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02 February 2016

View Outlook HelpDesk Tickets On A SharePoint Kanban Board

When you hear the word kanban board you probably think about project management, but the kanban method can also be useful for support teams. A combination of two kalmstrom.com Solutions can make Outlook e-mails show up on a kanban board in SharePoint.

HelpDesk OSP converts e-mails into SharePoint list items
HelpDesk for Outlook and SharePoint logotypeWith HelpDesk OSP you can create SharePoint list items from Outlook either by converting e-mails or by creating new items. HelpDesk OSP has been on the market for many years and is especially popular among distributed teams, who want to be able to cooperate on incidents or tasks in SharePoint.

Kanban Task Manager visualizes list items in SharePoint
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeWith Kanban Task Manager users can see tasks visualized as cards on a kanban board, grouped in phases and lanes. The color coded cards can be dragged and dropped between phases as work proceeds.

The Kanban Task Manager kanban board has its own filter and search features, which are quicker than the SharePoint filter and search, and it also gives many other benefits compared to a SharePoint list.

Combine them!
Any SharePoint list based on the Tasks template can be used with Kanban Task Manager, so you may very well connect the HelpDesk OSP tasks list to Kanban Task Manager and take advantage of all the features given in both products. Then HelpDesk OSP + Kanban Task Manager will work like in the demo below.

The Medium and Premium subscriptions include both HelpDesk OSP and Kanban Task Manager and other useful kalmstrom.com products as well. Use and combine them as best for your organization!



Don't always combine
HelpDesk OSP allows a choice between multiple SharePoint lists, so you can very well select to only convert certain e-mails to the Kanban Task Manager tasks list – or to create new items there with HelpDesk OSP – while you use other SharePoint lists for other e-mails or new items.

This selection does not have to be done manually. If you have enabled automatic e-mail conversion and several Outlook folders are monitored, you can select different SharePoint lists for different e-mail folders. This is a simple way to distribute the incoming e-mail to different lists.

Use several kanban boards
The Kanban Task Manager subscription allows multiple installations, so you can very well let some installations visualize items from HelpDesk OSP, while other installations are used for different kinds of task management. With a common landing page or top navigation managers can quickly move between the installations to have an overview over ongoing tasks in different teams.

Subscription icon You are welcome to try both HelpDesk OSP and Kanban Task Manager for 30 days. We give full support to help you get the most out of the evaluation period, so you are always welcome to contact us if you have questions!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions

29 January 2016

Kanban Task Manager Support For Project Tasks Lists

Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeThis week Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint has been updated to support lists that build on the SharePoint 2010 Project Tasks template.

Drag and drop color coded task cards
In Kanban Task Manager tasks are visualized on a kanban board, where tasks can be dragged and dropped between phases and lanes as work proceeds. If you have a touch screen you can also move the tasks with a finger.

Use any task list
Kanban Task Manager has a custom tasks list that is used by default, but it is easy to switch to another list. All lists that build on the SharePoint Tasks template can be used with Kanban Task Manager.

SharePoint 2010 has a list template called Project Tasks, and from now Kanban Task Manager supports lists built on that template too. We had a request for this support from a subscriber, and as many organizations still use SharePoint 2010 we wanted to meet it.



The Gantt view
In SharePoint 2013 there is no Project Tasks list template. Instead the regular Tasks template has a Gantt view, which was supported by Kanban Task Manager also before this week's update.

Sandboxed and Add-in
Kanban Task Manager comes in two SharePoint versions: a sandboxed solution and an Add-in. Only the sandboxed solution supports SharePoint 2010 and thus the Project Tasks list template. Both versions can be used with SharePoint on-premise as well as SharePoint Online.

Upgrade
kalmstrom.com upgrade iconkalmstrom.com Subscribers have free upgrades, and we recommend current users to upgrade their installations. Even if you don't want to use the Project Tasks list there are some bug fixes that you will appreciate, and it is always best to use the latest version.

Try it
kalmstrom.com download iconIf you have not yet tried Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint, you are welcome to evaluate the solution. There is plenty of documentation on our website, and should you still have questions I hope you will contact us. We are here to assist you!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions

28 January 2016

Auto-Create Docs With SharePoint Document Sets

SharePoint icon When you work with projects within an organization, you often create different kinds of documents built on templates. With a SharePoint Document Set you can have such documents created automatically from your specified templates when a new project item is created, and the documents are stored together in one single item.

If you plan to use folders for project documents or similar, I recommend you to study the Document Sets option first. Document Sets is a better option in many ways. In two tutorials in the kalmstrom.com Tips section I explain how to create and use Document Sets in SharePoint Online.

All docs created in one item
One of the advantages with SharePoint Document Sets is that you get all documents connected to the same project in one item. Create a new library item, and the documents you have specified will be created and named automatically.
SharePoint document set
In the image above the specified documents are an Excel cost break-down, a PowerPoint executive overview and a Word specification. By default the auto-created documents are named with the name of the project item (here ‘Support system’) + the name of the template.

The content writer can just open each document and start writing, instead of creating and naming three new documents, and all documents connected to that project are gathered inside the project item.


