SPOCKs built 50 sites in 3 hours

Office 365 / SharePoint Blog

As I was building the “public” sites, those that are accessible throughout the organization, I looked at all the data that needed to be populated and decided that my job was not to do this for the organization, but rather it was the individual department’s responsibility to populate their own site. I very much believe in teaching someone to fish, rather than doing the fishing for them.

I decided to host a workshop for the SPOCKs (SharePoint Online Coordinators in the Know) to have them populate their own sites with data I would provide. I had already created a spreadsheet with all their information, since it needed to be gathered anyway, and I used mail merge to create info sheets for them. I made them all a printed copy, and then I used this macro to split the merges up into separate files.

I also made PowerPoint tutorials for each of the two types of sites: department sites and committee sites. All told, it might have taken me just as much time to gather all these materials as it would have to just do the work, but the SPOCKs will never learn how to do it themselves if they don’t get practice, so I developed the tutorials for them to populate their sites, and then I facilitated the workshop and flitted around helping people as they were stuck. Overall, I thought it was pretty successful.

Committee sites were shorter in scope, and spent more time in permissions. Department sites were a little longer in scope and added app parts and web parts. Running two separate tutorials at the same time was certainly interesting, and not something I would necessarily recommend, but they fared well. They learned to change navigation, edit web parts, delete web parts, add web parts, connect files, work on permissions, and all for the good of their own site, which was the most important part.

Watching people do the work, seeing how well they took to it, and what temperament they had was the most important part of the training. Many quietly worked on their sites and didn’t need any help. Others raised their hands fairly often. One got very frustrated and overwhelmed, and one or two had zero confidence in their abilities and needed hand-holding every step of the way.

SharePoint requires a lot of patience and persistence. If you’re not willing to work around its quirks you will have a tough time, so those that got flustered and frustrated will either not be in a good position to be site owners, or they will need a lot of help to get through it. Keep that in mind as you roll out SharePoint to your organization. Not everyone is suited.

As part of our roll out plan, we’re looking at different ways that we can help our site owners, our SPOCKs get more acclimated to SharePoint, and I am considering holding open office hours in our conference room if people want to use the time to build something. In reviewing our survey for self assessment, most of the SPOCKs want one-on-one coaching. If I host these working sessions and have everyone bring their own devices, then I might get something accomplished. I think I will talk to IT about making some laptops available for that and see what we can do.

These are all things to think about as you roll out SharePoint in your organization. Some kind of training needs to be made available, and just sending them to Lynda.com is not going to cut it if you want sufficient knowledge base. Also keep in mind that our site owners are not technical people. They are mostly administrative and thus you need to make the materials accessible at the beginner level in many cases.

We asked our SPOCKs to grade themselves as Beginner, Intermediate, etc. and it’s actually amazing how many of them considered themselves Intermediate when they really hadn’t worked in SharePoint all that much. I would say most are actually beginners and they are over confident with what they know. However, you could argue that they have a comfort level with what they know so far, and that’s why they are calling themselves Intermediate. I know I have a lot to learn, and I am looking forward to bringing this cool tool to the masses here at Tech.


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