A big chunk of information is presented in the form of lists in SharePoint. Moreover, we do various calculations and analysis with lists. As such, to ratchet up SharePoint Lists will bring more fruits. In this blog, I am going to introduce two cool ways to make your SharePoint lists more suitable to your requirements such as BI (Business Inteligence), ECM (Enterprise Content Management).
A few things about SharePoint Lists
First off, let’s take a look at SharePoint lists. In order to avoid repeating the obvious, I will briefly introduce what is a SharePoint list, its roles, and, of course, its shortages.
SharePoint list is a collection of similar items based on list templates. A list contains columns (fields) that define the item data or metadata schema. Each item stored in a list shares the same schema. Technically lists also include libraries, but libraries are treated separately from lists because of their different template.
SharePoint list is similar to database tables and their behavior. Yet, data in SharePoint lists is based on XML, meaning we can query data like we do with XML. Because of this, we can do quite a lot of operations with SharePoint lists. Common operations in database such as filtering, sorting, and looking up can be performed in SharePoint lists as well. Furthermore, SharePoint lists also can be used for data visualization in addition to store it in various templates. Common SharePoint list template includes libraries, calendars and so forth. Having introduced what are SharePoint lists and their purpose, let’s move on to take a look at some common shortages. Depending on different industries and circumstances, these shortages maybe differently perceived. Plus, due to the scope of the blog, I will bring up two of the shortages in the form of scenarios.
As mentioned before, [SharePoint lists] resemble database tables and their behavior. However, it is widely known, and this triggers complaints of many users, that we cannot aggregate lists from different sites. It is unavoidable that some related lists are stored in different sites. Yet, sometimes we need to roll up some lists from different sites into one to do analyze and other operations. Let take a look at a common scenario to dissect this issue.
Data involving customers are stored in different lists. In the sales lists, there is customer information, data about products purchased by customers. This list is stored in a site called “Sales”, managed by Sales Dpt. In a support list, which is located in “Support” site, there are records about all kinds of customer support.
In order to provide a better service, we need to analyze different customers, especially their satisfaction. To that end, we need to pull data from “Support” list and “Sales” list into one list, and then on the single list proceed to some common operations like sorting and filtering.
Since these data are stored in different SharePoint sites, it is impossible to roll them up with the SharePoint out-of-the-box features.
What solution has BoostSolutions brought to the table?
SharePoint List Collection web part from BoostSolutions is one hot SharePoint web part in SharePoint field. It allows users to roll up lists and items from different sites, under the same site collection, into one list view. On the view, users can do common operations like sorting, filtering, saving and so forth.
SharePoint List Collection has upgraded to version 2.0 with great performance abilities. Now you can easily collect SharePoint lists/items from different sites into a single data view. Start views, calendar views and Gantt views can be created after aggregating data together. Furthermore, you can filter data with other filter web part in addition to sort, lookup and save data. SharePoint List Collection web part supports three languages: English, Japanese and German. It is compatible with SharePoint 2007 and 2010.
It is commonly advised to store data in different lists if they are about different matters. Technically speaking, similar data should be kept in the same list. It is widely adopted that different teams maintain different lists for that matter.
For a project manager, keep updated with project progress is a must. Given a bigger project, it is common that the project is executed by different teams. Data involving different teams are maintained and stored in different lists, sometimes even in different sites. The data maintained by different teams usually include project progress, costs and so forth.
In order to keep informed with project progress, project manager needs to keep an eye on different lists. The out-of-the-box SharePoint does not enable lists to reflect updates made in other lists. Therefore, project manager has to check different lists one by one. Obviously it is suboptimal, and can lead to problems.
How BoostSolutions helps you handle this?
As you may know, synchronization is a perfect solution to this issue. SharePoint List Sync web part is a very cool web part using synchronization to tackle this issue. It is designed to synchronize document files or lists between source and target lists among SharePoint collaborators. Changes like modification, check in or approval can be synchronized in real-time or manually.
Expanding on scenario #2, [SharePoint List Sync web part] helps a project manager sync different teams’ documents and tasks. Information modified by team members or project manager will be updated in the target lists. As such, all updates will be clear to each collaborator or team to see.
SharePoint List Sync supports three languages and works with SharePoint 2010 and 2007 as well. Be reminded here, all products from BoostSolutions offer a 30-day free trial. Try before you buy!