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New SharePoint Center of Excellence simplifies processes for University Development Office

In her role as data steward in the University Development Office, Beth McCord often had to take circuitous routes to find information related to SharePoint, Microsoft’s Web-based collaboration software, which is heavily used by her department. 

In the five years since the department’s SharePoint site was created, McCord has relied primarily on email queries, brainstorming sessions with colleagues, and online tutorials to find answers to specific SharePoint questions.

But now that Purdue has launched the SharePoint Center of Excellence, McCord and her colleagues have a one-stop shop for support, training and online resources for the tool.

“Our office uses SharePoint for weekly announcements about new staff, training, strategic events, software links, staff rosters, financial goals and much more,” McCord says. “I’ve always tried to find answers myself when I encounter a problem, but Google only gets you so far. Now, there’s a defined place where I can get answers to my questions, and there’s a very quick turnaround for support.”

McCord says she used resources at the center to develop a report request site on SharePoint, which eliminated the need for email requests and enables individuals to fill out preselected forms to ensure they’re supplying sufficient information to report writers. The request site also provides status tracking and an archive for the requests, which saves time for individuals in McCord’s department. 

“It helps our report writers immensely; those requests are stored so customers can see whether it’s in progress, completed, or when it’s expected to be completed, and they can access reports from the past fiscal year so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.”

Moreover, McCord says Vicki Brantner, SharePoint application specialist at the center, breaks down SharePoint functionality in a way that’s accessible and memorable.

“I want to be able to do this myself, and I often reference what we’ve gone over,” McCord says.

Brantner says many departments are embracing SharePoint because of its ease of use, but that it also offers a lot of tools people may not know about.

“We look at the center as a converging point of expertise, and my job is to coach,” Brantner says. “We want people to walk away from a one-on-one consultation with the guidance they need to get started.”

Brantner will continue to work with the University's SharePoint Technical and Service Oversight committees to ensure best practices are followed and sites are designed to add business value. The center, based in the College of Agriculture's IT department but available as a University-wide resource, answers demand for SharePoint support and education at Purdue.

“As SharePoint usage has grown on campus, we've recognized a need to provide resources that can help individuals and departments leverage the platform,” says Ed Evans, ITaP's director of software services who also chairs the SharePoint Service Oversight Committee.

One of Brantner’s first tasks was to create an online storehouse for resources related to SharePoint policies, training and development on the SharePoint Center of Excellence website, which is available to the Purdue community. The site features best practices, tips, techniques, solution recipes, frequently asked questions and video tutorials about the software.

The SharePoint Users and Developers group will continue to meet on a quarterly basis or more. The next meeting is scheduled to take place from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. Nov. 13 in the Lawson Computer Science Building, Room 1142.

Areas that do not yet have a SharePoint site, or individuals who would like to learn more about SharePoint capabilities, are encouraged to contact Brantner at or visit the ITaP Service Catalog.

Contact Information:   Andrea Thomas, ITaP technology writer, IT Customer Relations, 68204
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