Building a Knowledge Blogging System in SharePoint – A simple, but effective method of replacing key office email correspondence with a SharePoint blog

Internally, we are using SharePoint blogs very effectively, to replace common sharing of information (in our case, typically about technology like ‘how I fixed this or that’. Using Microsoft Word 2007 as our blogging tool (and if you don’t have Microsoft Word 2007, you could use Windows Live Writer, which is free), and SharePoint (MOSS or WSS) as our blogging engine, we have all that we need to create a rich, blogging experience with the following benefits:

 

  • We create/share information using a rich tool, just like composing an email to the team (A subject, some paragraph/body text and maybe some clipart, screenshots, etc.). However, this information is retained within SharePoint, meaning it is not lost in Sent Items – it is searchable and discoverable within SharePoint (by search or category lookup). As well, as you’ll soon see, as we have subscribed all staff to Alerts, regarding new content, we also receive the latest blog information, real time. By storing the information in SharePoint, we also get the added benefit of this information being available to NEW employees as they come on board (again, not lost in someone’s thoughts, memos or Sent Items bin)

 

To create our Office ‘Knowledge Blogging System’, we take the following steps:

  1. Create a blog site (we have two, 1 for technology issues where categories are based on topics such as different types of technology, and another blog whose categories are actually the names of the various clients we support). In this example, I’ll be creating the blog for ‘client support’ (categories, named after clients)
  2. We’ll change the behavior of how posts are moderated. By default, a blogging list in a blog site will require posts to be approved. We’ll turn that behaviour off (we’re a small team, of 5 people), we are looking for ‘speed’ of information instead – your environment may be different or the content may be more sensitive
  3. We’ll set blog alerts so that when a new post is created, everyone receives a ‘blog notification’ which is basically the entire content of the post, as an email – i.e. this would have been the typical ‘hey guys, I learned this, try and retain it’ email and where the life of it would have stopped. Instead, everyone gets the email as a byproduct of saving the content into SharePoint – now and for the future
  4. Create the necessary categories (in our case, these will be names of clients we support and store information about)

 

Simple, effective and awesome, I think anyways.

 

Step 1 – Create a Blog Site

 

In this instance, I’m going to create site underneath our ‘client management’ site. The steps to create a blog site are really straightforward and illustrated in the next few screenshots:

 

 

 

 

Now we have a blog site, ready to roll. Style it/theme it in whatever manner you want. The next step is to click ‘Manage Posts’ and change the default ‘approval’ behaviour to allow posts to be posted immediately (none of that pesky approval process, for our small team/content).

 

2. Change the Approval Behaviour for posts to not require approval

 

 

Choose Settings, List Settings and then select Versioning settings.

 

 

 

3. Configure the list to set all necessary staff to receive Alerts (emails) of new posts

 

You may have a different way you will want to approach this (such as a workflow, etc.). However, the quick and dirty way to enable everyone on your team to receive the latest blog content (knowledge!), is to subscribe them to alerts, from the Blog Posts list.

 

Simply open the Blog Posts list, choose Actions, Alert Me and set the appropriate notification settings. For us internally, sending alerts when ‘New items are added’ made the most sense. See below for the visual steps necessary:

 

 

 

 

4. Create your categories

 

In our case, for this particular blog (again, we employ two different blogs, your mileage and use will vary), our categories will be defined as the clients we support. For the purposes of this blog entry and confidentiality, I’ve made up a few… Click on Categories and change the defaults (Category 1, 2, etc.) and add any additional categories you made need.

 

5. Register Microsoft Word 2007 (minimum) as your Blogging Editor (or download, install and configure Windows Live Writer, which is out of scope of this post)

If you don’t have Word 2007, Windows Live Writer is a great, SharePoint capable Blogging Tool. I happen to prefer Word 2007 (SmartArt anyone?) but Windows Live Writer is free and there are lots of cool add-ons for it, that you can’t get with Word. And if you have Word 2003 or older, Windows Live Writer will be the tool you want to seek out. (Get it here: http://download.live.com/writer)

 

Simply click on ‘Launch blog program to post’ if you have Word 2007 locally installed.

 

 

And then accept the various defaults (or change them, I don’t care 🙂

 

 

 

6. Finally, post away and enjoy the result

 

In Word (or Live Writer), blog away – always be detailed and don’t be afraid to add illustrations to make your point – that’s the beauty of using Word (and SmartArt) for providing clear messages. Here’s a basic sample, but you’ll get the picture. And, the net/final result is your team will receive an email with the blog post (just as though you sent them your informative/knowledge email), but you’ll have the added bonus of a blog post that is permanent and searchable as well (future proofing).

 

Here’s the blog post being created

 

 

Here it is in SharePoint

 

Benefit: Permanent and Searchable

 

 

Here is the Email Notification

 

Benefit: still arrives as a real time email. I.e. the old school way this content would have been disseminated

 

2 responses to “Building a Knowledge Blogging System in SharePoint – A simple, but effective method of replacing key office email correspondence with a SharePoint blog

  1. Really like this solution, found it years ago and demo’ing it to people to use as a knowledge base – so simple and so useful. Thanks!

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