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Build a Training Site That Actually Drives SharePoint User Adoption

By Asif Rehmani
Updated June 11, 2019

In the training program No.1, running training sessions, as part of the Optimal Training Strategy, you run face-to-face and online classes. In this program No.2, build and maintain a training site that serves as a help center or a knowledge base for SharePoint users.

The site should host all relevant information that yields mastery of the platform; from major concepts to the detailed step-by-step tutorials on how to share documents, set permissions, create lists, work with libraries, build sites, co-author documents, etc. The site should host all governance policies as well.

Ultimately, it should be a place where end users would come to view and review help items. It needs to have all the functionalities that allow people to not only search and find help items but also to ask questions and leave answers.

Such a site is a great time-saver for your IT support team. With all the knowledge in one place, to answer a question, all you need is to share the link to the already published answer instead of having to type the answer every time a question is asked. You save time and remove a hold up that is typical when working with a new digital tool.

With this crucial program, you give end users the opportunity to find help whenever needed, making it easier to roll out programs No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5, namely: sending daily training emails, hosting Q&A sessions, and providing context-sensitive help. The Optimal Training Strategy includes 5 training programs.

To create learning opportunities, end users need a searchable source of help items, tutorials, and any type of content that provides guidance.

Understand the Necessity of a Custom Help Center

Many companies tend to either have employees rely on the Microsoft default help center or an external training website. Even when they create help items relevant to their business processes, they tend to gather them in a single Word or PDF document. This is not conducive to optimal learning outcomes for end users.

The fact is that people tend to resist reading long documents.

Also, using default or external third-party sites simply brings to many limitations. You can't customize training content to serve the needs specific to your organization and you can't give your colleagues a way to ask questions or participate in conversations that are necessary to expand knowledge about the platform.

As a key step in the Optimal Training Strategy, you need to build and maintain an internal dynamic “user manual” that benefits from the power of modern digital technology.

Build an Internal Custom Help Site

To give end users a go-to hub for viewing help items and learning SharePoint, build and maintain a help center tailored to needs specific to your organization.

The main reason for hosting help items on a site is to allow every help item to have its own separate page and a unique link. This allows for easy sharing and the delivery of information in short digestible chunks on the site.

With one help item per page, content is faster to update. Plus, it is easier to connect pages containing relevant content.

The following pointers may get you started.

  • Ensure that every help item is written for the web, short, scannable, and to-the-point. Use bulleted lists, text formatting, and short sentences wherever possible.
  • Next to the help items section of the site, add a section that contains the frequently asked questions with answers. Expect to grow this section overtime: add a new post whenever you start getting the same question more frequently; whenever there is a change to governance policies; or whenever there is a new addition to the list of the best practices.
  • Make the site a social portal where everyone come to contribute. Creating a sense of community is key in order to maximize engagement.
  • A large part of the site content needs to be discussion-driven. It should be a place where everyone can not only ask a question but also leave a reply or create a new post. It is not enough to be able to leave comments, end users need to be able to start a conversation.
  • Given that many people learn best with video content, aim to always add a video version to every text page. The video may duplicate or complement the text content.
  • Add governance policies to a separate section.
  • On the site home page, always include a roadmap that guides end users to all the help items and governance policies hosted on the site.
  • Set a routine schedule to update help items so that the site content remains usable.
  • Make efforts to always answer questions as soon as possible; user retention depends on your speed and punctuality.
  • Besides you, the site owner, appoint a team of moderators for the site. The group may include people from the executive, IT personnel, super-users, and other informal influencers.

All the options that you take should produce a training site that is intuitive, searchable, and, more importantly, helpful.

To build a training site that is easier to scale and manage, leverage the power of modern pages in SharePoint Communication Site. It is mobile-devices-responsive and multimedia friendly. Plus, new web parts and extension capabilities are being added regularly.

Wikis, publishing sites, and team sites have also been used with good success.

Grow a Learning and Reference Portal That Grows SharePoint Usage

Regardless of the approach, you take to user training, a custom-made user-friendly help center will always play a major role.

To achieve a SharePoint usage level that justifies the investment, create and grow a learning and reference portal that fits in your Optimal Training Strategy.

With all help items and governance policies in one place, it gets easier to start sending daily training emails, holding Q&A sessions, and providing context-sensitive help.

Once the training site is set up, get to the training program No.3, broadcasting daily training emails.


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