoft-sharepoint-design-overcoming-common-challenges-part-1/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/mike_shea/modern-microsoft-sharepoint-design-overcoming-common-challenges-part-1/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 09:00:39 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35017 Microsoft is investing heavily in SharePoint, which has brought a whirlwind of game-changer type updates in the past couple of years! This is great news for SharePoint customers; however, it can also be perplexing. There are now two different experiences for SharePoint Online (“modern” and “classic”) that have differing features and use cases. On top […]

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Microsoft is investing heavily in SharePoint, which has brought a whirlwind of game-changer type updates in the past couple of years! This is great news for SharePoint customers; however, it can also be perplexing. There are now two different experiences for SharePoint Online (“modern” and “classic”) that have differing features and use cases. On top of this, Microsoft is releasing updates on a feverish pace, sometimes making it difficult for customers to keep up.

Did you know that Dell EMC has a full practice around implementing Microsoft products? Well we do, and if you’re like most people, that may come as a surprise. I live and breathe SharePoint, Project Online, and related services every day and have spent the last 10 years designing and implementing solutions for customers of all sizes and verticals. In doing so, my teammates and I have overcome a number of common challenges.

This blog is part 1 of a 3-part series where I’ll explain some of these common obstacles when implementing modern SharePoint design in a “greenfield” environment (part 1 – this blog), one with classic SharePoint sites (part 2), or one that includes migration from an on-premises SharePoint farm (part 3).

Site Collection Hierarchy

In previous versions, Microsoft has recommended an approach of grouping similar sites together in site collections (with a site/sub-site hierarchy) – but, in the modern landscape, Microsoft is promoting use of SharePoint in tandem with other Office 365 services (as part of an Office 365 Group), including Teams, Planner, Yammer, and Stream. This means that every SharePoint site should now be a single site collection (no more sub-sites).

End users have the ability to create new site collections right out of the box; however, if you’ve been around SharePoint long enough, you’ve surely heard horror stories of ungoverned environments that have expanded out of control.

Below are some things to consider before allowing users to begin creating sites:

  • You’ll need to develop a solid navigation model to ensure users can find content when it is spread across many site collections (and services) – more in “Global Navigation” section below
  • To prevent confusion, a plan for standard branding and site structure should be developed to provide a consistent experience for end users
  • As the number of sites go from the tens to the thousands (and content from GBs to TBs), you’ll need to ensure there is a retention, deletion and archival plan in place to remove sites/content that are no longer relevant

Site Provisioning

In classic SharePoint, the typical approach to provisioning new sites was to create a sub-site using a customized template that was created from an existing site (“Save site as template”). This functionality is no longer available in modern SharePoint, so you’ll need to use a new approach. Some options available as well as items to consider prior to using modern sites are:

  • If you have limited requirements for a standardization of sites, you can probably get away with using the out-of-box “site designs,” which allows you to do some basic updates like apply a theme, add site to Hub, set external sharing, and a few others
  • If you have more stringent requirements, you’ll want to consider using site designs paired with PnP remote provisioning, which enables almost endless possibilities (but requires PowerShell, Azure storage queue, Azure functions, Flow, and potentially some code)
  • You’ll also want to determine if site creation is an administrator-only action (potentially causing bottlenecks), limited to a sub-set of users (maybe those who have appropriate training), or open to all users

Global Navigation

Modern SharePoint sites are currently limited in terms of navigation which means that site owners are required to manually setup navigation links for each site. I fully expect Microsoft will continue to release improvements in this area, but for now, you need to consider the following options as part of your SharePoint design:

  • For sites with a common purpose (the finance department, for example), you can use the newly released Hub sites to share a common navigation. However, keep in mind that there are limitations to Hub sites, so they should be planned carefully.
  • For global navigation, you’ll need to create and deploy a SharePoint Framework extension (SPFx) to apply a header (ideally paired with term store navigation) and/or footer across modern SharePoint sites

Permissions and Security

Permissions for Communication sites work very similarly to classic SharePoint, but modern Team Sites are paired with Office 365 Groups, which introduces some new wrinkles. Office 365 Groups can be “public” or “private” and the associated SharePoint site can be shared with non-Group members. This can be confusing for users to understand how to manage permissions (as a site owner) or access content (as an end user).

