SharePoint - Supporting Your End Users


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Before you roll SharePoint out to your organization, you need to understand what it takes to support your end users. This presentation describes the four major areas that are part of the "Support Stack". For other presentations, visit

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SharePoint - Supporting Your End Users

  1. 1. SharePoint:<br />Supporting Your<br />End Users<br />
  2. 2. SharePoint is a huge platform with a wealth of capabilities. As with any software, your users will inevitably need support. Having the right support in place is crucial to making it a success.<br />
  3. 3. What is support?<br />Support isn’t simply a person ready to take calls. Real support is a collection of policies, processes, and resources – what we call the “Support Stack”.<br />Support Team<br />Online Resource<br />The Support Stack<br />Training<br />Governance<br />
  4. 4. Support starts with governance<br />Anyone who comes within a mile of SharePoint will hear the term “governance” touted over and over. It sounds like guru-speak, but is the foundation of a successful service.<br />A well-formulated, well-communicated governance policy defines what SharePoint is to be used for and what users can and cannot do with SharePoint. <br />This, in effect, defines what sort of issues users will run into. If customizing the master page is forbidden, then you will have exactly zero issues related to users customizing the master page and breaking functionality.<br />
  5. 5. Then comes training…<br />Well-trained end users are your first line of defense. A workforce competent in SharePoint’s functionality requires less support, and possesses more confidence to track down answers themselves. <br />
  6. 6. You need a single “Go-To” resource for SharePoint<br />There should be the single resource within your organization for all things SharePoint (and it should be built on SharePoint).<br />This is the place where you can post training resources, tips and tricks, featured sites, and host a knowledge base of issues/questions and their answers.<br />*Yes, it just so happens SharePoint Supported offers such a product, but we’ll also tell you Microsoft offers a free version called the Productivity Hub (ours is better ). <br />
  7. 7. You need to train your users to come here first for everything<br />Most people call the help desk immediately when they have an issue. This is expensive for you, and conditions them to continue to follow this process. The support team should be the “helper of last resort”.<br />You want users to consult your “go-to” SharePoint site first as a matter of course. Refuse to help if the answer to their question or problem is available in the KB and they have not looked – you’ll find that most users have the same questions or issues.<br />
  8. 8. To actually make this work, of course, you’ll need the KB to have extensive content up front. If users continually visit and don’t find the answers they need, they’ll start bypassing it every time they have an issue.<br />Additionally, the support team should be publishing issues and their resolutions to this KB. If you outsource your support, chances are they keep everything internally in their own KB – that doesn’t help you, so make sure they share any content that comes from your users.<br />
  9. 9. Let Users Support Each Other<br />Certain people in your organization will become SharePoint experts. You want to encourage the formation of a community of these people, whose expertise will enrich the experiences of all users. Acknowledge and reward participation in your SharePoint discussion forum. <br />This community can become your de facto support team for a lot of the “How do I…?” questions. <br />
  10. 10. Don’t forget the support team<br />The support team is your ace in the hole for those things users just can’t (or won’t) figure out themselves. The obvious first question is: How many people will I need?<br />Based on our experiences, one person can handle about 25 tickets per week. This may sound low, but some tickets will require hours of research, experimenting, testing, or even interfacing with other support groups, while others can be solved in ten minutes.<br />x<br />=<br />25 tickets/<br />week<br />
  11. 11. The previous slide leads into this question: How many issues can I expect?<br />A user population of 10,000 will generate about 35-50 support team tickets per week.<br />This number is of course a function of how well your users are trained and what features (and integrated tools) are available to them.<br />
  12. 12. What skills do I need on the team? <br />You need at least one good, technical developer with SharePoint experience. Some issues require a knowledge of SharePoint’s architecture and how features behave in the background. <br />Otherwise, a lot of issues can be solved by a “super power user”, who does not need a technical background (though it always helps).<br />All team members should have great customer service skills, great problem solving skills, and speak English (or whatever language is native to your location) very well. <br />Empathy<br />Patience<br />Creative Thinking<br />
  13. 13. What will your support team do?<br />You need to think about the governance for the support team:<br />Are they simply going to help with error messages? How-to questions? Provide training as needed? Publish tips and tricks? Investigate and test 3rdparty tools at the request of users? Is it a “give a man a fish” or “teach a man to fish” group?<br />You should form a policy about where the boundaries are for the team. This will prevent confusion and give the team the confidence to say no to out-of-scope requests. (Granted, if the CEO asks for something, you probably have to do it….)<br />Training<br />Infrast.<br />Change<br />Mgmt.<br />Support<br />
  14. 14. Keep a line open to the development team<br />If you customized SharePoint, it's likely that the guys who developed it are not the guys supporting it. This is a typical arrangement, but also one that can lead to trouble when things go wrong. <br />The support team typically comes in after the fact – they will need excellent documentation, and you should even arrange access to the development team for really hard-to-solve issues; it may turn out to be a quirk of the customization.<br />
  15. 15. Keep a line open to the support team<br />Huh? Yes, you: the project manager, executive sponsor, service manager, etc. Your support team provides eyes and ears on the ground. They can identify common issues where more training might be needed, features you might want to build or buy, and great SharePoint examples you may want to share with the organization.<br />
  16. 16. Introduce them to your other support teams<br />SharePoint issues can cut across a number of areas: network, Active Directory, desktop environment, Outlook. The speed at which complex issues can be resolved will be much faster if your SharePoint team knows who to contact for certain things and has a pre-existing relationship with those individuals.<br />
  17. 17. SharePoint people are in high demand<br />This means they are:<br /> A) Expensive B) Hard to find<br />The prospect of playing Help Desk won’t be tempting for seasoned personnel.* To mitigate this, rotate them between the support team and development projects, or give them “mini” projects that they can do while still simultaneously handling support duties. Doing support too long becomes tedious and you’ll lose your team members.<br />*By the way, being on a support team is a great way to learn SharePoint. You will learn things you never even thought of by fielding problems and questions from end users. Also, as mentioned, a good support person doesn’t have to be technical; a “super power user” can, with their knowledge and the help of the extensive resources available on the web, handle 80% of the issues that will come up.<br />
  18. 18. End User Training and Support Products <br />SharePoint Strategy and Tips<br /><br />On Twitter @SPSupported<br />