In last week’s newsletter, we asked readers to share their job experiences and levels of satisfaction. This response was so good that we decided to publish it in its entirety.

Wm. Kelly Balthrop, a SharePointfFarm administrator with the City of Las Vegas, wrote in to tell us:

“I have over 30 years experience’ as a software developer and now as a .NET Software Architect. I recently took on the role as the SharePoint Farm Administrator for the City of Las Vegas, as well as President of the Southern Nevada SharePoint User Group. I’m a hands-on kind of person, I love what I do, and I love taking on a challenge; the bigger, the better.

The city started using SharePoint about four years ago, and it has been adopted by three of our 14 departments. It has grown organically in the absence of any governance or best-practice standards. That’s a nice way of saying that people use it as an extra shared drive to store documents with the same folder structures seen on any typical share drive.

My first task was to develop a governance plan to try and get some control of the environment. This has been done and is being implemented. We are now in the process of planning a migration from 2007 to 2010, and at the same time convert our RedDot Intranet to SharePoint 2010.

The plan is to set up the 2010 environment alongside the 2007 environment. We will create the new site structures, libraries and lists with an eye toward implementing a best-practice information architecture, one that relies heavily on the use of a well thought-out taxonomy to set up the metadata that will make information easier and faster to locate. Once the structure is in place, we will begin a mostly manual process of moving content to the 2010 environment, and the 2007 environment will then be made read-only. If something is missed in the transfer to 2010, the 2007 version will be there as a backup for a period of time.

The biggest challenge I foresee in this process is changing the bad habits of the existing users who have been active in SharePoint for several years. There needs to be a fairly substantial culture shift in how people manage the mountains of information that pass across their desk, with the following goals as the desired result:

1. No more than one copy of an electronic document (per version) should exist in our environment, anywhere (except the backup tape).

2. Documents should never be sent internally via e-mail. E-mail should only contain links to the one true copy.

3. All documents should be accompanied by metadata that facilitates finding it.

4. E-mail should not be the first choice when communicating. Electronic conversations should take place in a medium that makes information easier to locate and search, such as discussion groups or perhaps blogs. I can’t tell you how many times I have spent hours trying to find an old e-mail with critical information in it, and praying that the retention period hasn’t lapsed.

I realize the above goals are ambitious and will not happen overnight. As with any culture change, people need to see the light before they willingly move toward it. Therefore, a significant training and hand-holding period will be required. It’s a challenge I eagerly dive into with both feet and eyes wide open.”

Wm. Kelly Balthrop
SharePoint Farm Administrator
City of Las Vegas

So, what’s YOUR story? Write to me at, and we’ll be glad to share it with the community!

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This week, as I was visiting colleges with my daughter (who’s a high school senior), it dawned on me that the college experience and the conference experience are quite similar. I’ve described this in a recent blog post.

This also seems as good a place as any to remind you that Friday is the cutoff date for the Super Early Bird discount to SPTechCon Boston 2011, which we moved to a downtown location for numerous reasons—not the least of which is a greater number of elevators! (Those who have been with us at the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Mass., know of what I speak!) Hope to see you downtown!