Posts Tagged ‘SharePoint’

Here’s a bit of a mixed bag – this is an account of how an author (and SharePoint guru) used OneNote on a SharePoint site to write a book. Meaty stuff!


One thing I realized as I started writing the book (the SharePoint 2007 Disaster Recovery Reference Guide in case you’ve missed my other posts) was that I was going to be taken a lot of notes and referring to them on a regular basis.  While taking notes with pen and paper is still something I do for my job, it doesn’t tend to happen with the volume or frequency I understood was going to be needed for this project.  For this it was going to be important for me to be able to store a lot of information from a variety of sources (such as files, notes, websites, etc) in a central location where I could categorize, annotate, and discover them easily. Luckily I’ve installed the Office 2007 Ultimate suite, which includes Microsoft OneNote 2007 (its also available as a standalone purchase or in the Office 2007 Home and Student suite).

Briefly, OneNote 2007 is described by Microsoft as “A digital notebook solution, allowing you to gather notes and information in one place.”  I’m not going to go into too much more detail about OneNote’s features, suffice it to say that it met all of my needs for the book perfectly.  I could store items, group and categorize them efficiently, and make updates and notes as I needed throughout each item. Not to mention the feature I used more than anything else in the tool: search. By the time I was done with the writing process for the book I had well over 15 sections within the OneNote notebook I created for it, and each section had anywhere from 3 to 30 or more pages within in it.  Searching through this large amount of data saved me countless hours because I could quickly find the topic or note I was covering and incorporate that information right into my chapter in Word.

The other aspect of OneNote that was perfect for my needs was how it integrates with SharePoint.  Just like the other members of the Office 2007 suite, OneNote 2007 notebooks can be uploaded into a SharePoint list as documents.  But OneNote behaves (in my opinion) just a little differently than Word or Excel when you hook it up to SharePoint. Using SharePoint with OneNote allowed me to access, read, update, and add to my notes from multiple computers without having to worry about keeping multiple versions in sync or possibly overwriting previous updates. Since I was often working on the book from different locations (at a client site over my lunch break, from my work laptop when I’d take it home, or from my personal home computer) I needed to be able to easily access my data from a central location, but didn’t want to have to deal with manually synchronizing my files or downloading new updates.  The cool thing is that OneNote 2007 does all this for you.

Here’s step-by-step instructions for setting up OneNote in SharePoint

SharePoint can be used to host OneNote Notebooks, and make sharing of information very easy for e.g. project members. The OneNote client will synchronize content with SharePoint and let end users work with OneNote Notebooks when offline.

This post will explain:

  • How to create a shared Notebook
  • How to access a shared Notebook in SharePoint
  • How is the OneNote file structure within the SharePoint document library
  • How to configure SharePoint to search OneNote 2007 content on SharePoint sites

How to create a shared Notebook

From the Share menu in OneNote, select “Create Shared Notebook”.

1. give your new notebook a name:


2. select the option to store the notebook in a SharePoint document library:


4. select an existing document library in SharePoint:


5. your new notebook is now created and the sync indicator is available in the notebooks pane.


By clicking on the sync icon, you will be able to change the sync properties for your notebook:


How to access a shared Notebook in SharePoint

The built in security mechanism in SharePoint control who have access to a document library. As long as the user has access to the document library (and the files within the library), he can simply navigate to the document library and click to open one of the OneNote files.

The OneNote client will give the user an option to open the file or the whole Notebook:


By selecting “Open Notebook”, the OneNote client will establish sync relations with the shared Notebook.

How is the OneNote file structure inside a SharePoint document library?

The OneNote structure is divided into Notebooks, Section, Section Group, Page and Subpage. This structure is also mirrored in the SharePoint document library.

On the left side you see the SharePoint document library, and it’s pretty similar to how OneNote is presenting the elements to the user.

image image

How to configure SharePoint to search OneNote 2007 content on SharePoint sites


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So, given that the SharePoint conference is coming up next week, I thought we should take another real-world look at how the SharePoint/OneNote combo provides a great collaboration solution – this time for smaller projects.

