September 9, 2014
In this five blog series, I will describe the top five obstacles that I have encountered on the SharePoint battlefield and share my recommendations for overcoming them.
- Obstacle 1: Preconceived Notions of SharePoint
- Obstacle 2: Lack of Communication
- Obstacle 3: Lack of Governance
- Obstacle 4: Mismanagement of the Training Effort
- Obstacle 5: One Size Fits All Training Program
So far, we have discovered how to overcome negative preconceived notions of SharePoint, and the importance of creating both a communication plan and a governance plan. Those efforts will be wasted if training is not implemented and conducted properly.
Obstacle 4: Mismanagement of the Training Effort
Training and education in the workplace is typically handled by Human Resources and management level employees. This can be tricky as non-technical employees are tasked with and expected to implement technical training. The non-technicals of the organization often lack the knowledge of the depth of functionality that SharePoint has to offer. It is quite a challenge for nontechnical employees to make informed decisions about the amount of time, effort, and resources required to implement a SharePoint training program without first fully understanding the platform. Additionally, nontechnical employees sometimes overlook the breadth of change that SharePoint can create in the workplace and the impact this can have on the day to day jobs of the end users.
Another familiar scenario I tend to encounter is that some organizations task the IT department with SharePoint training. From experience, I know that there can be some pretty significant diversity in the level of technical knowledge within an organization. If an IT department is charged with delivering SharePoint adoption and/or training, the person who delivers the training must have business-level understanding of the platform, such that she or he can relate to the end-user. When working with IT Departments, we often run the risk of selecting an individual who is very technically minded and approaches the platform in a very pragmatic and functional sense; we need someone who can relate to how an end-user feels when looking at the features, buttons, designs, images, etc.
Recommendation: Distribute the Effort, Collaborate on Developing a Training Plan, Hire Help if Needed, and Train Everyone!
When an organization evaluates SharePoint and deems it a fit as a technology to build efficiencies and promote collaboration, that’s a pretty big deal! I am sure many, many meetings were held and just as many people were consulted to arrive at the decision to choose SharePoint as a solution for a business need. The amount of time, effort and energy that goes into choosing SharePoint must then be mirrored when deciding on how to train users to ensure maximum user adoption. There is a wealth of free resources out there on the World Wide Web just waiting to be consumed – Lynda.com and Sharepoint-videos.com are a great place to start. I believe everyone should take full advantage of the free information that can be found at the click of a mouse – absolutely!
However, it is imperative for you to allocate appropriate budget and resources to ensure a thorough training program can be executed. Developing and delivering a SharePoint training plan, in my opinion, is the fastest way to achieve user adoption and that sought after ROI. Training will build a strong foundation of confidence enabling users to utilize the platform as intended. If you do not have the expertise internally, then I strongly recommend outsourcing someone who does.
Next, I recommend appointing members of each department who will become Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in the SharePoint environment. These users should receive a higher level of training than end-users (more on this later). The SMEs should work closely with (or be a part of) the Governance team and act as managers and facilitators for their department’s unique needs. By empowering employees and distributing efforts at the departmental level it takes the pressure off IT.
When done right, the SMEs, IT, and end users may even act as allies in discovering additional efficiencies though the platform – which will help the organization increase its ROI.
Check out the final segment about overcoming slow end user adoption of SharePoint. I will be discussing why training is not and should not be a one size fits all type of program.