During a recent SharePoint for Business Seminar, the CIO asked for an example of a team agreement around SharePoint usage. This is one of the strategies for success that I recommend in the white paper–it’s actually Step 4 of the six step framework–and thus talk to in the seminar.
Here’s a baseline structure for one. However, note that all of these points are up for debate within the team; I take the view that these points will initially vary widely within teams from the same organization, but expect that over time there will be convergence towards more commonality as the organization develops a shared way of “doing SharePoint”.
The mission (shared outcome), charter and shared values of the team will be prominently displayed within the SharePoint site, using the wiki capabilities. This Agreement on usage will also be in the Team Charter wiki.
There are a number of documents that we will need to draft, revise and finalize during our work. Once the documents are finalized, they will be made available for wider distribution via publication on our intranet. This team space is a temporary working area for getting work done and achieving our common objectives, not a resting place for finalized documents.
To minimize document version chaos, we will use the wiki capabilities in SharePoint (either the native ones or those integrated from a third party, eg, Socialtext) for drafting and revising documents. When a document has a clear owner, that person’s name will be noted at the top of the document, and proposed revisions will be shared via comments. When a document is clearly a collaborative effort, edits and proposed revisions will be made directly in the body of the document.
Wiki documents will be exported to Microsoft Word when they are finalized; the Word version will be shared with others in the organization and will be embedded at the top of the wiki page to show it is final.
At each meeting of the whole team or a working group thereof, meeting notes will be captured and shared through the Meeting wiki. These notes should highlight who attended, the main points for discussion and debate, and the major decisions reached. These notes should be shared no later than one business day after the conclusion of the meeting.
A wiki will be used for this rather than Word documents in order to keep the information within the space, to make it easy to update the meeting notes with additional details, and to reduce the need for people to have to load Word.
Team Events and Tasks Items
All upcoming whole team and working group meetings will be entered into the Calendar in the SharePoint site. Individuals will link the SharePoint Calendar to their Outlook Calendar for an easy way of keeping up with what’s happening.
Task items will be stored in the SharePoint site also, each with an identifiable owner. Individuals should link the Task list with Outlook, so they can see what tasks have been assigned to them in the context of their other projects and responsibilities. It is the responsibility of each individual to assess their ability to perform the tasks they have been asked to own within this project in the context of their other work. As soon as it is clear that there are conflicting or overwhelming demands on the person, this should be flagged for discussion and resolution. Individuals are welcome to request help and assistance from their managers, as required.
The members of this team recognize that keeping informed about the current state of play is important for forward movement on this project. Each team member accepts personal responsibility for keeping up with what’s happening, either through visiting the SharePoint site daily, or requesting automated alerts whenever something of interest to them changes.
Someone on the team needs to remind others–and demonstrate–how to set up email notification alerts, link certain lists to Outlook or Groove, or use RSS.
It is natural, normal and entirely expected that teams composed of people from different backgrounds will have frequent disagreements about values, priorities and style. However, it is by working through these differences that new, unique and highly valuable ideas and perspectives emerge.
Disagreements over minor points can swiftly morph into major rifts if the communication is handled electronically. If you feel that you are not getting suitable closure on a point of disagreement, or team member relationships are being strained, seek resolution through some form of interactive communication. A face-to-face meeting is best, but a phone call may need to suffice given the geographical distribution of team members.
Once the issue has been resolved, team members agree to write up the point of disagreement, the pros and cons of each approach, and the final decision that was reached, and publish this into the SharePoint team space so others can understand what happened and learn from it.
Keeping People on Track
As a team, we have discussed this Agreement and agreed to abide by the ideas herein. If, during the course of our work together, we individually or jointly notice that people on the team are doing things differently to what we’ve agreed, we will speak up. Eg, “Hey Fred, we agreed to use SharePoint for that. Can you please put it in there.“
When new people join the team, they must be informed of the existence of this Agreement. Their willingness to work according to the intent of this Agreement is expected.
Revising This Agreement
We are a bunch of creative and insightful people, and are bound to come up with ideas on how to improve our ways of working together using SharePoint. Individuals agree not to implement such changes unilaterally, but rather to raise the idea on the “Ideas for Improvement” page in the Charter wiki, for input from others and for convergence on a shared best idea.
Have you implemented the Agreements idea at your place of work? Have you got one to share?