I'm a proponent of decentralized management of collaboration platforms, such as Huddle, SharePoint, or Teambox. I like these platforms because the control belongs with the teams and the departments rather than a centralized group.
The key to achieving decentralized management of collaboration platform sites is a power user on the team who can serve as the platform administrator, site manager, and all-around collaboration go-to person. Here are seven qualities of the power user who would be an ideal candidate to become a site administrator for their team's collaboration platform.
Decentralizing collaboration platform management shouldn't lead to disorganization. Therefore, a natural sense of organization is an important quality for a collaboration platform power user turned administrator for their team's site. In fact, when a collaboration platform power user steps into a collaboration site administrator role for their team or department, the team can be better organized on their site as they can set up document libraries, workspaces, and other elements to suit their particular requirements.
Trust is a cornerstone of decentralizing collaboration platform management, though it rarely makes it into the requirements document. Every organization can point to people in their ranks who are trusted for their technology acumen. I'm talking about the person who can answer team members' technology questions and is the first person to dive into new features in the business applications they use to do their job.
3: Process oriented
Formal and informal processes may change when decentralizing collaboration platform management. Leading edge collaboration platforms including Huddle and SharePoint enable even non-programmers to set up a simple workflow process for managing document approvals and other simple tasks.
A power user turned administrator who is process minded could help their team build these workflows in order to help their team's productivity. This simple non-programmatic task may have been out of reach for teams under a centralized management model because of IT's numerous and shifting priorities.
Look for a person who is more vested in the platform's success than the IT department or other department that might be detached from what project teams do on a daily basis. Perhaps that person has been burned by document versioning, no audit trails, or many of the other issues that can occur when emailing documents back and forth. Once this power user has the admin privileges to make the changes that solve their pain points, the team can use the platform to their advantage.
5: Document savvy
Whenever I hear a pundit decry the end of Microsoft Office, I think back to how many business processes I've seen where the ubiquitous Office suite played a major role. Because of this, the power user must understand how collaboration platforms integrate with Microsoft Office, how to explain the integration with users, and how to troubleshoot the integration when it's not working.
I was on contract in an organization where "I'll get back to you" in response to a technical question about SharePoint or Microsoft Office meant the question was never going to be answered.
Smoothing out the rough edges of a collaboration platform for end users requires a responsive person even in the decentralized management model I advocate. Being responsive also builds users' trust, especially since they may have felt underserved and underrepresented in a centralized management model.
It takes a patient person to always answer user questions and address their platform-related complaints. The power user may shoulder even more burden when their team moves to decentralized collaboration platform management as a way to turn around platform usage after a failed implementation.
The human element can be integral to the success of decentralizing collaboration platform management even more so than technology, documentation, or training. It's up to management to make sure that project teams have the right person in their ranks to make decentralizing collaboration management successful.
Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applications for online and print technology publications. You can reach Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.