It has been some time since my last post about the process we used to “DoMoreWithSharePoint” so let me do a short recap:
All businesses have a strong need to streamline processes, use workflows, manage requests and collect complaints. Not everything is in scope, or in scope yet, for the company’s ERP system. There is always a need for facilitating those simple processes that will never make it into your ERP system. Yet SharePoint is there, but most people do not know how it can help them, except for sharing documents and using the odd Calender or Announcement list.

So there is a big opportunity for everyone who can bridge the gap between the business needs and the SharePoint offerings. We have done that with a solid process for custom Team Site configuration. In earlier posts I have discussed people, process, project and priorities, and now it is time to talk about promotion. Because you will have to do some evangelisation work and communicate your happy message to your employees!

How do I get my message across?
We found that examples work very well. Try to find a few people who want to pioneer, or who have actually asked you how to use SharePoint for their purpose. Those first projects will provide the first materials.
I have used a presentation with screenshots and a few bullet points of the problem, the solution and the benefits (as I do in my examples on this Blog).

Who are my main target persons?
People who may be interested in this are generally various business heads and IT, but also managers of specific projects your organization is involved with at the moment. And there will always be other employees looking for ways to work more effectively.

1. IT Service Managers
Your local IT service managers can be your biggest fans and customers. (They can also be rather hesitant, because they are not always fully aware of the capabilities of SharePoint, or are used to look for solutions elsewhere) They will generally receive the questions from the business for “new functionality”. Employees may have seen something, or they just want to do something in a better way, without knowing exactly what they want. They often “have a friend who has just started up and works cheaply”. Your IT service manager would do better by running all these requests by you, so you can pick out all projects where SharePoint can do the trick. Advantages? Plenty! Think about

  • no investment in new functionality
  • consistent navigation and look-and-feel if you use a Team Site
  • integrated support
  • updates and migration incorporated in your intranet/SharePoint plans.

2. Business Heads
We conducted a yearly “roadshow” and targeted a different audience each year. One year we focused on general managers of the different business, another year we went to logistics managers, the next to sales managers, etc. We created a new deck of examples every year, selecting those solutions that we thought would appeal to that group. In a face-to-face meeting we asked them

  • what their business targets and priorities were for the coming year
  • if they were happy with the way they were sharing information with their teams and peers
  • if there were any processes that could do with some streamlining

Generally, these questions combined with our presentation led to a couple of opportunities, which we would then prioritize. Sometimes they would forward us to someone in their team for the exact information, but that was OK since it meant they were sponsoring that project.
And even if this round did not bring opportunities, at least they were aware that our services existed.

3. “Special Project” Managers
Whenever there was a new cost reduction program, an acquisition or divestiture coming up, an environmental awareness campaign started; whether this was global, regional or local, we always tried to find the program or project manager. We offered him or her to set up a Team Site where they could manage the information and/or the progress. (See my earlier example of a PMO Team Site.) After a few of our “PMO solutions” the business started to ask for a PMO-site before the official kick-off of the project!

4. All employees
To ensure that other employees were also aware of our configuration services, we used all our channels to get our message across

  • Publishing examples in our intranet blog
  • Presenting at get-togethers
  • Asking Communications to publish articles when we had delivered a particularly interesting solution (such as the Incident Log)
  • Suggesting SharePoint alternatives for every “mistake” we saw people make, such as sending commercials via email to a large audience, using internet survey tools rather than a SharePoint survey, collecting data in Excel files, etc.
    I must have irritated a couple of people over the years by always giving them unsolicited feedback about their working methods :-)
  • Whenever they asked for help or requested a Team Site, we gave them the option to configure the site for them, especially if we thought it would be beneficial (and they were prepared to make that small business case we needed)

Despite all our efforts there were always people who did not know, or did not want to know, what SharePoint could do for them. But we never tired of trying to get our message across.

What do you do?
Have you been doing this in your organization? Until now I have never come across an organization where custom-configuration is done in a consistent manner, so I would like to hear from you!