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Stop wasting time developing SharePoint Training Manuals

In my blog posts, I usually tell you how and what to do with SharePoint. In this post, I would like to tell you what not to do with SharePoint. You should never create any SharePoint training manuals! I had an interesting conversation with the client the other day. They asked me to develop all sorts of manuals and step by step guides with instructions for their staff on how to use basic features of SharePoint. I politely declined and explained that I did not want them to waste money on this endeavor. The client was kind of shocked to hear that I declined to take on this project. Don’t get me wrong, I am Jewish, so I rarely say “No” to people when they want to give me money. But in all seriousness, I do feel really strong about this – so let me explain my position and reasoning.

“Training manuals offer the worst return on investment from user adoption standpoint”

Reason 1. Nobody reads manuals

Remember the last time you read a manual for that new TV you bought? Exactly! I don’t either. Nobody reads those manuals anymore. You either figure it out yourself, google it, ask a friend, whatever, but you never read the instructions in the manual. Manual for SharePoint is no different! What makes you think Mary from HR will open that 200-page manual and search on how to open a document from within SharePoint?

Reason 2. SharePoint changes too quickly

If you bought a TV 5 years ago – it will work, look and function today exactly like it did when you bought it. Not SharePoint. If you are in SharePoint Online (Office 365), not a day goes by without some new tweak or feature. I can’t tell you how many times I would log in to SharePoint on a given day and be like: “Hmmm, that’s weird, did Microsoft just change this feature… again or did I smoke weed last night”? Seriously though, what I am trying to say is that your manual will become obsolete and not relevant before you even finish it. You will find yourself in a constant “catch-up” with revised instructions and screenshots, and the truth of the matter is – you will never really be able to catch up.

“SharePoint training manuals become irrelevant the minute they are published”

Reason 3. SharePoint Online is getting more intuitive

Another reason SharePoint training manual makes no sense is that SharePoint (and Office 365 for that matter) are becoming more user-friendly and intuitive. You don’t have a manual on how to use DropBox®, Gmail® or Facebook®. And while, by all means, the complexity of SharePoint easily surpasses any of the above tools, it does score points on usability side of things these days.

Reason 4. Informal/live training is the winner!

You are going to be better off conducting informal “lunch and learns” with your staff, doing some quick Q&A type sessions that are live! This will allow employees to learn SharePoint in small bits and pieces and not to be overwhelmed by mammoth training documentation and no 2-way outlet for communication. This is, by the way, a major reason why all my training courses are done by me in a live setting and are not recorded and sold for on-demand consumption. It is totally different when your staff can ask questions in a live meeting and get an instant answer without wasting precious time reading manuals and searching for the solution.

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