  • Ensure you have a training and communication plan in place to help users understand how to use the new tools and minimize confusion. This program should be ongoing as the environment is constantly changing with newly released features from Microsoft.
  • Consider security for external users (“guests”) as SharePoint Online is very open by default. We generally recommend that you setup sites for internal-only sharing and enable external sharing only on approved sites (and OneDrive for Business accounts) to minimize risk of data loss.

Custom Branding

A typical request from customers that I work with is “we want SharePoint, but we don’t want it to look like SharePoint.” This typically means that they want to have a customized user experience that includes colors, layouts, fonts, icons, etc. that are unique to the organization. In general, modern SharePoint sites do not like look your “classic SharePoint,” so that may be enough for some organizations. However, many will still require some custom branding to be applied across the organization for a standard look-and-feel and experience across sites. Below are some general principles that you should consider as part of your strategy:

  • Modern sites don’t use master pages, so you’ll need to deploy customizations through use of SharePoint Framework extensions (SPFx)
  • If you choose to deploy custom branding, ensure that you have a set of users on “targeted release” to monitor for issues in the ever-evolving SharePoint Online environment. Being on targeted release will provide an opportunity for them to resolve an issue before it is released to the general masses

Lot’s to Consider….

As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when planning a modern SharePoint design – and we haven’t even talked about other important topics, including: search, content management, publishing, forms/workflow, security & compliance, governance, etc.

Dell EMC is a gold-certified Microsoft partner and Dell EMC consulting services team is responsible for all things Office 365 (including Teams, Yammer, Groups, Stream, etc.), SharePoint, Project Server/Project Online, Exchange, and Identity. We also work closely with Microsoft MVPs and the Patterns and Practice (PnP) community to leverage and improve the latest product features.

Any Questions or Thoughts?

If you have any questions or happen to need assistance with any of these services, either contact your Dell EMC representative or comment below and I will respond back to you.

 

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Modern Microsoft SharePoint Design: Overcoming Common Challenges – Part 3 https://infocus.dellemc.com/mike_shea/modern-microsoft-sharepoint-design-overcoming-common-challenges-part-3/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/mike_shea/modern-microsoft-sharepoint-design-overcoming-common-challenges-part-3/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 09:00:31 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35195 This is the final installment to my 3-part series on common challenges customers are experiencing with modern SharePoint design. In the first two blogs, I talked about obstacles in implementing modern sites in SharePoint Online, including a new (“greenfield”) environment (Overcoming Common Challenges with Modern Microsoft SharePoint Design – Part I) and one with a […]

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This is the final installment to my 3-part series on common challenges customers are experiencing with modern SharePoint design. In the first two blogs, I talked about obstacles in implementing modern sites in SharePoint Online, including a new (“greenfield”) environment (Overcoming Common Challenges with Modern Microsoft SharePoint Design – Part I) and one with a mixture of modern and classic sites (Overcoming Common Challenges with Modern Microsoft SharePoint Design – Part 2). Now let’s focus on areas that should be considered when migrating from SharePoint on-premises to modern sites in SharePoint Online.

For those who still don’t know about Dell EMC’s consulting services practice for implementing Microsoft products – we’ve been partnering with Microsoft for 30 years! Yes, that’s right and personally, I live and breathe SharePoint, Project Online, and related services every day and have done so for the last 10 years.

Site Collection Hierarchy

Ok, so in the first blog, we established modern sites are all created as individual site collections. Most on-premises SharePoint farms consist of hundreds, if not thousands, of sub-sites nested within different site collections.This means that you’ll need to completely flatten your site structure as part of the migration to modern SharePoint Online sites.

A couple of things to consider are:

  • Site provisioning – most (if not all) migration tools currently create site collections using a classic SharePoint template. This means that you’ll need to develop a method of creating the modern SharePoint site before conducting the migration – either manually or through a tool like PowerShell.
  • SharePoint Hub sites – Hub sites are the method for re-structuring this site/sub-site relationship in modern SharePoint sites. However, there are some limitations to Hub sites (namely that there is currently a limit of 50), so you’ll need to plan how to use these to re-build your existing structure.

