Latest Entries »

Several weeks ago, I told you about the upcoming Heartland SharePoint Conference on May 15 at the Columbus Conference Center. I hope that most of my readers have already registered for the event. If not, I urge you to do so soon. 

We’ve confirmed some very successful clients who will be joining us to discuss how they effectively used SharePoint 2013 to resolve their business issues. They include representatives from Worthington Industries and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services who have worked with us to improve their productivity and get greater value from their IT investment. If you want to learn how SharePoint 2013 works in the real world, they’re the speakers you don’t want to miss. (I’ll be participating in two presentations: Ohio Department of Job and Family Services in addition to an informative strategy session on SharePoint ROI. Please be sure to introduce yourself if you attend them.) 

This conference is also featuring pros from companies like Microsoft, Dell, Nintex and ICC’s digital ad agency, Clutch, who will be on hand to talk about their solutions and how they can help you perform better. 

Following the keynote address by Steven Caravajal of Microsoft, there will be five tracks for IT and business professionals. You’re sure to find one that matches your specific interests and issues. 

I hope you’ll join me at this free event offered exclusively to qualified IT and business professionals. Lunch and breakfast will be provided compliments of ICC. Space is limited, so book now and you won’t miss out on this annual opportunity to learn more about collaboration and SharePoint. For more information, please visit our website where you can register today.


Now that I’m firmly entrenched at ICC, I’m excited to participate in the activities they sponsor to educate the business community about our areas of expertise. One of those events is the Heartland SharePoint Conference that they hold at the Columbus Convention Center downtown. It’s a full day of learning and networking that draws IT and business professionals from major organizations all over the country.

Heartland SharePoint Conference 2014 will feature several tracks of interest to web developers, marketing personnel and others who want to learn more about collaborative solutions. It will also provide information and advice related to:

  • Social
  • Mobile
  • Analytics
  • The Cloud

I’ve just learned that Steve Caravajal, Director of Digital Strategy and Architecture at Microsoft Corporation will be the keynote speaker. If you’re like me, you won’t want to miss this presentation.

Please be forewarned that because this is a free event, limited attendance is available onto to qualified IT and business professionals.

I encourage all my blog readers to register today on ICC’s web site.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Mike McNett

Part 1 of this 3 part blog series discussed the need for a Roadmap when implementing SharePoint in an organization.  My new Roadmap white paper titled “ICC Roadmap Framework for Business and IT Alignment” broadly discusses the underlying process / framework we use at ICC when working with our customers.  This paper goes into more depth differentiating how our Roadmap differs from many of our competitors.  Our 7-step process includes many facets, but these can be boiled down to three general concepts:

  • “Map” the prioritized Business Goals to a set of recommended technical SharePoint solutions
  • Ensure that the Roadmap uniquely aligns the Business Goals and technical solutions to a well-developed Governance Plan, User Adoption Plan, Training Plan, and high-level Technical Architecture
  • Define ways in which success and benefit can be measured as SharePoint solutions are implemented

Below is a graphic depiction of the steps we use, but feel free to read more in the “ICC Roadmap Framework for Business and IT Alignment” white paper!

Process Overview

Process Overview


A significant focus of my work since arriving at ICC has been on improving the Roadmap that we use to help our clients in planning how SharePoint can support their business goals.   This work has allowed us to approach the planning in a business-centric manner rather than a technology-centric manner.  Among many other benefits, our Roadmap truly brings together the Business Leaders and the IT Leaders in a manner so that all can understand and appreciate how SharePoint fits into their organization and the benefits that will be gained.

My first Roadmap White Paper titled “Roadmap: The Journey to Business and IT Alignment” has just been published and is available on our ICC White Paper page; hopefully this paper will give you more insight into the importance of Roadmaps to companies considering implementing SharePoint or improving on what they already have.  Other White Papers that I’ll be authoring in the near future will talk at a strategic level about the purpose of these Roadmaps from a business perspective, how our Roadmap differs from other roadmaps out there, the framework / processes used in our Roadmap, and some specifics related to Governance, User Adoption, and Training.

Have fun, enjoy the light reading, and please continue supporting our troops!

Wrecking Ralph at WDW Goofy Challenge

My wife and I during the Full Marathon portion of the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge on 13 Jan 2013. Ran the Half Marathon the day before.

In a recent post on CMSWire, Chris Wright (@partnerpulse) proposed that organizations do not need a SharePoint roadmap.  The full article proposes that an unstructured approach be taken, essentially one that encourages chaos.  It appears that CMSWire’s discussion board on the topic isn’t posting new comments, so below are my thoughts about that article.

