Training is what takes your SharePoint project from a vetted system to a vetted system with invested users. The goal of training is to help the user feel at ease, but ideally it gives them a sense of ownership as well. Happy users = happy environment (both online and in-office). How do we get to happy user Mecca? At KGC Solutions, we primarily do in-person trainings as it is easier for users to ask questions and provide input. Remote training sessions still work well, but nothing beats being able to see and react to your users’ expressions of hesitance (or confidence!) in person.
An effective SharePoint training session is a varied customized ratio of instruction to user practice. We base this variation on factors such as: size of the user group, complexity of the system, collective user experience (are they familiar with SharePoint 2013 but moving to 2016? No experience with SharePoint?), and space availability. For example, if a company has a 60-80 person user base and a large training room with workstations, it is easy to accommodate a practical portion. Sometimes users prefer to combine the two and follow along with my instruction. This ratio can even be varied from group to group within one client. Paying attention to client preferences and these other environmental factors to customize training allow us to maximize engagement and retention, since everyone learns differently.
Training typically begins with a full overview of the new system from a practical standpoint. Users can ask questions at any time – I’ve found this most helpful because it allows us to pace the session according to the current user group. We train in groups of 10-15 when possible, and each will wish to spend different amounts of time on each subtopic; one group may want to spend more time on list management and another on uploading documents. Once a review of the new system is complete, we give the users time to try things out by moving through some of the daily tasks they would be performing in the system. This is always done in a training instance of the environment, which helps build user confidence because they know they can’t mess anything up beyond repair. This exercise is (as you may have guessed) part testing as well as training. At this point we would have already completed the testing phase, but it doesn’t hurt to pass through one last time to iron out any easily fixable wrinkles. It also helps the users think of questions they may not have had while watching me explain the system.
At the end of training, we leave users with a how-to guide and documentation of all questions asked during the sessions in an FAQ format. But this is never extensive. Updates and unforeseen situations will always happen throughout the life of a system, so we also need to set the users up for success past our Post-Training Support Phase. To do this, we always communicate some of the best tactics for asking SharePoint questions online. Sometimes, half the battle is just knowing what to Google. If the users can get to that point, they’ll be able to happily ride off into the sunset with their new system.
There will always be frustrations related to ever-changing technology, but employing the right training strategies helps us give our users some fish, teach them how to fish, and always remember to report phishing. We try our best to not only educate, but to empower. What are your SharePoint training experiences? Tell us in the comments below.