Migrating Security / Permissions

There are a couple of instances where security and permissions work differently in SharePoint Online than on-premises:

  • External sharing – sharing with external users (“guests”) is much easier in SharePoint Online. As you plan to migrate, you should work with site owners to understand if their site should allow external users (and then enable, if necessary) or how to re-share with external folks if they previously had access on-premises.
  • O365 Group permissions – modern team sites are connected to an O365 Group, which add some elements to the standard permission model. First, you’ll need to decide whether the site is “public” or “private” because a public O365 Group will open access to all users within the organization.  Secondly, you’ll need to determine which users need access to the O365 Group artifacts (“Documents” library, conversations, planner, etc.) as those permissions are managed separately from the SharePoint site.

In general, we often recommend that organizations take this as an opportunity to start fresh with their permissions in SharePoint Online. It is common that on-premises sites have been around for 10+ years and are a complete “rats nest” of permissions. Instead of migrating the mess (and then continue to make it messier), why not work with the site owners to re-share their site with only the people who actually need access?

Migrating Pages

Pages have been completely re-architected in modern SharePoint – and as a result, there is no current migration path for classic pages. This means that you’ll need to plan time to re-build all of your necessary pages in your newly migrated SharePoint site.  If your sites follow a standard layout, you can develop a PowerShell script to provision the modern pages with sections and configure some of the web parts and content. However, modern pages have a differing set of tools/web parts than classic sites, so doing so will not be as simple as mapping 1-to-1 and will require testing and some manual re-build where web parts don’t map properly.

Migrating Documents

Content from on-premises SharePoint can be migrated to SharePoint Online without much hassle – however, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require some planning.  In classic SharePoint, users typically created multiple document libraries within a single site to separate different types of content. This can still be done on a modern team site, but the only documents that will show in the “Documents” link (which is part of the associated O365 Group) are the files in the default “Documents” library. So, as you plan your migration, you should work with site owners to determine if they would prefer all of their documents to show in that default library – and if so, how it should be re-organized.

Migrating Notebook / Calendars

OneNote notebooks and SharePoint calendars can be migrated to modern SharePoint sites – but, they will only be accessible through the SharePoint site. Let me explain.

  • Calendar – O365 Groups utilize an Exchange calendar for the default “Calendar” link in a modern team site. There isn’t currently a migration path for a SharePoint calendar to the associated Group calendar, so utilizing the default calendar requires a manual input of events in to the new calendar.
  • Notebook – Groups are also provisioned with a default OneNote notebook, which cannot be overwritten. If you’d like to have a single OneNote notebook on your modern team site, you will need to follow a manual method of connecting to both notebooks (in OneNote client) and using the “Move to” feature.

Lot’s to Consider….

Keep in mind, these are only some of the changes between classic and modern that should be considered when completing a migration. Also, while this blog focuses on migration to modern sites, but there is also an option to migrate to classic sites in SharePoint Online and utilize a mixed environment (see challenges from this type of environment in blog 2). As someone who’s completed many SharePoint migrations, I can tell you, they can often be more complex than they first appear. There are MANY areas (not covered here) that should be designed and well-planned before undertaking any SharePoint migration.

Summary

Leverage these tips as you consider and plan your SharePoint migration. If you’d like to have our Dell EMC SharePoint experts do it for you, we can help! Dell EMC is a gold-certified Microsoft partner and my consulting services team is responsible for all things Office 365 (including Teams, Yammer, Groups, Stream, etc.), SharePoint, Project Server/Project Online, Exchange, and Identity. We also work closely with Microsoft MVPs and the Patterns and Practice (PnP) community to leverage and improve the latest product features. Feel free to leave a comment below and I’d be happy to respond to you.

