By Luke Gaiter, Manager – Technology Training, University of Queensland Library. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why we introduced Office 365
At the University of Queensland (UQ) Library, we engage with other areas on a variety of projects that support research and teaching. It was often difficult to work on files together as different areas used their own intranet systems or shared network drives. These issues drove a demand for Office 365 and SharePoint as an intranet solution for the University. The Library offered to take part in the pilot to support the upskilling of University staff and students when Office 365 is rolled out across UQ. We set up a project team of 11 people to plan the transition and run staff training.
Upskilling our staff
UQ Library staff were familiar with intranet systems but there were some notable differences between the previously used system (Confluence) and SharePoint. To tackle these differences and support staff to use SharePoint, the project group organised individual training for each team. The sessions allowed us to build an understanding of the information management needs of the teams and identify skill gaps. Many of the sessions brought to light new questions or ways of working.
We then offered weekly ‘drop-in’ sessions to allow staff to ask questions, work through problems and discuss options for using the platform. These sessions fostered a community of practice environment where staff could share and learn from others’ experiences.
We identified gaps in understanding of the different content types and when to use the different features. Such as “when do I use a Document Library vs a List vs a OneNote file?” The training team organised “intensives”. These specific sessions tackled one feature at a time in more depth than the introductory training:
- Document libraries
- Web parts
Encouraging staff to see the benefits
The project team did a lot of work to communicate the benefits of the change, pointing out problems that could be solved. For example, multiple staff would be able to work on the same file together in SharePoint and OneDrive. Many staff had experienced the frustration of opening a file on the network drive and being blocked as someone else already had it open.
We focused on how it could help us improve our workflows, allowing us to respond quickly to changes happening in the wider university landscape.
With more staff needing to work from home (COVID-19), it has been perfectly timed as it allows easy communication and collaboration between staff in different physical locations.
Access controls – A Microsoft Team environment automatically creates a SharePoint site. The site permissions come from Teams, meaning everyone has editing and viewing access. Files that require access restrictions cannot be effectively stored. To handle this type of content, we created a stand-alone SharePoint site known as a ‘hub site’ that is linked to the Teams SharePoint site but also has access controls.
Recording meetings fills up your space fast – If staff use Teams to record their online meetings it very quickly fills up the file storage. We have put in place policies on what to record and how long to store these recordings.
Guidelines for using Office 365 – This table was created to help staff understand which element of Office 365 to use and who will have access to the documents and information.
|Tool||When to use||Who can view and edit|
|Library Intranet site||Share news, events, information, and relevant documents across the Library||Designated Library staff can edit and set view permissions|
|Teams SharePoint||Create and share information and documents relevant to your organisational unit, project, work group including team processes||All Library staff (or all members of the team)|
|Teams channel||To chat, plan and share information with your library or project teams||All Library staff|
|Teams chat||Private conversations between members of the chat – not for any official decision making||Only those included in the chat|
|OneDrive||Drafts, your own files||Only those you allow|
Version control – It was necessary to reinforce the use and advantages of version control built into SharePoint. The version system allows users to quickly revert or make copies when needed. The ability for multiple people to access and edit files at once meant mistakes and overwrites occurred as staff adjusted to the new ways of working.
Adjusting to a different file storage method – Staff have found it a hurdle to adjust from a site-tree with nested folders organised by areas and teams to SharePoint’s Document Libraries and flat file storage that requires custom metadata and sorting and filtering.
Ongoing change management
As the Library is part of the pilot program for the university, this is just the first step in a wider adoption process across UQ. We expect there to be ongoing changes and more lessons to be learned.