Conquer the Chaos of SharePoint End User Support

It seems to be a common concern for SharePoint architects, managers and administrators–or any of the people who are constantly encouraging end users to actually USE the features available in SharePoint. After all, the organization has invested a good deal of money into SharePoint. The expectation is that SharePoint is widely used across the company. However, this isn’t always the case.

SharePoint adoption is something many companies struggle with. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with SharePoint…in fact, their are so many features and capabilities within SharePoint that people just are not even aware of. The problem is people’s lack of knowledge and understanding in how to use these features. And when this is wide-spread throughout the company, that results in “chaos”. What happens next is that your SharePoint support team is bogged down with so many requests, that they aren’t able to actually “do” much more than respond to support calls. Not only that, but they often answer the same questions over-and-over again…leading to frustrated support team members.

Furthermore, end users also get frustrated. If they encounter a problem and don’t have the know-how, they contact the support team. what’s worse is when the support team is too busy to answer…then what do they do, they move on. They find a different way to solve the problem which may often be an alternative to using SharePoint. This is exactly what management does NOT want to happen.

So, is there a solution to this?  Isn’t there a way to lighten the load of the support team by giving them a way to share support documents so that “Help” is accessible right there on end users’ desks?

Is there actually a way to conquer the chaos of end user support?

Last month, we hosted a Free Webinar presented by Asif Rehmani, SharePoint MVP, Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), Consultant, book author…and “SharePoint Guy”.

The goal of the webinar was to provide some insight into this dilemma.

If you missed the webinar, no worries…it’s available for you to view HERE

Webinar Overview:

Wouldn’t you love to provide users the support they need when and where they need it? Stop the repetitive explanations by giving users the Help they need in-context and on-demand. We talk about the strategies needed to cut down on the support phone calls and emails freeing you to really build powerful solutions in SharePoint instead of just being the SharePoint help desk.

One solution we talk about in our webinar is VisualSPTM SharePoint Help System –  in-context and on-demand support for end users provided through the  SharePoint ribbon.  With VisualSP, you can empower end users by giving them HELP when and where they need it most. No more waiting for responses from support teams. In fact, you’ll hopefully cut down on support requests all together. This should result in more confident end users, and happier support team members.

 

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Train SharePoint Users within SharePoint sites

Training SharePoint Users within SharePoint sites

In my many years of training people, I realize that it’s much easier for users (especially end users, but others as well) to consume training when they are already within a familiar environment. SharePoint has become that familiar environment for many knowledge workers around the world now so why not provide the training they need directly within that environment.

Content of Training

Any training content that can be packaged up in video tutorials, documents and reference images can be served to users within a SharePoint site that they frequently visit. Example of these subjects areas are:

  • Onboarding new employees
  • Safety and regulation requirements
  • Vendor management process
  • Call center operation procedures
  • Branding guidelines

The above are just a few of many processes that companies often wish to train users in.

Challenge

How do you expose the same training modules to your marketing department folks that the human resources department is using?

That’s a common problem. If you just simply copy and paste the links to resources, it’s not dynamic anymore. What if the main list of resources change? Now your lists are not dynamic anymore. Not cool.

Solution

How about having all variety of your training content defined in one location farm-wide and then just simply dropping a web part on a page where you wish to see some particular content?

So for example, you define the metadata for each piece of training content (title, description, location to where it’s located, etc.) all in one central location grouped by the type of training it is: Onboarding, Vendor Management, Branding, and so on. Now, when a site collection administrator or even a site owner wants to show any of these training modules, they can do so on any of the pages they want by simply inserting a web part on that page and defining one parameter which tells it which type of training to show. Just by doing that, the web part will now show the dynamic links to the relevant training content. Something like the following image shows –

This feature is part of the VisualSPTM Help System. The VisualSPTM web part can be placed on any page to accomplish this goal. All content is live and changes to it can be controlled at the farm, web application and site collection level as needed.

Check out the following short video to see what I mean.

 

 

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Microsoft Cloud Show

A couple of the biggest names in the SharePoint community have recently started up a new initiative called the Microsoft Cloud Show.

Andrew Connell and Chris Johnson have been around in the SharePoint community for a Really long time now and are very well respected in the community. It’s great to see them start up an initiative like this to keep the community informed regarding the whole Microsoft cloud direction – something that many people and organizations are still trying to get a good grasp on.

The video below provides a quick intro of the show. Check it out.

 

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Online Class – Building SharePoint 2013 Apps – on Nov 12, 2013

SharePoint MVP Yaroslav Pentsarskyy will be teaching the Apps class on Tuesday, Nov 12, 2013 titled:

Building Robust SharePoint 2013 hosted Apps for productivity and profit

This is promising to be an Awesome class to teach developers how to build SharePoint 2013 Apps and sell them through the SharePoint App store.

