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Takeaways & Thoughts: SharePoint Saturday Honolulu #SPSHNL

It was fantastic to make the trip out to Hawaii last week and meet with the vibrant SharePoint community at SharePoint Saturday Honolulu (#SPSHNL). I don’t get back to Hawaii nearly enough since I moved more than 2 years ago, but as always, I am greeting with plenty of aloha (love).

Along with my fellow co-organizers, we started planning about 6 months ago. After all the hard work leading up to the event, it’s mostly downhill once the event begins – and did it begin with a bang! Fellow SharePoint MVP and AvePoint Chief SharePoint Evangelist Dan Holme kicked off the show with a very relevant talk on SharePoint governance. As usual, Dan kept his audience of 150 attendees captivated with his enthusiasm, wisdom and, of course, fun anecdotes.

In addition to reconnecting with former students and old friends in the SharePoint community, I also attended some great presentations by my colleagues – including Dan’s “Practical Jump Start to Administering SharePoint with PowerShell”. I also enjoyed hearing my friends at Bank of Hawaii share the lessons they have learned in creating their SharePoint intranet.

Of course, it’s hard to keep me off the stage, and I had one session that I’ve really enjoyed delivering all around the globe: “Developer and IT Pro: Living Together”. As a consultant for many years, I’ve been both a developer and administrator, and the friction that always seems to exist between these two roles is something I try to help resolve.

You see, the very nature of SharePoint allows it to be customized to fit organizations’ specific needs. Subsequently, custom development is something that is often necessary for SharePoint success. However, custom code often increases the administrative effort, especially with regard to performance, disaster recovery, upgrade, and overall system stability.

But it doesn’t have to.

In my talk, I shared methods I have come across that can help relieve the tension, ensuring that the SharePoint experience is an optimal one for all parties involved.
From my perspective, the event went very smoothly. With deep thanks to the generous sponsors, we were able to provide a free lunch for all attendees. PCATT at Honolulu Community College was by far the best venue I’ve seen at any SharePoint Saturday event. At the end, we brought everyone together again to close it out in style. We had a 10-person-strong “Ask the Experts” panel, and the crowd really took advantage by asking some really tough questions! We then closed with a prize draw where I gave away several signed copies of my latest book, “SharePoint 2010: Instant Reference”, along with two fully loaded Xbox 360s. (Of course, I’m convinced it was my book that they wanted!).

After having a chance to collect my thoughts after a whirlwind weekend of organizing and presenting, here are a couple of the key takeaways that come to mind:

1. While it has taken some time, SharePoint adoption in Hawaii is strong and still growing. Both private and public sector (e.g. State of Hawaii and Department of Defense commands) rely on SharePoint in a big way.

2. Having lived in Hawaii for more than 15 years, I always felt that the islands were often bypassed as a location for events like this. The usual reason was that value gained didn’t justify the distance, cost, or overall logistics effort. I think this event proves that an effort like this – a grass-roots, community-led event – can be successful and of good business value to the sponsors. This is a very deserving market, and I’m honored and privileged to have been involved. Mahalo!

One of the best things that I like about AvePoint is that they understand community. It’s not always about cost, profit, or loss. Sometimes it’s about giving back and providing guidance in ways that do not always track back to increased sales.

Do you live in an underserved market? Do you need help in organizing a SharePoint Saturday in your community? Let us know in the comments section below, and we’ll see what we can do to help organize your own SharePoint event.


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