Six keys to success for leveraging SharePoint in your Learning Infrastructure

Bill Finegan, Vice President Enterprise Technology Solutions at GP StrategiesI attended an excellent session by Bill Finegan of GP Strategies at the Questionmark user conference last week. GP Strategies is a quoted company in the performance management, training/learning and consultancy space and one of their specialisms is deploying SharePoint for informal, social and workplace learning. Here is a summary of what Bill suggests are the six keys to success for leveraging SharePoint within a corporate learning environment.

The keys for success are:

1. Define a vision

You are using SharePoint because you have a business need to solve, a business problem that you want the learning to solve. Start from the business need – identify the needs and prioritize them. Don’t start from any feature of SharePoint or any technical baseline – work out the vision and business value and start from there.

A vision document should also include a map of how learners receive and share information, an overview of your IT environment and how SharePoint fits in and where your strategy aligns with technology. It should also include a simple ROI (Return on investment) model. Review with focus groups to ensure that the vision meets user and business needs.

2. Design an engaging user experience

Your use will likely succeed or fail due to the quality of the user experience. If it’s an engaging user interface, there is much more chance of widespread use.

When planning the site, don’t think about the administration or the authoring first, think about the end user first. The success of your use is all about the end user experience. Survey, plan, whiteboard and prototype to make sure the user experience is good,

3. Leverage SharePoint’s features

Concentrate on “out of box” features first, before writing code. For example most sites will benefit from discussion forums.

Use SharePoint to enable task orientated and in-context collaboration, personalized aggregation points, business intelligence gathering and analysis, enterprise searches and enterprise-wide content management.

4. Manage your information architecture

Identify what type of information will be stored and work out how to tag / organize it so can be shared. Effective SharePoint use relies on content being structured, labelled and categorized so that different audiences can navigate and search for information.

5. Measure success

Bill suggests that you should avoid “experimental” tool syndrome. The system should be a production one and aim to produce business value and you should measure this from the beginning.

You should set benchmarks before you begin and measure yourself against them – it’s useful to measure both quantitative items and qualitative items. Some useful quantitative items can be usage, levels of collaboration and the number of searches. Some useful qualitative items can be to run a survey and collate user comments and to look for things people search for that are not found.

You should ensure you measure both learning/training value and business impact.

6.Implement a governance program

Define roles, responsibilities and processes so an enterprise can guide development and use of the solution. Think about this prior to rollout – setting up a governance panel with quarterly meetings works well in many organizations.


I thought these were valuable and worth sharing, thank you Bill for giving permission to do so. For more on what GP Strategies offer in SharePoint, see

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3 Responses to Six keys to success for leveraging SharePoint in your Learning Infrastructure

  1. shalini says:

    Helpful points on keys for success! Thank You John.

  2. Great article! I hope millions read this. We see a lot of corporate intranet projects fail because of your second point: Design an engaging user experience. I like your comment about focusing on out of the box comments before writing code. Really that is applicable to a lot of technologies and anyone reading this article should take a moment and reflect on that.

  3. John says:

    These 6 Sharepoint keys would also translate well in an infographic

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