Thursday, 29 November 2012

SharePoint 2013: eDiscovery

Another new feature in SharePoint 2013 that impressed me at SPC12 was the introduction of the eDiscovery centre. Microsoft seem to have heeded our calls and made great progress on regulation and governance functions within SharePoint 2013.

For those that haven't come across the term eDiscovery, or have heard it mentioned before but are unsure of what exactly it is, here's my very high level explanation:

eDiscovery refers to information or content searched for and packaged in a litigation. So for example company A is taken to court by company B and needs to gather all information / discussions / emails referring to the business deal that has gone wrong to present it in court. The process of searching for and packaging the content is eDiscovery. (in a nutshell!)

This is a feature sorely lacking in previous versions of SharePoint - however we have gotten around it historically by building custom solutions involving search etc. to get by and satisfy the legal fraternities.

eDiscovery allows for the creation of cases and within these cases to create custom queries and holds to ensure we gather all the content we need. The really impressive bit is that in SP2013 the sources of these searches can include Lync conversations, eMails, documents and other general Share|Point content as well.

To start off we create a eDiscovery center (much like we would a records or document centre).

From this point we can create cases, in this case I've followed Microsoft's suit and created a case for Contoso Ltd.
Once in the case we can create custom queries or holds, in the example below I have a custom query that I have created that uses a custom search query for a number of terms and the content sources include email, contacts, meetings, tasks, notes, documents and Lync between a specified date range:


Once these queries and searches and holds have been run and you have gathered all the content required, you will need to present the findings to your legal team / lawyers, and (as is often the case) your lawyers are external to your organisation and need to present the content in the form of a DVD, what Microsoft have provided you with is the option to now export all case content to a standard folder structure which can then be burnt to a DVD / or dumped onto an external hard drive and presented to the legal team;

There's more to the eDiscovery features, you can create in place holds so that even if staff change or delete items these mails/conversations/documents/etc are kept in tact and on record for presentation.

In short, well done Microsoft!

Monday, 26 November 2012

SP 2013 Access services

I never thought I'd be able to say this about MS Access, but WOW!

Amongst some of the new features in SP2013, I'm really impressed by what MS have done in terms of bringing Access into SP2013.

Access tables = SQL tables, etc. Firstly when you bring access into SharePoint it will no longer be a standalone MDB file, the tables / queries and triggers are written to SQL, so you are now dealing with SQL triggers, tables and queries with a nice client side app that even business users understand and find easy to use.​

Business forms
I personally see the new integration replacing many of those custom lists we find scattered around team sites in collaboration environment. Why? because business has been using access for years - just think back to all your client engagements, personally I've come across loads of departments that rely heavily on access databases created by one of their staff members. Also, access forms are easy to work with and are easily tailored to individual and departmental needs.

BI potential
So now we're talking SQL tables as opposed to lists, this means reporting and ultimately BI can be simplified, manipulating SQL tables directly will make it easier to draw reports.

Access apps
Remember this is 2013, they're now referred to as access apps and no longer access databases, and they're dead simple to create too. From site contents simply click "add an app" and from the list of apps available select "Access app" and start designing.

MS have also provided a number of pre designed templates, which include the tables and some sample reports which you can go on to modify to your hearts content.