Topics covered are:

  • SharePoint 2013 Apps development model
  • Tools, environment and deployment options for Apps
  • Main components of SharePoint 2013 hosted Apps
  • Deploying lists and libraries with Apps
  • Migrating your web parts as Apps
  • Submitting your App in SharePoint 2013 App store
  • and much more…

 

Also, a bunch of pre-built App projects will be given away by Yaroslav:

  • List Provisioning App
  • Image Slider App
  • Extended Images Slider App
  • App Branding Project

 

Check out the quick video below which talks further about what the class will cover.

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SharePoint Workflows Tweet Jam Topics and Guidelines

On Thursday, Oct. 3rd from 9– 10 am PDT / 12– 1 pm EDT, we will host a tweet jam to discuss trending issues and questions regarding SharePoint Workflows. In attendance will be Chris Beckett – certified SharePoint expert, author, trainer, and consultant. Chris has over a decade of experience building workflow solutions with SharePoint and will be there to contribute to discussions, provide answers to your questions and share some helpful tips!

What Exactly Is a Tweet Jam? 

A tweet jam is a one-hour discussion hosted on Twitter. The purpose of a tweet jam is to share knowledge and answer questions on an issue relevant to a specific group (in this case SharePoint users building workflows). Each tweet jam is led by a moderator (SharePoint-Videos.com) and a dedicated group of experts  to keep the discussion flowing. The public (or anyone using Twitter interested in the topic) is encouraged to join the discussion.

In attendance will be:

  1. @sharepointbits – Chris Becket, Microsoft Specialist, Trainer, and Author on SharePoint Workflows
  2. @asifrehmani – Asif Rehmani, SharePoint Server MVP, Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT), and Author
All experience levels are welcome to join in, just tweet all questions and/or responses throughout the Tweet Jam by using the #SPWorkflow hashtag, messages will automatically become part of the discussion.

 

Participation Guidelines: 

Whether you’re new to Twitter or an avid Twitter user, please follow these guidelines to keep the discussion useful to all.

  • Have your first #SPWorkflow tweet be an introduction: name, occupation.
  • Subsequent tweets should start with the question number being responded to and the #spworkflow hashtag. For example, “@sharepointbits Q2 -what new features are available in SP Designer 2013? #spworkflow”
  • Do not use the tweet jam session for product or service promotional announcements. The goal of the session is to exchange knowledge and stimulate discussion on the topic.
  • Keep the discussion professional, but informal
  • A tweet jam is an open public forum – please be focused and thoughtful in your postings.

 

Discussion Topics

Planned discussion points include anything relevant to “workflows” in SharePoint with a few hot topics such as:

  • How do you upgrade SharePoint 2010 workflows to 2013?
  • Will SharePoint 2010 workflows run on SharePoint 2013?
  • What is Workflow Manager? Is it included with SharePoint 2013?
  • What are the Top X considerations for preparing to deploy SharePoint 2013 workflows?
  • What is the Workflow Interop Bridge? Why would I use it?
  • What are the Top X new features that I should be excited about with SharePoint 2013 workflow?
  • Can you still write custom workflow extensions for SharePoint 2013 workflows?

We’ll have plenty of power users, developers, content managers and experts in attendance to respond to your questions, provide useful tips and we look forward to hearing your input as well!

If you have any questions prior to the event or would like to join as a participant, please direct them to Kari Bennett: kari(at)sharepointElearning(dot)com. We anticipate a productive and informative chat and hope many of you will be able to join the discussion!

If you do miss the tweetjam, please feel free to join Chris in his online SharePoint Designer 2013 No-Code Workflow training class on October 10th from 11 am – 3 pm EDT.

SharePoint Workflows Online Class

 

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My Geolocation video on MVP Award blog

This week I shared one of our videos (Displaying Location Maps within SharePoint Lists using Geolocation column in SharePoint 2013) on the MVP Award blog. Glad to have shared it and I hope folks are able to benefit from it.

Note:
The geolocation column is available out-of-the-box in SharePoint 2013. However, it is Not turned on by default. I have used the following PowerShell commands to turn it on in my environment. Please check with your SharePoint server admin before turning it on.

$weburl = “http://<webAppAddress>/”
$fieldXml = “<Field Type =’Geolocation’ DisplayName=’Location’ />”
$web = get-spweb $weburl
$field = $web.Fields.AddFieldAsXml($fieldXml)

$web.Update()

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