SharePoint Online Site owner training

Learning-Collect“There’s plenty of SharePoint Online help, blogs and videos around” I boasted some months ago, when I set off to execute the training plan for the SharePoint Online intranet that we have launched recently.
I expected to “curate” most of the learning materials, and to create only a few.

Our criteria

We set off with a number of company and project criteria:

  • The company’s learning strategy is the 70/20/10 model. This means people learn new skills and knowledge in different ways: 10 % in formal training, 20% in peer-to-peer learning and 70% in their daily work.
  • Learning is based on the 5 moments-of-need model, so we have to make sure the right materials are available at the right moment.
  • We have made some customizations, such as a limited permission set for Site owners (less than Full Control), and a custom display on Promoted Links. We knew beforehand we would have to create materials for those topics.
  • I would focus on learning materials for Site owners.
Learning-principles
Our learning principles

Formal learning

The 10% formal training now consists of an e-learning program providing a high-level overview of purpose, concepts and functionalities of the new intranet, including the Critical Skills. (The “how-to-click” details are in the “on-the-job learning materials” which are referred to in the e-learning). It takes between 1 and 1 1/2 hour.

elearning-testI created several modules in PowerPoint, and recorded voice-overs. This means we can replace any module (e.g. Permissions, or Custom Site Templates) easily without having to redo it all. Some inconsistencies are still being fine tuned as I write, new functionality developed, and Microsoft may change some things as well 🙂
I then created a number of test questions with multiple-choice answers, and added a Site Owner agreement (rights & responsibilities) which all trainees have to sign off (using a SharePoint survey).

Our e-learning specialist turned this all into an e-learning programme. It looked very easy but he has obviously done this before 🙂 (He also does freelance work if you are looking for someone!)

This e-learning is mandatory for all existing and new Site owners.
And before you ask how we are going to enforce that: content migration from the old into the new platform is still going on, and a Site owner can not start working in their SharePoint Online site until they have completed the training.

Peer-to-peer learning

The 20% was easy to set up: a Yammer group to ask peers or the intranet support team about all kinds of intranet- and SharePoint Online-related questions.
With the platform being launched recently and the migration of content in full swing, it will be no surprise that this channel is currently very active.

elearningyammerIn the e-learning and in all communications we invite people to share their questions in this Yammer group, and we make it a point to have all questions answered quickly.

For issues, such as things not working as they should, or errors, we have a more formal support channel.

On-the-job learning

The 70% would be the “curated content” I envisaged. I set off enthusiastically in the Microsoft support pages, as well as in many other blogs by people who write for Site owners, such as Let’s Collaborate, SharePointMaven, Sharegate and icansharepoint. Oh, and my own blog of course. My posts are often inspired by “my users” and my daily work.

Well, that was a bit of a disappointment.

Learning-format

As it turns out, the majority of the available information is not 100% applicable to us.

  • Our customized Site owner role made it hard to use anything that has to do with permissions. But also materials that tell you how to customize your site are not appropriate because the new role also has limited design options. So I could not use Gregory Zelfond’s Power User Training, for instance – it starts with creating a site and changing the look.
  • Our custom Promoted Links display needs some extra steps for certain page templates.
  • Many of the materials were not 100% current – with document libraries being managed with Tabs instead of the Modern look-and-feel, for instance. I wanted things to be 100% applicable when we launched – the correct look-and-feel and correct functionalities. The difference between the old and the new platform is too large otherwise.
  • Most of the materials have NOT been written in a “life cycle” format
    1. What it is and when to use it
    2. Create and configure “app”
    3. Add to and configure web part on page
    4. Add item to app
    5. Edit or delete item in app
    6. Modify something in app and/or web part (views)
    7. Delete web part
    8. Delete app
    9. Tips & tricks & troubleshooting
    10. Good practice

So, I have done a lot of writing, and my colleague has made tons of videos to accompany that. I have used Microsoft materials and some of the blogs I mentioned – often as “additional information” or “good practice”.

Final setup

Learning-tabel
This is the final setup

Next steps

I will continue to adjust my own materials and scout for other good stuff. I hope that over time, people will learn to deal with the ever-changing look-and-feel and not be confused by a video of a document library that has “last years style”. Then we will be able to use more materials created by others.

We are also working on a plan to make sure the Yammer channel keeps being active when everyone will be in the “business as usual” mode again.

I will also have to adjust the e-learning on a regular basis.

It has been quite an interesting project to create all this, but it is strange to be doing that while there are so many materials already available on the internet. It feels as if I am reinventing wheels, which I hate!

Have you created learning materials yourself or have you borrowed with pride?

Multiple choice image courtesy of Becris at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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Dazed and Confused – by SharePoint online?

confusedWe are moving from an old on-premise SharePoint  intranet to one on SharePoint/Office365.

I have been using SharePoint Online from 2011 so I have become quite used to the interface and its regular changes. But I was very curious what my end-user colleagues would think of the new SharePoint and I recently had the opportunity to train a number of them in the new environment. Our goal for this training was to get an idea of how people would react to the new platform, and which elements would be clear immediately and which would need more help and instruction.

All participants (except one) had experience with managing SharePoint sites. They also knew this was an experimental training so they were encouraged to be outspoken about their findings and suggestions. Each got their own test site in our test tenant, which is on first release.

These are the findings of that first classroom training:

1. The Office365 Homepage

When you log on to Office365 for the first time, you get a lot of pop-ups about Office365. While that is helpful for new users, for this purpose it was annoying because people were less interested in Office365 than in SharePoint.
Clicking around opens up a ton of new screens, which was not universally liked.

2. The SharePoint Homepage

This was a bit confusing, because people have never had that, and the page was mostly empty. The test sites did not show in everyone’s page, despite them having personal access. I do not know if that is a search indexing thing or that you must have visited the site before it is shown in your “recent” sites.
As soon as everyone was on their site’s homepage, I told them to “Follow” it to be able to revisit it quickly, and everyone got it.

3. Site Contents

I took them to Site Contents, and then I found that some of my trainees had the old Site Contents with tiles, and some of them had the new experience . That was a bit confusing, but it was a good illustration of the ongoing changes that everyone can expect.

4. Document Libraries

Document Libraries were already in the New Experience, and I was a bit worried if people would be able to overcome the gap in look-and-feel between our old SharePoint and the new one.
It was a pleasant surprise to notice that, with just limited instructions, people took to it straight away. Everyone saw the benefits of the Pin To Top functionality, and I saw two people nudge each other happily when they learned about the library and document information pane, that also tells you who has deleted a document. No more guessing or blaming SharePoint or IT!

librarywithinfo
The Document Library with the information pane. Just click the i on the top right of the library. You can see which documents have been created, edited, deleted, restored, by whom and when. Great!

5. Lists

Unfortunately the Lists were still on the “old experience” with the tabs and the ribbon. While I have always loved the ribbon in The Office Suite, I have never taken to it in SharePoint, and I am more than happy to see it go.
My trainees did not use Lists much (an opportunity for later!) but they got it quickly enough.

6. Deleting and Restoring

Deleting and Restoring content is a topic high on my agenda. We often get panicky calls from people who have “lost documents” and have never heard about the Recycle Bin. I added a few exercises with deleting and restoring documents and list items, told them what to do themselves first, and then how to get help. It all went smoothly once people knew how long things will be stored, what goes via the Recycle Bin and what does not, and what they can do themselves and when it is time to contact the site collection admin.

training-recycle-bin

7. Quick Links/Navigation

The Quick Links (team site) and Navigation (Publishing site) caused some confusion since it is a mixture pf settings and edits, and moving the menu items around resulted in unwanted indentation. It is also different from the custom-built navigation many people have used, so this will definitely need some more instructions.

8. Editing a page

Editing a site’s homepage turned out to be quite easy for the trainees. Everyone in the audience had experience with managing Publishing sites. They sighed happily when I showed them they can now insert images from their PC in the Content zone without having to upload them to SharePoint first.
Everyone had already embedded a video before I even talked about it  🙂
Editing the (basic) team site homepage was even easier.

training-addpicture
Inserting a picture from PC appears to be so much easier!

9. Image Library/Image Renditions

We have some recommended image sizes preconfigured in the Image Renditions and the trainees thought that was pretty useful. (It shows you how an image will look in that size). In our current environment, you only see it when you have added it to a page, and that can lead to surprises. 🙂

training-renditions
The image renditions show you how a picture will be displayed in different formats.

10. Promoted Links

Promoted Links have been designated as an important tool for nice looking links to other content in formal sites. Oops, this was a bit hard. Of course this is a new functionality so people did not know it beforehand. But I also think that the default configuration can be improved. That will be another blog.

training-promotedlinks
Promoted Links with 3 different opening options.

Conclusion

All in all, my trainees did quite well. But then they were experienced and motivated. I think they benefited from my little bit of hand-holding and assuring them that most was still there, just in another place or with another name.
The only person who was a bit lost was the person with no earlier SharePoint experience.

So, I am actually quite content. After all this, I think the ongoing changes will be the largest hurdle, more so than the delta between the old and new SharePoint. (with the exceptions mentioned)

Have you introduced Office365 recently and if so, what have been the largest hurdles for your audience?

Dazed and Confused? I do not think so.

Title inspired by Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

KM: Leaving Experts Knowledge Extraction Flowchart

It is about time to reveal the second part of the Leaving Experts flowchart, don’t you think? Until now I have only been showing you the first part, to determine if an expert has knowledge to transfer and if yes, how long (s)he is available to do this.

This is the second part, including the best ways to extract their knowledge given the situation.

KM-LeavingExperts2

Download the full flowchart as pdf.

It will come as no surprise that someone who retires in 6 months will give you more options than someone who leaves the company in 2 months’ time. So if your colleague is leaving the company soon, get into action as soon as possible!

The flowchart above shows the best extraction methods. You may want to check if these are also the best ways to produce the knowledge products that you need. The table below shows you more.

KM-Method-Product-Table

Or download as pdf.

The “staying connected” knowledge extraction method is not mentioned since this can take all kinds of shapes and is usually ad-hoc.
You will also notice that some techniques lend itself to create many different products:

  • Interviews
  • Workshops
  • Thinking out loud
  • Mind mapping

You may want to brush up on those skills, or learn where you can hire the expertise.

Now you go and get that knowledge from your colleague before it is too late!

Even better, start promoting working out loud at this very moment, so you do not have to leave everything to the last moment.
If that feels like too much exposure right now, why not start blogging first? This will not only be useful for your colleagues, but also for yourself.
I write blogs to collect, store and share my own experiences about things like SharePoint permissions or copying from Excel into a SharePoint Datasheet.  I also use blogs (my own and other’s) as help materials to the users I support. A good blogpost saves me a lot of time explaining it over and over again.

And if you think: “Why is she writing this to me? I am not a KM expert or responsible for knowledge management”, think again. Capturing and retaining knowledge is also your responsibility, perhaps not for all your organization, but certainly for your own work and your own team.

So, how are you dealing with “leaving experts” in your team?

KM: 5 more ways to extract knowledge from an expert

KM-extraction with othersIt often takes 3-6 months before a successor can fill the vacancy that an expert has left. Vacancies need to be approved, people selected, obligations to the earlier employer fulfilled. The person-to-person knowledge extraction methods described in my previous post are not applicable then.
The following methods are available to capture knowledge without the need to have the successor(s) present, but you will need someone to do the “writing”.
These methods are indirect, because the knowledge is only shared through the knowledge product and there is no option to ask for an explanation or feedback. On the other hand, these products are independent of time and location and they can be re-used and improved upon over time.

  1. Interviews

The following set of questions could be used to structure an interview focused on knowledge:

  • What types of skills are relevant for your work?
  • What would you have liked to been taught when you took this position?
  • What are the main information sources (internal and external) that you use on the job?
  • Who are the people (in or outside of the organization) who provide you with knowledge?
  • What are the key points your successor or the organization needs to know?

The interviewer could write the questions into a top 5 do’s and don’ts, a list of resources, a skill set and training plan for this role, etc.

2. Thinking out loud

The expert is confronted with a situation and is asked to deal with this while talking aloud about all decisions, alternatives, doubts or side steps that come to their mind during the problem solving process. These situations could be ‘real life’ situations or cases that are typical for real situations. The process is normally recorded on video. After analysis this information could be used to create decision trees or protocols.

I am currently practicing this on SharePoint permissions issues, to make my approach more consistent and sharable.

3. After action reviews

After Action Review (AAR) is a method for extracting lessons learned from an unexpected event, usually a problem, defect, recall or similar occasion. It is a professional discussion that has to be planned immediately after the event, amongst people who were involved (i.e. team members). In the discussion four questions are addressed:

  • What was supposed to happen?
  • What actually happened?
  • Why was there a difference?
  • What can we learn from this experience?

An AAR is a good example of a simple instrument to share lessons and to make knowledge tangible. It can lead to an adjusted protocol or workflow. I think many of you are using this on a regular basis.

It is not always suited for planned knowledge exchange, in case of a leaving expert. Unless you create the event yourself, of course 🙂

4. Project evaluations

A project evaluation is comparable to an After Action Review but is focused on a complete project, so it has a much larger scope. The objective is to capture all relevant lessons from the people involved, share them amongst the participants and report the most relevant lessons for use within the follow-up project, the project organization or company. The outcome could be a set of do’s and don’ts, a good practice, an improved process or material for a case study.
Like the AAR, these are not always suitable for a leaving expert, but if you have an opportunity to plan the evaluation while the expert is still there, use it!

Project Evaluations have been a large part of my KM-work, and I will post about this later.

 5. Mind mapping

The mind-map in itself is abstract and high-level, but will be sufficient for another expert. (not so much for a more general audience) It is a fast way to capture the essentials when your expert leaves soon.
As discussed earlier the process itself could also be used to create other forms of job aids. For instance one could use mind mapping to identify the index of a manual / hand book or the issues which should be addressed in a training binder, or the disciplines involved in a certain process.

What? No mention of “working out loud”?

You may have missed references to Working Out Loud (in a network) and Blogging. Yes, I definitely consider them means to extract and share knowledge. In fact, I prefer them to the others, because they can be started long before your expert becomes a leaving expert.
But hey, remember I am writing my memoirs from around 2000 here. Working Out Loud and Blogging had not really been invented by then 🙂

What other current knowledge extraction tools have come up in the meantime?

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Congratulations! You have inherited a teamsite!

TeamSiteinheritanceThere have been many organizational changes in my company recently and many sites have changed hands, not always with a proper handover.

A new “heiress” approached me and asked if I could help with getting her started in her sites. She is now managing all sites for her business, and although she is not responsible for all content, she is the go-between for her business and my team. She has managed a site before, so she knows her way around SharePoint, but not on this scale.

Since I get this type of request quite often, I thought I’d note down the actions we took, so I do not have to reinvent the wheel next time. It may help others as well.

Step 1: the Site Collection Admin provides information

  1. Provide her with a list of all the sites and Owners for her business.
  2. Adjust people in the top Owners permissions group to the new situation.
    Since Owners never own their own group in our setup, they can not add any new people in that role. It has to be done by a group that is more senior in the site collection; generally the Business Owner of the site collection or the IM team.
  3. Check to which sites this Owners group has access, and make sure that this group has access to all sites in this business.
    This helps with getting an overview of the content, and will enable her to provide support where needed.

    BevOwners
    Checking to which items this group has access.
  4. Check ownership of the Owners groups in all relevant subsites and change ownership where needed to the top Owners group.
    Group Ownership
    Group Ownership settings

    That way they have control over the Owner groups in the subsites.

  5. Send screenshots of the “Site Contents” of every site to the new owner, so she can compare what the SCA sees (everything) and what she sees.
    There may be list and libraries that have not been shared with the Owner and that can lead to problems.

Step 2: The new Site Owner checks and adjusts content and permissions

  1. Open every site and check permissions. Is the Owner a group? Are there many individual permissions? Do you see “Limited Access”? That may mean that document libraries or lists have broken permissions. (=different from the rest of the site)
    Note the sites with apparent complications and investigate and ask your IM team for help if you do not understand something.
  2. Open each list and library and check permissions. If they have broken permissions, check if this is necessary for this content.
    If you see no reason to have broken permissions, inherit permissions again.
    If it is necessary to have different permissions, adjust permissions where needed and add “different permissions” to the description of the list or library.
    This will make it easier to support – if people report an Access Denied you can see immediately why this may occur.
  3. Follow the instructions in “12 things to do in your teamsite after organizational change”

It was a lot of work, but doing this upfront helped her understand the content and setup she had inherited. She now feels more confident.

What else you do to help your new site owners get started?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Playing “the shell game” with SharePoint folders

ShellGameThe other day, I gave a training session in SharePoint document management. For most people, managing documents in SharePoint is synonymous with  “putting them into folders”  so I knew I had some explaining to do.

I decided to demo “folders”  and  “metadata” with a simple example.
I created two document libraries.

  1. Folders: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris.
  2. A choice column called “Location” with the same cities, and one column for Document Categories “Agenda”, “Meeting Minutes” and “Presentation”. Of course I prefer to capture Meetings information in a different way, but this example would be familiar to most people.

Both document libraries contained 5 documents, according to Site Contents. 2doclibs I showed both libraries and asked my audience to tell me how many documents there were for location Amsterdam.
For the metadata library it was easy: it was specified in the Grouping.

Grouping shows you immediately how many documents are in a certain category.
Grouping shows you immediately how many documents are in a certain category.

The other one was a bit less obvious. So I said I’d give away my precious SharePoint mug to the first person that could give me the correct answer.

Silence.

So I opened Paris. 1 document.

Then I opened Barcelona. 1 document.

“Three” some people shouted. I opened the Amsterdam folder. No documents in folder Amsterdam. Nothing.

The audience gasped, and looked at me expectantly. Then I told them that a folder is counted as a document. And I showed them the other library again with the much more transparent grouping, and also showed them a view grouped by Document Type, and some other views.

The next day, two people called me to ask if they could do “that with the groups” in their own site.

I may still have several thousand people to convince but I was happy to see that some people got it. So, perhaps this is a good way to show people the difference and the benefits.

Please let me know if you have the same experience – or have found other ways to convince people in a nice way that they can relate to. Summing up all the reasons for not using folders is not always convincing for end users.

It is a sort of “shell game” really. O dear, have I just done gamification with SharePoint? 🙂

And in case you were wondering:  this is my SharePoint mug!

SharePoiint mug
My wonderful coffee mug from a SharePoint Connections event. Translation: “Silence! SharePoint guru tanking inspiration”.

SharePoint testing for Process Owners – Feedback and Finalization

In my earlier posts, I have helped you prepare and start testing you SharePoint solution. In this final episode we will discuss giving feedback and finalization/implementation.

Step 8. Give feedback to the person who is configuring the site.
First discuss your notes from steps 5, 6 and 7.

Then, also think about the views in your list or library. Now that you have created some items you will be able to see how your views pan out. Views are a great help in managing your process, but they are often not used to the max.

  • Are those columns shown that you need most, are they in a logical order? Can we remove columns for a better overview? Do we need to add some to make the data more meaningful?
  • Are the items sorted in the desired order (e.g. newest on top, highest priority on top, nearest due date on top)?
  • Are the views filtered correctly? (To avoid information overload)
  • Are the views grouped correctly? Would grouping help you with the overview, or does the grouping hamper your understanding of the data?
    (For instance, I do not like double and expanded grouping – it takes up a lot of space. It also makes your sort order less workable)
  • Do you miss any views? Think about how you will manage this process, and what information you will need. An overview of different issue types? The number of open issues? The amount of money associated with these issues?
Homepage View for CRM: overview of number of open incidents and amount of money involved.
Homepage View for CRM: overview of number of open incidents and amount of money involved.

Some items of your feedback  will be easy to fix, some things will need a workaround, and some things will not be possible at all. It may take some discussion for both parties to understand requirements and possibilities.
In the case of CRM, we had a lot of debate on the “Assigned to” field. This was used in every step and positioned at the bottom of the first step. If you had a role further in the process, you had to scroll up, and sometimes quite some distance! If you did not do it correctly, you could also accidentally change existing data, especially drop down columns. This could not be fixed, but we gave instructions about HOW to scroll up – “point your mouse somewhere in the white space and scroll up to avoid changing the existing data”.

Step 9. Repeat with the improved solution.
When your configuration person hands over the optimized list, repeat steps 5, 6, 7, 8 until you are satisfied. It may take only one small change (then your testing programme can be focused on that one item) or a massive change that will need a complete retest. (Luckily this has not happened too often).

Step 10. Test with others. 
When you have tested all scenarios and are convinced that this is what you need to manage your process, test it with your intended users.
Repeat steps 5 to 9 in the correct roles until everyone understands the process and is ready to use it. You may need to create some training materials to help new people learn fast and as reference.
Yes, this can be a lot of work. But as mentioned before: Testing your solution thoroughly, and not just “looking at it”, will speed up the implementation and avoid changes later.

Next steps.
I am now going to use this myself 🙂
This text may also lend itself to being made into a one-pager of sorts. That will be another fun project!

Please feel free to use this for your own processes, and let me know how it worked out! Any additions or suggestions are welcome!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net