Month: August 2010

Book Review: User Adoption Strategies by Michael Sampson

Beginning of June, I received Michael Sampson‘s brand new "User Adoption Strategies" book.

User Adoption Strategies BookIn the 260+ pages (as stated, "I want this to be a book you can read quickly and apply rapidly.", which I can confirm), Michael explains why there’s a need for a user adoption strategy (simply said "What is the biggest complaint around the introduction of new collaboration technologies into a group or organization? The answer: No one uses them."), and provides a quite simple process with multiple strategies (you don’t have to use all of them, but of course can select the ones that are relevant and suitable for your enterprise). While it took me a while to finish reading the book due to time constraints, during the actual times that I could read it, I didn’t want to stop. The author truly holds his promise that it’s a book to "read quickly and apply rapidly".

The first chapter explores the basics and explains the need for user adoption strategies. Particularly interesting here (and generally in the whole book) is that Michael focuses on what he calls the "Second Wave People", the people who have use the new technology as it is provided, and did not participate in an "early adopter" stage. The reason behind this is that these people form the majority of all users in a company, and these are the ones that need to be "convinced" the most. This is what make the book so useful, as you will generally have to put in more effort into engaging these users than others!

Chapter three goes on to explain the change processes that are involved, and the author provides a short roadmap with explanations for each step. Afterwards, he describes how people nowadays collaborate with each other.

Chapter 5 onwards contains the real gems! In here, Michael first describes a four stage process to get users engaged, and describes multiple strategies for each stage in the following chapters. In itself, the "Four Stages" are a very simple, but well thought through and powerful process:

Four Stages

Michael dedicates a chapter to each stage, and provides 3-6 (18 in total) different strategies for each stage. Not only does he list them, but he lays out in detail what they, how to use them, why to use them, and why they work, all usually backed up by data gathered from his survey.

Excerpt
(Excerpt from index)

What I enjoyed most from the book is the way Michael explains these strategies. Not only do you get to know how they work, but also when to apply them (in which situation), and why they actually help you. All that written in a very understandable language filled with lots of examples, making it easy for you to grasp the concepts immediately when you read about them. While reading, a few times I thought "why didn’t I think about this before!". These aren’t complex frameworks for which you need to read and think a lot beforehand to understand them, and neither does it take a lot of time to apply them.

Excerpt
(Excerpt from the book)

As I said, the strategies are usually backed up by survey data, which Michael acquired by conducting a global survey with more than 400 responses. Those strategies are not just theoretical concepts, but proven strategies!

My recommendation: go and order the book (US$39 incl. shipping), in my opinion it’s a must have for anyone who is planning to implement SharePoint( or already has), or more generally speaking works on an IT project and wants to improve the user adoption!

AIIM SharePoint Practitioner Certification

AIIM, in their own words "the leading non-profit organization focused on helping users to understand the challenges associated with managing documents, content, records, and business processes", recently launched some new SharePoint certifications. Whereas the existing certifications from Microsoft focus on developers and server administrators, these new certifications rather target IT managers, business users, staff that is directly involved in the rollout of SharePoint, and similar.

The following image shows the structure of the certification program as a whole, including the 2 "main" certifications (Practitioner, Specialist):

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I had the opportunity to start with the SharePoint Practitioner certification end of July, and finished it (well, and got my certification!) 6 days later. I’ve also registered for the SharePoint Specialist course, which will be ready in another 2-3 weeks.

The website says about the Practitioner course: "The SharePoint Practitioner track covers concepts and technologies for SharePoint, and is available as an online or classroom training course leading to a Practitioner designation. The online course consists of 13 online modules, and each module is approximately 45 minutes. The primary focus of this training is on 2010 capabilities, touching on 2007 or earlier capabilities as needed." Or in other words, "What is SharePoint?"

For each module, you can download some resources (usually the presentation slides as well as a summary), view the online presentation (the slides including some audio with further information), and of course do the online exam:

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If you launch the online presentation, you will see the following screen:cd85c450-bb24-4fab-9c22-f5747b10ffd6

As you can see, the slides are presented on the right side, with the navigation on the left. Additionally, you can switch the navigation to a thumbnail view of the slides, a notes view (which is the text that is narrated), or a Search that searches all slides and their corresponding notes.

 

For example, if you switch to Notes, this is what you will get for the same slide:
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My recommendation while going through this online presentation is to switch to the Notes view and take notes where applicable. Not everything that is contained in these notes is on the slides, however all of it (slides AND notes) are relevant for the exams!

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For each module, there is an exam to pass. Once you passed all 13 exams (1 introductory exam, 12 for the modules), you get the overall certificate and can call yourself SharePoint Practitioner.

Each exam consists of 12 questions plus an additional three feedback questions (naturally, those three don’t count towards the result). A question is either a true/false question, or a multiple choice where you need to choose either one of four options, or select all choices that apply.

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Once you answered all 15 (12+3) questions, you get to this overview screen where you can go back to individual answers, or click on "Grade Exam" to get your result.

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Once you have your exam graded, you will see immediately if you passed or not. In either case, you will get a general hint in which areas you answered wrongly (though you have to remember which questions are applicable for these areas, you don’t have the chance to review them).

If you passed your exam, you can download a certificate that shows that you passed this particular module.

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My opinion:
For myself, I didn’t learn many new things, as I’ve been working with SharePoint for 3 years now. The course is more suitable for people who want to get a broad overview of the features an functionalities of SharePoint 2010, and how they can be used. If you already have some experience with SharePoint, it should be quite easy to pass it.