My thoughts on the technical aspects of manuall migration of an Access or other legacy forms application

Divide the migration to 3 different parts:

  1. The governance & Process flow
  2. The content- migrating the data
  3. The interface

Governance, planning and process flow

First of all decide what is going to be migrated and create a migration map and a document containing all the information.

Before any migration to the cloud I would like to refer you to the following article: Five pitfalls to avoid when migrating to the cloud

The most important one is: do not forget the what? who? and why business users are going to use it.

The simple understanding of who access what? which users are going to use this application and how? have a basic process flow and well defined personas for your application. If it is big enough, user stories will be needed as well.

After reviewing those topics you would be able to figure out the SharePoint solution architecture vs the existing one in Access. The how will be cleared, should you use several lists? how about groups? sites? PowerApps? maybe several pages just for the view and some custom made buttons?

2. Migrating the data –

    1. Create the data repositories – the lists, you can export the Access data by tables to Excel.
    2. SharePoint, unlike Access, is not a relational Data Base, that means that the data should be not normalized and hierarchy’s are not going to work the same unless a custom solution is applied.
    3. The easiest way is using the quick edit mode on a pre-created tables – yes that means basically rebuilding the Access solution

3. Migrating the interface

Prepare the solution – the data is going to reside in SharePoint lists? the access is going to be through list forms? another 3rd party solution? What is the user interface going to look like?

I would recommend to use Power Apps in order to achieve the forms look and feel and enjoy the benefits of the flow for any business rules you have mapped in the first part. The Power Apps can be connected to several data sources, hence creating the illusion of a relational DB after all. A very important tip, make all your editing in Power Apps desktop application. The online version is a bit, sneaky ;-).

Also on Quora

The one who got away

I am answering many questions in Qoura, it usually makes me think and explore about the things I find interesting such as SharePoint.

I was asked a question on a topic that people just love to comment about. Why is Sharepoint so disliked?

OK let’s put it plain and simple, why do people hate SharePoint?

 

First of all let us think who those people are. To dislike a platform, a knowledge management solution or anything else the workplace “makes” you to use instead of what you are used to manage your documents or creations in the previous workplace or at home, at first, might be understandable. Later on, most of the users should be indifferent to the tool they are using and simply enjoy their work or ask for improvements when a new process, workflow, site or report is needed. However, this is not always the case with SharePoint.

Just like in My answer, I would like to divide those users who dislike or perhaps hate SharePoint so much into 3 groups:

  1. Those who tried and got burned – The product was implemented in their company not in the best way, presented as the single answer to all the questions and perhaps the version they used was 2007 or even earlier so things didn’t go smoothly.
  2. Developers – SharePoint is a product which prefers customization! Customization is something developers usually see as beneath them. so they resist it or create beautiful and sophisticated custom solutions that are so hard to upgrade.
  3. Late adopters – they want things to stay as they are and have difficulty adopting to new ways of managing their processes and documents. They simply want to get things done. SharePoint is notorious for adding new features and being constantly upgraded. This is it’s strength and weakness at the same time.

Now what have triggered this question? who dislikes SharePoint so much? the topic came out of a stack overflow survey and SharePoint was the most disliked among the sites users:

StackOverflow users usually are developers, SharePoint has not the best public relations in this group. End users are less emotional about their sharing option as long as it is implemented and explained, sometimes they even not realize it is a SharePoint solution. Developers usually dislike it. This is a “one size fits it all” product, it has less options and abilities than niche products, easier to implement and get used to and works with other familiar products. All of which makes it less appealing for the more perfectionist crowd. 😉

Now lets look at the big picture:

Most Loved, Dreaded, and Wanted Platforms Stackoverflow

Anyone can see that SharePoint is in a good company SalesForce, WordPress (where this exact blog is written and everything Windows related). So let’s look at the demographics:

The vast majority of the people participating in this survey identified themselves as web developers. (more than 72%). Even if they are holding more titles than that and are for example data analyst and a web developer, they still are the majority. SharePoint is a local intranet in it’s core. I am a web developer (when I am not too lazy to create a blog instead of using Worpress;-)) Off course we think we can do it better, plan it better and have million features we would have included if we were in charge! The developers expect need and want more and this is exactly their prerogative as the developers. They are the “one who got away” and maybe at times it is a demographic that should not be pleased, otherwise they will not improve and progress the tool. Let them go, they will come back to make it better or design something even more awesome based of the lessons learned from SharePoint.

