SharePoint Spotlight On – Leanne Wilkins (Johannesburg, South Africa)

Leanne was referred to me 7 months ago by a colleague who attended the Information Worker events.  We’ve had a few sessions since then to discuss governance, user adoption and training strategies.

Where do you work?
Standard Bank, South Africa, IT Production Support.

What is your job title?
Team lead for Intranet and SharePoint Support.

How many SharePoint users in the company and how many are you responsible for?
40,000. We are responsible for all of them :-). Individual site owners are the first point of contact for users (1st level support), while my team does 2nd level support.

What version of SharePoint are you using and how long has it been in the company?
SharePoint 2007 Standard Edition – 3 years.

How did you learn SharePoint and how long have you been using it?
Initially I completed training at Bytes training institution but from there I’ve learnt mostly through trying things on my own (trial and error). I’ve been involved with SharePoint for about 3 years.

What is the biggest challenge you face with user adoption?
There are a number of challenges we are currently facing:

  • User mindset change – people want to keep doing things the way they have always done things (e.g. will send out an email with an attachment instead of with a link to the site where the document is hosted and maintained).
  • Misunderstanding of what SharePoint is and what it can be used for (not just a document repository / replacement for shared drives).
  • User training and misconception of site owner responsibilities – users who are identified as site owners are given the responsibility of using the tool without any / sufficient training and do not realize how much time & what is involved with being a site owner.
  • No executive backing (no dedicated team, budget, mandate, etc).

How are you handling governance?

  • The members of the virtual team have formed a governance forum where we discuss on a weekly basis changes and requests related to SharePoint and come to a unified agreement on the way forward for these.
  • We have defined various processes, standards, best practices and terms and conditions regarding SharePoint and its use.
  • We also have a monthly user focus group where we meet with site owners so that they can share their experiences of SharePoint and collaborate with other site owners as well as provide feedback and solutions to common problems.

Do you have a dedicated SharePoint support team and is it working?
No – we have a virtual team (+/- 6 people) who are involved with support (not formalized, best effort response times).  This virtual team consists of members from user support, application support, architecture and infrastructure.

If you could design the SharePoint dream team what would it consist of?
The team (centre of excellence) would consist of the following roles:

  • Centralized Helpdesk to assist users with common problems
  • Consultants (Champion of Champions)
  • Business analysts
  • Web designers
  • Developers
  • Application support
  • Architects, Researchers & Knowledge Management
  • Infrastructure
  • Trainers
  • Specialists
  • Project manager
  • Operational Manager

Have you built anything cool in SharePoint (out of box) that your users loved, and if so what was it?
Although it’s not out-the-box functionality, we have created a custom workflow using SharePoint Designer 2007 which has assisted us in decreasing the time spent with logging SharePoint user queries.

What functionality do you use the most on a day to day basis?

  1. Lists
  2. Task Assignments & Task Monitoring
  3. Document libraries
  4. Document sharing
  5. Surveys
  6. Calendars linked to Outlook
  7. Alerts and RSS feeds

How has SharePoint changed your life?

  • It has made me more productive.
  • It’s assisted us in sharing knowledge through storing common information in a central location (document libraries and lists and calendars).
  • It’s assisted us with managing the team workload as tasks using task lists.
  • It’s fun to use especially when you know how to use the tool and what it can do. 🙂

What’s the hardest thing about your job?

  • Getting buy-in from management and users.
  • Trying to help users see what SharePoint can really be used for and explaining to them why certain things cannot be done due to governance and restrictions.
  • Insufficient team resources who are dedicated to assisting with SharePoint and the day-to-day running of it.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Being able to assist users in solving a number of their challenges through the use of SharePoint and showing the benefits of this dynamic tool.

What do you know about SharePoint 2010 and are you planning to upgrade?
I don’t know too much about SharePoint 2010 but from what I’ve seen and heard it seems like it could assist with resolving a lot of the challenges that we currently face (better content management and user-friendly interfaces, incorporation of enterprise features as standard).  We are currently investigating SharePoint 2010 and will most likely start upgrading at the end of the year or early 2011.


  1. Hi Veronique,

    It’s really great to see and read more stories about peoples experiences regarding SharePoint, though i must say that. This was a great article to read an learn about Standard Bank’s SharePoint, especially an article done about an ex-team lead that i used to work with and learnt alot from hence that is why today i’m about to do what i done regarding SharePoint.


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