I’m guessing that Chris’s post will “stir up some SharePoint conversations” as noted by CMS’s editor for that article. I strongly disagree with the article’s premise that chaos is the right answer. Perhaps it could work for the smallest of organizations, but that’s about it. There are numerous examples noted in the SharePoint community, research organizations (Gartner, Forrester, etc.), and from my own personal experience that chaos in SharePoint will only invite more chaos. In other words, it will make one’s organization even more chaotic as people try to find information, share information, collaborate with others, etc. A quote from George Santayana comes to mind when I read the article: “Chaos is a name for any order that produces confusion in our minds.” This is probably the last thing an organization needs.

I also believe, however, that the real problem with many roadmaps in use today is that they take the wrong approach – they view the roadmap as a static planning document that is only used at the beginning of a SharePoint project. They create a roadmap that provides them a “shortest path” / “best path” view on how to get to their destination. This can certainly create problems with an organization’s implementation of SharePoint.

The roadmap approach that we take here at ICC is to view it as a very dynamic set of artifacts that can (and should) be changed over the course of the SharePoint implementation. It is more of a guide that allows one to take various excursions from their originally planned route. Our approach encourages organizations to evolve their roadmap as they find other interesting “locations” along their route, or they determine that some of the originally planned “waypoints” in their journey are problematic. By providing some artifacts that are extensible and easily modified to align their SharePoint “journey” to their evolving business goals / needs, they will be more inclined to follow a path towards their ultimate destination: a well-planned, well-architected solution that is aligned against their immediate and future business needs.

Mike McNett

The Past Four Months

As mentioned in my first blog post, I’m now working for ICC out of Columbus, OH.  Along with the many changes to our personal life (e.g., becoming first-time home owners, moving everything we own from Virginia to Ohio, etc.), the transition to working with ICC has been much easier than expected!  It has also been more exciting than I had expected!

I’m not exactly sure why this transition has been so easy and exciting, but I think it really comes down to my having a very positive attitude about life in general.  Additionally, the military really makes one become very accustomed to change, such as: changing jobs every one to three years; having new bosses every one to two years; moving every two to three years; deploying to other countries and leaving your families for unknown periods of time; etc.). These changes are bound to make one extremely flexible!

I had originally considered writing about both the similarities and the differences that I’ve found between the military positions that I’ve held and the position in which I currently hold at ICC.  After a great deal of thought, I’ve come to the realization that there really aren’t too many differences!  This probably sounds very strange to those who’ve never served in the military, and it may even sound strange to those that have only served in the military.  Now that I think of it, this even sounds strange to me!

While there are certainly differences, they really aren’t that significant / relevant.  In the end, the military and ICC do the same things – they support and assure the success of those they serve; their success is our success.  Yes, the military and ICC use different tools to achieve others’ success, but that’s the primary difference.  As soon as one stops thinking about the actual tools used in performing their missions, the similarities become much more obvious!  While I may be wearing different clothes now (see the “before” and “after” transition pictures below), the skills and experiences that ICC is now leveraging are the same!

25247_101075699930399_3802899_n      Bio


The Similarities

  1. Mission / Support.  In the Army, organizations have very specific missions that one trains for.  Even though the actual “missions” are different, the idea of being very focused on the mission is quite the same.  In the military, the mission was about training for the typical wartime missions many people can think of.  At ICC (and the commercial industry in general) the mission is about doing what’s necessary for the client’s success.  In many of my previous military assignments (United States Army Signal Corps, United States Military Academy at West Point, National Defense University, etc.) our mission was to support various organizations, their people, and their missions.
  2. Strategic, Operational, and Tactical Levels.  All three of these levels of planning / execution are necessary for the success of the organization.  The better an organization can transition from the strategic level (i.e., the vision for the organization) to the operational level (i.e., the specific business goals and objectives) to the tactical level (i.e., the ways in which the goals and objectives are met), the more successful that organization will be.
  3. People, people, people.  I think that many people outside of the military think that it is very hierarchical, mechanical, and structured, with little actual thought / care put into its people.  This is furthest from the truth in today’s modern, all-volunteer military forces.  Instead, its people are recognized as being the primary reason for the organization’s success / failure.  Similarly, the people of ICC and the people of our clients are the true reason behind their success / failure.  Organizations that forget this aspect are doomed to fail.
  4. Values.  The values instilled by The Army in its forces are: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, and Personal Courage.  I’ve found similar values among the people of ICC even though they may have some slight differences.  Similar to my ‘people, people, people’ item above, an organization that doesn’t follow / live by a well-defined set of values will not last.  They may have some successes, but I truly believe that “chinks in the armor” created by an organization acting unethically will be found and seen by others, thus leading to the organization’s downfall.

While there are numerous other similarities that I could discuss, I think the above are the most relevant ones for this posting.  In conclusion, there are very few critical differences between the military and the commercial sector.  I’m quite fortunate to be in a company like ICC that truly recognizes and appreciates those differences and similarities.  So for those reading this blog that would like to benefit from the experiences, skills, and values found in our military members, consider learning more about organizations such as Hiring Our Heroes, among others.


