So far in this series, we’ve looked at business requirements that drive governance – including accountability, quality, appropriateness, restrictions, discoverability, and compliance. In this post, I wanted to touch on how training requirements – and lack of them – can affect governance for SharePoint.
In my travels, I speak with many large enterprise customers who often spill the beans on the issues they are having with relation to SharePoint. One of the biggest things I encourage is to get details on their plans and strategies for SharePoint governance. A key area that I see omitted in these plans is training. Training is oftentimes the elephant in the room, from an IT perspective, and subsequently is often left until the last minute without receiving the proper amount of attention.
One of the key messages you’ll hear from all the experts in the field regarding governance is the alignment of the business to IT, and actively encouraging their involvement in creating the plan. This should lead to business leaders asking for training, but they often don’t know what to request. Additionally, IT’s usual training is vague enough that the business won’t realize it’s insufficient to satisfy users until it’s too late. What do I mean by “too late”? Training should be given to the appropriate people before the launch of any workload or application on SharePoint in order to maximize the effectiveness of the launch and adoption. It is never too late to start training, even if the launch has occurred, and often the business owners in the governance committee will push for this after the fact.
Make Users Earn the Privilege
For many customers, the main driver for training comes from the governance committee in terms of combating site sprawl and security compliance. Referring back to my post on governance and accountability, essentially Site Owners will get full control of their site collection or sub site which gives them the keys to do anything they wish. This is often dangerous in the hands of untrained owners. I have found many organizations enforcing that a business user cannot be a Site Owner until she has passed specific training. This can actually be enforced more readily with Claims Based Authentication where the Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) token contains the certifications the business user has achieved.
Relevant Training Material
Some of the biggest hurdles in SharePoint training is that while it is easy to find SharePoint 101 for business users virtually anywhere, the requirement from the business oftentimes is that the training should be tailored to the look and feel of the actual workload or application the organization has had built. This essentially means re-creating all the screenshots in the context of the specific environment deployed. Another large hurdle is that, in most cases, teaching business users how to add new documents as well as create lists and libraries is not successful at driving adoption (Which we will talk about in my next post … foreshadowing!) because people can’t relate it to their current business process pains. As an example, training someone how to create a list with a few columns is great, but without context, that business user may not realize that her current inventory list in Excel could be a perfect candidate to be in a SharePoint list so that you can have workflows on each inventory list item, have alerts on inventory changes, version changes in inventory information at the item level, and have multiple views set up of the inventory items.
One very successful initiative I’ve witnessed is one-on-one training with business user Site Owners. Essentially, they are “SharePoint Champions” who work with a user to find out “what their problems are” in her day-to-day operations. The champion then starts showing how SharePoint can help improve the current process, and at the same time, educates the business user on how to create it for future reference. This is obviously a resource intensive exercise, but the results are worth it – one customer I spoke with told me that this helped to raise SharePoint adoption significant in their organization.
Brown Bag Sessions
An extension of one-on-one workshops, these are team events where people get together to talk about what they have done in SharePoint over lunch, hence “brown bag”. These can be very useful for individuals to share what they’ve learned, but also for people to bring challenges and obstacles to a larger audience in hopes that the combined brain power will help them come to a resolution.
Frequently in an organization, the reason SharePoint is purchased is for collaboration and, in some circumstances, on a global scale. This immediately brings problems regarding scheduling training across geographies and time zones. AvePoint has 25 offices worldwide, so our training team deals with this by internally conducting three live sessions for each topic, leveraging Lync as well as a conference bridge.
To best accommodate the varying availability of new users of the platform, training is either scheduled online or made available for viewing online at all times. In organizations I have worked with, SharePoint 2010 itself has been leveraged to host the videos and viewed via the Silverlight web part on the screen. I have a personal preference for consuming these things on the road, as I’m on it a lot, and therefore prefer to download the videos and push them onto my Samsung Series 7 slate for viewing on the train.
With all these things mentioned above, it is important that the expectation is set as part of the governance plan on what your organization will do and when in terms of end-user training.
Next week, I’ll explain in greater detail the next business driver for governance with adoption requirements.