This is meant to be a little encouragement in the midst of your day of end users telling you SharePoint is “hard to use,” “counter-intuitive,” or any other
expletive adjective of their choice. With a little stylistic care and a little luck, you can have successes that take you a long way down the road of End User adoption!
A couple of weeks ago I wrote an article briefly describing a scheduling system built in SharePoint using nothing but 3 lists, a standard publishing page, and some jQuery.
The goal: to direct parents of 700 students to the online scheduling system for Parent-Teacher Conferences. All bookings had to be performed in the 10 days leading up to the 2-day conferences. A parent could book one slot with each of their child’s teachers, and each slot was 20 minutes long from 12 noon until 6pm. Keep in mind, no signup of this kind has ever been done electronically at this school. Previously everything was on slips of paper delivered in backpacks…followed up by half a day of phone calls to the secretaries.
The potential concerns:
- no ability to “train” parents how to use the system, it must be intuitive
- a good portion of the parent population speak English as a second language, with mostly Chinese or Korean as a first/only language, and about 2 dozen other languages next to those.
- all bookings must be made ENTIRELY online (no call-ins, paper signups or emails…for consistency)
- everyone must book their “own” slots (teachers nor secretaries can book time slots for parents)
- parents must be able to change their time slots at will
- priority must be given in the following order:
- Teachers (to block certain slots for coffee breaks, etc)
- Teachers who have children at the school (to book slots for their children)
- Parents with more than one child in the school
- Parents with only one child in the school (everyone else)
So, on to the success!
As of this writing we’ve just finished Day 8 of the rollout, and we have 612 students who have been booked using the system! By my count that’s just under 88% of children in the school. Now you’re probably about to ask “so how many phone calls and emails did you get?” I don’t have an exact number, but I’d say we’ve received about 20-25 calls/emails from people with “issues.” So with a 96% success rate (4% margin of error) on this first-time rollout, I’m happy!
A breakdown of the issues we did encounter:
- a glitch where about 4 double-bookings occurred
- a bug that wasn’t allowing users on IE7 to proceed with bookings (a simple browser switch did the trick until the fix was applied)
- a glitch where about 5 or 6 parents were able to book slots that the teachers had blocked out
- several login issues (separate from the actual scheduling system)
- 2 cases of “my children” not appearing because of data integrity issues (extra spaces in names being pulled from the SQL server)
All that to say, don’t give up on your SharePoint end users! If a system is necessary enough and simple enough, you can bring them on board faster than you may initially have thought.