“Neglecting SharePoint User Training during implementation is a crime”.
You won’t see a name of some famous visionary under this quote, because I came up with this myself. And I firmly stand behind it. And here are 10 reasons why:
1. SharePoint is not DropBox (or file share/network drive). As I already stated in one of my earlier articles, DropBox and SharePoint are like bicycle and airplane. DropBox was designed for simple file sharing and synchronization among different devices, while SharePoint was designed to be a completely independent ecosystem of components (web parts) to solve various business needs in large corporations and enhance collaboration. It represents a very complicated system that can live and breathe on its own, as well as interface with many other business applications. And because SharePoint does not resemble anything like a familiar interface (i.e. DropBox’s folder structure) – it requires training.
2. SharePoint is not easy. Yes, it is not. And it was never meant to be. It is a complicated piece of technology that completely changes all we know about content sharing and collaboration. SharePoint is not an iPad, where it just all makes sense. True, there are always 10% of users who are “techies” and embrace the technology that comes their way, but the reality is – majority of your users won’t. So you will need to mitigate this and hand-hold them and help them be comfortable with the new technology.
3. There are many ways to do one thing in SharePoint. That’s the reality. Yes, if you want to let’s say share a document externally, I could show you at least 5 ways to do it in SharePoint. The users need to understand how to navigate around the site and what do all of these buttons on a ribbon do or can do. They also need to be aware of the consequences of their actions in SharePoint. Yes, we can add John Smith from Marketing Department to our SharePoint site, but he will also now have access to all of our 5 sub-sites as a result. Unless you don’t care about your organization’s security and integrity – education and awareness here are key.
4. SharePoint gives power to the users. But users need instructions… Yes, in the good old “folder” world, users just copied and pasted the docs. But with SharePoint you can do so much more. You can download a document, you can upload it, you can check it out/check it back in, revert to the previous version control, promote document for approval, share the document externally. The list goes on.
5. Process Change. Most of the time, it is not just a switch in technology. SharePoint can do a great job enforcing a new or existing business process. That means process change for the users. Say you want to enable document approval feature within SharePoint. Guess what, your users will now need to learn new process. And it is a change… And as far as change… see next item on the list….
6. No one likes change. That’s the fact that applies to pretty much everything in our lives. People do what they do for years, they get comfortable and cozy and you with your SharePoint implementation are driving them from their comfort zone. Sorry, but you will have to deal with “we always did it that way” crowd and training is always great time to reinforce why change is important and how SharePoint will help solve all the problems in the world.
7. You need to deal with “SharePoint just sucks” users. No matter how hard you try or how much training you do, you’ll always have these users. You might not ever win their hearts, but you could work with them and listen to them.
8. Get a sense of user questions and feedback. Training session is a great time to listen and engage with your users. Listen to the types of questions they are asking – this will help you determine how easy or complicated the whole thing is for them. May be you will get a sense of what users would like to see in future phases.
9. New features require new training. I got so excited when I finally got a car that had a Bluetooth speakerphone installed in it. But I also remember sitting with 200-page manual for an hour, trying to pair my phone with the system and programming all the numbers into the car dashboard’s buttons. Same with SharePoint, new features require training. Don’t expect people to know about “alerts” feature, just because the button appears right up there in the ribbon.
10. Show off cool features or what you created. SharePoint training is a great way to show off some of the cool functionality you users might require or show of what you designed and how this will the next great thing.
You won’t let someone behind the wheel of the car who was not properly trained in driving, would you? So why would you put your users in charge of your company files and data without training?
Speaking of Training, I offer both End User SharePoint Training, which is complimentary, as well as Power User online Training sessions. So in case you want to advance your skills in SharePoint, please consider both.