Betsy Guthrie of Autodesk Proves it Doesn’t Take a Village to Improve Communications with SharePoint

Wow, is it a good thing I don’t have Betsy Guthrie‘s job.

And an even better thing for Autodesk that she DOES!  As
the SharePoint Adoption Lead for Autodesk,
a leading provider of 3D design, engineering, and entertainment software, Betsy Guthrie was able to transform her
organization’s disorganized, unstructured SharePoint Goliath into a high
performance, user-friendly environment that was easy to navigate for everyone
from the unconfident IT novice to the seasoned SharePoint evangelist.  In her presentation, When there is only one of you…. Six low-energy efforts and high-return
tactics to improve communication with SharePoint
, Betsy shared, through her
experiences with Autodesk, different
strategies that can be employed to tame a seemingly unmanageable SharePoint
environment.  Whether you have an entire
executive committee or are a party-of-one, as Betsy was, building confidence in
SharePoint doesn’t have to be a daunting task.
In fact, according to Betsy, with proper planning and diligence, it can
be as easy as A, B, C…

A = Advertise.  ADVERTISE your self-help SharePoint
resource site.

One of Betsy’s first suggestions was to build, and perhaps
more importantly, market a self-help SharePoint Resource site. So how does one
go about marketing this site to users?
In addition to doing something as simple as adding a linked tagline to
your email signature, Betsy also suggested enlisting your help desk as a
resource.  As one of the first places
people go when they need tech help, the help desk is a great asset and can help
reinforce where users need to be going when they have SharePoint issues.

B = Best Bets.  Improve basic search cheaply and easily through

Many people are familiar with the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button
from Google, but did you know that SharePoint Search offers a similar function?  If not, may I introduce you to one of the
best inventions ever: Best Bets.  Best
Bets allows you to bring the most relevant, “most likely” links to the top of
your search results.  Easy to create
through the Site Collection Administration console, Betsy found that by
integrating Best Bets into her SharePoint Search function, she was able to
improve basic search for users, thereby relieving a ton of headaches and
frustration.  In addition, to account for
Best Bets she may have missed, Betsy added a form to the search results page
that allowed users to request a best bet.

C = Community.  Create and nurture a COMMUNITY of

One of the keys to driving engagement in any organization or
group is to build a strong community that can be leveraged to help spread the
word about your cause.  When it comes to
helping promote SharePoint, one of the most important things one must do to
build community is find and recruit champions.
So how exactly does one identify and publicize their champions?  One of Betsy’s approaches was to use
analytics to find out who the most active site users were, as well as who owned
the larger, most active sites.  Realistically, only about 2% of users, on average, are power users, but these 2% can
be the key to building a strong, active SharePoint community.

D = Discussion
Board.  Get SharePoint questions out of
email and into a searchable and dynamic DISCUSSION BOARD.

Sometimes when it comes to being a SharePoint administrator,
you need to resign yourself to being the bad guy.  This is exactly what Betsy did to help
get SharePoint questions OUT OF EMAIL and into a searchable, dynamic knowledge
base.  So what does being the bad guy
mean?  For one, as much as it may hurt,
and as nice as people may be, refuse to answer questions that come through via
email, IM, phone calls, etc. and instead point users to your SharePoint
discussion board.  By directing users to
the discussion board, not only will you help promote your SharePoint
environment and make it more sustainable, you’ll help save time spent answering
the same question over and over again.
Likewise, to further drive engagement, Betsy suggested posting starter
questions for the discussion board and encouraging your champions (remember the
big C above?) to provide answers.

E = Events.  Use popular EVENTS to model the use of
SharePoint for registration and communication.

We all like company events… from potlucks to carnivals,
they are great ways to build community and camaraderie.  So why not invite SharePoint to help plan the
party?  At Autodesk, Betsy did just
this.  By using SharePoint for event
registration and communications, she was able to keep details out of email and
make them easier to find and access.
Specifically, she recommends building central information pages, like
she did for Autodesk’s Kids
at Autodesk Day
, where users can access centralized event details such as
date, time, location, and more.  What’s
great about using SharePoint to help organize events is that these event pages
help to make the process of organizing these events repeatable, which
definitely contributes to time and resources saved for future event-planning.

F = Front-Line Support.  Build a partnership with the help desk and
make them effective FRONT-LINE SUPPORT.

As was mentioned above under “A,” one of the most valuable
resources available when it comes to managing a successful, sustainable
SharePoint environment is the help desk.
As the first place where most people go for help, the help desk provides
a critical service to your users.  So how
did Betsy go about building a strong partnership with them?  One of her first tactics was to designate a
SharePoint liaison at the help desk.
This person acts as a key point-of-contact between SharePoint
administration and the help desk and provides helpful information such as what
questions are being asked most often, what changes are coming up, and
more.  One of the key benefits of this
relationship is the ability to facilitate knowledge sharing.  For example, if SharePoint support was able
to solve an issue that the help desk couldn’t, the problem solver would walk the
help desk through their actions and vice versa.
This further helps to build a robust knowledge base where administrators
and users can go to get quick answers to questions.

So do you still think that it takes an army to build
confidence in SharePoint and manage a sustainable, thriving environment?  While at first I may have been doubtful,
after listening to Betsy’s presentation, it all of a sudden sounds like, in the
words of the Jackson 5, “A, B, C.  Easy
as 1, 2, 3” to evangelize SharePoint and improve communications.

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