Filling in the business side of the puzzle

Populate My Sites with staff pictures when you go-live

October 07, 2008 by Ruven Gotz

SharePoint’s people search is a SharePoint feature that many organizations want to take advantage of. (I’ve heard stories of people sitting for weeks within 25 feet of a new co-worker, and even having e-mail conversations with them without realizing who they are.)

However, at the time that most SharePoint deployments “go live”, the users have not yet had an opportunity to fill-in their My Site data. This especially applies to the employee picture. Adding pictures is an element of My Sites and people search that adds great value.

  _(Some random staff pictures) _ It’s pretty boring for your new users if the first time they do a people search, they just get a bunch of placeholders.

Steven Van de Craen stepped in with a great solution: He wrote an event handler that gets attached to a picture library.

  • - The document library is loaded with headshots, each named with user id (account name) of that person (e.g. Bob Smith’s picture is named bsmith.jpg)
  • - The event handler updates the profile picture URL property for that user’s profile
  • - For our client, we used everyone’s security badge headshots as the default picture. As most people HATE their badge headshots, this is ample motivation for them to get into their MySite to change the picture.

Note: You can prevent your users from changing the image, but I’d recommend against this. You should educate your users with ground-rules around their pictures (no “back of the head” shots, or holding up things that obscure the face: The image must be recognizable).

The only problem with Steven’s solution is that it can be tricky to install and configure. To the rescue comes Itay Shakury who wrapped the event handler into an easy to deploy feature.

We’ve used this at a client, and it worked out really well: The day we went live, every employee had a profile picture (and a strong desire to go into their My Site and replace it!).

I can’t finish this post without sending out a thank you to my colleague, Brian Lalancette who discovered and implemented this solution.

Written by Ruven Gotz

Ruven Gotz is a Director with Avanade, Microsoft’s Global Partner. As a Microsoft SharePoint MVP with over 20 years of IT industry experience, Ruven has spent the past nine years delivering award-winning SharePoint solutions for a wide range of clients. Working as a Business Analyst and Information Architect, Ruven is able to apply his eclectic education and varied experience in Psychology, Computer Science, Economics, Software Development and Training to get to the heart of complex problems. Ruven is a great communicator who is able to discuss technology concepts in language that is relevant to his audience, whether they are from IT or business. He has become a leader in the use of visual tools to help his clients and team members achieve shared understanding of problems and goals and shared commitment towards implementing a successful solution.

Ruven recently authored “Practical SharePoint 2010 Information Architecture” (Apress).

Ruven lives in Toronto, Canada. On Tuesday nights in the summer, you’ll find him racing his 24’ sailboat ‘In the Groove’.

(NOTE: Ideas and opinions on this blog are my own: I am not representing my employer.)

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