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 Beginner’s Guide

SharePoint explained very nicely and simply in this video tutorial:

SharePoint in plain English


Microsoft’s main SharePoint related beginner sites

Check out the main SharePoint 2010 Website from Microsoft.

Then check out some success stories shared by Microsoft at iUseSharePoint.


Ramp up on SharePoint

To get started on SharePoint, you might want to take some formal SharePoint training. There is really no substitute for hands on training if you can afford the time and expense. I would recommend looking at the available classes here: http://www.criticalpathtraining.com

Can’t travel or need on-demand training? I would recommended to start with this jump start page and watch some beginner video tutorials:


Check out the EndUserSharePoint site for Lots of great articles produced by the SharePoint community:



SharePoint environment for practice

To try out scenarios, create prototypes and demos, use the completely pre-built SharePoint environment created using CloudShare:

http://tinyurl.com/asifcloudshare. Here are some visuals on exactly what’s in this cloud-based virtual machine: https://www.visualsp.com/pre-built-sharepoint-2010-demos-in-cloudshare/


Deploy the whole virtual machine in your own environment (if you have the hardware available):



SharePoint on-demand support

When working with SharePoint, you will have questions that you just want to go and ask someone. The best place to ask those questions is the SharePoint Forums: http://social.msdn.microsoft.com/Forums/en/category/sharepoint/. Microsoft employees and MVPs are often in the forums answering questions.

You can also find on-demand video tutorials on SharePoint-Videos.com for quick show-and-tell. Also, additional tutorials available on Microsoft’s Channel 9 site: http://channel9.msdn.com/search?term=sharepoint

If you need immediate help with a project, look into hourly SharePoint remote consulting/mentoring: https://www.visualsp.com/remote-consulting/

Become part of the Bamboo Solutions community: http://community.bamboosolutions.com/

Consider picking up some SharePoint books as well:



SharePoint Certifications

There are a few certifications that exist for SharePoint as well. These will give you the credibility you need in your role. You can find them here: http://www.microsoft.com/learning/en/us/certification/cert-sharepoint-server.aspx


Customer Reviews for SharePoint Vendors

It’s hard to decide which SharePoint vendor to go with when it comes to SharePoint consulting, training, products and other services. Check out the SharePoint Reviews site: http://www.sharepointreviews.com/


SharePoint Conferences

Attending a SharePoint conference is a great way to really dive into it all. Check out this blog entry for info on regularly held SharePoint related conferences:

http://blog.visualsp.com/the-sharepoint-conferences-you-should-attend/ (more conferences have popped up in the market since this blog entry)

(comments welcomed)

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Training and Empowering SharePoint Users, Developers, Administrators

If you have been following our site or newsletters, you know that our commitment is to train, empower and support SharePoint users at all levels. I would like to focus on exactly how our corporate offerings help accomplish that goal.

Our SharePoint Content

  • 100 SharePoint 2007 video tutorials
  • 250 SharePoint 2010 video tutorials (growing at a rate of about 4 to 6 additional tutorials every month)

Video tutorial average length: 10 minutes (with the exception of end user videos)

Type of content: Tutorials discussing the ‘why and how’ to accomplish various tasks and functionalities related to SharePoint (using minimal or no PowerPoint slides)

Target audience:

  • End Users
  • Power Users
  • Developers
  • Administrators

Content categories:

SharePoint Fundamentals, SharePoint Designer, InfoPath, Workflows, Branding, Business Connectivity Services, Access Services, Project Management, Reporting Services, Records Management and more in the works…

Direct competition covering the breadth of content we offer: None that we are aware of!


Corporate Licensing of Videos

To facilitate training and supporting all SharePoint users, we offer two options:

Option 1) Deploy our end user videos in your environment

It is best for end users of SharePoint to get the help they need directly within the SharePoint environment they are working in without the need to hunt for the information on the web. In addition, there are many ‘bad practices’ that you want to steer your users away from and teach them the ‘best practices’ for interacting with SharePoint (working with documents, pages, list items, subsite settings etc).

To support you with your end users’ training needs, we ship you 105 end user videos that offer on-demand help to SharePoint end users. These are short, to the point, tutorials of 2 minutes or less with full voice narration and visual cues to help the user understand why you do certain tasks in SharePoint and how to do them.

Option 2) Online access at SharePoint-Videos.com for all SharePoint Administrators and Developers

Our list of videos targeting SharePoint administrators, developers and power users has been and will continue to grow on the site. The best way for us to provide you access to all of that information is to setup a corporate log-in id for your organization that your SharePoint personnel can use at anytime to view the tutorials on the site.

Depending on your need, either option 1 or 2 or even a combination of both options would serve your organization best! I am a big believer in the phrase ‘seeing is believing’. If you are like me and would like to visualize how the process would work, check out these short 3 minutes videos on SharePoint End User and SharePoint Admin and Developer training.

We have been serving our corporate clients for many years now. Read our testimonials and check out the list of some of the companies we currently serve.

So what’s the next step?

Get in contact with us through either simply replying to this email, filling out the form on our corporate licensing page or by calling us directly (630) 786-7026. Whatever works best for You. We can help to qualify if your organization is the right fit for the solutions that we offer. Let us know how we can help your SharePoint needs!

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Short and to the point End User Training Videos (Beta)

We have been getting a lot of feedback from our current and potential customers that they need short and to the point end user training videos. So we went ahead and made a test batch of them here:


(The page might take about a minute to load since there are 19 video thumbnails there. Sorry)

I would Really appreciate it if you can take a few minutes to check some of them out and provide us some feedback. There is a quick anonymous poll on that page you can take and also post some comments after taking the poll. You are also welcome to email me back directly with your thoughts/comments. Thanks in advance!

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SharePoint 2010 Posters / Technical Diagrams

Have you seen the SharePoint 2010 posters by Microsoft? They are especially helpful if you are in one of the following roles:

  • SharePoint Administrator
  • SharePoint Developer
  • SharePoint Governance Guru (or a Governance team member)
  • A Business User (asked/forced to act like a SharePoint Expert in the company)
  • “The SharePoint Guy/Gal” at your company

Imagine having a bunch of reference charts you can put up in your office or cubicle that guide you with a specific need or role like Governance, Services available in SharePoint, Authentication models, Farm Topologies, Search mechanisms, SharePoint Databases and more. Of course, they are all available from Microsoft at no-cost.

Here they are:


These are a result of Microsoft folks like my good friends Dan Evers, Tom Werner, Cathy Brennan, Susan Potter and their teams who are determined to boost SharePoint adoption in organizations around the world. Great job all and keep up the great work. We all appreciate it very much!!

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