This is from Sherri Amstutz

I was working with a client on a relatively small project where they asked that I come up with a project oversight and documentation solution that worked well but didn’t require all the overhead of their typical enterprise tools used to track tasks and accumulate and manage project documentation.  The team never needed to directly access the SharePoint site, we worked entirely within the context of OneNote.

I’m a huge OneNote fan and have been using it for the past 5+ years so I worked with them to setup a shared OneNote with SharePoint that worked well.  Here’s what I did:

  1. Everyone on the team who contributes to the documentation must have OneNote and it needs to be the same version.  2007 is preferred, especially if you want to use the other cool Office integration features.  When new people join the team, get them up on OneNote and send them the links generated in the steps below so they can also connect to the shared OneNote folder.
  2. Note: OneNote 2007 files are not viewable with OneNote 2003.  My quick check of the Office Online site did not find a converter or other workable tool for our scenario where we had a collaborative team all working within OneNote on project documentation.

  3. Create a SharePoint team site with a document library as the location for the shared OneNote files.  Below is the document library I created for this example.  I’m choosing to track versions to ensure that no one on the project team makes mistakes we can’t recover from.  I also tweak the number of version’s maintained in the document library settings (not shown).
  4. OneNote with SharePoint

  5. Create a new OneNote shared folder by clicking Share then Create Shared Notebook…
  6. OneNote with SharePoint
    If you want to setup all your sections individually, pick the Blank OneNote template and click Next >.  If you’d like, try another template.

    OneNote with SharePoint
    Select Multiple people will share the notebook and that it will be stored On a server then click Next >.

    OneNote with SharePoint
    Navigate to the newly created site and click into the document library where the OneNote files will be stored.  Copy the URL of the document library to your clipboard and paste it into the Path: dialog box shown below.  If you want to have an email created with links for your users that will assist them in setting up their access to the shared files, make sure the box circled below is checked.  Click Create.  You may be required to sign in to the SharePoint site after clicking Create.

    OneNote with SharePoint
    The new OneNote folder will open and an email will be created using your default email client.

    OneNote with SharePoint

  7. Add everyone on the project team as an authenticated user on the SharePoint server with at least contributor permissions for the SharePoint team site you are using.  Send them the email above so they can easily link to the shared folder.  Let them know that the first time they access the shared folder, especially if you have it pre-loaded with a lot of information, sections, and pages, it may take a while to open.  They can also open the folder from within the SharePoint site by navigating to the document library with the OneNote files and clicking on a file, but in my case we wanted to work completely within OneNote, so the email links above made it easy.
  8. You’re now ready to go!  The document library in this example now contains a folder for the shared OneNote file as shown below:
  9. OneNote with SharePoint
    Clicking into the folder shows the individual OneNote files.

    OneNote with SharePoint
    An example of the major sections we used on our project is shown by the list of files above.  We didn’t use the Outlook task assignment integration feature because the company was not using Outlook.  We did use OneNote’s task tags to track task completion.

    I setup an alert on the document library for myself and my fellow team members so we were notified when anyone added information to the shared OneNote.  I made the alert a weekly summary to avoid spamming everyone.
    OneNote with SharePoint

    OneNote with SharePoint

  10. I don’t like having my shared folder automatically sync itself to the SharePoint site because when my Internet connection is not optimal, I get OneNote folder errors.  To address this I set my shared notebook to sync when I initiate it.  To do this change the default sync setting in OneNote by clicking the Sync dropdown and clicking Notebook Sync Status…

OneNote with SharePoint

The following dialog appears.  Select Work offline as shown below to control when your shared folders sync with SharePoint.  Click Close to complete this change.  Manually syncing the folder can be accomplished in a variety of ways such as:

  • Click the Sync dropdown (above) then clicking either Sync All Notebooks Now or click F9
  • Click Sync this Notebook Now or click and hold the Shift key and then click F9
  • Right click the name of the folder and select Sync this Notebook Now

OneNote with SharePoint

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To get a better idea of how OneNote functions in a fictional real world situation, let’s take a look at how Joe, a fictional consultant uses OneNote to kick butt every day:

Joe’s day is typically filled with online research, meetings with client teams, and discussions with other members of the project team.

