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'Selling' SharePoint / collaboration to my users

By CharlieSpencer ·
This is a discussion about Microsoft SharePoint. I didn't pick the software, and it's already purchased, installed, and configured. Please don't waste your time discussing the virtues of other enterprise collaboration tools.

One of the company's two sites is project oriented, all salaried employees, most of whom have engineering or tech backgrounds, and also hosts corporate HQ. My site is manufacturing oriented, with few 'super users, 'tech heads', or 'geeks'. While the other site seems to be having success with SP, I have no idea how to get it off the ground here. I'm beginning to suspect it's a solution with no problem, at least as far as this site goes. Or maybe I'm just not familiar enough with it to know where to apply it.

I have no 'social networking' experience, and neither I nor any of my on-site co-workers have worked with any collaboration tools before. My few attempts at social tools (blogging, LinkedIn, Twitter) haven't resulted in anything I consider useful. I've send a couple of e-mails describing SP capabilities to my 150 users but received absolutely no reply. I suspect most of them wouldn't know a blog or wiki if they stepped in it, and I don't know how to get value from them anyway. I've run my concerns past my departmental superiors (all at the other site, some with extensive SP experience) but I've received no response. Maybe they can't believe I'm serious / that stupid.

How can I tell if there's a need for a collaboration tool? How can better solicit / involve my users?

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The base use of Sharepoint

by JamesRL In reply to 'Selling' SharePoint / co ...

is to have a place where you can check in and check out documents in a library and track who last changed it, and who has it.

It is a basic document management system.

The rest is gravy, you use it or you don't.

We've tried to use the other features - surveys etc, and it always fails. But it works for sharing docs.

James

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Well, we need to improve our document management,

by CharlieSpencer In reply to The base use of Sharepoin ...

IF we can find some way to transfer the fifteen years of files stored in our existing (but grossly outdated) DocsOpen system. But for most of my users, check in / out, version control, tracking changes, etc. seem to be unneeded features. Maybe there's nothing useful that our existing shared network directories aren't already doing.

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If nothing else, indexing

by JamesRL In reply to Well, we need to improve ...

Sharepoint indexes all the files on a "site" so you can search them, but frustratingly if you have multiple sites on a server, like most of us, you have to search each one - maybe there is an improvement in 2007.

James

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I don't think anyone's asked for that.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to If nothing else, indexing

No one's approached me and asked, "I'm looking for all the files with the name of our bigshot customer in them." Maybe it's a question that's never occurred to them to ask and they just do the mining the manual way, making guesses about what files to open. Maybe it's a capability we don't need.

We're only running one site at this stage, so searching multiple ones isn't currently a problem.

Thanks.

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It may be a collaboration tool

by NickNielsen In reply to 'Selling' SharePoint / co ...

but our corporate uses it more as the employee front door than anything else. Links to important sites (email, timesheet, expense reporting...) and information (job listings, scheduled outages, birthdays...) pretty much make up what we do with it.

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That's what I'm trying to avoid.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to It may be a collaboration ...

I hope we get more out of this than a home page.

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Well

by NickNielsen In reply to That's what I'm trying to ...

That's how I see it from where I am. I strongly suspect that those at the corporate office use it for more than that.

We do have a suggestion system running on it.

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Interesting scenario

by NotSoChiGuy In reply to 'Selling' SharePoint / co ...

Typically, you'll either get a top-->bottom mandate (bosses want to standardize knowledge management) or bottom-->up (workers want easy navigation to information internally or process refinements in some way) grassroots effort towards getting a KMS/Collaborative tool going.

Neither really seems to be the case in this instance.

My best advice would be to go to management, and ask what the expectations are for your site; given that the user demographic is much different than the other office.

When I first implemented SharePoint at a former employer, I got people interested in it by appealing to their ego. I went around, and took pictures of each of them. When they asked what they were for, I told them about the new intranet site. I used individual pics to associate with the accounts, and group pictures to attract people to various team-themed sites.

Once people were done looking at themselves (and yes, I got many requests to change the pictures), they stumbled into other features that were of interest.

Your mileage may vary, of course.

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Thanks.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Interesting scenario

If it's top-down, I'm not aware of any pressure. If it's bottom-up, my users seem content with directories on shared network drives.

I attended a three-day SP meeting / training session at our HQ site in August. During the first week of Sept. I e-mailed the users at my site describing the features of our "new Intranet". (I avoided using the word SharePoint as possibly confusing.) Since then I've twice e-mailed management expressing my concerns over the lack of user response. The second time I requested the person responsible for SP deployment contact me; so far, nothing.

Someone up high (our CIO?) decided we'd use the pictures from our security badges. I don't think taking new ones would have made any difference. The general reaction ranged from disgust to horror; one wag started copying photos and loading them on factory floor systems as wallpaper.

Regardless, there's nothing there for them to stumble into. I guess that's what I'm trying to figure out: how to show it off as a useful tool (assuming it is). One thing my management is clear on: the IT department is NOT going to be a content-generator.

Maybe there isn't any value to be gained for this location, and I'm worrying about nothing. I hate to have wasted time and money acquiring skills with no application. Maybe it's just too soon to tell.

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We used it to replace custom forms

by UWCMIT-AD In reply to Thanks.

One of the uses we found valuable was as a replacement for Outlook Custom Forms. We used a variety of these forms to maintain our Meeting Room Reservation system, Organizational Calendar, Various custom user forms.
We found that by introducing Sharepoint, we could replace those forms in a centralized location for our users and get the added bonus of the workflow features.
Also we completley redesigned our Performance Management system to use a combination of Infopath forms and Sharepoint this year.

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