Content Type
To use Document Sets in a SharePoint library, you must connect the library to a Document Sets content type. Create a content type that builds on the Document Sets parent and specify which templates you want to use with this content type.


You can of course have several Document Sets content types and use them in different libraries. My Tips articles about SharePoint Document Sets have the demos above as well as step by step instructions, so I hope they will be easy to follow. Give it a try!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions

25 January 2016

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook V4 released

Kanban Task Manager for Outlook logotype I am proud to announce that we have released a update of the workgroup version of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook. The responsible developer, Jitu Patidar, will tell you about the development and the new features.

Task Management in Outlook and SharePoint
Jitu Patidar imageWith Kanban Task Manager workgroups can share and cooperate on tasks on a kanban board in Outlook or SharePoint, where the tasks are visualized as cards. The cards are color coded by project or responsible, and they are dragged between phases as work proceeds.

Status = phase
In version 4 the Status values of the tasks can be used as phases, and this is default for new installations. Current users may keep their custom phases or switch to the task status values.

WIP limits
In version 4 we have given a possibility to set Work In Progress limits on phases and lanes. The WIP feature does not stop more tasks from being added, as this might be a hindrance in the work process, but it adds red color to the number of tasks in the phase or lane to give users a warning.

SharePoint sharing
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeThe Outlook version of Kanban Task Manager stores its settings in a database or in SharePoint. When SharePoint is used, the settings are found in the same SharePoint lists as the SharePoint version of Kanban Task Manager.  Many subscribers use both versions, as they synchronize.

We have now added a possibility to use the SharePoint built in "Assigned To" for the Kanban Task Manager Responsible, and from version 4 Kanban Task Manager can work with any SharePoint task list. These new features were first implemented in the SharePoint version, but from today they are present in the Outlook version too.

Major code changes
The development of version 4 has involved the most extensive changes in the  Kanban Task Manager for Outlook design ever, so it was a great challenge to manage it. To start from scratch with a new product or feature is always easier than making changes in existing functionalities. There are so many dependencies to consider and so many things that can go wrong.

However, just like my mates in the kalmstrom.com team I enjoy being confronted with difficulties. They teach me a lot, and bug fixing always gives a good knowledge about the code/working flow of the product.

In the image below I am discussing a tricky problem with Peter Kalmström, the systems designer of Kanban Task Manager and my developer colleague Arpeet Gujarathi. I also had good assistance from developer Ankit Rughavanshi and of course from our lead developer Jayant Rimza.
SharePoint hierarchy

Upgrade
After the release of Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint V4 we have given highest priority to today's major update of Kanban Task Manager for Outlook, because organizations who use both versions have not been able to upgrade their SharePoint installations to V4. The Outlook version was not compatible, but now it is. An e-mail with upgrade instructions has been sent to all current Medium and Premium subscribers.

Try Kanban Task Manager for Outlook
kalmstrom.com download icon We allow 30 days free trial of Kanban Task Manager, so if your organization needs a way to visualize the tasks in a work process you are welcome to download the Kanban Task Manager Outlook add-in. During the evaluation period my colleagues and I will give the same high level of support service as when you subscribe to one of our products. Please contact us if you have questions!

By Jitu Patidar
Senior Developer and Support Lead
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions

19 January 2016

SharePoint Meetings Management - A Suggestion

SharePoint iconSharePoint may well be used to automate taking meeting notes and handling meeting decisions. In no less than 12 articles in the SharePoint Online from Scratch series I suggest how a meeting management system in SharePoint can be built. I start with a simple solution, which I then expand with various enhancements.

Meeting Notes list
I create one list for Meeting Notes, and each meeting is entered as a list item. For this to work I must of course customize the list, and I do that with a content type, which I create in the Content Type Hub. That way the same kind of list design can be used in the whole SharePoint tenancy.

Action Points lists
The aim of a meeting is often to decide what actions should be taken, and I choose to not add these actions to the Meeting Notes list. Instead I create one Action Points list for each meeting. The Action Points lists should of course also be built on a content type.

List templates
SharePoint list tempateThe Action Points list, which will be created at each meeting, must be very easy to create.
The responsible person should not have to do anything more than add an app, select a template and write a list name.

Therefore I create an Action Points list template that will show up among the other app templates in that site collection. I also create a template for the Meeting Notes list, and then I upload both templates to more site collections.

Meetings overview and search vertical
Meetings concern many users, so it might be useful to display all meetings in the organization on one central SharePoint page. Such a collection of meetings can be created with the Content Search web part. Another way to make it easy to find meetings is to create a Meetings search vertical in the SharePoint Search Center.
Meetings search vertical in Search Center
My Tasks
When several people are responsible for the action points decided on a meeting, it is convenient to let each user see his/her tasks in a web part. This can also be done with the Content Search web part, and you can select to either show only the Action Points task or items in all lists built on the same parent content type.

I hope you have found this interesting! You are welcome to take my suggestion as it is or adapt parts of it for your organization.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer
kalmstrom.com Business Solutions