Case Study: US Office of the Inspector General (OIG)

How Learning SharePoint Kept an Enterprise Government Client Sharp

Leveraging upfront assessment and analysis, ASPE delivered an efficient and remarkably effective SharePoint training program for a major federal client – 16 half-day end user classes and 6 full-day power user classes for OIG nationwide.

A Critical Client: U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG)

The Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is at the forefront of U.S. efforts to fight waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare, Medicaid and more than 300 other government programs. It is an independent nationwide organization of over 1,600 professionals dedicated to promoting economy, efficiency and effectiveness in HHS programs.

OIG is a highly motivated organization. They use a range of audit and investigative tools to enforce correct and lawful use. They rely on extensive sharing of information and enterprise collaboration to stay on top of enforcement efforts. Microsoft SharePoint is a critical component of their IT infrastructure, but like many enterprise organizations they faced steep challenges when their leaders tried to deploy the product across the organization.

How the OIG’s Needs Were Met 

Like many other ASPE enterprise SharePoint training customers, the Office of the Inspector General required a full complement of supportive services in order to make sure their training investment paid off. We began the process with due diligence and consulting, analyzing the OIG’s organizational processes and mapping training classes accordingly. Throughout the program, a priority of the partnership was establishing and monitoring benchmarks of success in order to make sure initial requirements were met. This upfront analysis and curriculum design, combined with a structured monitoring process, allowed the training program to be verifiable and goal driven. If adjustments were needed or challenges occurred with benchmarking, ASPE experts were on hand to provide follow-up coaching and verification that the SharePoint product and the user skills were being adopted as intended. In summary, the following enterprise services formed the framework of the OIG's training program:

  • Organizational process assessment
  • Enterprise needs analysis
  • Benchmarking and goal planning
  • Curriculum design
  • Enterprise training delivery
  • Follow-up coaching and benchmark verification 

How the ASPE Solution Worked

ASPE developed and delivered custom SharePoint training for the OIG’s power users and end users. Power users needed more breadth of skills and had administrative responsibility, while end users needed specific, targeted skills. ASPE accomplished this training specific to their needs. ASPE’s SharePoint experts worked on site with the OIG SharePoint teams to understand why the previous deployment was unsuccessful and to focus on what could be done differently this time.

ASPE’s SharePoint experts collected OIG’s proposed governance plan and policies, key user requirements and scenarios, as well as screenshots of the OIG branded environment to formulate training outlines designed to make sure the training we delivered would cover all of the key learning objectives. OIG wanted to deliver end user training to every user and power user training to all IT personnel. The focus of the end user training was to help secure successful usage of SharePoint, while the power user training was to help IT personnel prepare for addressing issues encountered by end users. 

The Challenges of Enterprise SharePoint

Large groupware environments in large organizations involve critical factors independent of the technology. Like many organizations, the OIG invested substantial time and effort into their SharePoint deployment, only to quickly see that end user adoption was lacking. Although everything on the technology side had been done correctly, end users in the agency did not adopt the new tools. It was an archetypal example of a large SharePoint implementation that yielded little benefit to the organization. 

Why does this happen? If the challenges don't lie with the technology or engineering, it must lie with the people. Teams are consistently willing and competent to perform the jobs. Lack of adoption doesn't usually result from any fault of the users. Rather it’s because deployment planning doesn't adequately account for human behavior. This situation may sound like a complex challenge. In reality, it often isn’t. 

From an end user point of view, effort is measured in the clicks it takes to navigate a task, and the seconds it takes to do. For example, even in today's age of technology literacy and advanced UX design, users won’t spend time learning new places to click. Even simple tools won't be adopted if a nominal amount of time isn’t taken to guide someone through a tour of new functions, and how to efficiently combine them into a process. 

Likewise, if the processes a new groupware environment is designed to support aren’t faster or easier than what exists, then users simply won’t convert to something new, even if it looks better on paper.

Therefore, it’s a relatively straightforward matter to anticipate how and why a platform like SharePoint may not get adopted. The solution revolves around educating users on tools, and a bit of process analysis, to make sure new user skills and procedures match the needs of the organization. From there, it’s just a matter of training the users.

The situation at OIG reflected this dilemma. Previous attempts to deploy SharePoint ended in a frustrating lack of use. ASPE consulted with them and designed a training program that dovetailed with the operational needs of the agency. As an integral part of the training design, organizational processes and needs were audited, analyzed and verified as training for users was designed. 

The OIG Response

The Office of the Inspector General was uniformly happy with the result of our solution and our implementation. Throughout the training and coaching process, positive feedback was continually heard. The results of our partnership were best summarized by one of the OIG's own employees: 

“We were very pleased with the customized SharePoint end user and power user / site administration training program that ASPE provided for our SharePoint 2010 implementation. Our overall employee usage of SharePoint increased from negligible to 50% within the first two months following the training and we expect this only to increase as we roll out release two of our SharePoint applications this fall. ASPE provided in-depth custom content development and hands-on training deliveries at four sites nationwide to a population of over 300 employees. We credit ASPE for their help in our achieving a very successful SharePoint deployment.”

— Prasad Sombhatta, Director of Information Division,
Office of Inspector General, US Dept of Interior


Executive Summary

Customer Name: U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG)
Location: Nationwide
Number of Employees: 1600
Services Needed by the OIG 

  • Organizational needs assessment
  • Expert review of past failures
  • Milestone & Benchmark Definition
  • Custom training development and delivery

Success highlights

Employee SharePoint usage increased from negligible to 50% within the first two months following the training
Customized content allowed for OIG’s actual branded SharePoint environment to be used in training
Higher level power user training enabled OIG to continue to train internally without ASPE’s help 

Courses Delivered

SharePoint Power User Boot Camp – Training on more advanced and extensive SharePoint skills for tech leaders and admins 
SharePoint for End Users – Purpose-designed training program for the “doers” on the ground in an organization