Team, Meet SharePoint

  • 10/29/2008

Entering Your Details in SharePoint

When you work with new people on a team, you generally know so little about them at the beginning of the project. You are told some things, but you have to find out everything else for yourself. It would be really helpful if you had an approach to learn more about the other people who you are working with as early as possible in the project, so that you can more fully make use of their skills, expertise, and interests. Saying with a groan halfway through a project, “I didn’t know that you were interested in that!” signals a great loss of opportunity.

Learning about other people on a team is easier when you work with them in person. When you can see them working at their desk, when you can notice the books on their shelves and the magazines they subscribe to, you pick up a lot of this insight in an implicit way. When the others who you work with do not work in the same place as you, your job is more difficult.

But there is hope.

In this section we are going to look into using SharePoint to capture contextual and contact details about each team member.

What Do We Want to Know?

Roger’s project—and yours, too—involves working with other people whom have particular areas of expertise and interest. Teamwork is more effective when people know more than just the task information required to get the joint work completed. It’s helpful to know who the other people really are, what they are interested in, where their passions in life lie ... so that the interaction can be richer and extend beyond a pure work focus, and more than that, so that the work can be structured to call on people’s unique contributions and insights.

There are at least five key areas where it is helpful to have insight into the other people you work with:

  • Contact Details. When you need to contact someone else on the team, what are the range of options that are open and available to you? E-mail address, instant messaging address on the different services, phone number, mobile number ... all of these are different ways of getting in contact with the other people on your team. In addition, if you are working on a team with people from other organizations, knowing that information is helpful to give context to conversations and the positions that people take in discussions.

  • Home Location. Where are they based, as in the geographical location they call “home”? When you are working with team members located around the world, the opportunity for joint, real-time work becomes less and less as more and more time zones are crossed. When some team members really do live on the other side of the world, the overlap in working hours is nil, and so someone has to take an out-of-work meeting appointment when you have to work together.

  • Current Location. With the travel that is often a part of regular business life, people aren’t always at their usual place of work. So where are they now, and where do they expect to be in the coming days?

  • Skills and Expertise. What specific areas of skills and expertise does each person on the team have? What do they bring to the team for the benefit of all? It’s good to be clear about what people see as their areas of strength, so maximum use can be made of these.

  • Passions in Life. What are people really interested in and passionate about? What do they fill their out-of-work time with? Many people have started writing and sharing about such things on their personal blog.

Filling Out Your My Settings Page

If you want to know this information about other people, then the place to start is with yourself. You need to share as much as you feel comfortable sharing, so that others can learn about you. From within the Project Delta Inner Team SharePoint site—or actually anywhere within SharePoint—click your name at the top of the page, and then click My Settings from the list. As we have already seen, this opens your User Information form in SharePoint. There are two types of information on this form:

  • Information that is intended for use by the system. This is the data that SharePoint needs to know about you for granting access to SharePoint sites. Your IT department will manage this, and you won’t be ble to change it. This is primarily the Account field at the top.

  • Information that is designed for other people to see, understand, and use. This is everything else on the form, including your name, e-mail address, the About Me field, and the rest of the fields. This information is displayed on the User Information form, but is maintained in two other places—your My Site and in Active Directory.

To update and revise what is noted about you, click over to your My Site and edit the details stored in the My Profile part of My Site. We talked about this in Chapter 2, for the project leader, and now that same information should be shared with everyone on the team.

Be sure to upload a picture! When you work with people in person, you don’t wear a black mask so they can’t see what you look like. Find a picture you like, and upload it. It really helps—for some reason that is hard to explain—to have some visualization of what the other people you are dealing with actually look like.

A couple of other best practices and ideas to consider embracing:

  • The picture of you will be resized to a fairly small scale. If there are other good photos of you that you are willing to share, include a link to them in the About Me field.

  • If you write a blog outside of work, include the link. If it covers some sensitive areas that you are not sure your colleagues will appreciate, either leave it out or include a warning. Tell people what to expect, so if they do go there, they won’t die of shock.

  • The information that you enter here is available everywhere across SharePoint—all of the sites that you are involved in use this information and will display it. If there are project-specific things that you want to say, don’t put it here. Use the wiki—which we’ll talk about soon.

  • If you have a Web calendar that shows where you are going to be for work in the coming weeks and months, include the link in the About Me section.

  • Your My Site page includes a lot of information about you and your work. Include a link to that.

What About Project-Specific Information?

Because the user information that you enter about yourself is shown everywhere in SharePoint, you will need to exercise some judgment over what specifically you want everyone to see. And remember too that your My Site page includes a lot of good information about you and your work. If there are specific disclosures that you want to make specifically to everyone else in the team, do this in the SharePoint wiki in the Project Delta Inner Team site.

Head over to the Team Wiki, and click the Project Delta: Team Members link that Roger set up in Chapter 3 (see Figure 4-15).

Figure 4-15

Figure 4-15. Open the Project Delta: Team Members page from the Team Wiki home page.

If that page has not been created yet, a blank page will open (actually a dashed line under any page name signifies that the page has not been created), otherwise the current version of the page will open for editing.

  • If your name is on the list, click it and add some more details about yourself.

  • If your name isn’t on the list, edit the Team Members page. Create a new page for yourself using the SharePoint wiki markup of double square brackets before and after a word or phrase to signify a new page, save the page, and then click your new link and make notes.

For Project Delta members, Roger has already created the structure of the page, and has even noted the organizations that each team member works for (see Figure 4-16).

Figure 4-16

Figure 4-16. The Team Members page for the project

To add details about themselves, team members only have to click into their own wiki page, add any project-specific information they want to add, and then click Create (see Figure 4-17).

Figure 4-17

Figure 4-17. Write project-specific information about yourself on your wiki page.