In-House vs. Outsource: Which Way to Go When It Comes to SharePoint Training?

Many companies could benefit from investing in SharePoint training for their staff to take their web development capabilities to new heights.

According to a recent survey by cloud provider Rackspace, 78 percent of Fortune 500 companies use the Microsoft web application and content management portal, but 34 percent of SharePoint users admit that they aren't utilizing it to its full potential. In reality, this percentage is likely higher if you include employees who don't know that they don't know what they don't know. (You get the idea.) Still, if one-third of users publicly recognize that their company dwells in the doldrums of inefficient use practices, it's fairly clear that additional SharePoint instruction could be both eye-opening and beneficial. There are a few options companies have to conduct their SharePoint training. In-house and outsourced are the two natural divisions, but within each category are several different choices. Chief information officers and IT department managers need to assess the current state of SharePoint in their company to plot a course of action.

SharePoint Training: In-House Choices

One in-house option is to have one or more members of the IT team, or even the business department, build up their SharePoint acumen and brush the dust off of long-unused components. The biggest plus? These users are accustomed to your company's work strategies. The biggest weakness? These users are accustomed to your company's work strategies. Old habits die hard, and it may be difficult to separate objective training from subjective expectations, whether on a business, department or employee level. The blinders that often accompany a hasty deployment of any sprawling tech application are likely what led to SharePoint underutilization in the first place. However, aggressively fostering a new way of thinking can be a good thing. Collaboration is increasingly essential to coping with modern business demands, observes Jared Spataro, director of SharePoint product management, in an interview with TechNet Magazine. An in-house training system for employees, by employees, can make for a well-oiled machine with strong long-term potential. Another in-house option is to invest in online SharePoint training. There are several courses, including those Microsoft offers, which tackle different aspects of SharePoint usage. This can be the most cost-effective option. There is one caveat, however. Given SharePoint's scope, it's important that CIOs and IT department managers target training sessions most relevant to employee needs.

SharePoint Training: Outsourced Options

Working with an expert may be the best way to shore up deficiencies in SharePoint usage. This option is likely to be more expensive than in-house training, but managers ultimately could get more bang for their buck. One approach is to send employees to a conference specifically geared toward SharePoint training, from teaching the nitty-gritty of its functionality to exploring innovative ways to use it for business growth. Another option is to hire a SharePoint expert for a training project. This expert could help employees learn more about SharePoint in the context of their actual working environment, as well as provide hands-on, personal instruction. Outsourcing to an expert on a project basis also can help employers ensure personnel apply lessons learned. The concentrated, unfiltered attention of a professional SharePoint training expert can be used as personal resource for employees, helping them to apply SharePoint to their job functions and ask questions in a low-key environment. The important thing to keep in mind if you decide to go outside the company is to find a SharePoint training solution that actually addresses your organization's needs. Generic instruction may not make much of an impact in the long term. Robert Half Technology's IT training solutions can be a good place to start your exploration of SharePoint training options. Also, check out this blog post and Robert Half Technology's Salary Guide for insight into the value of SharePoint skills in today's IT hiring market.