26 August 2015

Swedish Water Prize To Indian Rain Harvester

Water Week logo For 25 years the Swedish capital has been a meeting place for people engaged in global water issues. The Stockholm World Water Week is held in the last week of August, and my mother Kate will tell you more about the event and about the Stockholm Water Prize Laureate.

The necessary water
Water is the foundation for human progress, and the World Water Week is arranged by the Stockholm International Water Institute to enhance the possibilities to give clean water to everyone.

Water for Development
Around 3000 leaders and experts from the world’s scientific, business, government and civic communities participate in the World Water Week.‎ This year they network, exchange ideas and develop solutions to  water-related challenges around the theme “Water for Development”. Topics to be covered include climate change and food and nutrition, so I am sure the water shortage due to animal agriculture will be discussed.

Water Prize
Each year the Water Institute honors an individual, organization or institution who has made extraordinary water-related achievements.This year it was an Indian, Mr. Rajendra Singh, who received the prize from the hands of His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden and patron of the prize.
Water Prize Winner
In close cooperation with local residents, Rajendra Singh and his organization Tarun Bharat Sangh have used rainwater in a clever way to revive several rivers. This has brought water and life back to a thousand villages in the Indian state of Rajasthan, and now authorities in other countries have taken interest in their methods.

Indian wisdom
“Through the Indian wisdom of rainwater harvesting, we have made helpless, abandoned, destitute and impoverished villages prosperous and healthy again", explained Mr. Singh when he was informed about the prize. He also declared that the price was not only for him but for all who had participated in his projects.
Know-how and science
The Stockholm Water Prize Committee says in its motivation: "Rajendra Singh’s life work has been in building social capacity to solve local water problems through participatory action, empowerment of women, linking indigenous know-how with modern scientific and technical approaches and upending traditional patterns of development, resource use, and social norms.” Business Solutions has two offices, in Sweden and in India, so we feel proud and happy that an Indian has received the world's most prestigious water prize. We all wish Mr. Rajendra Singh good luck in his work, and we hope the Swedish prize will help spreading his ideas and give better living conditions to more people.
Kate Kalmstrom image
Kate Kalmström
CCO Business Solutions

17 August 2015

Excel To SharePoint In Two Ways

SharePoint iconExporting Excel data to SharePoint gives many sharing advantages. The transfer can be done in several ways, but the major question is if you want to take the extra trouble and use Access, or if you can do with a simpler method.

In the SharePoint Online from Scratch series I have created tutorials on both methods. I also discuss benefits and drawbacks with Excel and SharePoint Online from a sharing aspect. Most of them are applicable to other SharePoint editions as well.

Excel vs SharePoint
There are several advantages of having data in a SharePoint list instead of an Excel table
  • The data is easier to share in SharePoint.
  • When you enable versioning in SharePoint, you can see and restore earlier list versions. SharePoint Alert button
  • SharePoint´can send you a message when the list has been changed.
  • You can search data in SharePoint.
SharePoint also has some drawbacks, and the most important is the 5000 items limit on SharePoint lists. This limit cannot be changed if you are using SharePoint Online. I have heard that the limit will be removed in SharePoint 2016, but for now you must be aware of it when you transfer data from Excel to SharePoint.

Excel Export button
Excel icon The easiest way to move items from Excel to SharePoint is to export an Excel table to a SharePoint list by using the 'Export Table to SharePoint List' button in Excel. This method is quick, but it has some serious drawbacks. Some of them can be helped by a "clean up" of the SharePoint list that is created in the export.

Excel Export button
Other issues, like lack of control and the use of list columns instead of site columns in the SharePoint list, are more difficult to correct when the export has been done. I discuss those problems with the Export button method in a separate tutorial.

Use Access
Access icon If you want to import data from several Excel files to SharePoint, I recommend using the Access method instead of the Export button in Excel. The data is of value to your organization and the result will be better, so it is worth the extra work.

In my tutorial I explain step by step how to do, and once you have learned the process it is not slower than using the Export button and then cleaning up the list – and you will get a more powerful result!

With Access you can decide exactly which Excel columns you want to include in the SharePoint list and how data should be distributed. You can also use an existing list with site columns for the import of Excel data.

Where to edit
Another advantage of the Access method is that changes can be made in both Access and SharePoint. When you enter data in Access it is saved to the SharePoint list as soon as you move to another row. When you enter data in SharePoint, the linked Access table will be updated next time it is opened or refreshed.

When you have exported the Excel data to SharePoint via the Export button, items can only be updated in SharePoint. Changes in SharePoint are saved back to Excel, but if you edit data in Excel the changes are not saved to the SharePoint list.

I hope my tutorials on Excel data in SharePoint will help you make sensible decisions on how your organization should share information and move data from Excel to SharePoint.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

10 August 2015

Kanban Task Manager + Microsoft Project - A Powerful Combination

The other day an evaluator asked if it was possible to combine Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint with Microsoft Project. It is indeed, and we decided to create a demo to show how the connection works.

