• 6 Tips for Familiarizing Users with SharePoint

    Uncomfortable with SharePoint?

    Anything unfamiliar can intimidate your team. Even when facing a straightforward, five-step process, an employee with no sense of how the system works will struggle with the unknown. After all, they have no knowledge of just how many steps a new task is likely to involve.

    This is one of the great advantages of SharePoint: This Microsoft enterprise content management system is the most popular ECM available today, and so avoids the sense of unfamiliar for many employees. Further, SharePoint's interface has an intuitive design that allows people to feel at ease simply because they are accustomed to navigating websites and using similar productivity resources.

    But what about users who have never used SharePoint before and have no past experience with page-based productivity systems? For these users, rapid familiarization is the goal. Here are six tips for making that familiarization process as simple and effective as possible.

    1) Talk about SharePoint as a tool, not a task.

    Given that many procedures will be a mandatory part of everyday work, it's easy to think of SharePoint as a task to complete rather than a tool to help you complete those tasks. You can defuse stress by emphasizing that SharePoint is a system used to make life a bit easier for everyone—not a place for busywork.

    2) Explain the system to them in the simplest possible terms.

    While it's tempting to discuss the broad objectives, intricate workings, and customization options of SharePoint, it is far more effective to keep all discussion to the mandatory information. Once users are up to speed, you can elaborate on all the other details.

    3) Give users maximum flexibility.

    Your company needs to have tasks completed in a predictable, consistent manner. With that requirement being a given, give users the highest sustainable degree of flexibility in choosing how to complete their work.

    4) Compare SharePoint to other familiar systems.

    Check with new employees to see what they've used in the past for both work-based and personal productivity. When you can, compare specific features, goals, or processes in SharePoint to these familiar systems.

    5) Assign a "SharePoint buddy."

    If you're in a management position, your time isn't best spent answering the minute details of your ECM. Instead, assign a staff-member who's familiar with SharePoint to answer questions for the new employee. The accessibility of a fellow employee will help your new staff member feel more comfortable asking questions, and the sense of camaraderie can help strengthen your team overall.

    6) Give them time!

    Getting familiar with a system can take a while, and telling someone, "Hurry up and feel comfortable!" is bound to be counter-productive. While facilitating familiarization, give new staff the chance to relax into the system on their own time.

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