Before using OneNote, Joe would take notes on paper during a meeting and have the extra step of typing them up later to distribute to the other participants. Inevitably, some details from the meeting or tasks assigned to individuals got lost or forgotten during this process.

While researching, Joe took notes on his notepad, but ended up with bookmarks in his browser, printed Web pages placed into a manila folder, and sticky notes attached to various paper documents to highlight the important parts. Finding the desired information at a moment’s notice was difficult at best.

When it came time to preparing a presentation, Joe had to collect all of the information scattered across all these sources, chase down sources and details, and type information that was only in handwritten form.

Now that Joe uses OneNote, let’s look over his shoulder as he goes through a day.

Thursday, 7:00 am

At Joe’s desk.

Joe arrives at work to find several new messages in his e-mail inbox, and several voice mails. One of the messages is from a team member asking Joe to review a PowerPoint presentation. Joe glances at his inbox and his calendar, and realizes that he doesn’t have time to do it now. He opens a side note, jots down his initial thoughts, and adds a note flag to highlight it as an item for follow-up later.

After listening to a lengthy voice mail from the team’s senior manager, Joe opens up another side note.  He writes down the key points on two steps in the business process that the senior manager wants Joe to research further.

Joe answers the remaining items in his inbox, and then opens OneNote. On a new page, he creates an agenda for a meeting with the client’s customer service department.

9:00 am

During an on-site client meeting.

As the meeting with Carole Poland, Litware’s customer service manager and Mike Hines, an e-mail support specialist progresses, they cover several agenda topics. Joe is able to effortlessly organize his notes into new pages within various sections of his notebook.

Mike has some extended insights on key points concerning customer-critical services. Rather than write it all down during the meeting, Joe records an audio note to capture what Mike is saying.  Moreover, Mike’s comments are synchronized to Joe’s typed information, making it easy to listen to specific sections of the audio recording later.

For each of the questions that deals with shopping cart transactions, Joe adds a custom note flag that marks it as being assigned to the development group, and flags other follow-up items for the Customer Satisfaction group. He then creates a task in Outlook to assign it to Wanida Benshoof, the development manager, and sends it to her via e-mail. This enables Wanida, who is back at the office, to get started on some of the details of the project before Joe even returns.

1:00 pm

Sharing notes with the team.

Back at his office, Joe quickly rearranges his meeting notes into more logical groups by dragging and dropping them, and then e-mails them to the meeting participants.  He then selects all of the pages of the Potential Improvements section, and saves them to the shared workspace on the Microsoft Windows SharePoint Portal Server.  This creates a shared team notebook, where his teammates can continue to add details to the notes as the project progresses.

2:30 pm

Doing research with OneNote.

Joe has action items of his own as a result of the meeting. It is his responsibility to find the results of any published studies about user responses to automated voice systems.

He surfs the Internet, searching for relevant information. As he works he keeps a side note open, and drags relevant information from the browser or other applications into the side note. OneNote automatically adds the URL of the Web pages from which he gathered the information.

As he collects research, Joe goes back over the meeting notes. He realizes that a few of the written notes are so abbreviated he doesn’t remember why they are relevant, so he listens to the audio note. Because the recording was synchronized to his typed notes, he quickly jumps to the exact part of the discussion he needs to clarify.

While Joe is working, his senior manager drops by and asks about the credit card approval process he had described to Joe over voicemail. Joe types the words “credit card” into the Find box in OneNote and is able to give the manager a quick summary of his findings without having to fumble through his notebook. Joe’s speedy response impresses the senior manager with his preparedness.

