Perhaps it’s my five years working as a Certified Trainer in a learning centre, but I believe training users to use a platform like SharePoint is vital to its success. You don’t necessarily have to describe the SharePoint training in your Governance Plan, but it needs to considered as your write this Governance for SharePoint. That and having a user agreement ready and defined when site owners receive a new SharePoint site.
I know that for those following this series, I may sound repetitive. But, it’s crucial to understand the SharePoint Governance Plan is a set of guidelines to help the business properly use the platform. I am not saying you should write up a courseware inside this document, simply consider training as part of those guidelines. Will Site Owners need to have followed a specific training to receive support? Perhaps to receive a Site? Or a different training to receive Site Owner level 2 with Lists and Library management? These are the guidelines that need to be set and defined to help them leverage the platform adequately.
Adding Training as part of your SharePoint Governance Plan
The purpose of my article isn’t to convince you that training is important for your business. I am assuming you already know the tremendous value it brings, especially when working with a platform like SharePoint. No, I want to focus on what to write in the Governance Plan to help users and the organization know what they need before working with SharePoint, as a Governance Plan should.
You’ll need to divide it into a few sections and of course this may vary based on the organization and its plans to use SharePoint.
The training « programs » available
Roles that will require a program
Tools available for the training
There are a multitude of ways to deliver good, quality training for SharePoint to your audience. Ideally, there is an easy way for them to get tailored in-class training. It must be the trainer in me, but I still find it’s the best way to learn. To dedicate your time to the training and be there with someone teaching from experiences learned. Lately, what’s been getting popular is the use of video to deliver SharePoint or any type of training in an organization. I have actually participated in authoring and delivering a video training for an organization where we simply could not send every single employee to receive SharePoint training. We focused on creating short three to five minutes videos tailored to a particular subject and make them easily consumable by the viewer. The feedback we received was incredible, we’ve even gone ahead and created a separate video training program for the Site Owners.
Identify roles that will need training programs
This will need to be well defined as it is, in my opinion, a very important factor in the success of your SharePoint deployment. As mentioned earlier, it’s too easy to create chaos with SharePoint. You need to have people, trained people, that know how to use the platform based on the actual needs of the business. A good way to get started is to list some of the major roles identified in our first part of building a SharePoint Governance Plan.
Advanced Site Owner
Those are roles that I often see when implementing SharePoint as a collaboration platform, but they may vary based on your needs. Identify them and clearly assign a training program or « certification » if you like. I am a big fan of reward or « gamification » in the workplace and this can easily be applied in this context. This can be badges earned on their profile picture, certification they can add to their names, there is a whole lot to explore with this. What’s important, is that there is tailored training to the right people.
Tools available for SharePoint Training
The trick is not to go crazy here. We tend to do too much, when in most cases a simple solution will suffice. What I mean by tools for SharePoint Training is simply, what is available to those training, to practice what they learn. Remember when we built the Site Definitions in our SharePoint Governance Plan? One of them was called « Sandbox » and this is what I usually give to those that want to test, exercise or practice on something before doing it in a production SharePoint site. The site policies you had defined for this sandbox site are important, you don’t want them to start using it for their production content. Do you have to do this? No. But whatever you choose, it needs to be in the SharePoint Governance Plan.
It’s easy to say all this in a few paragraphs on a blog post, I understand that. Training is an art of it’s own and should be well thought out and well executed. If you don’t have the expertise internally, then I strongly recommend looking to hire someone who does. Whether it’s to build video capsules or provide in-class training, training is a vital piece of your SharePoint project. My focus here is mainly on building a set of guidelines, a SharePoint Governance Plan, to help the SharePoint users know what kind of training they should receive based on their roles as well as how it will be delivered. It should also include the tools available to practice even if it’s just a site template defined with a set of rules and most importantly, a site deletion policy.
Governance should include the Site User Agreement
Every day, when you download and install a new application you are usually presented with a document that requires you to « agree » before continuing to the application and be able to use it. Don’t worry, I am not asking you to get the lawyers involved today and write a 50 page EULA. Personally, I think this is the most under-utilized option to increase SharePoint adoption and enforce your Governance.
In my past projects, we’ve done a user agreement as a one pager document that acts as a summary of all the rules and policies we defined in the governance plan for that specific site. Not only those it help remind the user receiving the site what he has « ordered » so to speak, but it also « backs you up » if they ask for something out of the scope defined in the agreement later on. For example, if you have set storage space for that particular site template at 25GB then the user will have seen and agreed to it when receiving the site.
My version of the user agreement really is more like the governance plan in a summary view where the audience is the site owner. Of course, there isn’t any part about the logical architecture or any other information irrelevant to the site owner. Remember, I talked about doing your SharePoint Governance in form of a Wiki instead of a large Word document. This will make it even easier when building a user agreement as most of it will be links to those Wiki Pages that you can easily keep up to date.
This is obviously something I put together quickly for this post based on the information we built in the previous article. But it helps get an idea.
There are a number of other things to include in the user agreement, ideally as we mentioned everything related to that site and for that site owner. This can be information on quota, retention, security, training required, support or anything else relevant to the site owner.
As for the SharePoint Governance Plan, it should include a copy or template of the User Agreement. But the real question is, how will you implement it? We’ve established that it can be a summary of the governance with the specific rules and policies for the particular site the owner is receiving. But how will he receive it and how does he sign it? Will it be easily accessible afterwards? This is entirely up to you, the need in the business and of course the technical competency to implement it. Ideally, it will be included as part of the Site Request we’ve built previously in the Governance Plan. Once the user has requested his or her site and it has been approved. Another way is for it to be part of a form the future site owner has to read and accept to receive the right permissions in the site or for the site to be created. This is entirely up to you, but be sure to have it close by and at the reach of the site owner if he needs to look at it again.
What does our SharePoint Governance look like?
Whether you went ahead and created a Wiki or have written a formal Word document, that isn’t the question. Both will work just fine in serving the purpose of governance by setting accessible guidelines for your SharePoint platform. What I mean is, through the first five articles on building a real world SharePoint Governance Plan, what does it look like now?
The process, in the organization and especially with people will take time. That’s why we started by identifying the different roles and responsibilities we could at the very beginning. We then moved on to creating a logical architecture to identify what we will need and how to organize it. Of course doing that, we quickly saw we would need to create clear site template definitions we would use with their rules and policies. That will definitely take some time, but will eventually lead us to the site request process. How will those « Site Owners » we identified request the right site template for their need? Well, we had a proper training program identified for that specific role and once this person received the site, he or she had to accept a user agreement, which essentially summarized the Governance Plan for the site being delivered. It’s a start and mind you there is still a lot to identify, the support model for example or how should social features be used internally. But, by now you should be able to get the SharePoint Governance started. Remember to keep it simple and useful for the business, no one wants to read a 50 pages document.