The Rise of the Power User

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of presenting at SharePoint Cincy, Breakout: Power User. For a small event, held at MAX Technical Training in Mason, Ohio, it’s worth noting that the attendees were treated with a number of well-known national and international speakers. The keynote was provided by Microsoft Senior Product Manager, Chris McNulty, and speakers included a number of Microsoft MVPs – Organizer Sean McDonough, Michelle Caldwell, Wes Preston and Mark Rackley. That’s not to dismiss the other speakers, I heard great things about the other sessions too! While the speakers all agreed that the audience wasn’t entirely power users, it was great to see new, non-technical faces in the audience as well. Our SharePoint community is alive and well here in Cincinnati! This is one event that packed a big punch on the heels of the exciting news of Microsoft renewing their vows with SharePoint a growing buzz of excitement around a platform that previous lacked the ‘cool factor’ in the face of competition.


Following the event, I started wondering why our technical community would find value in power user focused sessions. For those not familiar, we generally define a power user as an employee who is a leader in their organization by maximizing the capability of SharePoint – from the user interface only. Power Users aren’t developers and very often are not technical, rather they help bridge the gap between the business users and IT. Power users are critical to the success of SharePoint because they not only understand SharePoint fundamentals, but they understand the business well too. Which brings me back to my original question…why are more technical users focusing on the fundamentals?

The reality is, we are ALL power users now!

It’s pretty exciting to see the technical crowd embracing the importance of SharePoint as it relates to the business. As more organizations move to Office 365, suddenly the focus has shifted from maintaining servers and applying patches to actually focusing on HOW to use SharePoint. With nothing left to manage on the back end, combined with the new user-friendly features that are now being rolled out, the Power User really has a chance to shine as they work side by side with their technology department. SharePoint is going back to what it was meant to be from the beginning – a platform where the responsibility can be delegated out away from IT and into the hands of the business users. With the additional security and compliance features that are being built in, we can trust that we can allow our power users and business users to be creative but also provide proper security boundaries to protect our intellectual property. By providing them ownership of their site, this also promotes user adoption because they were part of the creation process and user adoption is core to SharePoint success!

At the end of the day, I think SharePoint is finally getting the attention it deserves, both from Microsoft and from the technical community as a whole. I’ve seen large organizations buy into 365 simply at the realization that videos can be shared that directly impact their bottom line. I’ve also seen organizations completely change the way they work with SharePoint in its current form, imagine the possibilities now with new user interfaces, easy mobile access, and improved security! These are exciting times for everyone – and a note to my power users – I hope you are ready to lead the way!


If you’re a power user or you are technical and want to get your power users more involved, there are a lot of resources available to you. Here are a few of the places I like to visit for new ideas and the latest information:

•Microsoft Office Blog◦Note: for more SharePoint specific information you can go here – but I like to hear all about Sway, Delve, Planner, Outlook and all of the applications. It seems like new apps are released all the time!

•Sharegate’s Blog◦Yes, Sharegate is a migration tool, but their blogs are second to none when it comes to breaking down complicated topics. Ben Niaulin and fellow co-workers consistently generate great content from governance to technical step by step instructions.

•Microsoft FastTrack Roadmap◦This roadmap is a great way to keep up on updates that are currently planned for Office 365 subscribers. You can learn which features are launched, which are still rolling out to tenants, and which ones are in development. It will also link you to the office blogs which describe more about each of those features too!

•Taming Those Hoarders Session◦Last but not least, this is my session from the photo above. If you want some tips and tricks on user engagement and free tools please check out my presentation! Slide share is another good way to get content from conferences you haven’t been able to attend, so feel free to browse around on the site.

There are also technical conferences that have tracks for Power Users, such as @SPTechCon Boston. You can check that out here. Register with code DONAHUE to save $400!

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