5:00 pm

Wrapping things up.

After following up on more e-mails, Joe finds that all of his action items associated with earlier meetings of the day are already complete with the help of OneNote.  He can now focus on his PowerPoint presentation for Friday’s status meeting with senior management.

Joe’s notes are already organized, making it easy to construct his slides. Joe extracts key points, drags them into his presentation and copies the charts into PowerPoint. In no time the presentation is ready for the morning meeting.

Before going home, Joe goes over his to do list for the next week, adds a few items to his calendar, and sits back to reflect on the project. He is prepared, ready, and has the time to think about next steps with his client’s project and to follow-up with new project leads.


OneNote provides Joe with all the advantages of traditional note-taking and storage while offering a much more effective and flexible way to manage, prioritize, and share notes. Because OneNote makes it easy to share and collaborate among teams or organizations, everyone has access to the information, supporting more informed decisions and effective knowledge management. OneNote helps busy professionals become more productive, creating more time to develop valuable solutions for their clients.

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I happened upon an overview of how the OneNote team uses OneNote for collaboration (thanks to the ever informative Daniel Escapa)  which I thought you’d all enjoy.


The question is how does the OneNote team use OneNote for collaboration and in particular spec reviews? As a PM it is our job to come up with the feature specifications for a given feature and create a document outlining what the feature will look like, behave like, what scenarios the feature will fulfill and what goals we are going to accomplish.  To start the spec we use a template, in Office we have a standard Word template we use for all Office specs.  This template has sections pre-populated and also has custom fields which tie into SharePoint which is pretty slick.  I start by creating a new spec in SharePoint which launches Word and enter all of the metadata in Word and then I go and write my spec.

Once I have completed the spec I will save it back up to the spec library and send an email to the team saying that the spec is ready for review.  This email is a call to arms for people on the team to read the spec and give me feedback.  This is where OneNote comes into play!  We have a team shared notebook stored up on SharePoint and we have a section called “Spec Discussion” and in this section we have a page for each spec/feature we are working on.  We have organized this section by using subpages; the top-level pages are titled with the name of a PM and under that page we create a subpage for each spec/feature written by that PM.

Each page uses a template that we use for feedback, the template pretty much looks like this:


Then each individual will go in there and enter their comments and questions, usually we add a new table row for each comment even if it is by the same person.  I have also seen people print the spec to OneNote, write their comments with their Tablet pen and then copy the page to the shared notebook; but 90% of the time people just write their comments in this table.  This way we have a running list of what comments people have and it isn’t in email or just hallway conversations.

Then as the PM it is my job to go through those comments and see what questions people have.  At this point I will typically look through the list and see if I need to update the spec and I also will reply with my own comments.  I write my comments inline and the resulting page looks like this:


Then I typically email the people who gave me comments and let them know that I replied, just so they can see that I listened to them and their feedback was incorporated into the spec.  Then we do the final review where the PM (and the Dev & Tester) present the spec to the managers of the team to make sure this is a good plan and get approval before coding begins.  Also during the review someone will take notes in this same spec discussion page so the notes from the meeting are recorded and stored in the same place.  It also gives the PM a good place to go when they are done with the review and they want to look through all of the feedback and update the spec for coding begins.

We have also learned to insert links to the spec discussion page to the Word doc (the spec) so you can always get the right place.  This system has worked well and allowed me to review spec offline and when I come back they all sync up, no write locks and everything is in one place and everyone on the team can see the feedback and the PM’s comments back to the commenter.

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In case you missed it, Bill Gates has written a blog post over at the Inside Office Online Blog about how he uses some of Microsoft’s products. The great news is that he also describes how he uses OneNote both on a Tablet PC and a regular laptop. I think this is the kind of visiblity OneNote needs to move out of obscurity and into the mainstream – I keep telling people about it and am still mostly being met with puzzled looks and raised eyebrows as people have no idea what I am talking about.  Once I’ve given them the lowdown on how I use OneNote, they are rushing out to buy a copy.  As I’ve said before, that is why I decided to start this site. How you can all help is to spread the word about iheartonenote.com to your friends – hopefully before long, we’ll have started a OneNoteLovers movement!

Here’s what the big cheese has to say:

If you visit my office, you will probably notice right away that I have three large flat screen displays that sit together and are synchronized so they work like a single very wide display. The large display area enables me to work very efficiently. I keep my Outlook 2007 Inbox open on the screen to the left so I can see new messages as they come in. I usually have the message or document that I’m currently reading or writing in the center screen. The screen on the right is where I have room to open up a browser or look at a document that someone has sent me in e-mail. I spend the majority of my time communicating with colleagues, customers, and partners. As a result, Outlook is the application that I use the most. I receive about 100 e-mail messages per day from Microsoft employees, and many more from customers and partners.

It’s very important that I hear what people think about our products and our company. Yet I need to balance that against the very real risk of information overload from all the e-mail that I receive. The advances we made in Outlook 2007 for filtering, rules, and search folders have made it much easier to manage my e-mail than before, especially because so much happens automatically once I’ve set everything up. A great thing is that all my voice mail, faxes, and even instant messages are sent to my Outlook Inbox using our unified communications technology.

Another important feature of unified communications that we have integrated into Office applications is presence and identity. That means I can always tell at a glance whether the person I need to get in touch with is available or not. One change to Outlook that I appreciate is tasks are now integrated with how I view my calendar.

Before Office 2007, I never used the Outlook task feature, but now that tasks are automatically added to my calendar, it makes it much easier to stay on top of the important things I need to do. Working with other people efficiently and effectively is more important than ever, not just for Microsoft but for any organization.

I find that SharePoint, a software program that enables people to easily create internal Web sites so they can collaborate on projects, has become indispensable. For example, each year I do something called ThinkWeek where anybody in the company can submit a paper about an idea they have to change the way our company works or to pursue a new development project. We used to rely primarily on printed documents, but now it’s simple for us to create a Web site to manage the entire process. This year, more than 350 papers were submitted. Not only did I read and comment on many of them, but other technical leaders from across the company were able to go up to the ThinkWeek Web site and add their thoughts. This has led to many lively discussions and started numerous new projects, something that was much harder to do when everything was on paper.

This release of SharePoint also has many social networking features that I find enormously helpful. In addition to searching any corporate intranet site for documents, SharePoint now enables me to search for specific people based on their expertise, job title, or the department they work in. Also, employees can easily create personal Web sites where they can post photos and list their experiences and interests. SharePoint even automatically associates every document with its author, and explains his relationship to other employees on the same team and in his department. So SharePoint makes it far easier to quickly identify the two or three people who are experts in parallel computing, for example, even though there are more than 80,000 employees at Microsoft now.

Of course, collaborating often means meeting with my colleagues in person or remotely over the Internet via Office LiveMeeting. I always take a lot of notes about ideas to think about or things to follow up on. I try to bring my Tablet PC to meetings as often as possible so that I can use OneNote 2007 to write notes in ink that can later be searched or converted to text. Even if I forget my Tablet, I can scan a document or piece of paper and add that image to OneNote. One of the nice new features in OneNote 2007 is that it automatically recognizes the text in those scanned documents, so that it’s easy to search for them later.

Then there are times when I really want to drill down into an industry or market trend. The new business intelligence and data visualization tools in Excel 2007 and SharePoint are fantastic for accessing the kind of data that used to be hard to find because it was stored in back-end databases, and then dig through that data to gain some real insights into what is going on. Now I can easily take a look at how a change to something like our assumptions about customer demand might affect the market for a certain product. Taken together, the improvements in Office 2007 have certainly had a large impact on the way I work. I seem to discover a new feature or a better way of doing something almost every day, and I am hopeful that many of you will find the new Office to be as useful as I do.

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For the past 150 years, Pfizer has pioneered the development of some of the industry’s most innovative pharmaceutical products. In 2007, Pfizer applied this “out of the box” thinking to a pilot program designed to enhance efficiency and knowledge management across project teams, and potentially speed time-to-market for new products. The pilot brought together the simple, intuitive user interface of the Microsoft® Office OneNote® 2007 note-taking program with the robust document management technology of Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007. As a result, pilot participants reported a significant decrease in the number of e-mail messages they send each day, and one group reported a 15 percent increase in efficiency. Overall, the 600 participants reported a 2 percent time savings per week, which represents a cost savings of approximately U.S.$2.25 million.


Since 1849, Pfizer has been dedicated to the development of safe, effective, and affordable medicines for the prevention and treatment of diseases across a broad range of therapeutic areas. According to 2008 industry sales reports, Pfizer is the largest research-based biomedical and pharmaceutical company in the world, with a portfolio that includes such top-selling drugs as Lipitor, Viagra, Zoloft, and Zyrtec.

To maintain its position as a global leader in the healthcare industry, Pfizer invests heavily in research and development. In 2008, the company spent U.S.$7.5 billion—15 percent of its $48.3 billion revenue—on research and development efforts. For Pfizer, increasing the efficiency of research and development teams is a top priority—the sooner that new prescription medicines and pharmaceutical products can be brought to market, the sooner they can begin to help people live longer, healthier lives

Faster time-to-market is also important from a business perspective. In the pharmaceutical industry, a company owns exclusive rights to a therapeutic compound for 10 years from the date that the patent is issued. “We file patents on new compounds several years before we actually get them to market,” says Chris Barber, Associate Research Fellow, Worldwide Medicinal Chemistry, Pfizer. “If we can shave even a few months off of our development cycle and increase the number of months of exclusivity in the market—that can have a huge impact on our bottom line.”

Ben Gardner (Biology Customer Engagement Manager, Worldwide Technology, Research and Development Informatics, Pfizer) cites the sales of Lipitor as an example. “Lipitor is the top selling drug in the world,” he explains. “In 2008, sales of Lipitor generated $12.4 billion. So, each additional month of exclusivity would equal about one billion dollars in revenue. Not all drugs are like that, but you can see how a seemingly small time savings can actually generate significant revenue.”

With this in mind, Gardner and his team began looking for a technology solution that would help project groups work more efficiently. “Drug discovery involves tens, hundreds, even thousands of compounds,” Barber explains. “They all get screened, and the information is sent back to the chemists to say, ‘Make more like this,’ or, ‘Stop making compounds like this.’ The process is a continuous cycle. Pfizer has developed a solid infrastructure for recording individual data points against each individual compound. But what we didn’t have was an easy, accessible way of storing—and subsequently sharing—the knowledge that we collected or the rationale for decisions we made during a project.”

Over the years, Pfizer has also adopted a number of disparate document filing repositories. “Unfortunately, they’re all very cumbersome,” says Gardner. “Research team members perform different types of experiments, and traditionally they’d each file their findings in separate repositories. In order to understand what we learned from an experiment, we had to look in three or four different legacy systems. Also, the documents had no meaning whatsoever in their titles, so we had to open each individual file to find out what it contained. We eventually began saving files on our desktops or in e-mail folders because we wanted to have seamless access to our files, whether we were online or offline. This was something that we simply couldn’t do with our existing file share systems.”


In 2007, Pfizer authorized a pilot program at its Research and Development Informatics Division in Sandwich, England, to explore the use of the Microsoft® Office OneNote® 2007 note-taking program. Pfizer had already introduced an enterprisewide content management strategy based on Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007, and pilot coordinators were eager to combine Office OneNote 2007 with SharePoint Server 2007.

“Essentially, we’re using Office OneNote 2007 to provide an intuitive, user-friendly interface to the SharePoint Server 2007 document library,” Gardner explains. All content added to or created in OneNote 2007 is stored in SharePoint Server 2007. Users can continue to work in shared OneNote 2007 notebooks even when they’re offline, and the notebooks synchronize automatically when the users connect to the network. “All of the complexities are managed in the background, so the user experience is seamless,” adds Gardner. (See Figure 1.)

Fig. 1

Initially, Pfizer conducted the pilot with two Therapeutic Area (TA) teams, but word quickly spread amongst the research community about this novel approach to information sharing. As a result and in partnership with Research and Development leadership, the pilot was expanded into a full scale deployment to the entire Research and Development division at Sandwich, totaling approximately 600 users. Currently, all TA drug discovery project teams use shared OneNote 2007 notebooks as their primary method of communication and information sharing, with approximately 70 OneNote 2007 project notebooks in daily use across the division.

Pilot participants commented that Office OneNote 2007 is intuitive and simple to use, and it works easily with other Microsoft Office products such as Microsoft Office Excel® spreadsheet software, the Microsoft Office PowerPoint® presentation graphics program, and Microsoft Office Outlook® messaging and collaboration client. Users add new content into the shared project notebook using a drag-and-drop operation, and OneNote 2007 automatically manages the task of loading these changes to the master notebook stored on SharePoint Server 2007. (See Figure 2.)

“In many ways, using OneNote 2007 is as simple as writing in a paper notebook, except that we can do so much more,” says Nuzrul Haque, Customer Engagement Manager, Worldwide Technology, Research and Development Informatics, Pfizer. “We can easily drop an Excel graph or an Outlook e-mail message into a OneNote notebook. We can insert PowerPoint slides that describe a series of compounds and why they’re interesting, or make detailed notes that describe what our next steps will be. With OneNote 2007, capturing all of this additional information doesn’t require any extra effort—it’s simply part of our normal workflow process. And, from a corporate point of view, the data is backed up and more secure because it’s stored in a SharePoint Server 2007 document library.”

Before the use of shared OneNote 2007 notebooks, Pfizer lacked an easy way for scientists to describe the rationale behind decisions they made during a project, or to find information generated by previous project teams. “Now, with Office OneNote 2007, we generate a summary page that’s publishable to our corporate wiki and therefore becomes searchable and sharable across the enterprise,” Haque says. “I see the potential to create a library of OneNote 2007 project notebooks so that—in five years’ time when researchers come across similar problems to the ones we’re facing today—they can search for and find the OneNote 2007 project notebook created by a previous research team. They’ll say, ‘Here’s the graph that I need to generate to understand what to do next.’ This solution could profoundly change the way we collaborate, now and in the future.”


To maintain its position as an industry leader, Pfizer realized that it needed to increase the productivity and efficiency of its project teams. The company developed an innovative solution that blends the intuitive user interface of Office OneNote 2007 with the robust document management technology of Office SharePoint Server 2007. The resulting solution potentially speeds time-to-market, boosts time and cost savings, improves collaboration, and enhances knowledge management.

Faster Time-to-Market

In the pharmaceutical industry, developing a new drug is about making decisions, such as what type of compound to make next and how to test it. These decisions are enabled by the knowledge gained from the creation and testing of previous compounds. By using Office OneNote 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007, Pfizer employees have easy access to centrally located information so they can make the right decisions quickly.

When pilot participants were asked to quantify the amount of time they save by using the solution, approximately 70 percent said they saved 30 minutes or more each week. The mean time savings weighted across all responders was approximately 45 minutes each week, for a 2 percent time savings.

“Even a 2 percent time savings is significant when you consider that every month of market exclusivity can equal millions of dollars in revenue,” says Haque. “That’s why we’re excited. We see potential for OneNote 2007 and SharePoint Server 2007 to help us get our products to market sooner. Previously, when we needed to generate documents or put reports together, we had to go to five different places. Now, all of the information is in one place. We can make better decisions more quickly, which could result in shorter development cycles.”

