How SkyDrive Saved a Training Session
The hero of this story is Office Web Apps, which are available via SkyDrive. Not sure what Office Web Apps are? Get started here: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/web-apps-help/get-started-with-office-web-apps-HA101785172.aspx.
I’ve been working to build out a SharePoint 2010 environment for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) for a client based in Chicago, IL. To this end, I’ve spent about 90% of my time on-site in their corporate office downtown since May of 2012.
We’re at the point now where we’re starting to deliver our solution to various user groups throughout the organization and, being that this is a widespread organization with locations across the city, this delivery has taken me out to the various locations.
As we deliver our solutions, we meet with the key stakeholders and provide them with some high-level training and hands-on guidance in an effort to facilitate User Acceptance Testing (UAT). The sessions usually follow these steps:
- Travel to the site
- Find the training room
- Log on to the computer that’s connected to the projector (when there is one!)
- Log on to the SharePoint 2010 site
- Download the appropriate files for training (PPTX, DOCX, etc.)
- Open the PPT and wait for my Business Analyst (BA) to kick things off and then I go through my lecture and demo
Up until last week, things have been going great. However, on Friday after following steps 1-5 above, I discovered that the computer on which I would be presenting did not have any version of Microsoft Office installed on it! Hmmm…what to do? Should I try to install a PowerPoint viewer? No; I’m not logged in as a local administrator and therefore do not have installation rights. Should I contact IT and have them help me? No; I’ve got 5 minutes before go time and there’s no way that would work in time.
I needed a way to present a PowerPoint presentation without Office and without installing anything on the computer. Knowing what I know, I turned to SkyDrive. To help me stay organized, I first created a new folder in my SkyDrive called “EKI,” which is my current employer. (This wasn’t a requirement, but something I’ve made a habit of doing so that I can easily clean up after myself later. While I’ve got plenty of space in my personal SkyDrive, I don’t want to clutter it up with short-term content like this presentation for work.) I uploaded the PowerPoint presentation to this folder, and then clicked on it to open it in the PowerPoint Web App and was ready to begin. All of this took only a couple of minutes and the best part is that nobody in the room other than myself was aware of any issues in getting things set up for our training session. Without SkyDrive, our session would have either been significantly delayed or we would have had to completely cancel it and reschedule.
Moral of the Story
Preparation isn’t always everything. As an instructor for the past few years, I know that being resourceful is just as important as being prepared. I often bring my laptop, an external hard drive, and a thumb drive to every event I facilitate. Each has a full copy of any training materials I need. This can include PDFs, OneNote packages, Word and PowerPoint files, Visual Studio solutions, etc. As prepared as I was, there wasn’t much I could do on a computer that didn’t have Office installed on it. So while being prepared is all well and good, this post describes one scenario in which resourcefulness prevails over preparation.
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