October 5, 2012

Using SharePoint, organizations should be leveraging every asset which makes them more productive out of the platform, and as effectively as they can. This means investing time and resources to make sure users are fully utilizing the functions made available to them; especially the capabilities that can help them more productive and meets their objectives.

As a SharePoint evangelist and creator of ‘platform governance’, it will be impossible to get individuals to embrace the technology without their buy-in and support. User Adoption starts and continues with communication, training leading to governance policies relating to platform governance; in other words, creating effective service delivery of SharePoint solutions that are available to the users.

Therefore, a great way to get things started is to enlist ‘people’ aid from the business – and I will call them SharePoint Champions.

SharePoint champions are a select group of business members, not techies – they are great “middlemen” between end users and IT Support. By providing them with more training and educating them on how to fix common issues, we can reduce the amount of help needed by IT and allow common problems to be solved at the department level. This will drive adoption within departments, and bring organizations closer to achieving the goals that drove their investment in SharePoint.

These individuals understand how the organization operates, what kind of information challenges are prevalent in their respective functions and key pain points of their peers. They are not gurus in SharePoint; they are not technical, rather, they are prepared to discuss, propose and help make decisions concerning the future of SharePoint sites. Therefore, a SharePoint Champion is an individual who sees the advantage of using SharePoint and finds ways to use SharePoint in new and advanced ways in order to produce better results and help move the organization forward.

Some points about being a SharePoint Champion:

  • They understand business operations, are not SharePoint technical gurus!
  • They come from various facets of the organization. It’s great to have a group of different areas of the company together who are themselves end-users.
  • Are aware of the overall basic strategy, support and evangelize SharePoint best practice for the organization.
  • They are ‘elected’ by their line managers to be a SharePoint Champion based on the above; this immediately plants the seeds for user adoption.
  • Have the benefit of increased SharePoint knowledge; this will benefit all SharePoint information workers in making them continually productive when working in SharePoint.

Grown into the organization, SharePoint Champions can additionally be seen as responsible figures; acting as initial points of contact with the user; and aiding communication of issues to the helpdesk. They could cover an area of ‘content on a site’ best practice and governance. This means that could be assigned general admin rights sites content.

SharePoint Champions need to be continually kept up to speed with SharePoint features and how they align to business information challenges, particularly in these areas:

  • Administration of content
  • Manage users; what roles should users have and how to secure information
  • Manage of respositories and sites
  • Basic branding and customization of repositories
  • Basic understanding of user profile information and areas My Site areas concerning tagging, notes, organization charts
  • Design using a business process through basic wireframing and documenting user ideas.
  • Cascade training of their peers; provision of training information relevant to the sites they cover.

Creating SharePoint Champions begins with your SharePoint sponsors helping you identify them, then getting buy-in from their line managers through workshops with their teams.

Managing SharePoint Champions is a continual event which requires that they meet regularly to confer with each other, bring up points of interest, business issues that require a SharePoint solution (which are linked to the overall strategy). Consider also setting up a centralised site for SharePoint Champions which should include training materials, information concerning enterprise tools which they have access to and links to policies concerning Governance, Acceptable Use, and Statements of Operations, etc.

User Adoption in SharePoint is not a given. The successful development and implementation of User Adoption in SharePoint requires the intersection of several factors, namely the business and organizational changes, the compatibility between the desired tasks and the tasks, and the appeal to the users. SharePoint Champions can be a very useful method of helping obtain those goals.

Nb. This and more information concerning the method of building a SharePoint champion forum is in my forthcoming book, more to follow!

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