Kanban Task Manager
Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint logotypeKanban Task Manager creates a kanban board in SharePoint, where a workgroup can cooperate on tasks and projects. The color coded tasks are dragged and dropped between phases as the work proceeds, and they may also be dragged within phases or between lanes. Each task is tagged with project and responsible and maybe also with a custom parameter, and the kanban board can be filtered by those tags.

The Kanban Task Manager subscription allows an unlimited number of installations, so each team can have their own kanban board, and with a common top navigation managers and people who belong to several teams can easily move between the different boards.

Microsoft Project iconMicrosoft Project
With Microsoft Project managers can analyze project resources, budgets and timelines, and by combining Project with Kanban Task Manager they will have the whole process in one place – from the overall plan down to the individual tasks.

The demo below shows how a task is created in Kanban Task Manager and synced to Project, and that is probably the most common scenario.

But new tasks can also be created in Project and synced to Kanban Task Manager, where they will be placed in the first phase. Project cannot tag the tasks with Kanban Task Manager parameters, so if you create the tasks in Project and sync them to Kanban Task Manager, I recommend you to call the first phase "Not Assigned" and reserve it for such tasks.

I plan to create some tutorials on Microsoft Project later on, so keep a lookout for them if you are interested in Project and the combination with Kanban Task Manager for SharePoint.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions

04 August 2015

8 Ways To Add Content To SharePoint Document Libraries

SharePoint iconSharePoint libraries are in my opinion the best option for storing files that should be shared. In a few articles in our new SharePoint Online from Scratch series, we describe different ways to add files to a SharePoint Online document library. The Tips series is about Office 365 SharePoint Online, but all the methods can be used on SharePoint on-premises also.

When you use SharePoint document libraries for file sharing you have several benefits:
  • SharePoint libraries give a good overview over attachments.
  • Use the powerful SharePoint Search to find information.
  • SharePoint Versioning feature lets you see earlier
    versions of each item. SharePoint Alert button
  • You can let SharePoint notify you when documents have
    been changed.
  • You can create different views in the SharePoint library.
SharePoint Document Library views

Create in SharePoint
Templates Manager iconThe best way of adding content to a SharePoint document library is actually to create the file directly in SharePoint. The Solution Templates Manager makes it easy to distribute Office templates to the whole SharePoint farm.

Upload file SharePoint Upload File button
Single files can be uploaded to SharePoint via the 'Upload' button in the document library.

Drag and drop files
One or several files can be dragged and dropped from your PC to the document library. To put the windows side by side, use the Windows button + the right/left key. You can only use this method for 100 files at a time.

Import files from Windows Explorer
SharePoint Open with Explorer buttonYou can open the SharePoint site in Windows Explorer and import files to the library. The  'Upload' button dialog also has an option to upload files using Windows Explorer. In both cases adding the SharePoint library to Quick Access/Favorites makes it easy to drag and drop files, but you may of course also copy and paste them.

'Save As' to SharePoint
If you add the SharePoint library to Quick Access/Favorites you get another possibility to add content to SharePoint: you can save any open file into the library by using the Windows option 'Save As'. With this option you don't have to open the SharePoint library to add content to it.

Drag or copy to network drive
If you map the SharePoint library as a network drive you can not only Save As but also drop or paste all kinds of documents into the library without opening SharePoint.
Map network drive button

Import files and folders with SharePoint Designer
SharePoint Designer Icon buttonWhen you use SharePoint Designer 2010 or 2013 to add content to SharePoint libraries, you can import not only files but also whole folders with all their subfolders and files. Open the site in SharePoint Designer and use the 'Import File' button or simply drag and drop the files to the library.

Normally you should not have folders in SharePoint but instead make use of metadata as much as possible, but use the SharePoint Designer method if you have a lot to upload, as there is no limit to the number of files.

Upload files by e-mail
Sharing documents via SharePoint is safer than sending them as e-mail attachments, and when you use SharePoint you avoid that mailboxes are filled up with attached files. You also get all the other SharePoint benefits mentioned above.

Still people have a tendency to send e-mail attachments instead of using SharePoint, because sending an e-mail attachment it is quicker than opening SharePoint and upload a file.

SP Arttach logoTo solve this problem has developed SP Attach, a solution which uploads files to SharePoint libraries directly from Outlook. A link to the uploaded file will be added in the e-mail.

SP Attach changes the default behavior of the Outlook 'Attach File' command, so that the attachment will not be added to the e-mail but published to a SharePoint document library. Regular e-mail attachments can still be sent to people who do not have access to the SharePoint site.

The SharePoint Online from Scratch series will continue with a few demos on how to import Excel tables to SharePoint, and I will show how to make the data sync so that you can make the changes in either Excel or SharePoint and have both updated.

By Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions