Technology

Sharing Minds' Lead Trainers - What Makes Them Tick

 
Above: Owen Huth and Ben Creamer delivering a training session to a client

Above: Owen Huth and Ben Creamer delivering a training session to a client

 

Who are they?

Ben Creamer (BC): I joined Sharing Minds in January 2018 as the General Manager. Over the last 20 years, my career has taken me around the world supporting a range of businesses on Microsoft technology. I have experience in a wide array of skills from my early technical days in IT, to managing and growing teams and building businesses. I love advising customers and partners on the most appropriate use of cloud services and technology but it’s training and change management that really excites me.

Owen Huth (OH): I joined Sharing Minds in June 2019 as a Change Manager to support an existing team of IT professionals. During my career, I have had the opportunity to work in organisations that have various sized footprints, which has given me great insight into various IT ecosystems. Through working and living through the range of technology lifecycles, I have developed a passion for enabling organisations and their people to embrace the challenges these changes bring about.

Best part about the job?

BC: It is fantastic to work as part of a close-knit team of knowledgeable, fun-loving people who are passionate about what they do. I really enjoy the days when I’m out visiting our clients and get the chance to show and teach them how their new online environment works and what they can achieve with it. Recently, I was on a client site in the middle of outback Queensland delivering training on Office 365, which is a testament to how easily accessible the product is, even from the most remote places.

OH: Working with a team that supports one another to achieve a delivery that exceeds the expectations of our customers. This has been achieved by working with highly motivated individuals from different backgrounds banding together. A recent project required a very quick turnaround of a deliverable that I was able to share with my peers, get and action feedback to confidently deliver to a customer (collaborated through Microsoft Teams).

 
Above: Ben Creamer onsite delivering training to a client in regional QLD

Above: Ben Creamer onsite delivering training to a client in regional QLD

 

Favourite moment at Sharing Minds so far?

BC: I was delighted to be a part of Sharing Minds’ 10-year anniversary celebrations in mid-2018. Building a business and growing it over a 10-year period is a significant milestone and credit for the guys before me in making this possible. We made sure to celebrate with the team and stop and smell the roses!

OH: Watching the team band together to face a recent resourcing issue with a deliverable. It was a proud moment to watch as team members came in to assist on the project. This was a favourite moment as I know if I were facing the same issue, the team would have my back.

Why do you love training?

BC: This may sound a little cheesy, but I will never get tired of watching someone’s face during a training session when they realise how much more productive, they can be with their new solution. Whether it’s that taxing task they would usually dread doing everyday now being automated, or the moment when all the dots connect and they discover a new way to do something. That’s the best part about being a Trainer.

OH: Everyone has a different way of working and approaching a task, sometimes the approach works, other times it does not. What I love about training is the delivery of ‘wow moments’, where users realise that something that has been giving them grief for a long time is now resolved.

 
Above: Owen Huth presenting a training session on Office 365 to a client.

Above: Owen Huth presenting a training session on Office 365 to a client.

 

What’s the best training you have received?

BC: I have sat in on many courses over the last 20 years when mentoring and growing my trainer’s capabilities. I always look for energy in the delivery of material, subject matter knowledge and the ability of the trainer to build trust so participants can get involved in discussions and ask questions. I once saw a junior trainer deliver a course to a dozen experts in their field and rather than lecture them, he used their knowledge to facilitate the course and share the info between students.

OH: Throughout my career, I have attended many sessions to achieve a level of professional development. While everyone has a slightly different delivery method, I have found the best deliveries to engage and incorporate the participants. One method involved participants of a lecture in forming groups before delivering their theories on a concept; the trainer then used these theories to expand and enrich everyone’s idea of the concept. This method has always resonated with me when training users, as understanding where a user has come from allows you to deliver much more value.

What do you get up to when you are not in the office?

BC: Living on the beautiful, Sunshine Coast, nothing is better than getting out and about and enjoying the region. I keep busy by playing any sport I can as I love exercising and spending time with friends. My kids love taking their dog down to the beach so that means plenty of weekends by the water.

OH: When I am not in the office, I am spending time with family and enjoying trips out to the family farm. I enjoy playing team sports and am an active Volleyball player. I enjoy drinking coffee, listening to audio books and am a big fan of the Marvel and DC universes.

Are you interested in Office 365 training with Sharing Minds? Please contact us to book your session or for more information.

A Guide to Making the Most of Microsoft Inspire

Microsoft Inspire 2018.

Microsoft Inspire 2018.

Article originally published on 30 May 2019 on the Microsoft Partner Network.

Every year Microsoft Inspire provides diverse opportunities for partners to network and learn with peers, and Microsoft teams and leaders from all over the world.

Last year was the largest conference yet with more than 17,000 partners in attendance from 130 countries. To maximise your Microsoft Inspire ROI, we asked three partners who attended last year’s event to share their top tips.

1. Be Clear

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Be clear on what you want to achieve.” Tim Goodman, CTO and Founder BizTech Enterprise Solutions

“Ideally”, Tim continues, “you should have one full day of scheduled meetings and one full day left open for networking and setting up meetings through your networking. Preparation made our Inspire experience so much better than we had expected.”

Tim recommends working closely with your Partner Account Manager to set goals for Microsoft Inspire and advice on how to reach them. He also suggests doing research on the partners you will/want to meet with and have a solid understanding of your desired meeting outcomes. Also deliver clarity, by preparing a 15-30 second elevator pitch to explain your business quickly and effectively.

