Reduce Your Requirements

By Christian Buckley posted 03-12-2014 01:54


I speak at a lot of SharePoint events, and as I warm up the crowd, I like to ask a couple icebreaker questions and get a sense for how interactive and responsive the audience will be. One of my favorite questions is: by show of hands, does anyone have an end user adoption issue?


The reaction is almost always the same: most of the crowd chuckles, and most of the hands go up. People love to slam SharePoint for one of its many real or perceived failures as the cause for all of this dissatisfaction. Product companies and service companies alike have stepped forward with "the answer" to this problem, many of them rehashing ideas and solutions that seem to find their way in and out of enterprise relevance year to year. Oh, I'm not knocking the project manager-centric tools, or the drag-and-drop list interfaces, or the latest it-looks-just-like-Windows 8-live-tiles solutions. They are all great if they are what help get your end users to connect and adopt and engage.


But the biggest deterrent to any successful deployment, whether it is SharePoint, or an ERP system, or a CRM, or any other enterprise application, is the complexity of your requirements. There it is. You're making it all too complex, and THAT is why people don't adopt, why they won't engage.


I'm not saying your requirements aren't valid. You have processes that need to be followed, document retention requirements, compliance standards, auditing procedures and reports and protocols. You add layers of rules, complexity  that requires constant training and ongoing management, and then wonder why people are not embracing all of it.


Reduce your requirements.


That's my intentionally flippant answer, ignoring all of your completely valid reasons as to why you cannot reduce your requirements. But what is amazing is that the complexity of your platform is, uncannily, inversely related to the adoption of that platform by your end users.


But more than that, I would argue that much of your complexity goes ignored and unused. People will follow the simplest path to share their content and get their work accomplished, going around many of your workflows and taxonomies and structured, organized perfection. Do I really need to kick off a multi-stage workflow when the reality is that I can share a document in Lync or co-edit in real-time via Yammer? If you take the time to really examine the way that your end users get their work done, I suspect you'll find that much of what you have deployed in SharePoint or your other ECM platform comes with a lot of unnecessary overhead.


My point here is not to have you throw out what you have, but to step back and look at what you have deployed today -- and how people are using it (or working around it). Can it be simplified? Does the interface match the way that people need to work? Are people spending more time navigating the system than getting actual work done?


If user adoption is an issue for your organization, maybe its time you looked at ways to reduce your requirements and find that balance between governance and productivity.

#businessanalysis #SharePoint #planning #enduser #sharepoint