Category Archives: SharePoint

3 questions to ask when considering a SharePoint slide library replacement or alternative

Much to the dismay of its many users, SharePoint stopped supporting their slide library feature with SharePoint 2013. As organizations have updated their SharePoint implementations, marketing, sales, and product teams have suddenly lost an integral tool to share slides and ensure members have access to the latest PowerPoint content.

A number of vendors are positioning their solutions to close this gap and support improved slide sharing. However, a deep dive reveals that most are not suitable plug-n-play alternatives.

Here are 3 critical questions to ask when evaluating a SharePoint slide library replacement or alternative:

1. Does it integrate with SharePoint?

Adopting a new slide library shouldn’t impact your current content strategy – your new slide library needs to connect with the content you have in SharePoint. If you have a large repository (2000+ slides), uploading it to a new platform will greatly impact user adoption. Further, other systems may no longer be able to access the content.

2. Can you leverage your metadata?

Over the years, your organization has likely added a significant amount of metadata to SharePoint, helping users find the content they need. It’s imperative that your new slide library solution can use and display this metadata to help fuel its search. In addition, the library solution should also allow users to browse content by metadata.

 3. Does it work from within PowerPoint?

Implementing a new slide library solution should drive productivity without a significant learning curve. Solutions that require users to navigate to a website or a separate application significantly hamper productivity. However, providing access from within PowerPoint through an add-in or plug-in can help teams quickly realize benefits.

Slide libraries create immense value to organizations that use PowerPoint on a regular basis. However, selecting one that meets your specific needs requires a thoughtful process. We hope the questions above help frame your approach.

At TeamSlide, we’ve built a SharePoint slide library alternative. Feel free to request a demo and free trial.

 

Replace the SharePoint slide library, not SharePoint!

Starting with SharePoint 2013, Microsoft surprisingly dropped support for their popular slide library feature. SharePoint’s slide library gave users access to PowerPoint content on a single slide-level. Further, it provided a picture preview of each slide, allowing users to quickly determine which slide they needed. While the UI was a little rough, SharePoint’s slide library was an important tool for marketing and sales teams across multiple industries. As companies upgraded their SharePoint implementation, users are often caught off-guard, losing access to an important feature and desperately looking to replace it.

In the following years, several 3rd party solutions have been introduced, including our own TeamSlide. However, many of these solutions ignore SharePoint (and other content systems), requiring users to recreate their repository on their own proprietary platforms. This strategy poses 2 primary issues:

  1. Manually rebuilding large repositories with metadata is extremely cumbersome, regardless of how easy the system tries to make it
  2. Most slide library offerings are point solutions with limited integration. As such, the repository is not usable by other technologies

When building TeamSlide, we spoke with marketing and sales teams across multiple industries and developed 2 key design tenants:

  1. Leverage existing content repositories like SharePoint to the fullest extent possible
    • Automatically replicate content
    • Pull in all existing metadata
  2. Place access to the library where users work – in PowerPoint
    • A visual preview of search results
    • Click to insert slides into the users’ active presentation

Expecting users to drastically change their habits inhibits adoption and impacts productivity. Effective slide library solutions need to leverage existing content systems and fit into current workflows.

If your team lost SharePoint’s slide library solution, request a demo of TeamSlide and we’d be happy to set up a free trial.  You’ll be able to search your PowerPoint presentations in SharePoint on a single-slide level, from within PowerPoint.

Add images to your slide library and effectively build compelling, on-brand presentations

Client relation teams at investment management firms build a multitude of presentations every day. Beyond ensuring that the information provided is accurate and up-to-date, presentations need to be compelling and convince the audience to act. Images play a large role in achieving this goal by capturing the audience’s attention, succinctly conveying ideas, and portraying the right brand.

However, using images in presentations has a number of challenges which typically result in productivity loss or a negative impact on the presentation itself.

Challenges in using images in presentations

  • Copyrights: Images are often copyrighted and not free to use. Your team may be tempted to run a Google image search to find images. However, these images tend not be legally free to use usable or require very specific attributions  Further, team members may miss awkward watermarks that lower the quality of the entire presentation
  • Search and selection: Searching for images, even from the most effective stock websites, takes significant time. Teams can spend hours debating the impact of images and may even re-purchase images that another team member has previously bought. Choosing an incorrect resolution can also impact the presentation size or quality
  • Updates: Updating old presentations with new client logos and new brand images is often a forgotten task. As a result, old off-brand images make their way into new presentations resulting in a poor perception of quality

How a slide library can help manage images

While slide libraries often feature the ability to centrally manage a collection of slides, they can often be extended to include images.

