SharePoint How-Tos for End Users?

Shane posted about supplying end user doc for how to use SharePoint.  I had a pretty big opinion on it and wanted to also share it on my blog: 

Via Shane:

I have read many posts over the months about the good, bad and ugly of SharePoint. One recent noteable being Bil Simsers post on keeping your head while others are losing theirs.

It got me to thinking about the new or even intermediate users. More specifically, who is feeding them information?

When I look around I see countless great blogs on customization, web part development and other complex development issues but I also notice a huge lack of “user-level” material.

If someone has just learned they are going to need to use SharePoint they’re probably going to really dig to find good information on general usage. Searching SharePoint would either scare them to death reading posts on data-view connections and managed code while their ‘word of mouth’ knowledge is likely limited to “SharePoint is for collaboration, or SharePoint does document management”.

In order to drive user adoption we need to make people understand just how valuable SharePoint can be to an organization and there is almost no better way of making SharePoint shine than showing just how much an “average” user can do with very limited technical knowledge.

I see a huge need for entry-level materials on list creation, how columns work, creating sites, workspaces, document libraries etc.

I can’t help but wonder if we are so absorbed in our creations that we’re forgetting that it’s not just “developers” that need to use this stuff, are we developing only for developers?

Sure there are newsgroups where people can ask a question but I could certainly see the value in blogging this material as well.

I have a different take on this. I have posted general user info out there and it was met with little interest.  If you think about the audience, if these people go check out blogs, it is going to be about whatever hobby or interest they have, not necessarily what technology they have to use (at work at that).  Our SharePoint Intranet has been up for nearly a year and just last week I got an email saying, oh I didn’t realize our intranet was SharePoint.  Users don’t always know or care what the technology is.  If users have an issue in my organization, they go to the support desk.  I have posted canned demos of how to do stuff in SharePoint for these end users (create a library, a list, etc) and they have been viewed very little.  So little in fact I have dropped making any more.

Valiant thought, but materials like this may only appeal to a very small audience.   I wish that wasn’t true.

Or maybe I am being a stick in the mud.  User adoption materials are great, just not sure how much they would be accessed.

15 thoughts on “SharePoint How-Tos for End Users?”

  1. It’s true, most users really don’t care what technology they are using I agree, and realistically they shouldn’t.

    It just seems there is so little information about the product outside of the developer community.

    My main question would be how do we advocate SharePoint to the masses better so that it’s more widely adopted in general.

  2. I agree most users just care about accomplishing their tasks and don’t really care what they’re doing it on as long as it’s intuitive. Management wants what will accomplish their goals best, which is often just what they see first that’s along the lines of what they think they want. And they often don’t realize their may be something better. And management sometimes wants to make decisions without enough developer input.

  3. We’re about 6 months into deploying WSS. What we’ve done is created a series of presentations for general users. Sharepoint 101 covers the very basics, and we aim to present it to each committee or gruop who gets a site. Then we have a few more – 201, 301, etc. – that cover things like adding docs, events, etc, and right now I’m working on the customzining lists, home page, and admin stuff. Some of these we offer as online web sessions that folks can register for. These take a while to produce and present, but the time is worth it in terms of user understanding and satisfaction. The key for us is, we go to them and try not to wait for them to come to us!

  4. "My main question would be how do we advocate SharePoint to the masses better so that it’s more widely adopted in general. "

    My only issue with that is that how often do end users dictate what technologies are used for their company sites? Management chooses with hopefully some developer input. If it was the end users choosing the product, we would be seeing SharePoint commercials on TV.

  5. True but on that same note unless people hear about SharePoint and how good it can be/is they’re probably not going to even think about it.

    Let’s face it, more often then not the "managers" that make the calls are not exactly the most technical bunch, they’re usually woo’d into something 🙂

    The way I see it SharePoint can fit into almost any business situation and be molded around almost any process so I can’t help but wonder if more people were hearing about it/seeing it if they wouldn’t be more inclined to talk about it at work – hopefully with the managers that would make the decision to purchase such a platform.

    I can definately see your point but I also think we can likely do more as a community to hype the platform as well, that would hopefully in turn have it turn up in more searchs for things like "How can I organize my data better" versus "How do I install a web part to the BIN" 🙂

  6. We did something similar to what Jean talks about, exposing the masses to SharePoint. Two attitudes were strongly predominant among users…complaints about having to learn a new tool to do their job and acceptance (rarely a desire) of learning a new tool to do their job better. Some decided at the end that it will help them do their job better…others stuck with their preconceived attitudes. Management in various departments made the training mandatory because there was little voluntary interest.

