Getting Buy in From End Users

Where does one start
First of all I would start out with the foundation of my site i.e., the Planning Spread sheet as the seed to your site and roll out strategy. This file will be the answer to keep your support materials from growing and morphing into the monster movie marathon of huge user guides and FAQs.

Once you have that planning sheet in place you then want to give your users a clean and simple definition of what SharePoint is, it should be just the common dictionary entry.

Wikipedia offers this:

Microsoft SharePoint enables groups to configure portals and hierarchies of websites without specifically requiring web-development. This allows groups of end users, as participants, to have much greater control in finding, creating, collecting, organizing, and collaborating on relevant information, in a browser-based environment. It also allows views of the different collections of information to be easily filtered, grouped, and/or sorted by each consumer according to their current desire.

It has a robust permissions structure, allowing organizations to target users’ access and capabilities based on their organizational role, team membership, interest, security group, or any other membership criteria that can be defined.

For the average user this is too much. For now all they need to know is that SharePoint is a web browser-based collaboration and a document-management platform.

The next step is to take that definition and mold it into what your site is. I explained my site as a Knowledge Repository. My site’s main goal was just “something for training”, but as the site content grew it was clear that it was much more than a training resource and more a place to access, filter and disseminate knowledge.

So think about what your site is:
Document library?
Collaboration tool to hold versions of works?
List and report generator? or
Combination of all of the above
Remember you will need to roll out a mixture of marketing and training. Plan on creating a series of either screen captures in animated form or file to be used as job aids. Once you have this defined you can begin to create the first piece of your roll out deliverables, the overview. Once you have opened with your definitions you can either demo live in SharePoint or screenshot via ppt the where’s of your site.

Explain and show basic navigation:
Such as the Home Page and its web parts and then go over the main navigation via the left navigation bar.
“Here is the link to the Sales Reports list, Expense Reports list, Product Spec library, etc.”

Once you have named the main sections of the site you then can show them at face value what they do.
“Here at the Sales Report we can input new deals with their various variables and view them in perspective according to the filters we have in place. And here we can view all the reports that have been entered.”

Make sure to address each section by its SharePoint name. If the Sales Report is a list, call it a list, the same applies to the Products Specs library. Don’t refer to it as a folder or page, it is a library.

Even though people will recognize SharePoint to be an internet site and gravitate towards browser metaphors, you should stick to the SharePoint terms. If anything it will help future users understand functionality better and also drive home the concept of each page or section.
“Libraries have items that can be checked in and out.”

A SME hearing this may not need as much training since he gets the name and concept right then and there.

Avoid all the extras that your users’ permission levels don’t need to know:
A Read Only user has no need to know what hides inside Site Settings. Just like the basic user of the internet does not need to know or understand JavaScript.

Likewise if you create a contributors group of SMEs and editors their training should be based on their content creation not the fact that they can create mini-sites and new pages for their work.

For SMEs I would run separate live demos where they do all the work. I would mock up files and have them check in and out. This will get them used to the libraries and it also allows you to set rules right away.

For any other super user site, I would have them practice setting up libraries and lists using the end user documentation you are planning to write and publish.

Produce modular task by task documentation and files:
The classic user manual or long FAQ doc can lead to more frustrations than positive buy ins. If you have a clear goal to who the users are and what their functions will be you can write these tools accordingly.

One of the major components of SharePoint is to rope off users from certain abilities (delete, create, upload). If your basic user only needs to access files for information and input data into lists don’t suggest to them that there is a world of possibilities using wikis.

When it comes time to put the show on the road, roll out as many sessions as you see fair. There is no need to over do it and run the risk of being labeled that “Share-something freak”. Investigate if you have access Live Meeting or Web Ex. In these online conferencing tools you can record and post the overview on the site.

Once the initial rounds have been made and the launch has come and gone:
Make sure you prep yourself to be in help desk mode. Depending on the tech skills of your group you may have to hand hold and drill people especially when it comes to checking in and out of materials. Your general end user will mostly contact you asking if you have anything regarding…

In this case you have to play librarian. When this happens to me I send out the link to the main page and then write out the path to the content but not the link itself. This should encourage users to look around as they navigate to there destination.

By the time questions begin to slow down you’ll be ready to start experimenting with all those Phase 2 plans….calculated tables, multimedia library, the blog, the wiki….


About mhinckley

Michael Hinckley MCSA, MCITP, MCTS, has over 10+ years specializing in solution architecture for organizations that span from small businesses and global corporations. He is currently the Sr. Program Manager at Tangram. Michael is a recognized speaker and evangelist for Microsoft SharePoint and Business Intelligence stacks. He organizes tech community events (SharePoint Saturdays) throughout Florida and runs the Tampa SharePoint/Office User Group. He is a contributing author for the book Microsoft SharePoint for Business Executives: Q&A Handbook.
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