Champion NOUN (Supporter):a person who enthusiastically supports, defends, or fights for a person, belief, right, or principle
Cambridge Dictionary, Online
In my day to day role, I talk to clients about the use of Champions; how their introduction and involvement in Office 365 projects will improve the outcome and user adoption of the objectives that are to be met.
I have also heard a champion go by many different names, which can be a clever way to introduce them to your organisation e.g. Superheroes, Ambassadors and Jedi’s.
For this blog I have tasked myself with detailing 10 features/skills of a SharePoint and Office 365 Champion (and I am sure there are a lot more) to help organisations decide on who the best fit is for the role and what work is needed to adapt users to be a successful supporter of your solutions.
A champion should be advertised within the organisation as a person who can support other users and be able to take questions or ideas back to the Office 365/SharePoint/Intranet Committee. Therefore, they must be a person who others believe they can approach and talk to. If a champion has a closed personality (which is not a bad thing in general) then they are perhaps not suited to a role which is dependent on being approached on a frequent basis.
It is great that your Chief Executive Office (CEO) and your Chief Financial Office (CFO) are both identified as Champions of the solutions you are rolling out, as this meets the “lead by example” criteria for increasing user adoption. However, these two individuals are likely to not be available for generic Office 365 questions as they will have an extremely busy diary.
Being available does not mean that you have to drop what you are doing, but it does mean that you can discuss an idea or support an individual at short notice (even if this is still added to the diary), therefore your champions should not be individuals who are unable to spare the time for others because of their workload.
A champion must be considerate of others, as they will not have been as heavily involved in the project so will be coming at it from a direction of needing to change. This means that champions should be aware that they are supporting users who may have used older systems or done stuff in a similar way for many years and are now expected to learn new solutions late into their career.
From experience, I understand that it can be hard to deal with a difficult individual who may be really against change or may even not like Microsoft products (it happens!), but as long as you take the time to listen to the concerns and discuss them then a resolution can be achieved.
A master’s degree in Office 365 and SharePoint is not needed to be an Office 365 champion (although it would be beneficial!) but it is important to ensure your champions have been provided the relevant level of training needed to support your solutions.
The education must cover the technical elements of the system but should not be limited to this. It is just as important to be educated on the aims, objectives and goals of the organisation and how these are being achieved by Office 365 so that the individual can become a true supporter by relaying these messages e.g. efficient workplace, return on investment, flexible working etc…
This one is quite simple; if a person does not like change, then they are not going to be able to advocate change.
It is critical that your champions are able to think about the “to be” that is being progressed towards, and is not held back by the “what was” and when another individual in the organisation states that “we have always done it this way” then the champion should have a forward-thinking answer for why things are changing and be able to sell the benefits of the change.
Have Technical Foundations
A champion does not have to be an expert in IT systems as you will already have a team or support partner that provides that, but they do need to have some familiarity with using IT systems to assist with supporting Office 365 and SharePoint.
A champion can act as first line support in some instances, for example, they should be able to assist people with logging in, finding the right URL/Link for their data and updating their profile information etc…
On occasions, a champion will be asked a question or shown a problem that they are unable to resolve, and that’s OK. However, being able to articulate what the issue is, as an escalation to the IT team will assist in the item being resolved quickly e.g. a champion should recognise that a user is in a Document Library versus a List, whereas a new user may not know this yet.
Champions should be considerate (an earlier trait) of new ideas that are raised to them. Not all ideas are right and not all of them will be a good idea, but a champion needs to remember that users who are open to making suggestions are key personnel; as they are engaging with the system and happy to come on board for the transformation journey.
I would recommend that employees are thanked for their ideas, told that they will discuss them with the relevant committee or project team and then feedback as this builds trust. Remember that you sometimes need to listen to lots of unworkable ideas (trying not to say “bad”!) before a great idea arrives. This is what it means to keep an open mind.
A champion is a lot like a salesperson; they are selling change, transformation, new solutions and benefits to their peers and colleagues. I know that I am always more likely to buy from a salesperson who shows great passion in the product they are pushing, as opposed to one who is just doing what they are told between the working hours of 09:00 – 17:00 and only commission focused.
So, champions need to be passionate, they need to already be engaged with the solution and excited about the future of Office 365 and SharePoint in the organisation. Passion breeds more passion, and a champion does not have to change anything when talking to others as the passion is always obvious when it truly exists.
Champions should represent a cross section of your organisation, to ensure that all bases are covered. This means that each department and business function should have a champion, but also different levels in the business from reception right through to directors.
Now remember earlier when I said that champions “have to be available”, well this is still important. Therefore, you may be restricted when trying to achieve every business level and every area of the organisation – but just aim to cover all that is possible.
A key objective of a champion is to support others. Support them through a transformation journey, support them with a task (e.g. logging in) and support them with an understanding of the messages, aims and objectives that are being pushed alongside Office 365 and SharePoint.
Remember that being supportive mean that you need to listen, you may also need to repeat what you say or show a user the same thing multiple times.
There are many more skills and traits that could be discussed when selecting the right set of champions for the business, and there are lot that span across a range of those that I have talked about above e.g. listening and articulating. However, I hope that this blog has been able to make you think about what is needed and begin to consider who the best personnel would be for your organisation. I would also be interested to hear any further skills and traits that you feel are important based on your experiences.
Remember that Champions are extremely important when working on Office 365 and SharePoint solutions and engagements, so ensure you are starting to address this as a key project objective early in the process.
Another definition of Champion is Winner, and your organisation will be a Winner by using Champions!
Want to discuss this blog further? Thinking of delivering an Intranet or new services into your SharePoint and Office 365 environment? Thinking of taking your first steps to move to Office 365 and SharePoint? – please get in contact and we can help you on a successful journey.