Finding Your SharePoint Champions

Implementing SharePoint is a challenge, to say the least. It takes a lot of IT and management hours to define what we want to achieve with our portal, followed by many hours implementing and customizing SharePoint according to our requirements. Then, we need to start building team sites and tweaking the portal pages according to what each department wants. We then need to start educating end users on how to use this amazing but sometimes frightful new tool (remember when your organization first started using SharePoint, and everyone was shocked when they found out they need to shift the everyday processes they were so comfortable with?). Finally, we need to provide users with technical support, continue to build according to new needs, and fix any problems that may arise.

When implementation is complete, IT help desks often find themselves overwhelmed with problems that end users need help with. Even if the problem is as small as trying to retrieve an incorrect password, the amount of time IT needs to spend on each case drains a lot of energy and resources, energy that would be much more productive had IT been able to put it towards development and improvement of the portal.

Another question that surfaces with the implementation of a new portal is: whom do we educate? Who do we send to learn more about how to use SharePoint? If we send all of our end users, even those who only use SharePoint at the bare minimum, we are wasting resources. Then again, if we can create leading SharePoint users in every department and have them act as a focal point for that department in terms of SharePoint adoption, we can cut down on the number of inquires that reach IT.
This leads us to our central task: We need to find our SharePoint champions!

What is a SharePoint champion?
In short, an end user who loves SharePoint is a SharePoint champion. This is someone who sees the advantage of using SharePoint and find ways to use the portal in new and advanced ways in order to produce better results and help move the organization forward.

Why do we need SharePoint champions?
SharePoint champions are great “middlemen” between end users and IT. By providing them with more training and educating them on how to fix common errors, we can reduce the amount of help needed by IT and allow common problems to be solved at the department level. This will drive adoption within departments, and bring organizations closer to achieving the goals that drove their investment in SharePoint.

How do we find our SharePoint champions?
There are two main ways to discover SharePoint champions. The first is a survey, which will ask users how they are using the portal, how often, and other questions on usage. This allows us to understand how each employee is using the portal and will help us find out SharePoint champions. This method requires an active role on the part of end users. The second method for finding SharePoint champions is by using a reporting solution. By creating reports that show who the top users are, we can learn who a potential SharePoint champion is in each department, who uploaded or modified the most documents or wikis, and what other portal activity end users are partaking in.

Making the most of our SharePoint champions
Once we find our SharePoint champions there are a few steps we can take to encourage them:

  • Give them credit – Probably the easiest on this list but also a big booster. While a pat on the back is usually very easy to give employees, it’s often overlooked by employers and management. Simply acknowledging that a certain group of users are a league above others will provide them with the reinforcement to continue using the portal the way they have been.
  • Training – While an organization might provide all employees or portal users with some kind of training, more advanced training will help provide SharePoint champions with the tools they need to perform more advanced tasks, and subsequently help save time for IT.
  • Assigning more responsibility – Once SharePoint champions have the necessary training, we can offer them more responsibilities. SharePoint champions can act as focal points within their departments and help department managers decide how they want to use the portal, how they want to develop the portal, and more.
  • SharePoint champion roundtables – The use of our portal often differs between departments. Having monthly or quarterly roundtables where SharePoint champions can share their best practices is a great way for departments to learn from one another and broaden the way they are utilizing the portal.

How are you encouraging your end users to become SharePoint champions?