Focus Areas at ICC

So now that I’m working at ICC, what am I doing?  I’ve been fortunate enough to continue working in an area that I’m passionate about: SharePoint 2013!  I’ve been able to work in this area at various levels, from high-level thought discussions, to low-level implementations of SharePoint 2013.  My work has also focused much on helping ICC in developing some Roadmap planning artifacts to help clients in using technology to support their business goals and requirements (much more will be discussed on this topic in future blog postings).  Below is a small listing of what I’ve been doing over the past few months:

  • Developed a Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Roadmap Template that assists businesses in planning SharePoint implementations in a phased manner that meets their business goals and requirements.
  • Developed a Microsoft SharePoint 2013 Governance Plan and an SharePoint 2013 User Adoption Guide that addresses the new SharePoint 2013 features and challenges.
  • Managed a SharePoint 2013 planning and proof-of-concept project for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Office of Information Services (OIS).
  • Developed and provided real world demonstrations of Microsoft SharePoint 2013 features focusing on different levels of users, to include Senior Executives, mid-level Managers, Technical Staff, and general end users.


I look forward to providing some other postings in the near future to talk more about our Roadmap mentioned above.  Lots of great things going on here at ICC!!!


The purpose of this blog entry is twofold:

  1. Provide some background on who I am and why I’m blogging here in the first place.
  2. Briefly explain how someone with a military background can help the commercial world.

Why I’m Blogging

Other than several internal organizational blogs, I really haven’t taken advantage of this communications medium.  So why start now?

The answer lies completely in my recent transition from being a Unites States Army Officer to now being a Senior SharePoint Solutions Consultant at ICC out of Columbus, OH.  In my former role, there was little need for blogging since the positions in which I served had very little need for public communications.  In my new roles at ICC, however, I decided that this blog may be a great way to share my thoughts and ideas to others within the IT industry.  I believe that these thoughts and ideas may have a slightly different twist given my military background.

Military Background

It’s hard for even me to believe, but I spent nearly 30 years in The Army in one degree or another.  After attending basic training in 1983, I spent the next two years in Army ROTC (commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in 1985) and a member of the Army Reserves from 1983-1987.  After receiving my BS degree in Computer Science from Illinois State University in 1987, I spent nearly 25 years on Active Duty, finally retiring on 1 December 2012.

There’s very little value in listing all of my various assignments (that can be found on my LinkedIn Profile), but some of the key assignments include: Signal Corps Officer, Information Automation Officer, Company Commander, Battalion Executive Officer, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at the United States Military Academy at West Point, Director of the Continental United States Theater Network Operations and Security Center, Information Management Officer, Knowledge Management Officer, Deputy Chief Information Officer, and Chief Information Officer.

Family Retirement

Military-Private/Commercial Industry Linkage

My time in The Army has provided me many opportunities to lead some great soldiers, manage very complex tasks and situations, and attain some unique perspectives while performing in very senior positions.  I believe these perspectives provide some unique insights for ICC, and more generally, the IT community, to leverage.

Over the year leading up to my retirement I was faced with many decisions (where to live, when to move, what insurance options are best, etc.), but the most significant one for me was deciding whether to take a job with companies that primarily supported Federal and/or Department of Defense (DoD) organizations, or to move completely away from that space.  I concluded that staying within the Federal / DoD space would probably be the easiest transition for me since that is what I was most comfortable with, but it probably wouldn’t be the most rewarding work for me.

After being in the military for so many years, I learned that I yearned for new challenges such as taking new positions that I had never held previously.  Therefore, I surmised that moving to the private industry would certainly be a challenge by taking me completely out of my “comfort zone.”

As it turns out, this transition has been MUCH easier than I had imagined.  One of the primary reasons this has been easier than expected is that I’ve learned over the past four months while working for ICC that my military experiences (vice actual positions) nicely complements what is done in “the civilian world” that I’m now a member of.  Therefore, one of the primary purposes of my blogs will be to relate my military experiences to what I see in the commercial IT industry and the clients that we serve.


I hope that those reading this blog will benefit from what I have to write about!


Even if you don’t personally benefit from my writings, I hope that you will at least recognize how you / your company can benefit from hiring some of my fellow Veterans.  You will find many advantages to hiring a former military member to include people that have tremendous leadership, communications, and technical skills; live by a great set of values; and are ready to serve others.  Here’s a resource from the Association of the United States Army that provides some great information to help you along. The site is also a great resource.

This transition has truly become a great, new, and exciting adventure that I continue to look forward in sharing!

Take care and I look forward to sharing my adventures with you!