A slide library provides teams with a central location to access PowerPoint slides, helping greatly improve the efficiency of creating new presentations. It helps ensure users have quick, seamless access to the latest content.

SharePoint used to include a slide library feature, but it was removed starting with SharePoint 2013. However, third-party solutions like TeamSlide have specialized in slide library features and integrate with SharePoint and other content systems including Box and Google Drive.

In addition to managing slides, TeamSlide allows teams to centrally store and manage images. Users can connect TeamSlide to a SharePoint site and folder with images or upload images directly. Image file names can then be searched, and users can also add tags to help improve search-ability.  Search results can be previewed from within PowerPoint and clicking on a result adds the image to the current slide.

Investment management firms of all sizes can quickly build a repository of compliant images, including marketing collateral and client logos. Client relations team members can then quickly find the images they need rather than searching online, helping maximize the value of images that the firm has already invested in.

Further, TeamSlide includes an auto-update feature which checks all the images in a presentation to see if a newer version exists in the library. If a new image version is found, the old one can be automatically updated.

Slide libraries can greatly help investment management firms effectively build compelling presentations that are on-brand and compliant.

Leverage taxonomies in SharePoint to improve search

SharePoint metadata used for optimal search results

 

With SharePoint 2010, Microsoft released Managed Metadata to enable corporate knowledge managers to define a taxonomy, allowing for better content organization and improved search relevancy. In particular, Managed Metadata uses a central Term Store where admins can build formal hierarchical classifications of terms (or labels) that can be applied across SharePoint sites.

However, taxonomies and the metadata that comprise them have to be built effectively to realize the benefits.

What is a taxonomy?

In SharePoint, a taxonomy is a hierarchical classification of terms that are categorized and applied to the content. They form a structure for metadata that consistently classifies documents. For example, your sales folder in SharePoint may contain standard pitch presentations. You may define a taxonomy that describes the ‘industry’ the pitch is focused towards and the ‘product’ it represents. Within ‘industry’, the taxonomy might limit the available options to ‘finance’, ‘healthcare’ and ‘manufacturing’.

Taxonomies enforce naming standards and categories to add consistency across the platform and support enterprise content management. They enable end-users to locate and discover information quickly, helping solve business problems.

Benefits of building a taxonomy in SharePoint

1. Improve document search relevancy

The biggest advantage of defining a taxonomy is improving search relevancy. If your SharePoint content repository contains hundreds or thousands of documents, users are likely having a difficult time finding specific pieces of content. For example, locating a single PowerPoint presentation, or even a slide within a presentation, may be time-consuming and frustrating. As repositories rapidly grow, documents are often not consistently classified, making it difficult to sort through search results. This can result in significant productivity loss as finding content takes too long and, at times, users may even recreate content.

Applying a taxonomy allows users to search for terms or apply filters to quickly locate specific documents.

2. Maintain uniformity across your organization

Managed Metadata allows SharePoint admins to build a taxonomy that is shared across multiple sites and extended to other applications. Further, terms defined in a SharePoint taxonomy can include synonyms and multilingual variants. This allows all users to apply a consistent classification to documents using a defined set of terms.

As expected, you can control who has the ability to add and modify the defined taxonomy, allowing for flexibility as your content repository grows.

3. Effectively scale with your business

Nested folders are a simple and easy solution when first adding content to SharePoint. However, they can quickly become overwhelming as your data multiplies. Users may struggle to navigate folders to find relevant files, and even if you define an organizational structure, documents will be forced into one folder when they might belong to two or three.

With metadata, folder names can be added as tags to documents, allowing the document to have multiple classifications. This methodology easily scales and enables easier search and retrieval.

Considerations when adding a taxonomy in SharePoint

1. Ensure third-party tools leverage your taxonomy

Many organizations rely on third-party apps to either add, manage or search for content in their SharePoint implementation. When possible, select apps that support and leverage the taxonomy you invested in. This ensures consistency across your entire toolkit, creating a seamless experience for end-users.

For instance, our slide library and search solution, TeamSlide, integrates with SharePoint content repositories, importing the entire taxonomy along with the content. As a result, users can search for slides with a taxonomy already familiar to them (in addition to slide content).

