Conference Notes

Share2011 – Turning the Tide – From Chaos to Clarity (Sarah Haase, Best Buy, USA)

Sarah Haase is the Collaboration Manager at Best Buy in the US. She is talking about success with SharePoint.

Key points:
– Sarah outlined a “perfect view” of SharePoint in any organization. No one at the conference was there yet.
– A better and more realistic view – we are on a good road, but there some breaks in the road.
– At Best Buy, Sarah says they have turned the tide from an uncontrolled deployment with organic growth to something that is more controlled.
– Best Buy – a consumer electronics retailer, with $50 billion in annual sales, and 180,000 employees worldwide. Corporate culture is “entreprenuerial and focused.” We believe that every employee brings new ideas to the organization, and we want to support and enable them to do great things.
– So … if anyone can implement SharePoint in a decentralized way, how do you turn the tide to bring more control.
– Another point of complexity – an outsourced IT department. You can have a SharePoint Site Collection if you want and are willing to pay for it. But IT does nothing beyond giving you the Collection.
– … This raises some big issues – around giving of open permissions to people.
– … This also means we have a wide range of sites – from file sharing, to something more.
– Summary – we have easy entry to implementing new ideas … but there are no formal standards (no one to help people along the way).
– When they started in 2006, Best Buy had 100 GB of space. In 2011, have 9 TB of data storage available (with 6 TB currently used).

With that background … how do you turn the tide?
– Sarah’s three principles:

– Principle 1 – the power of one to turn the tide . There have been others in years past – as one – who have made a big difference.
– … in 2007, Sarah started to think about how to make a difference. Of the sites there, 60% were document overflow (file share), and 35% were project sites.
– … the problem – a lack of vision, 90% using less than 5% of the functionality, and no information architecture. Lots of user complaints.
– … the strategy – (a) process optimization – getting rid of the soul destroying mindless tasks, (b) information architecture, and (c) community involvement.
– … in her department, Sarah set up a new structure … and realized a $500,000 annual ROI (and it’s growing)
– … big question – how do I spread this learning and opportunity more widely?

– Principle 2 – the power of a renaissance
– … Sarah needed to find others at Best Buy who were doing cool things with SharePoint.
– … But Sarah didn’t know them. However, a Microsoft person did know of the different people (by talking to lots of people), and made the introductions.
– … And then they started finding more and more people who were interested in the same thing.
– … Were able to drive better user adoption, due to referencing what other departments were doing (see the Exemplar Stories strategy in User Adoption Strategies for more on the power of this.)
– … One realization – we need to change the IT culture. The external outsourced IT department doesn’t work too great … because the current big process approach was not needed.
– … What they did – formed a governance team from across the organization. Key issues – roles and responsibilities, performance issues, training plan, etc.
– … The governance team are responsible for SharePoint 2010 … and existing users are welcomed to transition from SharePoint 2007 to 2010, but the controls are greater.

– Principle 3 – the power of a first follower:
– … If you don’t have more people already doing things with SharePoint, you need to embrace the power of a first follower. Find one person who believes in what you are doing. This should be your first SharePoint customer – build them something great, and they will become a recommender and champion.
– … Find something that – is associated with a current business pain, is a simple problem that hits lots of people, has various repeatable elements, can be delivered quickly … and more.
– … Sarah’s formula for such success – 80% of out-of-the-box lists, and 20% “other” (eg., Slide Library, document library, filtering, etc.)
– … An early application – changing a weekly report from an Excel spreadsheet to a SharePoint library. The application was something the team did it every week – it changed the way they worked.

– Key mindset: if you want to turn the tide, infiltrate rather than invade.

1. With so many locations, how did you handle training?
(Answer) Most of Sarah’s users are in one location, so she deals with them directly. For other people, use YouTube videos and WebEx meetings.

2. How do you manage the demand for people around new sites?
(Answer) Sarah has a SharePoint list for tracking each request. In the first meeting with the potential client, estimates the time involved and return on investment. Can then rank potential projects based on scope and involvement. For projects that require lots of hours, they might get an external consultant to build the application.