And, now I’m off to another SharePoint project…

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Modern Microsoft SharePoint Design: Overcoming Common Challenges – Part 2 https://infocus.dellemc.com/mike_shea/modern-microsoft-sharepoint-design-overcoming-common-challenges-part-2/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/mike_shea/modern-microsoft-sharepoint-design-overcoming-common-challenges-part-2/#respond Mon, 07 May 2018 09:00:07 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=35165 Welcome to the second in a 3-part series focused on some of the common challenges customers are experiencing with modern SharePoint design. In the first blog, Overcoming Common Challenges with Modern Microsoft SharePoint Design – Part I, I talked about obstacles in implementing a new (“greenfield”) environment where there is no existing content or “classic” SharePoint […]

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Welcome to the second in a 3-part series focused on some of the common challenges customers are experiencing with modern SharePoint design. In the first blog, Overcoming Common Challenges with Modern Microsoft SharePoint Design – Part I, I talked about obstacles in implementing a new (“greenfield”) environment where there is no existing content or “classic” SharePoint sites to consider. Here I’ll focus on environments where customers already have a SharePoint Online implementation using classic sites and would like to begin using the “modern” experience. In the second blog in this series, I’ll discuss items to consider when migrating from on-premises to modern SharePoint Online sites.

In case you didn’t read the first blog, you might be surprised to learn that Dell EMC has a full consulting services practice for implementing Microsoft products. We sure do, and if you’re like most people, that may come as a surprise. Personally, I live and breathe SharePoint, Project Online, and related services every day. I’ve spent the last 10 years designing and implementing solutions for customers of all sizes and verticals.

User Experience

SharePoint Online now has a “classic” and a “modern” experience. Both have their own distinct look-and-feel, which is fine when using only one; however, it can be confusing when regularly moving from one to the other (in what is supposed to be the same environment!). Unfortunately, there isn’t much that you can do to avoid the classic experiences, but you should expect that it will cause some confusion and proactively prepare your users. Most will likely be accustomed to the “classic” experience that they have been using for years, so you should ensure a solid communication plan and training program to prepare them for the modern experience – and where/when they can expect to encounter it. Some areas where I have seen some confusion when using both types of sites are:

  • Landing pages have a radically different look and utilize a different set of web parts, theming, and customizations. You can create modern pages for classic team sites, but not for sites with the publishing infrastructure enabled.
  • Lists/libraries can also cause some confusion because most are displayed in the modern experience – even in the classic sites! A site owner can decide to disable the modern view for a list/library; however, be aware it’s enabled by default.
  • Modern Team Sites are connected to Office 365 Groups, which means these sites will also have associated conversations, calendar, OneNote, and other artifacts. Microsoft plans to release the ability to “groupify” a classic team site, but it’s a good practice to ensure users understand the tools available in the different “flavors” of sites.

When it comes to training, there doesn’t seem to be a single “silver bullet” for all organizations, but I have seen the following techniques (or a combination of a few) to be successful in SharePoint deployments: short (and engaging) videos, learning management sites, blogs, road shows, job aids, lunch n’ learns, and 3rd party training tools.

Content Publishing / News

Many organizations who have an intranet built on SharePoint have developed a solution for publishing internal news articles. Well, Microsoft has decided to develop its own solution for News that cannot currently be used with classic publishing pages. The challenge is that Microsoft’s news solution is the only one that displays results in the SharePoint landing page (from the app launcher) or the SharePoint mobile app. This means that users are more likely to see updates about department ice cream socials instead of the important update from the CEO! Below are some options around implementing news in this mixed environment:

  • Option 1 – modern SharePoint news is still new and lacking the features that most enterprise intranets contain. I have no doubt Microsoft will get there at some point, so an intermediate solution may be to re-brand the intranet news as something like “Company News” and ensure that it is displayed front-and-center (maybe by setting as default home page for browser).  You might also want make sure there’s plenty of communication around the difference between “Company News” (on the intranet) and the “News” you will see elsewhere in the environment.
  • Option 2 – re-design your news solution to utilize the modern SharePoint functionality. As mentioned above, there will likely be some limitations compared to your existing solution, but you can continue to iterate on the solution as the functionality improves.

