MySite for Internal Collaboration

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Ressler 5 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #177499

    Janna Raudenbush

    My office is currently involved in a complete overhaul of our intranet — everything is being migrated to SharePoint and in the process, we’re trying to make the internal site more intuitive, organized, effective, and collaborative. As part of this effort, we’re strongly considering also using the MySite feature, the built-in SharePoint tool for collaboration. However, unsurprisingly, there are some concerns about governance and how employees would use the site, so I’m looking to gather information about how other government agencies are using the tool.

    Do you use or did your agency consider using MySite? What has your experience been? How did you develop governance for MySite? Do you have a governance document you’d be willing to share?

    Any and all information is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  • #177517

    Steve Ressler

    I’ve used MySite in the past – it’s solid but not great. At one point, we had used it in an ideation challenge with threads (suggest ways for improvement for division)

    My favorite for internal collaboration is actually Yammer a company Microsoft recently bought and has integrated into Sharepoint – worth checking out.

  • #177515

    Noha Gaber

    Hi Janna, I’m leading the governance planning for SharePoint at EPA. We haven’t deployed SharePoint yet but we spent the past 6 months planning for how it will be used and managed to make sure that we avoid information silos and mis-management and facilitate professional networking and collaboration across the Agency. Our governance plan covers both SharePoint and My Sites (we’re currently working on specific guidelines for My Sites) and we’re hoping to guide users in using the right tool to meet their needs. My Sites are collaboration spaces that are controlled by one individual employee, so we are not recommending that our users use them for organization and team-based collaboration. They would be used for informal, ad-hoc and short-term collaboration activities.

    So in your case since you’re looking to build a site for your office, it doesn’t sound like My Sites is the way to go. SharePoint sites can provide what you are looking for in terms of an organized information sharing and collaboration space.

  • #177513

    Janna Raudenbush


    Thanks for your response. Just to clarify, we are moving everything from our current intranet onto SharePoint. SharePoint will serve as our intranet/internal communication site. We’re looking to use MySite in addition to that as a place for people to connect with colleagues; for example, if users identify their knowledge areas, another colleague could search for that topic and find them. We’re interested in how other government agencies handle the governance for MySite.


  • #177511

    Noha Gaber

    Ohhh I see! Yes, My Sites can be used for professional networking as long as you can incentivize users to keep their profile up to date. So I would recommend identifying the profile fields that you want employees to fill out and update (we included those fields and which ones are mandatory in the SharePoint Information Architecture document). We included a section on My Sites in the overall SharePoint governance, noting that employees should (1) fill out the mandatory fields in their profile information when first entering SharePoint and, (2) review and update their profiles at least annually. Also we have made the decision (at least for now) that information on My Sites should be work-related. So no personal documents or content about hobbies, interests, etc. We do recognize that sharing this information is another way to help employees connect on a more personal level, but for the time being we have chosen to focus on encouraging employees to share information and find eachother based on work related interests and activities. Hope this helps!

  • #177509

    Noha Gaber

    Oh by the way, you have to develop a System of Records Notice (SORN) if you are going to use My Sites for professional networking purposes and have employees update an individual profile with information on their knowledge areas etc. Here is OPM’s guidance on SORNs:

  • #177507

    Michael Steadman

    In my experience other agencies are either struggling with the MySite feature or have decided to turn it off (or not turn it on in the first place) – There are some add-ons that can help – but no silver-bullet, I’m afraid. One recent customer turned off MySite purely because a high-ranking person suddenly realized that the ‘follow’ feature was not a 2-way approval, i.e. anyone can follow anyone else… (there are several web-parts available that ‘fix’ this issue) – Consider NOT using MySite – but instead implementing one of the 3rd party ‘social’ add-ons that allow collaboration- and the ability to micro-blog, follow, like, etc- If finding people or skills is of value (out of the box MySite feature) – there are very affordable web-parts / solutions for this, too- This would let the SharePoint Administrator control the risk of having a MySite explosion with regards to Governance (both storage/data – but also sub-site creation capabilities and all of the issues therein). So the short answer – in my humble opinion – is to not just look at this challenge as a “turn it on or not” situation- there are affordable alternatives using 3rd party tools that immediately get your users to ‘most’ (maybe 90%?) of the MySite functionality, without any of the MySite risk.

