Why is this the case you may wonder? Well, having worked with various enterprise organizations, the reality is that most users rely on IT for SharePoint help. Since SharePoint is an enterprise technology, that means it’s IT’s job to help/support the user. Unfortunately, I see a lot IT organizations provide only break/fix type of SharePoint assistance (i.e. I can’t access the site; my permissions are messed up). I don’t think this was intentional, IT is busy with a lot of other stuff that treating SharePoint differently is hard to justify.
Hence, the mindset of SharePoint being a glorified network share is the impression that most users have today. There are only a handful of users
that are resourceful, motivated and passionate about SharePoint that they do their own research and exploration on maximizing SharePoint to support their business needs.
As IT is the trusted SharePoint advisers within the enterprise (whether users like it or not), it’s a great opportunity for IT to elevate their role from being a second class, “I-have-a-tech-problem-you-will-fix-it-for-me” citizen in the enterprise to become the hotshot, thought leader that can help empower the business to solve business challenges.
Here are 5 ways IT organizations can transform themselves to be winning SharePoint rockstars:
1. Make Sure Your Organization has a SharePoint Godfather
I was asked one time by a system administrator (the lone SharePoint ranger in their organization) on how to promote better adoption and convince people to use document libraries on SharePoint sites for document collaboration instead of network shares.
I suggested that he gets rid of the network share or make it read only. He said he can’t do that since he doesn’t have the authority to do that nor anyone in the higher up would allow for that to happen.
There is the problem right there: Unless there is an executive level sponsor committed to utilizing SharePoint as a business platform, it will be difficult for IT to effectively help the business better themselves with the technology.
It is NECESSARY for IT to have a SharePoint Godfather – someone who has their back, who can cut through the organizational red tape and more importantly, have spending power to invest in making SharePoint happen in the organization.
2. Don’t Be The Soup Nazi, Be Doctor Phil
The problem with SharePoint platform deployment today in most enterprises today is that IT still takes the typical enterprise application release strategy. Too focused on making sure the technology is all set without enaging the business up front. SharePoint is made available with a fast food approach “Here’s your SharePoint site with surveys, wikis, libraries.”
Certain users might be confused and question IT’s wisdom “I don’t need another tool. I’m not sure what value SharePoint provides …” Then IT’s knee-jerk response will be “What? You don’t like SharePoint? No Soup For You! Next!”
At the end of the day, most users don’t get excited nor care about SharePoint – it’s like dialtone as Ruven Gotz pointed out
. What gets users excited in most cases is if a solution helps them get their job done better, easier and faster (as long as they don’t have to learn anything overly complex and new that is).
Knowing this, IT should behave more like Dr Phil (click here to learn more about Dr Phil) – IT should engage the business up front and discuss business challenges and map to how SharePoint can support them. You want to help
I’m sure you’re thinking “Well, you talk a good game here Dux, but c’mon, the reality is IT is short staffed, we have other things to do, how do you expect us to handhold the business and make sure we are meeting their needs?” That’s why having a SharePoint Godfather is important – once she/he sees the strategic value SharePoint can provide to the organization, you can make the case for the necessary investment which includes technology and human resources.
3. Be a Leader and Not a Passenger
Since IT is the SharePoint trusted adviser (it’s rare people will ask help from Marketing, but you never know) within an organization, IT should draw the line on what can be done and cannot be done on the constraints given.
You don’t want to set yourselves up for failure.
If the business comes to you with “I want you to convert our public facing site using SharePoint and make it look like Ferrari.com
within 2 weeks on top of your day job” – you have to ask and have them rank the priorities of their business need. Is it the 2 week time frame? Is it the custom branded look and feel? Is it only utilizing IT internal resource?
Realize that you can’t have anything that’s good if you want it fast & cheap. You can’t have anything that’s fast if you want it cheap & good. You can’t have anything cheap if you want it cheap & good.
If all you do is take marching orders from the business even if you know it’s not realistc, you are being a passenger and not a leader.
To learn more how to prioritize business needs when implementing SharePoint, read this
4. Teach Them How to Fish
Their top reasons for going around IT? The need to respond quickly to changes in the market, self-sufficiency of their IT-savvy workforce, and the easy availability of top-quality it services that can be bought without long implementation or testing (cloud and SAAs apps, primarily).
Business is moving so fast these days that relying IT to do everything is impossible. And that’s where SharePoint can shine in the enterprise – it can empower the business to build solutions without IT doing it for them all the time.
As SharePoint adoption matures, I predict IT’s role will be more consultative. If the assumption is that SharePoint will enable/empower the business, the old model of relying on IT to build all solutions for the business should be history. I can see IT still building complex solutions, but for basic business solutions (i.e. conference room scheduling system, expense reimbursement system, etc), ideally the business should be able to do it themselves with OOB tools available in SharePoint.
An issue with this scenario is that the business is not ‘trained’ to build solutions. They may know the technical capabilities of SharePoint but won’t have any insights into best practices, process, techniques, etc. So I suspect what’s going to happen is that the business will ‘request’ support from IT but not necessarily asking IT to build it. They would seek guidance/advice into what’s the best way to go about by doing it and have the business go at it. This is where the consultative role of IT comes in.
5. Be Proactive and Not Reactive
A key component of being able to help the organization to reap the business benefits of SharePoint is being proactive and having a strategic enterprise SharePoint roadmap. As IT, you don’t want to sit and wait what the next SharePoint marching order is (which most likely in some cases is some random “i-think-it’s-a-great-idea” request).
This means that a plan has to be in place on what tangible outcomes an organization would like to see with SharePoint within a specific timeframe. In his recent blog post “Getting to the Second Value Tier of SharePoint
“, Craig Roth from Gartner nailed it:
Clients that have had SharePoint for a few years are beginning to wonder what more they can do with it to get more value. And I think they see that getting a larger megaphone to evangelize its benefits will just perpetuate the random application of the technology. That’s why I’m starting to find organizations that are creating business-focused services out of SharePoint. In those organizations, SharePoint is seen as a valuable, mature business contributor rather than a precocious, energetic kid who notices problems old-timers haven’t noticed and rushes in to be useful.
Here’s to being a SharePoint rockstar! Who doesn’t want to be like Joel