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Recently I sent out a call to MVPs across the country to share some of the interesting things they are doing with the broader IT Pro community across the country. One of the folks that responded is Sean Wallbridge, a Microsoft SharePoint MVP from Victoria, BC. In this post Sean shares with you the process of creating a blog in SharePoint as well as how his organization uses it as a way to reduce the inbox traffic for their users.
A simple, but effective method of replacing key office email correspondence with a SharePoint blog.
Internally, we are using SharePoint blogs very effectively, to replace common sharing of information (in our case, typically about technology like ‘how I fixed this or that’. Using Microsoft Word 2010 as our blogging tool (and if you don’t have Microsoft Word 2010 or 2007, you could use Windows Live Writer, which is free), and SharePoint as our blogging engine, we have all that we need to create a rich, blogging experience with the following benefits:
To create our Office ‘Knowledge Blogging System’, we take the following steps:
Simple, effective and awesome, I think anyways.
In this instance, I’m going to create a site (a “web” if you want to get technical) underneath our ‘client management’ site. The steps to create a blog site are really straightforward and illustrated in the next few screenshots:
Now we have a blog site, ready to roll. Style it/theme it in whatever manner you want. The next step is to click ‘Manage Posts’ and change the default ‘approval’ behavior to allow posts to be posted immediately (we want none of that pesky approval process, for our small team/content – again, your mileage may vary).
Choose List in the ribbon bar, List Settings and then select Versioning settings.
You may have a different way you will want to approach this (such as a workflow, etc.). However, the quick and dirty way to enable everyone on your team to receive the latest blog content (knowledge!), is to subscribe them to alerts, from the Blog Posts list.
Simply open the Blog Posts list, choose Alert Me, Set alert on this list and set the appropriate notification settings. For us internally, sending alerts when ‘New items are added’ made the most sense. See below for the visual steps necessary:
In our case, for this particular blog (again, we employ two different blogs, your mileage and use will vary), our categories will be defined as the clients we support. For the purposes of this blog entry and confidentiality, I’ve made up a few… Click on Categories and change the defaults (Category 1, 2, etc.) and add any additional categories you made need.
If you don’t have Word 2007-2010, Windows Live Writer is a great, SharePoint capable Blogging Tool. I happen to prefer Word 2007 or 2010 (SmartArt anyone?) but Windows Live Writer is free and there are lots of cool add-ons for it, that you can’t get with Word. And if you have Word 2003 or older, Windows Live Writer will be the tool you want to seek out. (Get it here: http://download.live.com/writer)
Simply click on ‘Launch blog program to post’ if you have Word 2007-2010 locally installed.
And then accept the various defaults (or change them, I don’t care)
In Word (or Live Writer), blog away – always be detailed and don’t be afraid to add illustrations to make your point – that’s the beauty of using Word (and SmartArt) for providing clear messages – A picture is worth a 1000 words as they say.
Here’s a basic sample, but you’ll get the picture. And, the net/final result is your team will receive an email with the blog post (just as though you sent them your informative/knowledge email), but you’ll have the added bonus of a blog post that is permanent and searchable as well (future proofing).
Benefit: Permanent, Searchable, Categorized, and Thin (only a browser needed to retrieve the information)
Benefit: still arrives as a real time email. I.e. the old school (and only) way this content would have been disseminated. The recipient can choose to read it if it is of immediate interest or delete it, with the confidence of knowing they can find it when they need it.
Sean Wallbridge, President and Principal Consultant of itgroove Professional Services Ltd, is a SharePoint MVP and Evangelist from Victoria, BC, Canada.
Sean likes to characterize himself as a “SharePoint Jedi” (there are no experts, just those who continue to explore the vast ways of the SharePoint force) and there is no better way to describe Sean’s enthusiasm for SharePoint! Sean and itgroove specialize in bringing a rich, professional SharePoint experience to the small and mid-size companies that form the backbone of business in British Columbia and Canada. Sean has lived and worked internationally and maintains many industry certifications.
Our team will be kicking the tires on this, this week.
Thanks for the comment. If you get a chance, please let us know how it goes. We'd be interested in the feedback and I'm sure others would that read this blog.
Not bad...what about email enabling so you can back and forth in a threaded discussion via email?
When will SharePoint/Yammer as one product be along? Boy that will be sweet!