The first of the Community Challenge events that conference organizer Debbie Ireland mentioned in her introductory remarks this morning took place in the first session slot of the day. Being the first in the three-part series, its topic was focused on defining and designing requirements for a SharePoint intranet. Debbie provided a brief introduction to the Community Challenge initiative, explaining that they had decided to try it out for the first time this year, and are hoping it will become an annual happening in conjunction with the Australian SharePoint Conference. The nonprofit organization that was chosen to be the initial beneficiary of the SharePoint experts volunteering their services in support of the initiative was WorkVentures, who weren't using SharePoint at all when they submitted their application. Debbie explained that the three Community Challenge sessions being offered at the conference will represent a highly condensed presentation of the efforts of the project team to date. Work is continuing on the project, so the sessions are intended to "show the work in progress" by the all-volunteer community effort, with the idea that sharing the work in progress with the community here at the conference will allow the organizers to solicit participation and help "lead [them] through the journey of the next phase."
Debbie introduced Lawrence Luk, CFO of WorkVentures, who thanked Debbie and the team for their efforts, and explained that WorkVentures works with people at risk of social and economic exclusion who are seeking to improve their lives, and runs several social enterprises to help provide such individuals with the necessary skills and resources to do so. Lawrence said that Microsoft has always supported WorkVentures as a partner, and that their participation in the Community Challenge will "help improve systems and processes, leveraging existing social enterprises and increasing social impact."
Facilitating the session proper was Paul Culmsee, with an assist from Andrew, one of his colleagues in the Community Challenge initiative whose last name I'm afraid I didn't catch. Paul explained the key deliverables as being: providing an intranet, branding, leave application process, timesheet process, policies and procedures, and a communication plan, and said that he and Debbie had met just yesterday with Lawrence to map out the architecture. The vision of WorkVentures is "communities that work" and Paul explained that the mission of the Community Challenge team was to determine how best to help achieve that vision through the use of SharePoint. An enterprise improvement plan is a strategic initiative defined in WorkVentures' latest annual report, so "implementing SharePoint as an enabler of that plan" is the goal of the Community Challenge project. Four particular areas of focus to this end are: breaking down silos (currently in existence within the organization); resilience ("whatever we put in needs to be relatively resilient, flexible"); quality of information ("the right information at the right time, it has to be timely, and it has to be authoritative"); and regulatory compliance (as there are "confidentiality aspects" within certain areas of the organization, such as the processing of credit card transactions).
Paul explained some of the challenges with breaking down existing silos within the WorkVentures organization, and said that while the Community Challenge team has identified potential solutions of their own, soliciting community feedback regarding solutions to those challenges from session attendees was the particular focus of the session. Andrew then proceeded to guide the conversation with attendees as Paul captured all of the suggestions and mapped them during the presentation (seeking clarification as necessary), thereby immediately including the suggestions for consideration as additions to the Community Challenge plan of record.
Quite a few challenges were successfully workshopped during the hourlong presentation, to the extent that when Andrew thanked attendees for their participation at the conclusion of the session, he said that a good fifty percent of the suggestions that had been offered hadn't yet been considered by the Community Challenge team.
Kudos to all involved for volunteering their time and expertise on behalf of the Community Challenge initiative, and to conference attendees for assisting in the initiative by providing their own expert suggestions on improving the planned SharePoint implementation. How very apropos of the Community Challenge organizers to tap into the knowledge of the SharePoint community gathered here in Sydney, effectively crowdsourcing valuable feedback on a community-centric charitable SharePoint initiative.
Read our complete coverage of the Australia SharePoint Conference 2011:
- Greetings from the 2011 Australian SharePoint Conference
- Keynote: Joel Oleson & Mark Miller Present 'The History & Future of the SharePoint Community'
- Paul Culmsee Presents 'Community Challenge – Define & Design' SharePoint Intranet Requirements
- Daniel McPherson on 'Social Computing Meets the Enterprise' in SharePoint
- Keynote: Paul Culmsee on 'SharePoint Governance Home Truths'
- Gayan Peiris Shows 'How Microsoft Use SharePoint'