Empowering the SharePoint Champions

Are You the “SharePoint guy/gal”? If you think you are or want to understand what I mean and how this might relate to you, read on please…

The person responsible for the SharePoint initiatives to be successful in the organization is the one called the SharePoint guy/gal. This is the person who empowers herself and the other power users and SharePoint evangelists in the organization to take better advantage of the SharePoint platform. This SharePoint guru does not necessarily possess the development or IT architecture knowledge. However, this person has been tapped as the person responsible for this thing called ‘SharePoint’ which the executives want everyone in the company using.

Does that sound like you or someone you know? Well, there are thousands of these SharePoint guys around the world and many hundreds of them I have had the pleasure to meet personally throughout my SharePoint tenure. Read on forward to understand why this newsletter is focused on You!

Challenge faced by the SharePoint guy in the company

After having now worked with SharePoint for 11 years exactly, I can tell you very confidently that many companies using the SharePoint platform are not taking advantage of even half of the capabilities that SharePoint has to offer. The SharePoint guy in the company is not able to handle implementing and supporting it all. Many companies end up doing one or more of the following:

  • Using only the out-the-box functionality
  • Hire a developer to custom program solutions on top of SharePoint (but many forget that they would have to support it themselves afterwards…)
  • Buy a 3rd party product that enhances SharePoint

 

Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things, but there is a 4th way which is extremely powerful when executed properly:

Empowering the SharePoint power users and champions in the company with the on-demand knowledge they need to be successful working with and building rapid no-code solutions and customizations within the SharePoint platform!

Chances are pretty high that you have very talented people in the company who have background in visual design, creating reporting mechanisms, automating processes, administering simple content management systems, managing Access based solutions, creating visually appealing dashboards, and more. These folks are usually not comfortable with SharePoint initially. However, if empowered properly with the SharePoint specific knowledge they need to be successful, they can perform wonders and create amazing solutions for the team or company as a whole without the use of programming!

The art of empowering the SharePoint champions

To truly empower the SharePoint champions means to provide them with the knowledge they need (when they need it) and to also grant them with the proper access they need to implement their solutions. I’ll focus here on the on-demand knowledge part of the equation.

Training the SharePoint champions with a 1 day to 5 day class (internally or through an external vendor) has been the preferred solution. It’s great knowledge that’s learned at the time. However, the reality is that you are not able to use much of the knowledge learned in the class right away. And by the time you are ready to use the knowledge, you don’t quite remember the ‘why and how’ parts of much of the functionality learned in class.

Technical books have been and still are great to impart in-time and as-needed knowledge. A well written technical book you can reference can save you a lot of time and frustration.

Written word can only go so far however. As they say “A picture is worth a thousand words”. I’m sure you have heard that, but have you also heard that “A one-minute video is worth 1.8 million words”? (according to Forrester Research). It is very true that we are much more engaged and learn at a much faster pace when we are able to hear and see the information we are interested in.

The solution

Apart from having a SharePoint trainer or consultant right beside you, guiding you with the best practices in mind to accomplish your goals, the next best thing is to have a recorded video tutorials produced by that trainer that you can watch anytime as needed.

Important Note: Please be advised that there are many ‘bad practices’ demonstrated out there on the ‘YouTube land’ as well. Please be cautious and use good judgment. Just because you are able to attain your immediate goal, doesn’t mean that it is the proper way of doing something. You don’t want it to come haunt you later down the line.

If you believe the strategy of on-demand video training can work for your team of SharePoint champions, you have a few options on how to proceed:

  1. Hire the proper talent to record the video tutorials for you specific to your environment (best option, but not very affordable)
  2. Qualify and gather the proper existing resources online to expose from your environment
  3. Find an existing third party resource that provides this solution already pre-built

Whichever way you decide to proceed, it is very important to provide guidance to your team of SharePoint champions before letting them lose on the training. If this is executed properly, chances are that you will see an enhanced understanding of and appreciation for the SharePoint platform thus increasing adoption company wide. The SharePoint champions throughout the company will become your biggest advocates in spreading the ‘good word’ on how the SharePoint platform can be leveraged to simplify and streamline the existing business processes.

This method of empowerment and support is not only for companies with internal SharePoint champions to train and support. This technique can work equally well for consulting companies looking to empower their on-the-road consultants with the on-demand support they need to be successful with the clients they are servicing.

Bottom line: SharePoint was never meant to be a turn-key product. The potential for enhancement in productivity and cost savings is enormous! However, it will be what You make of it. Best wishes!

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SharePoint Fest 2013 – Denver

SharePoint Fest rocks! I found that out when I first presented at the Chicago conference last year. Things that impressed me the most:

  • Focus on the locality (lots of Chicagoland based folks attended)
  • Great content and speakers
  • Nicely organized

This conference was professionally arranged and executed. There were no networking or scheduling issues that I noticed and I heard great comments from attendees afterwards. This conference was successful in providing great content to the folks who were just not satisfied enough with the content at SharePoint Saturdays and local user groups (no offense to either since they both do the best they can).

Now this conference is coming to Denver in March 2013 and I think it’s a great opportunity to folks in that locale. I’ll be doing 2 sessions there as well. Looking forward to it. Hope to see You there!

 

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How do I gain SharePoint experience and land a SharePoint related job?

The point of this post is to offer you thoughts on how you can gain SharePoint experience and eventually land a SharePoint related job hopefully. This post does not dive into gaining SharePoint knowledge. Check out the other post on SharePoint resources on the web for ideas on learning SharePoint online.

  1. Find out if a local non-profit organization in your area is starting with SharePoint. Help them out at a low salary or volunteer for free
  2. Become part of SharePoint User Groups in your area. Offer to help out and become more active in learning and even presenting your knowledge. Network with folks there to help connect you with companies in need of a SharePoint Admin or Developer. Personal recommendations can do wonders
  3. Register yourself with eLance and guru.com (or something similar) where you can offer your services. Since you have the knowledge, you should be able to offer certain services to companies who are in immediate need. This will definitely help you building your portfolio
  4. Look out for SharePoint Saturday events and attend them. They are free and great for networking. Even consider applying to present at an event. They are always looking for fresh faces to present
  5. Build up your LinkedIn profile and start connecting with more and more people. Even if they are not in the SharePoint space, they might know someone who has the need for a SharePoint ‘guy/gal’
  6. Write Blog posts on what you have learned and discovered. Post to a well-known entity that provides opportunities for everyone to post such as nothingbutsharepoint.com to maximize your exposure
  7. Get a CloudShare environment to practice and build your solutions on SharePoint. Making your whole environment from scratch for personal use could cost thousands of dollars. Instead, get a CloudShare account which provides you access to the pre-built virtual machine running all the software you need

If you have more ideas to offer, make a comment on this post. I’ll add them to the list above as well.

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