You see, in the UK at the moment (well when I started writing this) we are having a heatwave. This means we have left our coats at home for a week, had to mow the lawn several times and my baldy head is very red. So on Friday night like many other families we decided to head for a nice country pub for our tea. After finding no room at several inns we finally settled on a pub where the waiting time for a table was only half an hour. So we got some drinks and waited. After only about 20 minutes the lady at the desk shouted over 'Table for Dale' and then showed us to our table and handed us each a menu. All seemed to be going well and we each chose what we wanted from the impressive looking menu. Then we waited.
Ten minutes passed and still nobody came to take our order. Twenty minutes and my stomach was rumbling, but still waiters and waitresses walked straight on by. Half an hour and I decided to change what I was going to order, but still nobody came to the table.
After forty minutes I began to look around and wonder why other people, who had come after us, were now being served their food. It was then a worrying thought entered my head. I stopped a passing waiter carrying a plate with a large fish on and asked, 'Excuse me, is it table service here?'. The answer, as I had feared, was a, 'no, you have to order at the bar, mate' and the waiter left shaking his head.
So we had waited hungrily for over 40 minutes because nobody had told us that orders had to be placed at the bar. I complained, a little, to the lady who had seated us and she did apologise for not saying, but pointed to some really small text at the bottom of the middle page of the menu (hidden behind a custard stain) that did say 'Order at Bar'.
So why did this get me thinking about SharePoint? It was because I was thinking about the poor End User who sits there in front of these great looking sites and while they can read lots of information they don't really know what they are supposed to do. They know they can upload documents, but do not quite know how to do this. They don't know that you have to open a document library first. Or they want to edit a document but they don't know they need to check it out first. There might be a picture on the site that they want to change or they might have heard about setting Alerts but don't know how to set one up.
Ideally End Users will have been given some initial SharePoint training but they will soon forget. I have to admit that I had been to that pub last year, but had forgotten that you had to order at the bar. So how can we help our SharePoint End Users to know the basics of what to do? Without them sitting around for over 40 minutes waiting for somebody to tell them. The best way is to put information on the site with instructions. If you have used SharePoint Designer you will know you can easily add Hover-Over bubbles or Help Straplines to your sites.
Office Talk have found that many customers try to get round this problem by creating short video clips of how to do basic SharePoint functions. Tools like the popular Contasia Screen Capture are great and fun to use, but can take weeks of work and never quite reach the professional standard you were looking for. So the cost of producing these internally can be quite expensive. The advantages of doing them yourself is that any corporate branding you might have used or anything unique to your site comes across, but is it really worth it. One of the leading SharePoint products that we at Office Talk resell is 'SharePoint CBT Clips'.
SharePoint CBT Clips are available for either SharePoint 2010 or 2007 version and are a super set of around 75 little video clips (about 3 minutes each) that show the End User exactly what to click on to do all the basic SharePoint jobs. Some of the classic ones like 'Working with List Data', 'Sending a Link to a Document', 'Recovering Deleted Items' and 'Connecting to Outlook' are all there. The great thing is the files are small and can easily be stored in SharePoint allowing the End User to access them directly through their SharePoint Site.
Now, I have worked in an IT Helpdesk and I know that giving the End User direct access to the information doesn't mean some of them won't still call the IT Helpdesk straight away but at least if you have the SharePoint CBT Clips the Helpdesk staff can just quickly send back a link to the exact video.
It really is a money saver. Oh dear this post is turning into an advert, but I am really impressed with these short clips and Office Talk are currently selling a Corporate Licence (which allows you to put all 75 on a SharePoint Server) for only £1350. It really is a way to dramatically reduce your training costs.
To find out more about, or purchase a copy of, 'SharePoint CBT Clips' please drop an email to our Marketing Manager Frank Faulds .
In next week's post I will be bringing you a free SharePoint Template to keep track of all the groups in Euro 2012 and let you back Roy's Boys in Poland and the Ukraine. This year let's go one better than 1996 and reach the final.