Tag Archive for Snaplets

Knowledge Pool: Easier collaboration, Better Knowledge

My last post, Social Business Collaboration Meets SharePoint 2010 Intranet, included a few videos showing your collaborative experience can be enhanced using Cim Social Business Collaboration on your SharePoint 2010 Intranet.  They focused on people working within an IT Department portal.  In this article, we’ll do some “Day in the life” videos and look at a specific scenario where users are sharing and collaborating as part of a knowledge community from across a SharePoint environment.  We’ll see how the knowledge evolves and improves via the collaborative community and the inter-action of participants. 

The 4 “Day in the Life” videos show different users sharing, using, and collaborating on the topic of modifying the branding of a portal on SharePoint.  A key aspect to note is that the users are working from different locations across a SharePoint environment: a Cim-branded department portal, a native SharePoint team site, and, a native SharePoint My Site.  Yet, they are all tapping into the same Knowledge Pool community, interacting, and seeing the activities of others from wherever they work – without having to navigate somewhere else.  This convenience and visibility enables greater participation that drives improved collaboration and results.


Here we show a schematic of how this lays out.  In the scenario, our “community” is not a place that the users go, rather, it is a resource that they leverage from wherever they work.


Knowledge Pool: 4 “Day in the Life Videos”


Knowledge Pool: Contributing an Article (runtime 3:59)

Here Pat Green kicks things off working from the IT Department portal by contributing an article on changing the menu style of a portal.


Knowledge Pool: Enhancing Knowledge, Working from a Team Site (runtime 3:07)

John Gold picks up the ball and leverages this information to update his Process Improvements portal.  He also enhances the article with additional information about modifying the image and the CSS styling.


Knowledge Pool: Using the Knowledge via a My Site (runtime 2:21)

William Rogers needs to brand a new portal for projects.  Working from his My Site he accesses the Knowledge Pool, locates the enhanced article, does his branding, and, provides feedback.


Knowledge Pool: Collaborative Activity in Your Activity Stream (runtime 1:37)

Now, we go full circle. Pat checks her activity stream and sees all of the activity that others have done on this now enhanced article.


The Knowledge Pool community is just one use case of leveraging Cim for collaborative work.  Each community can be customized to fit the need.  As shown here, they can be snapped into any existing SharePoint site so that users can tap into them from wherever they work.  Users no longer have to navigate to go somewhere to access information, collaborate, and see activity.  The system brings it to them.

In the Knowledge Pool scenario, this ease, convenience, and visibility typically results in better knowledge.  The information gets more eyes on it, more use, and gathers value.  It may get so good, that, you want to polish it up and publish it to a more formal community for use internally or customer facing.  How about adding a simple process, where a group of people could tap into this pool of knowledge, make decisions about which items to publish, polish them up, and then publish them?  To see how this works, check out my post Knowledge Pipeline: From Raw Data to Published (and Improving) Knowledge that describes how you can do this.



CorasWorks Business Solutions on SharePoint

With the RTM of SharePoint 2010 on May 12th, we released our first two Business Solutions –Idea Management and IT Project Management.  We’ve had a lot of activity since then and questions.  In this article, I’ll give you a primer on our Solution product line and answer some of the questions.

Same Value Prop: CorasWorks Solutions offer the same value prop as our Applications – reduce the risk, cost and time to deliver business value on SharePoint.  The Solutions are targeted at a specific purpose such as Idea Management, and, generally a specific business group buyer.

Broader Problems, Flexible Implementations: Unlike our Applications they are not available in the App Store and aren’t plug and play – meaning you don’t just download, install and use them.  They are a bit bigger animal.  Solutions address broader problems.  To be effective, they are based upon a modular framework.  For instance, the IT Project Management solution has 10 modules.  They are productized and designed to snap together.  However, you customize the modules as part of a full solution to meet the specific needs of the business group.  Thus, each implementation is a different flavor and requires some services.  We have created standardized Jump Start service offerings for each solution to get you going quickly.

Enterprise 2.0: These Solutions represent a new Enterprise 2.0 approach from CorasWorks.  They have a very web 2.0 look and feel.  The standard UI is not heavy components but light UI’s that are customizable with CSS and XSLT.  The modules tend to focus on enterprise 2.0 style social collaboration.  We’ve done a lot of work figuring out how to properly balance structured apps with social collaboration to create a balanced approach to Enterprise 2.0.  This is a key part of our approach on SP2010 as we roll forward.  I hope we got it right – you tell me.

Portal-Centric: Each solution is portal-centric.  We are targeting solutions where you start with a Department Portal or Application Portal.  Look at IT Project Management.  It starts with a rich, web 2.0 Portal with a host of social collaborative features.  It is a place to go.  Then, you have the ability to drop in Snaplets from other CorasWorks and third party applications and sites distributed across your SharePoint environment.  This means that you don’t have to go to as many places to do your work – the information and functionality is brought to you in the solution portal.

Integration with Applications/Sites/Portals:  The Solutions heavily leverage our Snaplet architecture and existing applications.  This means that you can snap off application functionality and distribute it to one or more solution portals.  For instance, the IT Project Management solution incorporates all of the CorasWorks Project Portfolio Management application – it is all pre-integrated.  There are elements, such as Project Gantt charts and Portfolio Risk/Issue heat maps, that you snap off the PPM sites and drop in the Portal.  The key is that with CorasWorks you are able to connect to any information across a SharePoint farm – cross Site Collections and Web Applications.  You can also take a Snaplet from one solution portal, such as an Idea Community for Product Ideas, and drop in into a different solution portal, such as the Product Management portal.  Yet, being a Snaplet, it is centrally configured. So, you make one change centrally and all distributed Snaplets instantly update.

