I had to give a little chuckle when I was asked: “Could you write a little blog about SharePoint?” It took me on a walk down memory lane.
At my prior place of employment, a large company that employs over 3,000 people, the IT department used SharePoint 2007. It was strictly used as a repository. I remember thinking that I was pretty sure we could use it for more than just storing documents, but I bit my tongue. I went back to administering our website, using a program called Content Management System (CMS), and developing a Learning Management System (I had created an extensive library of e-lessons for Excel, Lync, PowerPoint, and policies and procedures). The company also used Vista, which acted as an HR database and required a number of administrators to control access and update employee files. My role was primarily that of a Corporate Trainer, but I was also a subject matter expert in a variety of in-house systems, so I also had the added responsibility of acting as the company’s helpdesk.
I think at this time I should also point out that not only did the previous company use SharePoint for a repository, but they also had an amazingly large repository on their network. There were approximately 250,000 folders, containing around 30,000,000 files. I was a central resource for the company, so I spent a large portion of my day searching our network trying to locate documents. To make matters worse, you could never send a hyperlink to share the information, due to security. You would have to send a copy of the document and hope, in good faith, that they would not send the document again and again, causing a never ending chain of out-of-date documents. And due to turnover, there were always plenty of folders with obsolete content that remained in the system “just in case there was good content in them.”
To summarize, they used:
- SharePoint 2007, but only as a repository, with very little search functionality.
- A separate Learning Management System to house all of their training.
- CMS to create and maintain their Intranet.
- Vista to control HR functions.
- A network that contained approximately 250,000 folders with about 30,000,000 files.
There had to be an easier, more cost effective way to do all of this.
Today, at Online Business Systems, we use SharePoint 2010. It has become our:
- Intranet/Extranet/Mobile – Making changes to the layout, or formatting, is as simple as it is in Word or PowerPoint. It is easy to use, simple to navigate, and an absolute pleasure to administer. Add pictures, create some flash – this all encourages return visits to your pages.
- Repository – SharePoint 2010 has an incredible search option that comes complete with a refinement panel. Use the panel to drill down to get the results you are looking for. Looking for someone in your company? Use the people search to find them. An hour-long search endeavor has been turned into a two-minute hiccup in time.
- Training and Development (internal readers, refer to https://portal.obsglobal.com/sites/prodhub) – The Productivity Hub contains all of Microsoft’s online training for their products (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/support/training-FX101782702.aspx), but also allows for you to add content you have created. Need help? There is even a function within the Productivity Hub where you can contact a coach and have them assist you. There are literally hundreds of videos, Excel and Word documents, and PowerPoint presentations there to assist you.
- HR/Social Features (internal readers, refer to https://my.obsglobal.com) – My Site is a place where employees can brand themselves. Upload a picture of yourself, add your contact information, and provide some interesting information to share with others. You want more? My Site allows you to create a blog, update your status, search for people… the list goes on and on and on.
The key to the employee adoption of SharePoint is education. Employees need to feel comfortable and empowered to use SharePoint. The more features they are familiar with, and the more they can see how SharePoint can help them in their day-to-day work life, the more they will use it. In an effort to encourage Onliners (our employees) to adopt SharePoint and its features, we offered:
- Key announcements on new features.
- Lunch and Learns (webinars to teach Onliners how to use SharePoint and its different functions).
- Additional training if Onliners wanted to know if “SharePoint had a feature that could...”
- Support (training, coaching).
What can I say. My eyes have been opened to a new world. I sometimes sit back and wonder why every company isn’t using SharePoint 2010. It removes countless redundancies in processes, teamwork, projects, and communication. Until all companies are using SharePoint, I will go back and continue my love affair with it. But don’t worry, it’s OK, my wife knows.