Enterprise Search

Many organizations have developed customized SharePoint search centers and/or tailored their search index to help users find important content (from an organizational perspective). In SharePoint Online, Microsoft has also released a new experience for search, named “personalized” search, which uses the Microsoft Graph to determine what is most important for users. This new search is the only option when using the default search box within a modern SharePoint Online site – which means that users may not be able to find important corporate information (say policies or benefits) unless they have searched for it before or have some sort of connection.

At some point, Microsoft will likely release a way to direct users to an Enterprise Search Center (from a modern site), but until then, you may want to consider adding a link (either in the header/footer) of your global navigation or potentially adding a SharePoint Framework (SPFx) web part to primary landing pages to get users to the organizationally tuned search.

Global Navigation

As mentioned in the first blog, having a solid plan for navigation is critical to ensure users can find content across your many SharePoint sites.  The challenge here is that the options for navigation are different for modern and classic sites.  Classic publishing sites use master pages where global navigation can be added to the top (for header) and bottom (for footer) of every page across the environment.  To do the same in modern SharePoint, you will need to use SPFx extensions. This means that you could have the same links available in classic and modern, but the placement, look, and functionality may be completely different. Below are a couple of recommendations for global navigation:

  • A team member recently worked with a customer (along with Microsoft) to implement a solution that is now available on GitHub. You may want to consider using this as an intermediate step while waiting for releases from Microsoft.
  • Another potential area of confusion is with the newly released SharePoint Hub sites. These can be used to “link” SharePoint sites to provide a common theme and navigation (among other things); however, the UI elements for Hub sites only show in modern pages. You can still associate classic sites with Hubs, but keep in mind that users will only see the shared theme and navigation when on a “modern page” or modern list/library view.

It’s a Lot to Consider…

As you can see, there’s a lot of things to consider when planning a modern SharePoint design – and we haven’t even talked about other important topics, including: search, content management, publishing, forms/workflow, security & compliance, governance, etc,. SharePoint is about enabling dynamic teams to collaborate and get stuff done, which is why it’s really important to make sure they have the best and most productive experience possible. The considerations covered in this blog should help you accomplish that objective.

Summary

If you’re good to leverage these tips on your own, great! Glad I could help. If you’d like Dell EMC to help, we can do that too!  Dell EMC is a gold-certified Microsoft partner and our consulting services team is responsible for all things Office 365 (including Teams, Yammer, Groups, Stream, etc.), SharePoint, Project Server/Project Online, Exchange, and Identity. We also work closely with Microsoft MVPs and the Patterns and Practice (PnP) community to leverage and improve the latest product features. Feel free to leave a comment below and I’d be happy to respond to you.

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6 Key Elements to Tyson Food’s Transformed SharePoint Intranet; 2018 Intra.NET Award Winner https://infocus.dellemc.com/mike_shea/tyson-employees-hungry-perfectly-cooked-intranet/ https://infocus.dellemc.com/mike_shea/tyson-employees-hungry-perfectly-cooked-intranet/#comments Thu, 26 Apr 2018 15:10:46 +0000 https://infocus.dellemc.com/?p=32886 Tyson and BindTuning recently presented the following solution at the Intra.NET Reloaded Boston conference and won the 2018 Intra.NET Awards’ Best Intranet Solution for User Experience, Design & Content Management. This is a prestigious award that recognizes, celebrates and honors exceptional intranet projects. Last year at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, it was my pleasure to give […]

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Tyson and BindTuning recently presented the following solution at the Intra.NET Reloaded Boston conference and won the 2018 Intra.NET Awards’ Best Intranet Solution for User Experience, Design & Content Management. This is a prestigious award that recognizes, celebrates and honors exceptional intranet projects.


Tyson_Photo1_Charles_Mike_presentation

Last year at Microsoft Ignite in Orlando, it was my pleasure to give a joint presentation with Charles Norman II (watch the full presentation below).

Essentially, we shared Tyson’s journey of transforming their outdated, ineffective intranet to one that met the requirements of their modern workforce.

