Nottingham, England. Home of the heroic English outlaw Robin Hood and the venue for the second SharePoint Saturday UK. The excitement had been building for months.

For those of us privileged to be speaking at the event the fun began on the Friday night with the speaker's dinner, a medieval banquet at the Nottingham Courts of Justice. Many of the speakers got into the swing of things donning costumes and fancy dress. Ian Woodgate bore a striking resemblance to teenage wizard Harry Potter! Eric Shupps was appointed as the Sheriff of Nottingham and as punishment for not asking permission to leave the dining hall I found myself in the stocks being pelted with wet sponges. Nice.

Morning Sessions and Keynote

The day of the event dawned. All 500 tickets had been snapped up, and by 8am the queues were forming in the mist outside the conference center. After some opening comments by organizer Brett Lonsdale of Lightning Tools, and a cameo appearance by (the real) Robin Hood, Todd Klindt (MVP) delivered the opening keynote. He told us about his own experiences in taking the SharePoint related Microsoft certifications, and underlined the value in taking all four with developers taking the IT Pro exams and visa-versa. Good advice in my experience.

The sessions began at 9:15, and first up for me was me. I was presenting my session on collaboration at a European Central bank. As I hurried to the room to prepare I bumped into Paul Beck carrying the first, hot-off-the-press copies of the SharePoint 2010 Handbook. The book is a community project in which 14 authors from around the world have each written a chapter detailing some of their real-world experiences with SharePoint. A must-have stocking filler for every SharePoint enthusiast! I grabbed a copy to give away in my session.

My presentation focused on a real-world example of how my Art of SharePoint Success framework was implemented in one of the world’s most powerful financial organizations. The project was named by the governor of the bank as one of the two most successful projects in the bank that year, and by the bank’s project manager as one of the most successful she had worked on in the bank during her 15 years there. After 9 months the SharePoint based collaboration solution was receiving over 160,000 site visits per month, and over fifty percent of the 2,500 employees had volunteered for the optional training course. If you want to know how we did it then you can read more about the Art of SharePoint Success in my regular articles here on CMSWire, on my blog or in the SharePoint 2010 handbook.

With my session successfully delivered I could relax and enjoy the rest of the day. Next up I went to see my friends from 21Apps, Ant Clay and Andrew Woodward presenting, “Measuring the intangible, SharePoint and Social ROI.” Ant presented his simple recipe for success:

  1. Start with, “Why?” -- If you’re not making a positive difference, don’t do the project
  2. Get a BHAG -- Create a Big Hairy Audacious Goal that everyone can get behind and aspire to
  3. Figure out your baseline -- Whether it’s good or bad, you need to have an understanding of where you’re starting from
  4. Tune the engine -- Continuous improvement, agile projects, lean manufacturing concepts win over long project lifecycles; measure progress and gain validating learning
  5. Beware of vanity metrics -- Just because something is having a positive effect on one measure doesn’t mean you’re making true progress towards your goal
  6. Pivot or Persevere -- If the cause and effect of what you released isn’t taking you towards your goal, have the guts to stop, learn and change track now