Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Getting more from Office 365 means understanding SharePoint

Would you accept purchasing a new car and it running in first gear? Of course not! You’d immediately return it to the dealer and have it fixed. I however see so many businesses running Office 365 suites that include SharePoint Team Sites and them never being used. Even worse I see SharePoint being used in first gear constantly, yet people never opting to change up gears to the next level of what SharePoint has to offer.

Why is this? I believe the answer is simply a lack of understanding about what SharePoint is, and like any knowledge, you don’t gain such insight over night or by reading a few web pages. To gain the most from SharePoint you need to change the way you view information sharing. You need to shift your mindset from storage to collaboration as I have written about previously:

The Classic SharePoint Online Migration Mistake

First gear with SharePoint is generally using it as file storage which I see many people do. The problem is if web storage is all you have planned for SharePoint how is that any different from where you store that data today? All you are doing is simply moving that data from one storage ‘bucket’ to another. Where that bucket maybe is irrelevant because it is just being used as container. Simply moving data from one location to another makes no sense. Where is the value add? What is the business benefit of data being in bucket number two? Where is the business benefit of going to all the trouble of migrating the data? Being purely pragmatic about things here, it make no business sense and generally is just incurring expense.

With SharePoint wedged in first gear many now continue to ‘load’ SharePoint up with more and more data and wonder why things aren’t magically becoming more productive. They do nothing more than just uploading files to one document library. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity is it no? In short, you are burdening SharePoint with structures and concepts that bog the service down. In short, it is like constantly driving around in first gear.

Much like a modern car, SharePoint Online has a significant number of forward gears that you can and should take advantage of. Problem is most people don’t invest the time to learn how to do this. The essence of productivity is that you invest some time up front learning how to do something better and then apply that. The payoff is never immediate, it is down the track. However, the payoff is always much greater than the initial investment because productivity scales.

In my books, you cannot use or sell Office 365 without making some investment in learning SharePoint. Everyone, I mean everyone, using Office 365 must appreciate the basics of SharePoint. They must be at least able to take the product out of first gear. Beyond that is a choice. You can certainly skill yourself up on SharePoint or you can get assistance from someone already skilled who can provide a shortcut for you.

Every top professional sports person/team has a coach. Why? Because they are looking to improve so they can be more competitive. How come the same doesn’t apply to businesses with Office 365? Why aren’t they trying to use the product to its fullest extent? Why are they not seeking the skills and knowledge to become more competitive? Why are they using it’s most mundane functionality?

SharePoint knowledge and experience is not simply going to materialise overnight. It is a transformational process that requires learned experience. There are certainly ways and means to accelerate this but it means making the commitment to making the most of a tool like SharePoint and aspiring to open the product up beyond first gear. The benefits there are well worth the effort.

Of course, the next road block people raise is about how they go about learning SharePoint? The best option is to start with a problem you need solved and try and use SharePoint to solve that. Maybe you have a need for an automated vacation request process. Maybe a need to create a shared team calendar and so on. In essence SharePoint is a tool, a very powerful tool that is at your beckoned call. Use it to solve a problem. That’s what it does best.

The next resources I will point you to are my own. Although that may appear self serving I have taken what I have learned in the field and created offerings that are tailored to exactly these introductory needs.

If your SharePoint is stuck in first gear take my

Free email SharePoint course

there you’ll get an email a day for 3 weeks with a video tutorial about one aspect of SharePoint Online including downloadable lesson notes.

If you want training immediately take a look at my online courses at the

CIAOPS Academy

which include a number of SharePoint and OneDrive for Business (which is SharePoint) courses you can sign up for immediately.

Beyond that have a look at these resources:

SharePoint courses at Microsoft Virtual Academy

SharePoint 2013 training for IT Pros

Discover SharePoint

SharePoint Online Videos and Training

Start using your Team Site and OneDrive for Business

SharePoint can transform your business productivity but you will typically need to transform the way you think about SharePoint. That transformation is not simply going to drop in your lap, you need to invest some time up front to reap the rewards as with anything worthwhile.

Look at it this way, the investment you make today means that you will be able to do tomorrow what your competition can’t.

I hope that the next time I see your SharePoint driving past it isn’t screaming in pain over the redline in first gear, it is instead accelerating away into the distance in eight gear. I’ve shown you how to start that process, now be fruitful and apply.