    My 2 cents-

    Reminder DC SharePoint peeps- 6th annual is officially less than 7 weeks away- Govt. discounts available on the site. Hope to see everyone there.

  • #177505

    Janna Raudenbush

    Michael –Thanks for your reply! Could you share some of your recommendations for the add-ons/3rd party tools so I could look into those options?

  • #177503

    Michael Steadman

    Sure! This is not comprehensive by any means – I’ve probably missed a few -but here are my favorites:

    For Discussion Forum’s that ‘work like users expect’ – both Lightning Tools and Bamboo Solutions offer suites that can be deployed in minutes and provide dramatic improvements in discussion forums- Bamboo also has a bundle called ‘community central’ that includes discussions, plus some other nice web-parts that allow you to really improve social capabilities- -or-

    Lightning Tools offers a ‘chat’ feature- but out of 300+ SharePoint customers – we’ve only really seen a ‘chat’ requirement a handful of times…

    The MySite organizational browser is ‘ok’ – but if you don’t have a MySite… you can use one of the 3rd party org-chart solutions- This is ONE of them- (I like it – because it’s cheap, and easy to use, and you can point it to a list vs. Active Directory- sometimes at the departmental level this is better, since you may not need to deal with IT to deploy a solution)-

    The key to great social experience in SharePoint is the activity feed- users want to know who-is-working-on-what – this can be just about anything that’s happening in SharePoint – colleague, files uploaded/saved, sites/groups joined, etc- The issue is that customizing the activity feed is troublesome- and there are some ‘expected’ behaviors that just don’t exist- (i.e. facebook/linkedin allows users to post an image, or reply in-line to a comment, etc.) –

    There are a few solutions- the biggest/baddest of them all is:

    There are also some solution-starters (i.e. not licensed installable products – services companies give buyers full source-code and a fairly wide-open perpetual license – but the service-company retains ownership of the IP so that they may modify and resell to others) – I happen to like this approach better- it’s less expensive, and allows the customer to maintain control of the entire solution – as well as provides flexibility w/design, etc- (and no ongoing annual license)- There are a few of these, too- search codeplex for “sharepoint activity feed” – – or send email to [email protected] and ask to see SP Activity or SP Community (Disclaimer – I work at this company – this is not a sales-pitch – hence my upfront positioning of NewsGator as the lead solution for activity/social)

    I’ve helped quite a few org’s w/this conundrum- there are a lot of reasons to use (or not use) MySite – but my philosophy is that the decision shouldn’t be based on social features- there are definitely ways to provide GREAT social features on SharePoint without deploying MySites.

    this help?? Happy Friday-

  • #177501

    Michael Steadman

    Also – before anyone skewers me about this topic – as a poster correctly stated previously in this thread – Yammer (now owned by Microsoft and a definite future direction of social SharePoint) – is also a great tool to review when making the decision on how to proceed- Curiously- there isn’t a firm ‘roadmap’ in place so it’s hard to predict the ‘when’ and ‘what’ – we only know that this WILL happen in the future- (the full integration) – in my opinion it can’t happen soon enough -but history tells me that it won’t happen for a while (like maybe not this year at all)- I don’t think anyone should steer clear of Yammer- use it and love it (it’s really, really good – maybe better than NewsGator although architecturally very different and maybe not appropriate for military/gov quite yet) – I just wouldn’t dump a lot of money into this (or any other social capabilities knowing that MSFT is about to include some great stuff out of the box) – hence my suggestion to go light- go small (web-parts/solution-starters) – and just get it done quickly and inexpensively while we wait for SharePoint to catch up with out of the box social features that users ‘expect’-

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