20 December 2017

2017 in Review

up arrow2017 is coming to an end, and I am looking back upon yet another successful year. It has brought lots of work, new books and product updates and a boom in requests for SharePoint services.

17 years of development
My brand " Business Solutions" was launched seventeen years ago. At that time, the name was " Outlook Solutions", because Outlook was the platform I built on. SharePoint was not even released!
Outlook and SharePoint icons
During the years after that, I have built a strong team and a solid place on the market, and SharePoint has become our main platform. The past year has consolidated this development of the brand, so I am glad I changed the brand name in good time.

Kanban Task Manager
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeThe most popular product is Kanban Task Manager. We have now four editions of this tool for project and task management and visualization, but the first editions were for Outlook. Then Kanban Task Manager followed the general trend and came in two SharePoint editions.

When we have new subscribers these days, many of them want to use one of the Kanban Task Manager SharePoint editions – often in combination with one of our other standard products or with a custom solution. Therefore, we have made it a priority to enhance the SharePoint editions of Kanban Task Manager, and when applicable we also update the Outlook editions with corresponding features.

SharePoint services
In 2016 I decided to stop lecturing on advanced IT courses, and since then I have had more time for development and systems design. This has led to a considerable increase in the number of custom solutions and other services that the team has given during 2017.
Services icon
The whole team feels encouraged by these commissions, because they always bring new challenges and put our skills to test. We also get to know IT professionals in other organizations, and the exchange of ideas gives a fresh input to our work.

Books and videos
Even if I have stopped lecturing, I have continued to teach. In 2017 I published two new books: Office 365 from Scratch and SharePoint Online Exercises. With the help of my mother Kate, I also updated SharePoint Online from Scratch to include more about the modern interface. However, Microsoft has recently added many new features to SharePoint Online, so Kate has already begun working with a new update!

The books are connected to free Tips articles with YouTube videos on, and in July we reached 10,000 Subscribers to the YouTube Channel. After that, there has been around 300 new subscribers every month, so the interest for SharePoint and SharePoint solutions is increasing.

Manage Office templates in SharePoint
Not only Kanban Task Manager has been updated during the year. We are especially proud of the latest version of Templates Manager. This fairly new SharePoint solution is now rich in features, and we hope it will be useful for templates distribution and usage in many organizations.

The success should not have been possible without my skilled and dedicated co-workers. Many of them have been working with the products for long, and these esteemed colleagues and friends form a solid group that keep everything running smoothly.

To keep up with demand from customers and evaluators, we have hired several new employees in 2017, and they have merged well into the team and strengthened it further.

Christmas tree Most of us will not take long holiday leaves, so you can count on our assistance during the holidays if necessary. But for now, I and the rest of the team wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

Peter Kalmström,
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

12 December 2017

HelpDesk for Outlook and SharePoint – Soon Without Outlook!

One of our current development projects is a new edition of HelpDesk OSP, the product that converts e-mails into SharePoint list items. The current edition is an Outlook add-in, but the upcoming edition will run on a server and not require Outlook at all.

Convert e-mails into SharePoint tickets
HelpDesk OSP iconMany organizations need to convert e-mails into SharePoint list items. It might be support e-mails or different kinds of information that need to be published to SharePoint, so that it can be shared and stored in a better way than in Outlook folders.

For nearly ten years, our client-side edition of HelpDesk OSP has handled this e-mail conversion very well  –  and still does. We have long-time and satisfied subscribers all over the world.

Outlook add-in
The current HelpDesk OSP requires that Microsoft Outlook is installed on each computer from where e-mails should be published to SharePoint. That works without problems in most situations, but it requires a bit of management with upgrades, license checks etc. This is one of the reasons that we now want to create a server edition.

Outlook must be running to convert
HelpDesk OSP has a setting that automatically converts incoming e-mails into SharePoint list items, but if Outlook is not running, no conversion takes place. Some organizations solve this by leaving an instance of Outlook where HelpDesk OSP is installed running all the time – maybe on a server with Outlook installed, like we have done.

Unfortunately, it happens that Outlook crashes when it is left running for weeks and even months. In short, Outlook is not built as a server-application. This is another reason for developing a server edition that not requires Outlook.

Run on server instead!
serverFor organizations who want e-mails to be converted automatically 24/7, we will soon release a new edition of HelpDesk OSP that is optimized for running on a server.

With this new edition, users don't have to install neither Outlook nor HelpDesk OSP, and no user will be required to be signed in to the computer where the HelpDesk OSP server is running. As long as the server is running, HelpDesk OSP will keep converting incoming e-mails into SharePoint tickets.

The development of the HelpDesk OSP server edition is going well, and I hope to come back soon and tell you more!
Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

06 December 2017

SharePoint Online Permission Settings

SharePoint iconSharePoint permissions are very easy to use if you accept the default settings. That can work for a small team, but if you want to have more control over what users can see and do, SharePoint permissions get more complicated.

In an updated article about SharePoint Online permissions in the Tips section, I explain how the permissions work by default and what you can do with them. I hope to warn for problems but also show the possibilities given by a good management of SharePoint permissions.

Permission levels
Microsoft has made it easy to set permissions by grouping connected permissions into permission levels. For example, if you want to give a user the right to view, add, update, and delete list items and documents, but nothing more, you don't have to give these four permissions separately. Instead you can set this user's permission to the pre-defined level 'Contribute'.

If none of the pre-defined levels fit, you can easily create your own permission level, and I show how to do that in the demo below, which is also included in the article.

Default Edit permission
In SharePoint Online (and SharePoint 2013 on-premise), the default permission levels for all users is Edit. This means that users by default can not only view, add, update, and delete list items and documents but also add, edit, and delete lists and libraries as well as create, edit and delete columns and views.

In my opinion this is a high level, but it is no problem as long as you are aware of it. Then you can decide if you should keep it or change it. Problems arise if admins are not aware of this default permission.
SharePoint hierarchy
Default Inheritance
Another default setting that can create problems is the inheritance. From the site collection and downwards, SharePoint is organized in a hierarchy. Sites by default inherits the same permissions as the site collection, the lists inherit the site permissions and the items inherit the list permissions.

This means that users who have Edit permission on a site by default also have Edit permission on all lists in that site, and they even have Edit permission on all items in each list.

If you don't like this, it is not difficult to break the inheritance. When you create a new site, you can just select another radio button than the default one in the settings and set new permission levels. Also for existing sites, pages and lists you can break the inheritance in the settings. This can be done down to file or item level.

Security Groups
In the Tips article about SharePoint Online permissions I also explain how security groups work. These groups of users who have the same permission level over sites simplify the permission management a lot. They are especially useful when you want to give people permissions on multiple site collections.

I hope my introduction to SharePoint permissions will give SharePoint admins who are new to the topic a better understanding of the problems and possibilities of SharePoint permissions. Refer to my book SharePoint Online from Scratch or to Microsoft for more detailed information on SharePoint permissions.

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions