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SharePoint Saturday:Boston - #SPSBos The InfoPath Eco System Marcel Meth – Principal MATHFT, LLC blog:

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Presentation on theme: "SharePoint Saturday:Boston - #SPSBos The InfoPath Eco System Marcel Meth – Principal MATHFT, LLC blog:"— Presentation transcript:

1 SharePoint Saturday:Boston - #SPSBos The InfoPath Eco System Marcel Meth – Principal MATHFT, LLC blog: butdoesitwork.typepad.combutdoesitwork.typepad.com

2 About Me  Independent consultant: Principal of MATHFT, LLC  Started at AT&T Bell Labs (UNIX ® )  Lotus Development  Fleet Bank / Bank of America /  Over the years I have consulted for: The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|2

3 Questions that I hope to answer  InfoPath – What can you do with it?  What is it?  What else does one need?  How does it work?  What are the limitations?  Who likes InfoPath and who doesn’t? The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|3

4 InfoPath: What do I do with it?  Bridge the gap between business and technology.  In all my years I have never felt so effective in my job.  With InfoPath & Related technologies, I can often build the entire solution single handedly.  I automate business processes: Listen carefully to the business user. Build a solution (incredibly quickly) – users are always pleasantly surprised how fast I can give them a solution. Sometimes I coach the user to build it themselves. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|4

5 InfoPath – What is it?  Started with InfoPath 2003; Microsoft’s decides to compete with Adobe Acrobat.  InfoPath: Almost synonymous with SharePoint Enterprise.  InfoPath is available with Office 365 (E3 & E4 plans) The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|5 BrowserClient Most end users don’t know it is InfoPath End user must have Filler installed. Need the InfoPath ServerUsed to edit Forms. Included w/ SP EnterpriseIncluded in Office Professional Plus Can purchase separately

6 InfoPath – Key Takeaways… 1. Runs on a single row of a SharePoint list (or library) and allows different people to see different fields. Conceptually this is what is happening: 2. InfoPath runs well on many browsers: IE, FireFox, Safari (Mac), Safari (iPad) 3. InfoPath & related technologies (The Eco System) allows you develop solutions without code and without need to deploy in the back end. 4. InfoPath is best suited when used inwardly facing. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|6 Person1Person 2Person 1Person 3 Field1field2Field 3Field 4

7 InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?  Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.  What else is there? Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do. Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times) Workflow: An automated back end process that sends s, waits for approvals and responses. Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status of their requests Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can analyze data Permissions: The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|7

8 InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?  Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.  What else is there? Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do. Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times) Workflow: An automated back end process that sends s, waits for approvals and responses. Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status of their requests Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can analyze data Permissions: The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|8

9 InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?  Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.  What else is there? Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do. Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times) Workflow: An automated back end process that sends s, waits for approvals and responses. Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status of their requests Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can analyze data Permissions: The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|9

10 InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?  Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.  What else is there? Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do. Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times) Workflow: An automated back end process that sends s, waits for approvals and responses. Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status of their requests Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can analyze data Permissions: The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|10

11 InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?  Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.  What else is there? Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do. Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times) Workflow: An automated back end process that sends s, waits for approvals and responses. Landing Page: A page where the end users can check on the status of their requests Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can analyze data Permissions: The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|11

12 InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?  Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.  What else is there? Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do. Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times) Workflow: An automated back end process that sends s, waits for approvals and responses. Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status of their requests Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can analyze data Permissions: The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|12

13 InfoPath – Why do I call it an Eco System?  Allowing users to fill out forms, is only part of the story.  What else is there? Launch Page: A friendly page, so users know what they need to do. Form: The form itself (Note this may be visited several times) Workflow: An automated back end process that sends s, waits for approvals and responses. Landing Page: A page where the end user can check on the status of their requests Dashboard: A dashboard for the process owner, so they can analyze data Permissions: The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|13

14 The InfoPath EcoSystem  There are numerous ancillary topics, that people think are part of InfoPath. Numerous dimensions are “triggered” by using InfoPath. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|14 InfoPath Landing & Launch Pages Workflows Reporting Permissions Subtleties in the UI Branding Cascading Dropdowns Save, Submit, Close Auto Suggest Allow users to easily create a new request, and edit their own request Complex workflows that send branded s with approvals & requests for more data. Forms should not be editable after submittal. Data is private. Dashboards, Visualizations, Charts; Spreadsheets; Cubes

15 InfoPath – Architecture (Browser Based) The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|15 IE Firefox Safari (Mac) Safari (iPad) SharePoint WFE + Workflows* InfoPath Server Browsers Analyst End Users Analyst uses InfoPath Client on her machine to Edit the form template *Workflows: SharePoint Designer, Nintex, K2.

16 InfoPath – Architecture (2 Publication Models) The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|16 InfoPath Server Analyst Front end deployment + Agile - Not easy to repeat + Repeatable - Long turnaround Back end deployment

17 InfoPath – Lists vs Libraries (2010) The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|17 Lists (New for 2010)Libraries Easier to get started Repeating Tables & Sections Large text fields are straightforward Embed as a web part to allow web part connections Used for custom forms to get user input for Nintex Workflows. Lists, Libraries & Browsers Developed by my colleague Liga Vilcane

18 InfoPath – Demo  Demo The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|18

19 InfoPath – How is it useful?  Quickly implement a business process. (see next page)  Highly functional forms quickly.  NOTE: The forms are not completely robust & require extra care to face an external audience. InfoPath works well when the audience is authenticated, typically this is cost prohibitive with SharePoint an external audience. While InfoPath forms are highly functional, they sometimes miss the polish and robustness needed for external usage. -Back space in a non-text field -People Pickers in non IE browsers & field focus -No autocomplete The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|19

20 InfoPath: What do I do with it? Some Examples The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|20 FinanceHR & Secruity Travel AuthorizationOn & Off Boarding Cost AvoidanceMedical Benefits Election iPhone RequestsBadges – Guest Tracking late paymentsTalent Tracking Car Pooling Organizational LogisticsBusiness Meetings / Internal ConferencesHospital Tours (Audits) Accident ReportingBasic Material Requests Near MissPatient Tracking Employee TrainingLegal Contract Tracking CateringReport Issues With Equipment, Repair Staff Receives a Text.

