SharePoint, My Site and Managing User Profile Properties – Part 2/2

Posted by on Jul 9, 2009 in SharePoint, SharePoint 2007

Welcome to part 2 of My Site & Managing User Profile Properties.  In Part 1 we introduced User Profile Properties and how these can be automatically populated via Windows Active Directory (AD).   We also went into some detail regarding the Organization Hierarchy Web part.  You can access part 1 here if you missed it.  In today’s post our focus is around creating additional profile properties either by mapping to existing fields in Active Directory such as Company or creating a field which may not necessarily be mapped to Active Directory but is required to be entered by the user manually.  We will also delve into how users can populate other existing properties such Interests, Skills and Past Projects.  This is equally important for organisations of all sizes as this is where the power of social and knowledge networking come into play.  By allowing users to populate this information we are creating synergy and building a people’s database that is fully text searchable.

One of the main driving factors for implementing My Site is the ability of connecting information seekers with information repositories.  It is usually particular skills that an end user might possess that is usually not documented that may be of business value, such as being fluent in a particular language for translation services.  By encouraging end users to profile their skills and interests you are building an effective knowledge and transfer network through social networking, automatic discovery and sharing of undocumented knowledge.

Let’s begin our first task of  creating an additional profile field that  we will map to the existing Active Directory “Company” field.  This is useful for organisations that may contain multiple subsidiaries as the information entered into the “Company” Active Directory field will automatically synchronise based on your Active Directory Import Schedule, profiling your newly created SharePoint profile property for each user.

We first need to navigate to the Shared Services Provider (SSP) home page / User Profiles and Properties.

SharePoint User Profiles and properties

Then click on Add profile property.

User Profile Properties

A list of the existing SharePoint user profile properties are listed with their corresponding mapped attribute.  Please note that some of the SharePoint user profile properties are not mapped and hence allow  end users to populate these manually, such as “About me”.

User Profile Properties

Click on New Property and fill out the details as per the below screen shots.  Here you will have the ability to specify Name, Type, Policy Settings and Privacy Settings (i.e. who do you want this attribute to be visible to on your My Profile “public page”, more on this later).  Here you will also have the opportunity to promote the field on My Profile page of each user and provide notifications to the colleague tracker if the information for that particular user changes.  More information on tracking colleagues through SharePoint can be found in my previous article here.

User Profile Properties

I have specified that this attribute should be indexed for faster searches and then specified the Source Data Connection, in my case the Master Connection is Windows Active Directory, and then selected the company as the Active Directory field in question.

User Profile Properties

You will now notice that the newly added Company profile property field is added under the Custom Properties section within View Profile Properties.

SharePoint User profile properties

I will now launch Active Directory Users and Computers MMC snap in, and fill out the Company field under Organization tab for my users.

User Profile Properties

After the next incremental Import your Company field will automatically be profiled based on the company name entered for each Active Directory User.  Notice that this information cannot be edited and is published to everyone as per our initial configuration.

SharePoint User profile properties

Let’s now focus our attention on how user’s can configure some of the “other” user profile properties on their My Site such as Interests, Skills and Past Projects.  Part of this process is to target the information to one of the five pre-set groups (Everyone, Only Me, My Workgroup, My Colleagues, My Manager).

  • * Everyone – self explanatory,
    * Only Me  – (not sure why you would publish information that is only visible to yourself, and is usually not mentioned in my training, but feel free to put your suggestions forward on this one)
    * My Workgroup  – are those users that form part of your Organization Hierarchy which is automatically populated as part of the reporting hierarchy in Active Directory – as explained in Part 1 of this series.
    * My Colleagues – those users that form part of your Workgroup plus those users you add manually that are not directly part of your Workgroup.  More information of colleagues can be found in my previous article here.
    * My Manager – This is automatically picked up by what is placed in Active Directory Under Organization / Manager A.D Attribute. This was also discussed in Part 1 of this series.

Now that we have explained the different groups that can be targeted, let’s explain how users can profile their own Interests etc and target this information.

From the individual’s My Site Page, navigate to My Profile and click on Details.

My Profile SharePoint

The edit details form displayed below will show you both Active directory mapped fields that we discussed in part 1 and user defined fields such as About me, Responsibilities, Skills etc.   Recall our discussion regarding My Site and it’s huge potential in becoming not only a social network for the enterprise but a comprehensive people’s database that can be searched against.  A large chunk of your end user training should be around My Site and the importance of profiling your information as much as possible and as accurate as possible.

From here, end users have the ability to freely type information or can use the browse field beside some of the user profile properties to select information that is already in the database which is picked up from other users. Your end user training should focus on best practices around profiling My Site encouraging users to browse first before typing to keep as much consistency as possible.

SharePoint User Profiles

As previously mentioned, end users also have the ability with non system defined user profile properties to target privacy information to specific groups, this is accomplished in the Show To area.

SharePoint user profile properties You might for instance want to publish your Home Number to your Manager only and your Mobile Number to your Colleagues.  My Site and My Profile in SharePoint provides you with this flexibility.

The rest of the form is pretty self explanatory and most users succeed in filling it out correctly the first time.

Upon successful completion of an Active Directory metadata Import and User’s having the ability to manually profile other properties, we have successfully built a framework that is beneficial for any organisation.  The example below is of a completed User Profile with most of the user profile attributes being displayed under the user’s My Profile “Public” page.

SharePoint My Profile

This comes to the conclusion of our 2 part series on My Site and managing user profiles.   Through careful planning and thorough end user training you will be successful in building a centralised framework where users can store and share their information.  Users will also feel more in control with the new privacy controls introduced in SharePoint 2007 providing them with the ability to target their personal information.


Articles in this series

  1. SharePoint, My Site and Managing User Profile Properties – Part 1/2
  2. SharePoint, My Site and Managing User Profile Properties – Part 2/2