In 2008, the average revenue for all Pfizer pharmaceuticals was $1.75 billion, meaning that if Pfizer could bring a typical product to market more quickly, the company could potentially generate additional revenues of approximately $145.8 million each month.

Cost and Time Savings

Based on participant feedback, Gardner calculated an approximate cost savings and return on investment (ROI). “If time savings alone was used to measure ROI, then—assuming that one full-time employee equates to a $200,000 cost per year—a 2 percent time savings equates to $3,750 per user per year,” he explains. With 600 users participating in the initial deployment, this represents a potential cost savings of $2.25 million per year. If Pfizer decided to expand the use of Office OneNote 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 to even a fraction of its 100,000 employees, the cost savings could be astronomical.

Gardner adds, “While there is a big difference between saving people time and converting the saved time into new productive work, this figure does provide a baseline for estimating the value of shared notebooks—particularly if we wrap the many other benefits, that are far more difficult to quantify, into this figure.”

One project-specific example of time savings came from the MC4 project team in the Gerintourinary Therapeutic Area at Sandwich. Using the “agile processes” development model (based on the self-organization of teams to handle the complexities inherent in development projects), the team completed its project 30 percent faster than the standard operating process. “The research project leader estimated that 15 percent of this time savings could be directly attributed to the use of a shared OneNote 2007 notebook,” Gardner says.

Using Office OneNote 2007 and Office SharePoint Server 2007 as a shared information repository, project teams reported a significant reduction in the number of e-mail messages they sent each day. They also reported a reduction in the number of post-meeting e-mail messages they received—from three for each agenda item to zero. In addition, Pfizer estimates the amount of data stored on the company’s Microsoft Exchange Server decreased from eight or more Office Outlook appointments (multiplied by the size of the file, and multiplied again by the number of people on the distribution list) to one Outlook appointment for each user.

“Now if I receive an e-mail message with a large attachment, I can drop it into OneNote 2007 and deal with it when I feel like it rather than because my inbox is getting full,” Barber says. “That’s a fantastic change for me.”

Improved Engagement and Team Cohesion

A number of anecdotal reports indicate that teams are displaying improved engagement and cohesion. “Giving each team member responsibility for and management of a section of the OneNote 2007 project notebook is resulting in the building of trust, the transparency of activity, and the strengthening of ties within the team,” Gardner says. “This means that individuals feel more involved in the project as a whole. Junior members of project teams are including information in their presentations and reports from other sections of the project. Previously, they weren’t doing this because the information wasn’t easily accessible. Now, we’re seeing an increase in the baseline level of understanding across the whole project. In other words, the scientists are more engaged. The value of that is far reaching, but difficult to quantify.”

Enhanced Knowledge Management and Decision Making

In user feedback surveys, 70 percent of pilot participants credited the use of shared OneNote 2007 notebooks with “enhancing or strongly enhancing” the way that they work. Additionally, 60 percent of managers and project leaders indicated that shared OneNote 2007 notebooks improved their access to decision-making data.
“Through the use of shared OneNote 2007 notebooks we are—possibly for the first time—actually realizing the promise of knowledge management,” says Gardner. “We are seeing improvements in the efficiency of working, the capture of tacit along with explicit knowledge, and enhancement of team cohesion. In addition, by using OneNote 2007 in conjunction with SharePoint Server 2007, all of this information is being captured in a fully searchable system that is compliant with Pfizer’s content management strategy.”

Barber concludes, “I think one of the most important results of this pilot is a dramatic change in culture. People are starting to believe that the information they’re generating is actually part of the whole project, rather than something that resides solely on their desktops and that will eventually be lost in a file share. We’re shifting to a culture of knowledge sharing, of saying that this information is for all of us. Capturing and sharing rationale in this way will help us make better decisions and make them more quickly. We can build on our
knowledge base, rather than starting from scratch.”

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