21 InfoPath  Developers dislike it  Business users & Subject Matter Experts like it  Works well for A closed system of users, if you already have SP (Inside an Organization; NOT a good tool facing the internet) Rapidly develop robust request and approval systems (some limitations)  No code required for most things  Front end deployment is very rapid and agile!  Really beneficial to have a third party workflow engine (e.g. Nintex, K2) The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|21

22 Levels of End User Expertise InfoPath & Workflow (e.g. SP Designer; Nintex. K2) Javascript, jQuery SharePoint Web Services & XSLT (DataView Web Part) The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|22 Administrator: Backend deployment

23 InfoPath: What is it?  Developers dislike InfoPath, business users love InfoPath. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|23 DevelopersBusiness Users No programming Difficult to create reusable components Formula language is awful! Easy to use “Reminds me of Excel” I can get the job done very quickly.

24 InfoPath: What is it?  A historical perspective The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|24 Paper Excel or Word Acrobat (pdf) html & Native SharePoint InfoPath (Browser based)

25 InfoPath: What is it?  A historical perspective The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|25 Paper Excel or Word Acrobat (pdf) html & Native SharePoint InfoPath (Browser based)

26 InfoPath: What is it?  InfoPath allows non-programmers to create nice looking and “friendly” forms. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|26 Native SharePoint FormInfoPath Form

27 InfoPath – What Can you do with InfoPath? FeatureExamples Improve Peoples’ Efficiency - Context sensitive fields Selectively hide / show fields and entire sections & pages - Prefill with user information Phone, address, supervisor, cost center - Perform currency conversions - Sophisticated rules for required fields - Ability to grey out controls - Cascading dropdowns Apply Look & Feel - Company Branding - Use professional looking alignment The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|27

28 Gather Requirements Quickly Prototype A Form Final TestLaunch InfoPath: Development Life Cycle The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|28 Refine Prototype until it is real Stakeholder reaction The most common bottleneck is that stakeholders are unable to keep up with the form implementer. Thus the form implementer’s time is heavily fragmented across many forms. This causes implementation inefficiencies, due to context switching.

29 InfoPath: What people say about InfoPath Before InfoPath Form: Inefficient, time consuming, and inconsistent process that involved manual intervention of multiple systems, too dependent on people remembering to do specific tasks Now: We have a form that resides in our SharePoint site for Managers managers input information once, and automated workflow notifications take care of the rest In 2010, it helped our teams to smoothly process 70+ resources In 2011, we processed over 165+ resources this year, with over 100 in the first half of 2011 alone Benefits: Efficient – requires inputs from managers once Consistent – workflow notifications automate the follow up and next steps Results – high adoption rates and considered to be a credible and trusted resources. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|29

30 InfoPath: What people say about InfoPath Before 2010 InfoPath Form: Orders were received in a haphazard way: by , phone call, post-it notes, and hallway conversations No consistency Errors were introduced at different points Tracking of the orders and changes was difficult Now: Solution was implemented quickly after a number of design consultations and testing iterations. Controlled vocabulary introduced and managed with form list parameters. Order options are now standardized and descriptive, requiring nearly no follow-up. Additional changes to the form after deploying to production were introduced very seamlessly and efficiently. Benefits: Now it is very easy to place and track the orders. The screeners who place the orders, and the SMG staff who execute and deliver to the orders are very content with the new system. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|30

31 InfoPath: What people say about InfoPath Using InfoPath for our online request forms has given us the ability to customize our interface in a way that enables simple use for requesters. Frequently users are not particularly familiar with SharePoint and providing them with a simple vehicle through which to provide their data/information has been key to increasing our overall speed and workflow. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|31

32 InfoPath: What people say about InfoPath In 2011, we used an InfoPath form to streamline and automate our International Travel and Domestic upgrade authorization form. Prior to implementing InfoPath, the process for gaining approval and getting ticketed was very manual : 1.Traveler contacted the travel agent and reserved the ticket 2.Traveler then filled out the paper based form provided by the travel agent. 3.Traveler then gathered the appropriate signatures on the paper based form 4.The paper based form was sent to the travel agent 5.Travel agent then fulfilled the request developed an InfoPath form to facilitate steps 2 through 5. This new process has had fantastic feedback from the business and has expedited the approval process. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|32

33 InfoPath – Key Takeaways… 1. Runs on a single row of a SharePoint list (or library) and allows different people to see different fields. Conceptually this is what is happening: 2. InfoPath runs well on many browsers: IE, FireFox, Safari (Mac), Safari (iPad) 3. InfoPath & related technologies (The Eco System) allows you develop solutions without code and without need to deploy in the back end. 4. InfoPath is best suited when used inwardly facing. The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|33 Person1Person 2Person 1Person 3 Field1field2Field 3Field 4

34 The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|34

35 InfoPath: Resources  ,    The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|35

36 InfoPath: What is it?  Who was the 5 th Marx Brother?  What is the 5 th Office Application? The InfoPath Eco System|, Marcel Meth | April 28, 2012|36


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