2. Time new taxonomies with a SharePoint migration

SharePoint migrations offer the perfect time to identify and implement a new taxonomy. During migrations, content is often reviewed and cleaned, creating opportunities to test and improve the classification model.

 

5 questions client relationship teams should ask before updating to SharePoint 2016

SharePoint 2016 updateClient relationship managers have to constantly keep track of their clients and their investment portfolios to ensure they receive the best possible service. This is among the constant need to work internally on standard distributed reports and one-off requests with portfolio managers, compliance officers, and the chief financial officer. SharePoint has proven to be an extremely useful tool for content management, making it easy for everyone on the team to quickly access the latest version of the content they need.

If your team is considering migrating to the new SharePoint 2016 (cloud or on-premise), here are 5 critical questions you should be asking.

1. Does your team need to upgrade SharePoint?

Migrating from one version of SharePoint to another is a significant undertaking. Before jumping in, consider if your client relations team even needs the upgrade.

Start by analyzing the reasons for an upgrade. For instance, with SharePoint 2016, zero downtime patching leads to increased resilience and there is also support for Office 365 and SharePoint hybrid search integration.

On the other hand, there can be several reasons not to upgrade. Your team may be perfectly satisfied with the current version, and as with all new software, there will be a learning curve to consider. That being said, if you are still using an older version of SharePoint including 2003, 2007, or 2010, note that Microsoft only provides mainstream support for 2010 SP1 and newer.

2. What data should you migrate?

Take a step back and plan out what data you’ll need to migrate to the new version of SharePoint. If you’ve had your old version for several years with a large number of users, you are bound to have stale data that no longer has any value. You might have clients you no longer work with or old investment portfolios and Excel sheets that aren’t relevant.

Migrating excess data not only increases the required time but also the costs related to physical storage and maintenance. Before diving into the migration, take a moment to clean your data repositories.

3. What do you do with your slide library?

If your team depends on SharePoint’s slide library, note that it was discontinued starting with SharePoint 2013.

A slide library is a set of PowerPoint slides that can be accessed individually and doesn’t require the user to first open a presentation. In addition to providing slide-level access, slide libraries will help manage slide versions and ensure that users always have the latest content.

If the slide library was critical for the way your team accessed PowerPoint content, you’ll have to consider a 3rd party solution. At TeamSlide, we offer a robust solution that works from within PowerPoint – you are welcome to see it in action. We’ve also previously written an article about the key considerations for replacing SharePoint’s slide library.

4. What upgrade path should you use?

With years of investment portfolios and client reports, your SharePoint environment may be too complicated for a complete native upgrade.

A native upgrade is an option made available from SharePoint 2013 onwards that allows databases to easily ‘detach’ from the old version and ‘attach’ to the new version. It’s a simple and direct process, but it’s only useful if you have a rather small and simple SharePoint environment with less than 500GB of data.

If you have a complicated environment or your total data is more than 500GB, consider a parallel upgrade option which involves building a SharePoint 2016 environment in parallel to the current version and then moving data from the old to the new version selectively. With this option, you are able to selectively choose what needs to be upgraded. Note that if you are upgrading from a SharePoint version lower than 2013, then the parallel upgrade is the only available option.

5. What level of security will you need?

Client relation teams should first review the service level agreements (SLAs) they have with their clients. As team members will likely be saving crucial investment and banking information on SharePoint, security will be a primary concern.

In addition to a better user experience, SharePoint 2016 will help you continue to comply with your SLAs. An automated migration follows the security of your older version, but be careful if you are initiating a manual migration. In addition, if you are considering a move to SharePoint Online, ensure that your client SLAs will allow for data to be stored in the cloud.

In conclusion

When updating to SharePoint 2016, client relation teams should first consider whether they need the update, clean up their data repositories, plan for the missing slide library, choose a migration strategy and also consider their security needs.

Tired of digging for slides? Bring your content management system inside PowerPoint

Tired of digging for slides? Bring your content management system inside PowerPoint

SharePoint, Box, and other content management systems (CMSs) are a great solution to securely store and share your company documents. They provide online access, version control, metadata support among a host of other capabilities. CMSs allow marketing and sales teams to organize their PowerPoint assets by product, vertical, customer segment for easy search and retrieval.

