Planning for next year’s project? Listen to your end users.

It’s that time of the year again, strategic planning.

Personally, I enjoy this time of the year. The organization as a whole gets to join together and talk through goals, needs, and pain points. Hopefully this isn’t the moment when you are beginning to gather your project ideas. If it is, that’s okay just get caught up, you don’t want your budget needs to be overlooked. In this article I’m going to outline some tips for picking up on your end users needs throughout the year, and during your strategic planning as well.


Spend Time In Various Departments

I am guilty just as much as the next person. It’s human nature to be attracted to departments that make you laugh, has great discussions, or just provides the most snacks. Other departments may be the quiet few that slip from your radar, these departments still have great input into your enterprise system development.

Grant yourself time every quarter to make house-calls. Larger organization may have many branches or buildings, go visit your colleagues. This time doesn’t need to be spent on technology projects, but just a visit. There is no need to for you to schedule a meeting, or find a room. Just stop into their space, watch how they are working, and ask questions. Here’s a couple great questions to get the conversation going?

  • How do you like working in your team site?
  • Is there anything your having trouble finding?
  • Is there any information you’d like to see added?
    • Leave this one open ended.. it could be metadata, libraries, custom lists, who knows…

Attend outside of work organization functions

Networking with your colleagues and peers outside of work is a great opportunity for them to begin opening up to you about their dreams of an ideal workplace. I’m not saying go out and become friends with your entire organization, but make an effort to step out of the office to do networking during off hours. Individuals that may be afraid of voicing opinions around management staff could lend great ideas to an organizational wide project. Remember, knowledge workers that are on the front line are going to use SharePoint much more than senior level staff.

My job is boring…”

Hopefully you don’t think your job is boring! End users have a tendency of down talking what it is they do on a daily basis. End users that are either afraid of change or hating talking will tell you “My job is boring…” or “I don’t really do anything that important…” peers like these will typically be your technology fence sitters. Getting to know these end users better may produce large quantities of processes that are currently inefficient, making their lives easier may free them up to learn other job roles that they may not consider to be so booorrring.

End Users may throw the line out that their job is boring, or that they don't do anything important..
End Users may throw the line out that their job is boring, or that they don’t do anything important..

Planning season should be fun, entertain others ideas because you never know where your next innovative solution to human issues may come from. If you have a topic you’d like to see covered, I’d love to hear about it! Till next time… Happy SharePointing!

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