Pricing and Requirements:  Each solution has a standard perpetual license fee for both SharePoint platforms.  They require the full CorasWorks Application Platform (Suite and Toolset).  There are separate editions for SP2007 and SP2010.  And, they support our bridge approach so that you can deploy on SP2007 today and smoothly upgrade to SP2010 when you are ready.

I hope that this gives you a good primer on CorasWorks Solutions.  Keep the questions coming and we’ll be back to you,


Distributing Application Functionality with Snaplets

This week R3 Business Solutions released v2 of its Time Off Management app and its Budget Change Request Management app.  Both include a set of Snaplets to enable organizations to distribute key pieces of each application across the SharePoint environment, in order to make work convenient for users.  Snaplets are web parts, based upon a special central configuration enabled by CorasWorks, that make them distributable with full fidelity.  This enables you to distribute application functionality to say 20 places across an environment, but, to be able to make one change in a central place and all 20 instances of the Snaplet Web Part are updated.  In this article, we provide an overview of Snaplets and three videos that cover the business benefit, how to distribute Snaplets, and how to centrally customize them once they are deployed.

A Typical Scenario for Snaplets

People are adding business apps to their SharePoint environments.  They drop the app into the environment somewhere such as in a department site collection.  In order to use the app, users then navigate to the app and do their work.  This is how we historically have thought of apps – you go somewhere to use them.  However, in the broad, distributed work environment that is SharePoint, in many instances there is a better way.

Let’s look at a Help Desk app.  You could drop the Help Desk app into the IT Department Site Collection.  In general, Help Desk engineers use the app.  Historically, our engineers spend a lot of time doing data entry of new requests and fielding calls and emails about status.  So, now we tell users that they can go to the app and enter their requests.  What we find is that the users don’t do this, because it is inconvenient, thus, the engineers continue to do data entry and respond to status inquiries.

Enter the Snaplet.  The CW Help Desk apps use Snaplets.  You simple snap off the end-user, self-service UI, and distribute it to all of the locations where users could possibly work.  From there they can see their Requests: new ones, old ones, and the status.  From there they can enter new requests and pop off emails to assigned engineers and make comments etc.  Their work, from wherever they work, is connected to the app.  What you find is that users start to enter requests because it is convenient.  They reduce separate emails and calls to the Help Desk because they can see the status in real time, wherever they work.  This is a typical example of the productivity benefit of distributing application functionality across the SharePoint environment.

Below is a schematic of how this actually lays out.  In this example, we have two apps, the Help Desk in the IT Dept and a Time Off Management app in the HR department.  Both are good examples of apps where distributing the functionality to where users work makes sense.  The Green and Red dots show where the apps’ Snaplets are distributed to. So, you have Snaplets for both apps distributed to 4 department dashboards in their own Site Collections, to the Portal, to an Employee Services Console (where they self-serve), and to Personal Consoles such as their My Sites (people can self-service and drop the Snaplets into their My Site).  You distribute the end-user self-service Snaplet.  But, you may also distribute Snaplets for Management Reports and Snaplets for Review and Approval.  Any functionality in the app can be converted into a distributable Snaplet with full fidelity.


Technically, how do Snaplets Work

All apps built with CorasWorks have displays, views, forms, and actions in some combination.  So, when you go into an app, the user has a typical app UI.  Any UI in CorasWorks can be converted into a Snaplet for distribution. This is done by creating a Snaplet web part.  The Snaplet “encapsulates” all of the functionality of a particular UI display of an app. It is a connected, extension of the app.   It is created by using centrally configured capabilities driven by point-and-click builder wizards: Central Views, Central Actions, Central Forms and Global Links.  To the user, there is no difference between the UI within the site of the app and the UI that is available via the Snaplet – this is what we mean by “full fidelity”.  In addition, once you create the Snaplet it can be used within the app as well as being distributed.  The key is that the Snaplet is centrally configurable.  Imagine you have a Snaplet for end-users to manage their Time Off requests.  You want to add an action so that end-users can fill out a custom form for Time Off requests for personal days.  You just add it centrally in the app and any instance of the Snaplet now has that capability.

Video 1: Business Productivity through Snaplets – Self-service Help Desk (6:52 minutes)

In this brief video we will show you how Snaplets are used to distribute the end-user self-serve functionality of the CorasWorks Help Desk and show you how they add business value by putting functionality at the fingertips of users where they normally work.

Video 2: How to Distribute Snaplets – Time Off Management app (7 minutes)

In this video, we’ll show you how easy it is to distribute Snaplets using hte pre-built Snaplets that are part of R3 Business Solutions v2 of the Time Off Management app.

Video 3: Central Customization of Snaplets – Business Links as a Shared Central Resource (7 minutes)

In this video we’ll show you how to customize a Snaplet that has already been distributed.  We use a business links “central resource”. 


Most of us are familiar with business apps.  And, we are familiar with the distributed, collaborative environment of SharePoint. CorasWorks Snaplets and the capabilities that drive them, make it possible to have the best of both worlds – the structure of business applications with the ability for people to work wherever is most convenient.   The result is increased business productivity with a minimum of maintenance.  The best part is that it is very easy to do by leveraging CorasWorks Builder Wizards.