As mentioned in a previous blog post (Why SharePoint On-Premises is Still Relevant), SharePoint is here to stay, as there are a massive number of companies worldwide that have invested in the platform as key asset in their enterprise infrastructure. Of course, the future clearly belongs to the Cloud because of its unbeatable cost benefits, speed, and capacity. But still, there are many enterprises that cannot (i.e. regulatory issues) or do not want to move toward the cloud…at least for now. With KanBo on-premises, we are addressing the needs of these enterprises by providing them with a solution that includes many of the capabilities of the cloud-based applications they want. In this article, I am going to introduce you to the major KanBo integration points for on-premises environments:
1. Active Directory – the single-source of truth when it comes to management of users
KanBo is compatible with the following AUTH protocols: NTLM, KERBEROS, or ADFS (SAML). Users can be added to KanBo manually or automatically (based on LDAP queries or existing Active Directory Groups). With the External KanBo User Groups feature, you can sync any existing AD Group automatically into KanBo. On-boarding or Off-boarding processes in your organisation can make boards accessible/inaccessible according to your defined governance model.
KanBo User Profiles: This is an additional component that can sync user pictures, email, and other essential profile information directly from SharePoint User Profiles or Active Directory. This comes in handy if you reach a certain number of people within your organisation.
2. SharePoint – this is KanBo’s castle
Out-of-the-Box KanBo.app (the manifest) can be added to any Site Collection, however we recommend using a new Site Collection – not an existing one. Every time you create a Board in KanBo, it creates a SharePoint Website as a Sub-site under a root site in the Site Collection where the KanBo.app was initially installed. The Website is created based on a SharePoint template of your choice (can be also a custom template). KanBo adds an additional Document Library called “KanBoDoc” and links it with the newly created Board as the default Document Source.
Furthermore, it attaches an external event handler so KanBo can inform users about document changes inside of the cards where the documents are attached. The created Website is also disconnected from permissions inheritance, and adds three SharePoint Groups, including the Owner, Member and Visitor corresponding permission sets, which are, of course, customizable as it is available in SharePoint out-of-the-box. Whenever you add a user to a KanBo board on any of the three levels, the users are automatically added to the corresponding SharePoint group in the SharePoint Sub-site. Because of that permissions inheritance, all board users get access to Documents at the correct level of the corresponding permission sets. Logically, if they do not have access to a board, they will never be able to access corresponding documents in SharePoint.
3. Second Level of Integration into SharePoint
We love it when customers treat SharePoint as more than just a file drive! KanBo can be integrated easily with many of these features. Here are some of the possibilities:
- Document Source: Connect any Document Library (as document source) from any Site Collection or Website in SharePoint to any Board and use documents in cards without creating multiple copies of those documents. One Board can have several document sources. One document source can be connected with many Boards. KanBo observes the permissions settings of the Document Library and does not override anything, so even if a user has access to a Board and there are documents from a Document Library, for which she does not have access, KanBo will show access denied.
- User Groups: Create KanBo User Groups and use them to control access to multiple Boards. When you add or remove users to/from KanBo User Groups, this will impact all Boards using the Groups. The same KanBo User Groups have a feature called “sync target” – you can create sync targets pointing to any Site Collection, and KanBo will automatically create a SharePoint User Group, and sync the users in real-time as you add or remove them to/from KanBo User Groups. As you probably know, you can then use these Sync-Target-SharePoint-Groups that are controlled by KanBo to give permissions at the desired level to SharePoint entities such as Sites, Libraries, Lists, Documents, and Items (…yes, we love SharePoint 🙂 ).
- Website WebParts: You can embed any portion of KanBo (KanBo Home, KanBo Board or KanBo Card) using the Website Webpart in any location within SharePoint that suits your design. For example, you can have a SharePoint Webpart Page with only one Website Webpart that will display the Board that is assigned to a Project or Team for which the SiteCollection/Website was created.
- Custom Webparts: You can develop (or we can develop for you) a WebPart showing you any KanBo information as needed for your particular scenario. This is accomplished using the KanBo API and bundling it as a WebPart or an AppPart.
- SharePoint List Sync: If you add a special KanBoListSync content type to any SharePoint List, you can automatically have it synced with a KanBo Board bi-directionally. Fields like Name, DueDate and AssignedTo will be synced both ways.
4. Outlook and its docking station: Exchange
As email will be here for a while, we thought that having a native App in Outlook (no installation on clients required) would close the gap between the old way of communicating (email) and the new model of contextual collaboration (KanBo). The KanBo Outlook App Manifest is installed on Exchange (2013+) and the distribution of it to user’s PCs and Macs does not even require restarting the Outlook Client (Windows). The KanBo app is, of course, also available within the OWA Client (browser).
The KanBo Outlook App allows you to decompose an email into pieces, like card notes, comments, and task lists. KanBo allows you to choose which attachments to upload and attach to the card, as well as add labels and users – all without ever leaving Outlook. There is also an automatic option to transform an email into a new card or attach it to an existing one. Now you can put your emails into a meaningful context within a card or board, adding value for everyone involved.
In KanBo version 2.6, we have finally introduced the possibility to sync your KanBo cards with your Outlook Tasks. You can also choose to have your cards synced as Calendar items if this is more handy to you. You will find the setting in your MyBoard area.
Another very useful integration also found within MyBoard is to see your Outlook calendar entries displayed like meetings or appointments inside of KanBo MyBoard, in both the timeline and the Board Calendar View. Yes, now you can see your work and your upcoming appointments in two places that will be always in sync: your KanBo MyBoard and in Outlook (Tasks&Calendar).
5. Good old Lync/Skype
Threaded discussions are a powerful feature that KanBo supports, but sometimes you need to speak face-to-face via video. KanBo integrates with your current presence information from Lync/Skype, allowing you to start an instant chat, or launch an audio / video conference from anywhere you see a user avatar (i.e. activity stream, board view, notifications, etc.).
The KanBo Team is always looking for ways that we can add additional value through deeper Microsoft integrations. Right now, we are working on a fully bi-directional sync component for Microsoft Project, which would allow you to create Boards in KanBo that will be pre-filled with cards representing tasks from MS Project, and automatically update those cards and tasks in real-time. We will introduce this effort in a future blog post once the integration is ready for public release, so stay tuned!