Identifying Your SharePoint Champions
This is an open-source article with the community providing support for it. For official Microsoft content, see Microsoft 365 documentation.
Many organizations have a small team supporting all aspects of their environment from break/fix through development of new solutions. There is not enough time in the day to add crucial change management tasks to ensure adoption on top of this already heavy workload, so it is commonly skipped. This risks engagement, adoption, clear insight into departmental challenges, and maintaining open communication for collaborative development.
There are hidden champions within your organization to help with these challenges if you know the right places to look. They are not necessarily the same people as your site owners though they can be. Here are some places to look for your champions:
In Training Sessions
There is a wide spectrum of technical capabilities in the room to learn the same business processes and technology though everyone walks out with slightly different knowledge. Focus on these edge cases of who is in the room as they will help push the boundaries of your thinking.
The End User Who Finds the Loophole
They have a specific task in mind and can strong arm your environment to do what they need regardless of parameters put in place. This person is interested and passionate enough to dig past what you delivered in a training session for SharePoint. These end users want to build in your environment so empowering them, not limiting them, will help you both come up with the best solutions for the organization.
The End User Who Ask Lots of Question
If your training is not fully sticking with all people in the room this is very valuable feedback as you aren't just targeting the tech savvy end users in your organization. When you launch the next solution, everyone in this room will need to understand the why and the how for it to be successfully adopted. Including these end users who ask the most questions in the conversation will help identify where your content is unclear. They are also showing a lot of motivation to understand so support them by inviting them to be SharePoint champions which provides more opportunities for education and questions.
In the Ticket Queue
Take a step back from the individual tickets to look at any trending issues. Is one department heavily using coauthoring and having issues with locked documents? Are the same people reporting the same issues repeatedly? Is this a bug or user error? One of the most challenging issues to resolve is a change in behavior. If you are not present to help redirect those mistakes, it can be challenging to break the habit.
Finding SharePoint champions in these groups can be helpful in identifying the issues more clearly. Maybe the solution isn't aligned with how they work and needs refinement. The team might have grown since implementation and there is a gap in continued training or supporting materials. Having insight within a group will more quickly bring light to where the gaps are and, as a trusted partner, the conversation and reporting of issues will flow more easily.
In the Project Queue
Do you have a long project queue due to your small team being overloaded? Who has been waiting for a long time who has the bandwidth and/or interest to begin self-service closely partnered with IT? Self-service does not need to be implemented on an organizational level to be effective. You can start small by working with end users one on one to discuss their challenges and provide guidance on how to build it. This gives you the opportunity to spot pain points in self-service and better develop training, governance, and support before considering launching it to the organization. This also gives the end user the opportunity to learn new things and add projects they are passionate about to their resume.
With the Governance Benders
You may have seen this situation before where the company implements a new guidance that limits a crucial established business process. Maybe your organization has decided on no external sharing ever from SharePoint. The procurement department works with external vendors for the majority of their day for document collaboration on contracts, SOWs, etc. Limiting SharePoint external access has dramatically impacted their productivity. What other options are available to them if you limit external sharing across the organization?
When an end user is breaking governance, it is because something is not meeting their day-to-day business needs. Open the conversation to understand why. If you don't, you are encouraging shadow IT as there is a long list of free options available to meet their external collaboration needs that is now outside your monitoring. If you do, you are building trust in the relationship and gaining crucial insight into their needs.
Across Varied Perspectives
Identify SharePoint champions across levels, regions, and functions as well to ensure an organizationally diverse perspective. What works for human resources in the United States might be very different for your office in Japan. What works for manufacturing might not work for legal. What works for the c-suite may not work for individual contributors. Ensure you are targeting diversity in technical ability, region, function, level, age, and culture to get the most well-rounded feedback and support from your SharePoint champions.
In Usage Reports
In the Admin Portal there are Usage Reports for SharePoint, OneDrive, Teams, Skype, and email activity. The SharePoint usage reports show the files viewed or edited, files synced, files shared internally or externally, and pages visited for each user. You can identify different types of end users here using these metrics to pick out your top content consumers and top document collaborators. These end users will have feedback on the current environment configurations and likely a wish list of what they hope SharePoint can do. With how fast Microsoft releases new updates they may not be aware of some solutions that are available right now! If your top users are heard and supported, they will have some of the loudest voices on whether SharePoint is working for your organization.
This is commonly where people begin and quickly end their search for SharePoint champions. To get the most valuable feedback you will need to look further than just your top users. What about users with incredibly low usage in a department that you know has fully adopted SharePoint as a solution? Finding out why it is not working for them can be more valuable than hearing the same positives of why it is working for their team members.
Resources to learn more
- The Microsoft 365 Maturity Model – Introduction
- Why SharePoint Training is Important
- Empowering Your SharePoint Champions
Principal author:Emily Mancini, UXC