When we last left off we were contemplating where and who is this magic middle person: a project manager, the trainer, maybe a unit manager, perhaps a business analyst, or could it be a consultant?
I firmly believe that this role does not really have a firm title in most organizations yet. That has to do in large part with the lack of understanding of the functions it would perform or it has so many functions that the job req resembles more a department’s description. But as “SharePoint as a Platform” resonates more and more into the business and IT consciousness this role’s name will grow along with all other projections of SharePoint growth.
But for now it leaves us with an Impressionist view point, a little fuzzy but intriguing the same. But that is not entirety a bad thing. This will provide an opportunity for this person to define what it is they do, help set the goals and stimulate growth both for the individual and the organization.
So having said all that let’s get back to the real issue at hand, figuring out who you are.
To start off with you need to get your head around SharePoint. So what have you done? Read Microsoft marketing materials, perhaps sat thru some overview demos, maybe scanned a few blogs. You may have even read about how much people hate SharePoint. All these opinions and stabs at qualifying it are useful.
Now it’s your turn. A great exercise is to try the elevator speech approach. You know the one commonly referred to as describing yourself to someone in the time it takes to ride up a few floors.
Go ahead, try to define what SharePoint is in 20 words or less. For you Twitter addicts try it in 140 characters. I’ll even spot you the hash marks. Remember to be conversational about it, no need to over analyze or construct your answer.
A bit difficult isn’t it. Perhaps it may work better if you try to define what you want it to do for you right off the bat. Once you have that now try and do the same exercise but this time choose your words and concepts as an End User with no knowledge would. Then try it as IT and finally what would the key business driver say about SharePoint?
Position those separate definitions somewhere either on a screen, spreadsheet or just on paper to make sure you a have a perspective view of each. These silo’ed definitions will serve as launching pads and reference points once these paths begin to play together.
While doing my own similar research I came across the following quote. This quote in particular falls into the category, Practices Best to Avoid, that is hugely underserved in favor of his more streamlined and adjective/noun formatted brother.
SharePoint is not a product that can or should be “turned over to business” in a tactic conspiracy between IT and business units so they don’t bother each other.
– CMS Watch’s 2009 SharePoint Report
If you have truly been honest when writing your four definitions you may be able to see the similarity to the quote above. It is here that you can see the walls of silos that in of itself can be used to address and define any number of technology based solutions that have nothing to do with SharePoint.
Back to my point earlier, the role really doesn’t exist on a hierarchy chart. Therefore let’s investigate what this person does as apposed to who in the organization’s directory it is. Instead let’s try asking different questions. Who is the one best fitted to address this definition gap? Who would be able to cross these thresholds to help communicate to each respective group the others view not to mention its goals and hopes?
In concept and in SharePoint terms we can call this person the Business Super User for the moment. There are four things this person does that pins them to this role and they do the following.
In my next article I promise I’ll cut it with the questions and drill into these four points.