However, accessing content from a CMS typically involves breaking your workflow from a productivity application (e.g. PowerPoint) to a separate interface. Further, the CMS interface may require several clicks before you find the content you are searching for.  This disruption is time-consuming and switching applications can disrupt your thought process.

CMSs are making progress in their integration with Microsoft Office products. For example, Box now allows users to simultaneously edit a Word document. Or, you can edit a document with Office 365 right in your browser.  Most CMSs include desktop sync applications that ensure folders on your computer mirror your online account.

Retrieving content from a CMS is still a tedious process. Further, for PowerPoint users, the problem is amplified as users are often looking for a particular slide rather than an entire presentation. Even after traversing their CMS to find a presentation, they dig through the presentation it to find the specific slide they need. SharePoint had a basic slide library solution that briefly solved this problem but it was deprecated a few years ago.  As a result, this enforces bad habits as users retrieve old versions of slides and presentations stored on their computer rather than the latest version available on the CMS. For sales reps, this can lead to out-of-date product information, old branding, and propagation of errors which ultimately impacts their ability to close deals. An alternative to SharePoint’s slide library, ideally a significantly improved version, is required to improve productivity.

At TeamSlide, we focus our efforts on providing a slide level search engine that works within PowerPoint. You can search, preview, and insert a slide into your active presentation without ever leaving PowerPoint. TeamSlide connects to a number of CMSs including SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, and Google Drive. Essentially bringing the CMS inside PowerPoint. Once connected, TeamSlide searches across presentations to surface the most relevant slides for your search.

For sales teams, TeamSlide allows you to quickly find a particular slide and build effective presentations. For marketing, TeamSlide offers a simple way to disseminate content while still leveraging your CMS. In addition, TeamSlide will check your slides against the central repository to ensure you always have the most up-to-date content.

Switching applications to find content is inefficient and promotes bad habits that can impact output quality. Bringing content systems inside productivity software is a natural step to solve this problem that can lead to significant benefits.

Integrate your slide library and CMS to manage your content in one place

Integrate your slide library and CMS to manage your content in one place

Most marketing and knowledge teams understand that managing a large number of PowerPoint files is a complex, time consuming task. The complexity grows significantly when managing individual slides. Slide library solutions greatly simplify the task by providing a central repository and allowing users to quickly find the slide or other PowerPoint asset they need. However, even the most robust slide library can’t replace a broader content management system (CMS) like SharePoint or Box. CMSs offer a broad range of capabilities that are helpful to diverse data sets; however, they lack the interface and in-depth PowerPoint features that a slide library or slide management solution provides. As a result, many organizations require both a CMS and a slide library.

For teams with a large PowerPoint repository, managing content across a CMS and slide library can be cumbersome. Typically, content is duplicated, and updating both sets requires manual steps that lead to errors. Further, access rights and other settings need to be aligned, creating inefficiencies. As a result, slide libraries that integrate or connect with CMSs and ensure they are automatically synced can unlock additional benefits.

What does the integration look like?

  • Slide library solutions can typically connect with a content repository using a standard protocol like CMIS
  • The slide library actively monitors the CMS for PowerPoint files, replicating the content along with the necessary metadata
  • Upon the first connection, the replication may take a while depending on the size of the repository
  • After the initial replication, only changes are captured
  • A tight connection ensures that both systems are consistently aligned

How does the integration help?

  • With the integration in place, only files in the CMS require management. All changes will automatically flow to the slide library, helping reduce the likelihood of introducing an error while saving manual effort
  • All the metadata defined in the CMS will also be passed to the slide library, thereby allowing for better search results
  • In some cases, access rights may also replicate, helping ensure tight control of content across the organization

Considerations during the integration

  • Check that any business rules that apply to your CMS can also be applied the slide library. For example, if you monitor file downloads to protect against data theft by employees, check that your slide library can send download data back to the CMS
  • Carefully select the content you want to make available through the slide library. While it may be tempting to make all your PowerPoint content available, applying a few filters will reduce the clutter and improve productivity
  • Ensure that the slide library can gracefully handle any errors that may occur during the replication. Errors should be logged and an appropriate team member contacted without impacting performance

TeamSlide’s slide management system integrates with a number of CMSs including SharePoint, Box, Dropbox, and Alfresco. Users can quickly connect their CMS to TeamSlide, making large repositories searchable on a slide level.