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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Preliminary Survey Results: SharePoint and the Multitask Master

Last month, I started a survey of SharePoint usage of information professionals/librarians.  This article will share the preliminary survey results.  If you have not participated in this survey, please feel free to participate at


In 2010, I had written a book, SharePoint Without Coding, from the perspective of a librarian who had worked from within a “sandboxed” Microsoft SharePoint site.  All of my work was reduced by programming SharePoint through programmed modules.  The modules allowed me to create a virtual assistant without coding. 

As I received questions about what I had experienced, I created a survey to find out what my colleagues were doing all over the world.  The results were published in SharePoint Without Coding, Volume 2 and   Librarians Using SharePoint.  The results had shown that information professionals/librarians were multitasking their responsibilities with the help of SharePoint.  The modules, otherwise known as web parts, allowed the information professionals/librarians to:   manage and update different collections; monitor and assign work; manage and attend meetings. 

After 5 years, my 2015 SharePoint Usage survey has shown that the workplaces are using the most basic form of SharePoint. The information professionals/librarians have experienced “information overload” from the features that were implemented through SharePoint.

Time Management

During the past five years, workplaces have tried to incorporate electronic devices to allow the staff to use their smart phones and tablets before, during, and after scheduled work-time.   To direct their attempts to working efficiently, staff would be taking notes and doing searches on their devices.  Their phones, tablets, and laptops were updated with the calendar for their department through SharePoint. They noted that after a few weeks of using their phones, tablets, and laptops, work started to increase in submission from the staff.

Work tended to slide in some of the other survey participants’ workplaces because they were waiting for people to return texting replies, answer e-mail, and comment on workflows.  In an article, “Is technology making workers less productive”, Bruce Kennedy, pointed out that technology can “interfere with getting things done…ceaseless barrage of digital interruptions”.  The participants also thought they were multitasking when, in fact, they were barely getting any projects finished for their departments. 

Steep Learning Curve

Due to SharePoint’s ability to run programs simultaneously to support multiple tasks, the survey participants have had tremendous stress trying to learn how to handle all of the different web parts.  The survey participants have found themselves going back to the Windows folder structure. Old and new projects are kept there confusing the survey participants as to which folder to use in the current month and year.

What seems to be missing is a plan on how each department uses the web parts for their unique workflows.  They end up starting on one project workflow only to be interrupted by another project’s workflow which turns their attention away from the original project in which they were working.  In a study, called “Disruption and Recovery of Computing Tasks: Field Study, Analysis, and Directions”,  Shamsi T. Iqbal and Eric Horvitz, called this erratic behavior “task switching”.  The participants’ attention goes from one project workflow to another and  then to another until attention is lost on one or all of the workflows of the departmental projects.  When the work stopped in one project in order to start on another project “task suspension” occurred.  This could ultimately result in long periods of time (possibly up to several hours) passing before the task would resume again.

Efficiency of Work

The survey will remain open for another month (will close August 1, 2015) to allow everyone a chance to participate.  The above preliminary results are still vague as to how many participants felt their work efficiency increased or decreased due to the installation of SharePoint in their workplace. 

Please fill out this survey.   The survey should only take 5-10 minutes to complete at .
I am still collecting experiences with Microsoft SharePoint from researchers, students, and practitioners in the field of Library and Information Science.  Your help is much appreciated in this project to help improve SharePoint Information Literacy (see my sample lesson for my course (Microsoft SharePoint for Non-IT Users at

About the Author

Lorette Weldon is the teacher and creator of the online course, Microsoft SharePoint for Non-IT Users (Enroll today at ).  She is also an author (