IMT 500 SharePoint Collaboration


Helen Kresl










                                                                                                           SharePoint Collaboration      1

The SharePoint project with Sheng, Joe, Grace, and Nick was my first exposure to a formal collaboration and this class was my first exposure to the literature of information management. Given the huge scope of concepts that we had been exploring in class I was somewhat relieved by the opportunity to narrow our focus and because of the requirement that we utilize SharePoint, an application yet unknown to me, I was glad I was not going to proceed alone.  In my past professional experience, teamwork had always been important, but collaboration turned out to be something more. In teamwork you are hired to adopt an organization’s goals as your own, but in collaboration you determine your needs and goals together. I enjoyed this and my group very much. [MC1] 

In my paper I am going to frame the experiences of our collaboration in terms of the information concepts put forward in the class readings, with the goal of ascertaining the implications of our experiences for future collaborations[MC2] .  My overall impression was that we did very well to narrow our focus together, assign tasks, meet, and deliver our results and so I am hopeful that our behavior will show that we aligned ourselves well with the literature on information management organization and will serve as a template for future collaborations.

The task before us was to come up with a topic and develop a web portal that could show the results of our research on a topic of our choosing.  So, as part of our first meeting we all stated what we had been thinking about in terms of a topic.  With recent exposure to ethics, information management concepts, and with the requirement that we use SharePoint for the project, we were all thinking along those themes. We agreed to narrow our focus at our next meeting.


    SharePoint Collaboration         2

Though not pertinent to information management, but with big implications on the success of the project, was group dynamic. On the advice of Lana Rae Lenz, the UW Senior Consultant, who offered the Group Project seminar during welcome week, we spent the majority of our very first meeting getting to know each other.[MC3]   This turned out to be an effective way of determining the strengths that were going to be in this particular group dynamic. Not only did we connect with each other but subtle cues quickly made evident who amongst us would be most inclined technically, who would emerge as organizer, and the one who w[MC4] ould serve as an intellectual anchor. The group had no ego issues and we let each other function in the whatever capacity he/she was most comfortable assuming. We didn’t formalize our roles, and in fact these roles were often shared, and so our interactions proceeded fluidly. This was also possible because of shared commitment and small group size (five).  A lot of anxieties were put to rest during this icebreaker and we were excited to move forward. 

Our resources were plentiful. We had the UW reference librarians, catalogues, stacks, and electronic databases and we had UW helpdesk to support our platform.  SharePoint itself supported all our internal needs: meeting minutes, announcements, discussion threads, document archiving, and for displaying our results. We were characteristic of an “open system that takes in information, materials, and energy from the environment, and transforms these resources into knowledge, processes, and structures that produce goods or services that, in turn, are consumed by the environment”. (Choo 8).   [MC5] Choo also states that an intelligent organization will use knowledge to create new knowledge and solve new problems (Choo 11), but this wasn’t within the scope of our project[MC6] .  In our case we believed that our own uncertainty would be shared by others and that our end product could potentially alleviate it. 

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In our second meeting we returned to the question of what information need we shared and came to a consensus. We wanted to learn more about groupware and posed the question: “What is Groupware and how can we use SharePoint to learn and display information about it?  From this evolved our mission statement. We had accomplished the organizational equivalent of creating ‘… the decision premises upon which decisions are made, rather than controlling the actual decisions themselves[MC7] .’ Having a mission statement meant that we could all begin to think about our individual contribution in terms of some “thing”.  In Information as a Thing by Michael Buckland, information can be the process of being informed as one does when one gets the news, or when listening to the radio, or it can be the knowledge of which one is apprised and which reduces uncertainty concerning some subject, or it can be the name of an object or a document or a piece of data.  (Buckland 351). [MC8] In our case information was going to be knowledge that we would seek to reduce our level of uncertainty around the topic of groupware.