The survey is talking about platforms, for developers who prefer less standardized and more open source solutions they can build upon such as Linux. SharePoint is all about the end user and customization on the other hand.

We still have the other 2 groups of the late adopters and the “burned once” users. For those, there are many user adoption strategies and helpful resources. One of which I would like to recommend. An excellent blog post about driving the users adoption and getting those users back.

The Excellent Joanne Klein 

O365 Adoption: Noteworthy user groups

So for all of us it is always useful to look at the story the data tells us not just the headlines.

Thanks and Happy SharePointing!

 

SharePoint Saturday Vancouver

This was a very exciting event for me as a proud member of the VanSPUG board – the local SharePoint user group and personally as a SharePoint enthusiast.

The preparations and organization went well, we had many sessions with leading SharePoint, BI, Dev and user adoption experts.

We also had an announcement that was made by Charles Sterling (Chass) from Microsoft regarding a new connectivity between Power Apps and PowerBI, demonstrated the first time during his session. I had the privilege to be his “data monkey” and help with all the data entries. A useful trick that he is always preaching for, add a person who is going to help you presenting and will enter all the code lines, url’s and maybe even move the slides forward. You can even pick a person from the audience, and worse case scenario, just ask him or her to step back. During this presentation we have also learned that it is better having all your designing with PowerApps done in the desktop editor rather than the online tool… ohh well.

The event was a great success, you can see the pictures in our Facebook page:

VanSPUG Facebook 

My tips for organizing an event like this and sharing my expirience in VanSpug:

  1. Select the winning team! I am part of the best board I have ever had the chance to work with and it shows in the growth of our community, the cooperation, supporting each others decisions and commitments
  2. Plan – We have used the tools such as planner to complete the planning. We came up with a checklist of tasks, assigned and delivered. In a workplace it is a common sense, but in a volunteer organization it is not that obvious.
  3. Communicate- we have tried the teams communicator and Skype chat. Eventually settled on the Office 365 Outlook. The emails are short and we are all attentive to the requests.

Small but significant- looking at other SharePoint Saturday and SQL Saturday events, the small stuff were the once that made the difference. Clear navigation option, understanding where the rooms are located and having all the lectures printed near the room’s door really helped the audience to get to the right place in the right time. Just like navigation is an important part of your SharePoint portal, it should also be a priority in the venue.

I had also the privilege to participate in the event and give my presentation regarding Product Management using all the Office 365 tools. I must say that groups, planner and off course SharePoint and PowerBI were my leading recommendations. I will explain in details in another post.

 Link to the YouTube Video

Office 365 groups Life-cycle

The Group for Office 365 is more of a new way to call a Team Site.

Although it is a distribution list, just like and Outlook group, it has the following features just like any other SharePoint site:

· Document Library for storing and working on group files and folders

· OneNote notebook for taking project and meeting notes

· Planning tool for organizing and assigning tasks and getting updates on project progress

You can find more information right here in Microsoft’s site:

http://en.share-gate.com/blog/gr…

Groups have a similar life-cycle to any other SharePoint site:

To determine whether the groups are the right solution for your business need and organization, you can use this wonderful blog post:

http://www.neroblanco.co.uk/2016…

As in any SharePoint site, prior to opening the group, there are few things that have to be established for the process:

Good luck and share the group experience with me!

(was published in Quora )