Managing Organizational Change in a SharePoint ECM Project

By Alan Weintraub posted 09-13-2010 08:28


Many SharePoint ECM projects fail not because the technology implementation was flawed or the business process did not provide the desired enhancements, but because the end users found ways around the system.    SharePoint ECM projects suffer from the ‘It was easier before’ syndrome.   By this I am referring to fact that there may actually be more steps to accomplish the same functionality, as perceived by the end user.    A good example of this is the simple function of creating a document.  Before the SharePoint ECM solution, the end user simply created the document in Word and stored it on their local drive or a shared drive.  They were free to choose a file name that made the most sense to them.  But with the SharePoint ECM solution, they have to save the document to the SharePoint ECM repository with a naming structure that has been predefined for search optimization and they have to enter attributes that describe the document.  This can be viewed as a cumbersome process with very little benefits, especially if they rarely need to find documents that they have not authored. 

 Managing organization change is often the most critical aspect of any SharePoint ECM project.  How do you get the end users to use the system and thus gain the maximum benefits?   I have approached this difficult problem by insuring that the end users with the most potential interactions with the system are engaged early in the project.  Creating a Core Team and an Extended Team will help create an environment for the acceptance of change by involving those end users that will be the most affected by the change. 

The core team is composed of representatives from each of the business areas involved in the project, along with individuals from the IS organization. The business representatives are empowered to decide on new processes, document architecture and workflow. The IS members of the team are responsible for validating the feasibility of the system requirements developed by the team. All team members participate in workshops over the course of the project. They prepare for these workshops by gathering necessary information and providing follow-up to questions originating in the workshop. The core team will need to dedicate at least 60 percent of its time to the project. 

The extended team members are typically end users of the system. They are usually from the same functional areas as the members of the core team. They are used to supplement the core team during the prototyping activity.  The extended team provides the system usability and functionality input and feedback necessary to develop a system that will be accepted by the full user community. This team needs to allocate 100 percent of its time during user-acceptance testing.

By involving the end users that will have the most interaction with the new system, early buy-in can be generated and your champions will emerge from these teams.

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