Thursday, 20 November 2008

Show Me SharePoint

Much of this week seems to have been spent with my body pushed up against hot and sweaty complete strangers in tunnels. Yes, I have been travelling beneath our capital on the London Underground. With so many of Officetalk’s SharePoint customers being based in London I am becoming quite a tube expert and I think I am now quite skilled at finding the quickest routes around. Although the many exits above ground for each station does still disorientate me and I do still have to think if I want the South or Norhbound platform. Why are there no East or West bound platforms? To a new visitor the London Underground is daunting and everyone is too busy to help novices. Although I did comment to some very loud American Tourists yesterday that if they wanted to see ‘Kensington Palace’ that the stop ‘Kennington’ was in fact not the one they wanted. You can see why they were confused though. SharePoint can also be very confusing to the occasional user and although people soon become comfortable with it there is a steep learning curve . The great thing with Sharepoint is how all of the sections work in the same way. Once you understand how the Lists, Columns and Views work you can quickly do some pretty neat stuff. Armed with a pocket sized underground map (colour coded of course) you can work out the best way of getting from Buckingham Palace to Wembley Stadium (a journey which Prince William, as a Villa supporter, will hopefully have to make soon). So we need a similar pocket-sized guide for SharePoint. Interestingly, if you Google ‘pocket sized SharePoint guide’ the first result is a book called ‘SharePoint Products & Technologies Administrator’s Pocket Consultant’ which at 367 pages is perhaps a tad too big for the average sized pocket, although it would probably still get lost in the average woman’s handbag. As part of the half-day Basic SharePoint Site Administrator’s Overview course offered by Officetalk they provide a 2-sided (colour) A4 handout describing how to perform all the basic SharePoint functions. The useful tasks like uploading documents, editing Announcements or registering an Alert etc. If you drop me an email asking for a copy of the PDF to I will try and persuade our Marketing Department to send you a free copy that you can distribute it yourselves to your staff. What would be great down here on the Underground somewhere below the ‘Elephant and Castle’ would be a real guide (I mean the information sort not the ones in the uniforms) somebody who can show me exactly which way I have to go to get to Paddington Station. In the same way a virtual guide in SharePoint would be great for users. Someone who can guide through how to do all though little tasks that you learnt in the training course so many months ago. No, I am not suggesting the return of that annoying paper-clip Office Assistant. Instead I recommend that any organisation who use SharePoint purchase the excellent set of two minute video clips from CBTClips. You can find out more about these by clicking the SharePoint CBT Clips link. Despite the American accent (perhaps we should get Jasper Carrot to record a ‘Brummie’ version) there are 65 very good and clear clips of all the basic SharePoint functions. You can buy all of these in one bundle and best of all put them on the Home page of your SharePoint. So the next time somebody rings the IT Helpdesk asking how they go about exporting a SharePoint list to Excel, you just point them at the link to the CBT Clip. Eventually the IT Department can be left in peace to read the latest Dilbert cartoon.


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