Leading Your SharePoint Customers To Water, *and* Teaching Them How To Drink
Leading Your SharePoint Customers
To Water… *and* Teaching Them
How To Drink
Thomas Duff (aka “Duffbert”)
October 21, 2015
Portland SharePoint User Group
• 35+ years in IT, 20 years working
with collaborative application
• Works for a large health
insurance company with locations
in Oregon, Idaho, Washington
• Specialize in SharePoint
development and business
• Speaker, writer, blogger
Who Am I?
Pretty much anyone who works
with SharePoint and deals with a
customer base that never stops
asking this basic question…
“How do I learn SharePoint?
I need help!”
Who Are You?
What We’ll Cover
•Where We Started
•Internal SharePoint User Group meetings
Where We Started
•Migrated from Notes to Exchange in 2009
•SharePoint installed as our company intranet
Call it anything but SharePoint
Spark and Governance
•Navigation aligned with divisions/departments
•Communications owned Spark and managed the
•We had the makings of a governance group
•Organizational Development provided training for
Life was relatively good…
Things Begin to Change
•Site owners changed jobs, left the company, or
handed over responsibilities to others
•Budgets and reorganizations changed.
Organizational Development… no more training
•Communications had cutbacks
•Governance started to fade into the
background… important but not urgent
(More on governance later…)
But nothing lasts forever...
Meanwhile, Back On The SharePoint Team
•Desperately trying to keep the platform up and
•Team of 4 people for 7,000 SharePoint users
•No one has time for end user training or budget
•Productivity Hub… not so hot
Thus, the age-old question…
A Significant Change in 2013
A change in staffing led to a new lead for our
• Sandra Mahan
• Move from HR Power User to
SharePoint Team Lead
• Excellent reputation in the
• Great customer service skills and
the ability to train others
Our team finally started to
gel, and we started looking
at important things… like
training our customers!
Internal SharePoint User Group Meetings
•Once a month
•Lync dial-in meeting
•200 on our DL list, ~75 on each call
• Strategic Communications Updates
• SharePoint team Updates
• 20-40 minute presentation on a SharePoint topic… lists, views,
forms, workflows, etc.
One of us presents, the other monitors the chat window for questions/comments
Internal SharePoint User Group Meetings
The presentation part is recorded and stored on our SPUG
team site, as are the slides and notes
Why Does This Work?
•We’ve made it a priority
•We keep things lively and humorous
•We’re able to play off of each other in terms of
leading questions or letting the other person
•The SharePoint team becomes more accessible
and gives us a “face” to the business
•It’s OK to say “we don’t know… we’ll get back to
•Also a great way to tell others about things like
SPS, SPBiz, and other free training opportunities
But Wait… There’s More!
•The User Group was our primary mode of
“training” others (aside from one-on-one calls
with business customers)
•While it is effective, it doesn’t address the “I need
help now on topic X” need
•2-4 SharePoint support people don’t scale well to
We still heard a lot of…
“How do I learn SharePoint? I need help!”
Because no good story ever
started with eating a salad…
Because there’s nothing
else to do for hours
except to think…
“I have a great idea I need to tell you
before I forget it!”
•Let’s create our own training videos…
•An hour video for users, and an hour video for
•An hour is too long… let’s do six to eight videos
that run 15 to 20 minutes long!
•That’s too long… Let’s do videos that are three to
seven minutes, focused on a specific topic or
Any questions we get can become a Spark
•Results – VERY well received by staff and
•Some people are in the habit of checking SparkU
first before calling us
•Our help desk will often create Knowledgebase
entries in Remedy and link to our videos
Conferences and Hotel Pubs
Because great ideas show up when you’re having fun!
•“Open Office Hour”
•Lync call-in meeting every two weeks
•25 – 35 people attend
•No agenda, no restrictions… you ask, we help.
When people call us for help, we try to get them to
wait until Spark Connect if we can.
•Send reminders for every meeting
•Come prepared with a few “pre-canned” topics in
case everyone is in a “listen-only” mode
•We use the Lync chat windows to queue up
questions, but people can speak up too
•The interaction between Sandra and I, as well as
us and the attendees is critical here
•Our “no live demos” motto goes by the wayside
here… and yes, things fail and we screw up!
Because I did do some cool things in Notes!
•Tips and tricks for SharePoint, Outlook, and
•Target publishing twice a week
•Uses the SharePoint blog template, and we
publish via OneNote & Word
•The goal is to provide a tip or trick that someone
can read and try out in a minute or less…
•Currently we have over 500 people signed up to
receive the newsletter
Great tip!! Thank you!
Love your tips!
•We held a “Biggest Loser” contest
•Goal was to get people to remove obsolete and
outdated information and sites
•Fits into our governance plans
•Makes search more relevant (remove clutter)
•Will help our migration in 2016
•We plan on running this again at the end of this
year, possibly with a “Hoarders” theme
Summing it up…
• Training your customer base is important, but
there’s no “one size fits all”
• It’s possible to put together customer training
that doesn’t require a full-time commitment
• You can also have a lot of fun with it – for Sandra
and I, it’s the excitement and joy of sharing what
we know with others?
What do *you* do for training, or has this
inspired any ideas for your efforts?
Questions or comments?
How to reach me:
• Email: email@example.com
• Twitter: @duffbert
• Blog: SharePointDuffbert.com
Thanks for your time!