Tyson_Photo_2_round_diagram.jpgBy Charles’ estimation, together we were able to achieve Tyson’s business objectives in ½ the time and at 1/3 of the cost compared to a traditional, custom intranet project!  During our session, Charles talked through a few of the notable issues Tyson was having with their existing intranet, some of which I have summarized below:

 

  • Department Driven: the intranet was structured by department which made important information difficult to find.  If a user didn’t understand the org chart and each team’s responsibilities (which is a moving target in any company), they’d struggle to find the content and tools they needed to do their jobs.  Tyson understood that this strategy just wasn’t working for their employees and that they wanted to shift the focus of their intranet to the end user, giving them easy access based on how they work, rather than by department.
  • Mobile Unfriendly: the intranet could only be accessed onsite or with VPN, which led to important content being inaccessible outside of business hours or on mobile devices.  And let’s face it, todays modern workforce is on the go, accessing the tools they need on any device at any time.  Tyson recognized mobile accessibility was an absolute must have for this project.
  • Mixed Content: information was hard to find because many sites had been around for 10+ years and had accumulated a mass of outdated and non-relevant content.  For example, when users did a search for content, they could easily be presented with hundreds or thousands of options – leaving them frustrated.  Splitting the team and public content ensured that non-team members could easily find important information (on the intranet) and teams had designated areas for collaboration (team sites/Groups/Teams) – a win win for everyone!
  • Multiple Intranets: due to previous acquisitions, intranet content was spread across multiple SharePoint environments (on-premises and Office 365) that each required individual maintenance.  For users, this meant they often didn’t know which environment to access for what purpose or how to navigate between them effectively – a total drain on their time.  Consolidating the environments into a single intranet improved the experience for end users as well as limited the number of farms that required maintenance and accumulated costs.
  • Inconsistent UX: lack of governance and global navigation as well as multiple farms meant that the user experience was different across nearly every intranet site.  Bringing all intranet content into a single SharePoint environment with governance and standards for page/content creation and management ensured a consistent look and feel while allowing for creativity.
  • Poor Search Experience: a combination of overly shared, untagged/unstructured, and outdated content meant that users were unable to find relevant information through search – which resulted in users saying that search was “broken”.  We all know once users label something as “broken” they stop using it – not a good situation.  Instead of continuing to apply band-aids, the content needed to be analyzed, restructured, and tagged in a way that surfaced important information at the top of search results.

Do these pain points sound familiar?

In our session, Charles walked through the process they followed to compare different options (including pros/cons of each) such as Intranet-as-a-Service, full custom or pre-built and how they ultimately decided on utilizing Dell EMC Consulting Services and BindTuning themes and web parts.

Tyson had 3 primary goals for the project:

  1. Mobile and device friendly
  2. Significantly better user experience;  this had to be a tool that helped their team members be productive
  3. User enablement;  users needed to be able to work anywhere on any device with access to what they need at any time

Tyson_Photo_3_second_round_diagram.jpg

Alongside those primary goals Tyson wanted to make sure they had governance in place so that they could manage and maintain the intranet.   By creating a consistent and user/function focused intranet, they reduced the amount of time and training it took to become productive with it.  And last but not least, with multi-factor authentication, they added a layer of security with Microsoft Authenticator app – making the user experience easy and secure.

The beauty of this project is that we built Tyson’s intranet without any customization – yes, that’s right, no customization so that it would be very easy for Tyson to maintain.   Besides leveraging pre-built BindTuning themes and web parts, we used Office 365 / SharePoint Online, SharePoint on-premises, SharePoint Designer, Microsoft Flow, Azure Application Proxy, Azure Multi-Factor Authentication and a Metalogix Migration tool. In all, the project took a total of 20 weeks to deliver Tyson the intranet that met all their objectives.

But don’t just take my word for it, watch the full presentation Charles and I gave at Microsoft Ignite and hear it in his own words.

If your company is experiencing some of the issues described above and are looking to avoid a lengthy, costly, custom intranet project, learn more by reading our Dell EMC Services for Digital Workplace Portal service overview.  We’d be happy to discuss how we can help you too!  If you’re interested in learning more, either contact your Dell EMC representative or comment below and I will respond back to you.

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