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
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
“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,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the ITaP Service Catalog.