!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Using SharePoint

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Using SharePoint

As someone who is watching Microsoft's SharePoint software being customized to meet the needs of a particular business, I can't help wondering whether what I'm seeing represents the most effective approach.

ManageSmarter.com recently published a case study of SharePoint implementation at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) which is exemplary in providing quite specific tips not so much for the customization itself, as for designing and developing the accompanying user training, a subject in which I am just as interested.

As Sarah Boehle explains in her brief article, UT-Battelle, the company that manages and operates ORNL, developed its Sharepoint training curriculum "in conjunction with a company-wide initiative to transfer most of the organization's intranet resources to SharePoint servers." The aim of the training "was to teach those new to SharePoint how to use the system, and to show more advanced users how to better capitalize on its many features and functions."1

The tips UT-Battelle offers are:
  • Begin by analyzing how users really use the system, so you are training on all tasks that are relevant, and only on such tasks.

  • Use a hands-on format. Admittedly, one would have thought this would go without saying, but UT-Battelle initially used a seminar format, which, not surprisingly, did not meet the training's learning objectives.

  • Pay attention to the details. I was particularly struck by the decision "to develop a full-color, step-by-step participant manual that details every task in minute detail, complete with illustrating screen shots." The manual guides the users during the training and then serves as a day-to-day reference. For me, the point is that just about every user will regularly consult a well-designed and maintained manual, contrary to the position that some take who argue that manuals sit on the shelf gathering dust.

  • Keep the training and documentation up-to-date. Among other things, this means keeping tabs on the natural evolution in how users use the software. As Scott Taylor, a UT-Battelle instructional designer explains, "every time I field a new user question, or demo a new feature in class, I always make sure that we add the new task and information to the manual and cover it in the next class."
Once the SharePoint implementation I'm watching is complete, I will use the above tips as a guide for creating accompanying documentation and, as needed, for developing training.

1 You can get more detail concerning the overhaul of IT at ORNL, which is the larger context in which development of the training described here occurred, from a slide presentation put together last year by Scott Studham, UT-Battelle's CIO.


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