2. Be Open

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“Be open to inspiration. This was the first time I was inspired by a CEO’s views on how technology companies should behave, what their role is in the world and what we as technology professionals should be striving for.” Michael Patishman, CEO BizTech Enterprise Solutions

Microsoft Inspire is a unique opportunity to hear directly from Microsoft executives, including CEO Satya Nadella, about the role of partners in Microsoft’s strategy; and the technology and partner strategies that are driving the most impactful change and transformation for customers. Michael believes being open to new ideas and new ways of thinking can give you a step ahead of your competitors.

This came to life for BizTech following Microsoft Inspire last year. As BizTech’s customers became more interested in the industry direction on AI, Michael and his team used insights from Microsoft Inspire to drive customer conversations. “AI is something a lot of our customers are wanting to talk about. We have the pleasure of demonstrating Microsoft AI and business intelligence tools and it has been received really well by our customers.”

3. Be Brave

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“Be brave. Chat to people. Find like-minded people to partner with.” Ben Creamer, General Manager Sharing Minds

“My Microsoft Inspire goal was to meet people and help other businesses deliver more Services! I wanted to meet businesses who were looking for capability and delivery services in the SharePoint and Office 365 space, and then discuss how we could provide value to them and their customers.”

There are no shortages of opportunities to meet partners and start a conversation while at Microsoft Inspire. Ben recalls that some of the best conversations happened in the most unlikely locations during the event. Whether it was across a lunchroom table, after a session finished, or even on a party bus while heading to the Bruno Mars concert; every moment provides an opportunity to reach out and connect with other partners.

As Sharing Minds provides specialised Microsoft SharePoint Services, Microsoft Inspire also helped Ben find partners to expand its own solution delivery capability: “By going to Inspire, I can meet partners who deliver complimentary services to ours. I can make trusted connections and that helps me build my standing as a trusted advisor to my customers. It also delivers a competitive advantage by having the latest Microsoft knowledge in your toolkit direct when its delivered, rather than wait for it to hit Australian shores.”

Ben credits his attendance at Microsoft Inspire with signing new partners, numerous new projects, and increased service delivery across Australia.

4. Be Better

“The way I measure my life is ‘Am I better than I was last year?’” Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft

Each year Microsoft Inspire evolves into a better and more inspiring event than it was the year before. And each year brings new industry insights, new ideas to be workshopped and new connections to be made.

Michael, Tim and Ben all agree that if you’re a Microsoft partner, then there is no question that there will be great value in attending Microsoft Inspire. As Ben puts it: “Where else do you get a chance to mingle and meet with that many people who are partner focused in the one room?”


Sharing Minds’ Ben Creamer and Adam Clark will be heading to Vegas for Microsoft Inspire 2019. If you would like to arrange a time to meet while there, please get in touch.

Making Your New Intranet a Success: Change Management Tips to Encourage User Adoption Rates

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You could spend thousands of project dollars developing and designing a new intranet, but if it isn’t going to be used (or used to its potential) what’s the (Share)point? Here are three common threats to successful adoption and some suggestions on how to avoid them when developing your Change Management Plan.

Lack of engagement with staff during decision-making (staff don’t want to use the new platform)

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You could build the most visually stunning intranet design with every possible feature of the cloud, but if your staff feel disenfranchised and not involved in the process, they will be reluctant to use it. It sounds strange to say, but your staff need to feel a connection with the new platform, that their input has been valued and appreciate the intended benefits of the change – early on.

Our top tip to avoid this is to have a communication plan that engages staff early and informs them:

  • What the change is about

  • Why it is being introduced

  • What the expected benefits are

  • The impact to their work

  • When it will be happening

  • Where they can find out more

Ensure information is available to everyone in the organisation and provide them with a mechanism to participate. Messaging needs to be clear and cohesive with visible support and leadership from an ambassador or sponsor.

This may mean different types of engagement like workshops, video conferences or something more straightforward such as an intranet portal with direct information sources. Incorporate feedback channels into your communications plan so any queries or concerns can be addressed before a system-wide change is made.

Inadequate support or training (staff are resisting the new platform)

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If your staff don’t know how to operate their new platform, or how it will make their life easier and more effective, they will be reluctant to use it. Ensure that the training needs of staff are well understood and remember that we are all different and have different learning styles so think about training and support that is multifaceted. The days of just running a traditional classroom training course are over!

Once the design is complete and deployed, organise training sessions for your staff on how to use their new solution. Factors to be considered when designing a Training Plan include:

  •  Are some staff members time-poor?

  • Would they benefit from short demonstration video clips, or would they prefer to flick through a procedure manual? 

  • Would you be better off arranging a Change Champion to spend time walking the floor and troubleshooting face-to-face?

Lack of UI/UX (staff don’t like using the new platform)

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You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) are an essential component of any intranet design. The layout and look and feel of the new site must inherently make sense to your end-users otherwise they won’t use it. One way to prevent this from happening is to widely consult your organisation and find out what your staff like about their current site and what they would like to change. Collate these responses and incorporate the feedback into the design process. Just because the legacy system is outdated doesn’t necessarily mean it should be scrapped altogether. Make sure the features and design choices that still work well are retained in the new solution. Remember: incremental change is just as important as revolutionary change.

Another recommendation is to make sure the naming system and menus of the final design are clear so any user from any department of the organisation can easily navigate their way around.

A new intranet is an exciting time and can be a great step for any business offering a new and innovative way to operate. Focusing only on the completion of the project and not the bigger picture could jeopardise your user adoption rates and value of the new site.

Engagement, and early engagement, is key. Set out with a clear vision of what the project is, what it means and why you’re doing it - then communicate widely and in a variety of ways. Allow the whole organisation to be as excited about the change as you are.

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Cheers

Ben
Ben.Creamer(at)sharingminds.com.au

Are you interested in Change Management Services? For more information, or to book your first Change Management consultation, please contact us via the form below or call 1300 611 359.

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