    I should add that we initially did a marketing campaign within the business that included demos for anyone interested. Interest was mainly management level and IT…interest beyond casual was nearly all management and IT. And I should also add that the user base here is a good mix of job roles and education levels.

    So I personally can’t imagine users picking SharePoint as a subject to talk about around the water cooler. I’m not saying there aren’t users that would show interest, I’m just saying they’re few and far between when compared to management and IT.

  7. I agree with a lot of what is said here.

    I am a new user to SharePoint and I am trying build up an area for my department. I have admin rights and am working in IE to create, change, and modify sites and spaces. No Frontpage involved.

    I know how things generally work but what stimies me is that I just can not figure out how to remove a webpart from a site or page. I have searched high and low to no avail.

    Am I missing something that is so obvious that I am going to kick myself or is it just that hidded?

    Any help is appreciated.

    Email me at


  8. I must admit I was a bit surprised with the lack of information available for such a large, all embracing product. I suppose in some ways that is part of the problem. It can be used in so many different ways.

    In my organisation there are 2 main problems.

    How do you get not just the new technology but the whole new culture that is required to make Sharepoint really worthwhile across to the day to day users? For example, try explaining where their files have gone to when many still haven’t mastered the difference between memory and a hard disk!

    Secondly, most of them feel that they are already working flat out to simply accomplish their normal existing work. We may be able to see how Sharepoint might help reduce their workload in the future, but they just see the organisation expecting them to take on yet another job. After all, even if the management impose compusory training on users, they still have to fit in their normal work as well and many feel they simply don’t have time to try something new.

  9. I’m an end user & I’d have to agree with Shane. I am the comms manager for a Microsoft Partner and have no end of difficulty trying to find this information for myself and on behalf of non-technical people within our organisation. End-users do want the info and they are willing to search the internet to find it, should they know they available tools. Most organisations rely on one key member to do the digging for them. I have only come across one helpful "how-to" for beginner end-users:

    If anyone knows of any other helpful sites, please scream out!

    Jean: any chance you can share the love and ease our pain by publishing a version what you have thrown together?

  10. Hi,I am an IT administrator and our company is coming with sharepoint 2007, I have been trained on MOSS 2007.I was just wondering on wat kind of issues will the end users face.I really would appreciate if you guys can provide a document or a list of topics under MOSS 2007 which are end user specific.Thanks

  11. Even though this discussion started several years ago, there *still* is not good info available for non-technical end users on SharePoint, particularly regarding Web sites.Our IT department implemented MOSS 2007 and our communications department is trying to learn it to build our Web site. I especially need to determine something very basic — should we build our site as a collaborative site, or a publishing site? Will we miss something if we build it one way vs. the other?Everything I’ve found is for developers or geared toward an intranet. If anyone has tips on resources that lay the groundwork for building a Web site, please share!

  12. HeLLo EvEry1OK this seem to be a nice discussion and i am going to go through the links u guys have provided. i am a sales guy in a company which develops sharepoint products and services. i have to call clients to follow up on white papers, to call them if they have requested for a demo, i am relatively new to sharepoint and i have like knowledge about it in bits and pieces, i would like any1 of you to tell me what kind of knowledge will be enough for me for the time bieng to start off with ma work..i mean i am not a technical guy so please provide me with some stuff that i can understand..

  13. hi iam a knowledge management officer and most of my work is on sharepoint however most of the guys from my office are very reluctant to use it,maybe its because they dont know the benefits of this resource.How can i make them want to use Sharepoint in their day to day work

  14. I agree that even though this thread began a few years ago that there’s not a lot of material available to provide businesses with ideas on how to use SharePoint to solve everyday and common needs, especially in the non-technical sense. I do SharePoint Services end user training and I’d like to think of myself as an end-user advocate. A few years ago I started a blog/podcast to educate end users in Outlook and SharePoint. I think there’s a need to have more and more information like this available that can assist and educate those that can use a little help in better utilizing these products/services. Recently I did a podcast called “Top 20 Way To Use SharePoint Effectively”, which outlines ways businesses can use SharePoint for business needs just by using the out-of-the-box features in SharePoint. Nothing complicated, but it shows how SharePoint can be applied to common business needs. If you’re interested, feel free to stop by my podcast blog to see the types of end-user posts I offer up as free tidbits of training to help them with technology. I’d love to know if you think it’s a valuable resource for the non-technical business person it is really meant for. On another note, I do love to peruse the more technical SharePoint blogs and try to pick up ideas to implement into my clients SharePoint sites. I especially love ideas on utilizing the Content Editor Web Part and wish I could find more examples and samples for it.Thanks!Andrea Kalli

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