It was at our third meeting, that we divided research on the topic into five parts: What is groupware? Who are the users? What kinds of groupware are available? What are ideal groupware combinations? What is one thorough example of Groupware? Each of us took one subtopic and would create one wiki. There was no other division of responsibilities. Alerts were mandatory for discussion threads, announcements, and calendar items.  SharePoint was relatively easy to learn.  Had it been a more complicated application or had we not had an application it was pretty clear that Sheng & Nick would have taken the lead at adapting to a computer technology. Probably, I would be the most keen to organize our work, Joe would contribute artistic flair and Grace would again go along with everyone enthusiastically. This really worked for us.[MC9] 

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Due to time constraints we had time for deciding on our topic and strategies, taking action, and accepting the outcome only one time. This would be considered by Choo as single loop learning (Choo 15). [MC10] Our fourth meeting was scheduled the week prior to the project being due and due to other external pressures, such as workload in other classes, we realized we had to use that week to tie the project up and focus on writing our papers. Had we had time we may have looked at the outcome of how we exhibited our information in SharePoint, detected areas of improvement, and modified our content and research to modify our outcome which is called Double-Loop learning (Choo 15). Were we to repeat this project we would have probably honed our proficiency in using library resources and re-evaluating our data.  Had the requirements of the project been more flexible we may have resorted to video or some other medium for reducing uncertainty around our topic. [MC11] 

Clearly, we were engaging in the six activities of an information management cycle. [MC12] We identified our information needs as uncertainty about Groupware which led to the second activity of acquiring information by utilizing primarily Google, Google scholar, and UW digital libraries. Our final stage of the project involved cleaning up the interface to feature our wiki pages (our product) and to post our photos.  Our site can be viewed at the following URL:

I think we were successful as a group.  Lessons to take forward to future collaborations are as follows. [MC13] Our strengths were that we made the time to get to know one another. Group acceptance was a key to working well together. Also, we determined our information needs and drew up a mission statement early. We managed information acquisition very well, not measured

SharePoint Collaboration     5

by quantity but by relevance and quality, and delivered the product we had agreed upon. Even our organizational learning went well, especially during meetings when we taught each other what we knew about the SharePoint application. In terms of having social discourse to discuss alternatives to how we were doing things we did a little less well, primarily because of lack of time. We put our faith in our first decisions and trusted our initial instincts; therefore we did not engage in adaptive activities and did not try to redefine our original information needs.  In the future I would carve out time for this, but on the whole I believe we had a successful collaboration.


Buckland, M.K. (1991). Information as Thing.42(5):351-360[MC14] 

Choo, C.W. (2002). Information Management for the Intelligent Organization: The Art of                                         Scanning the Environment. Medford, NJ. Information Today/Learned Information


Helen, a very good paper, thoughtful, well-constructed, and fulfilling most of the requirements for the assignment.  You fell down on the citations a bit,  both in format and by not including one from outside the class readings, but you use them well within the paper to support your arguments, and also bring in other evidence such as the group workshop you attended.

Your grasp of the major concepts is clear, and you apply them well to your analysis of your project and group work, bringing out major ideas through examination of appropriate examples.  You link them together well, and build toward your final conclusions and lessons.  Your group’s site also shows your ability to work well in a team and produce a product that reflects your common intentions.

Good work.  Full credit—enjoy the rest of the quarter.


 [MC1]Good, and very good way to introduce your paper.  It sets the tone well, and invokes the major themes  you will be discussing.

 [MC2]Very specific goals, providing good guidance for what follows

 [MC3]Though not an academic reference, this referral to an outside source provides context for your remarks and helps support your observations--good

 [MC4]Parallelism in clauses

 [MC5]Excellent use of a quotation to support your discussion.

 [MC6]Though you indicate that one of the primary purposes of the project was to allow you to explore new concepts , ideas and tools, so I might argue that in fact this was within the scope of the project, and this paper is evidence of that


 [MC8]Very good paraphrase of  Buckland’s main idea and demonstration of how it fits your project

 [MC9]Sounds like you had a high-functioning team, which is great for a collaborative project like this.

 [MC10]Good insight and support for it

 [MC11]Good thinking about alternative means of accomplishing the same objectives.  There is never only one solution

 [MC12]Good, though  brief, and it would help a reader to list those six stages at least so they would know what you mean.  I would argue that you went through more than you discuss here, since much of your activity was dependent upon information products and services, distribution channels, and you were clearly users of information as well which led to adaptive behavior in your site development process.

 [MC13]Good summing up through lessons learned

 [MC14]Incomplete citation- no journal name