A couple of weeks ago I offered to extend writing for my blog to other people. I invited Comms professionals or those interested in the world of communications to get in touch and I’m pleased to say there are a couple of things in the pipeline, so do please watch this space over the next few weeks for different writers. However the very first one is coming right up…

Kicking off is Lee Stevens (@leestevens1979) who saw my plea via Twitter.  Lee is a Microsoft Certified SharePoint 2010 Consultant and is the owner of Collabr8, a specialist SharePoint consultancy.  Just in case you haven’t come across SharePoint before, you can read more about it here. SharePoint has very much become part of the comms world and he reveals his take on the technology and tips to get the most out of it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Lee, over to you…

SharePoint 2010 – for the people, by the people
A secretary walks into a Giant Car showroom and demands ‘OK tell me how much it is… I’ll take it?’ This is without actually telling the bemused sales guy; which make she wants, the model, the colour, age, size of the engine, spec etc. She had failed to ask her boss all of these things (end user) who had instructed her to ‘go out and get a car’, as he she took his instructions literally.

The salesman rubs his hands together and she goes and blows £300k of her bosses’ hard earned money on the latest supercar. All he needed was a basic saloon car to get around town!

Ok this didn’t really happen but the exact same thing happens week in week out with Internal Communicators who use SharePoint as their Intranet and/or Content Management systems and never ask users what they need and would like to see.

Between IT and Internal Comms, they are the ones that often decide what the end users will need and want as they ‘know’ their audience and have done the requirements gathering. (Often a one hour meeting with them to tell them what they were going to do!)

The days of static content (pushed out by Internal Comms) are well and truly numbered. On an Intranet, users not only demand and expect content that is fresh and relevant to them personally but also applications that will make their lives easier. With SharePoint, you will be amazed how many applications can be built within days, without any custom coding and often life changers for the users. This will also drive user adoption and get people visiting the content you want them to more often. These can be anything as simple as a holiday request form, through to a Recruitment system.

You just need to ask them what their pain is!

8 Great Tips to get the most out of SharePoint

Don’t let IT run the project – SharePoint is a business facing application. Unless there is a fresh installation needed, try to keep the project run by someone in the business who understands the challenges in the business rather than of the technology

Requirements gathering – Ask end users what they want by actually asking the question ‘tell me about the challenges in your business’. Count the blank looks on people’s faces when you ask ‘tell me what you want SharePoint to do’

Custom code – Avoid wherever necessary. For every 5 days of development, the same can be achieved with configuration in 1

‘Out of the box’ Features – Get to know all of the features that are in SharePoint

3rd Party ProductsSharePoint, like all systems, has its shortfalls, but there are thousands of products that can be bolted onto SharePoint to address these. These costs a fraction of the cost of developing from scratch and are supported also

Micro-Projects – Wherever possible, try to deliver SharePoint offering in small chunks. This will make SharePoint become viral and also make it easier to improve on each piece that you deliver. Hard to do with a ‘big bang’ approach

End User Training Train Train Train – Allow a decent budget for training end users on how to actually use SharePoint. How will people use the tool if they don’t know how to?

Support – Log a ticket approach doesn’t work with SharePoint. Try to identify the ‘power users’ that can be accessible to help the business users

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts Lee. Do you have any thoughts on what he has written? What’s your experience with SharePoint? Don’t forget you can comment using the boxes below.

Post author: Lee Stevens.

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