Driving End User Adoption in SharePoint - SharePoint's Purpose is to Increase Your Productivity

By Errin O'Connor posted 12-12-2012 17:04


If you look at the overall budget to implement a best practices SharePoint 2013 or 2010 implementation, is 5% of it around driving end users to actually use SharePoint?

I was in a meeting the other day with a client (and this is something that I hear quite often) who said, "We really promoted SharePoint when it first was released but since then have really not put much effort into that area, really more into supporting SharePoint."

This is very common and I think organizations really need to consider that a long-term successful SharePoint initiative has a lot of "Public Relations" strategy and keeping SharePoint's name and real purpose in the faces of end users.

Here are a few EPC Group best practices I want to share with around driving SharePoint's end user adoption and keeping it relevant to maximize your ROI. There are different sides to this story and I will try to address a few of them.

Have you heard any of these from within your organization?

  • SharePoint has so much, where do we start?
  • Our end users cannot handle all of the functionality
  • We have other tools in place that do X (e.g. search or content management or BI, etc.)
  • We have an older version of Office
  • We have some users on Macs or Linux
  • What is the “sweet spot” for SharePoint?
  • Should we migrate everything to SharePoint?
  • How long does this usually take?
  • I have heard SharePoint is more of a network drive replacement
  • At my previous job, SharePoint was just so ugly
  • I have heard SharePoint is just not really a true Content Management System

I can bet you have heard at least a flavor of these types of questions but are they possibly really warranted? So many organization's didn't have the time, internal expertise, or budget to truly dig in and put a real "run time" governance strategy into place. Microsoft really didn't to the world a favor by just giving out SharePoint Designer and saying, here you go!

SharePoint Designer should come with a $20,000 coupon for external consulting services to help resolve the issues it causes...

There are other areas that you may hear from your end users \ power users as well as some I.T. members who have not been exposed to best practices and methodologies around deploying SharePoint as a Service or as a Center of Excellence that can avoid questions or topics like:

  • Many customers still using SharePoint as a glorified file share
  • SharePoint has become more complex for end users and IT alike as we’ve added more features
  • Business groups driving IT to move faster & only deliver what they need (e.g. “I just want social")
  • Customers often already own multiple competing technologies & need to understand how/when to integrate and consolidate (ECM, WCM, Search, BI, OCS, Java)
  • Also need to think of how SharePoint fits in at an organizational level – such as enterprise records management & eDiscovery
  • Organizations don’t always view SharePoint as an enterprise service or application
  • That perception is changing & SharePoint is becoming “too big to fail” in some organizations and mission critical like Exchange
  • Customers often have multiple SharePoint farms & site collections
  • People are afraid of SharePoint sprawl like Lotus Notes & Access
  • Many companies still on older versions of other products such as Windows XP, IE 6, Office 2003
  • Tide appears to be turning with Windows 7 & Office 2013, especially for people that decided to skip Windows Vista & Office 2007

Step back for a minute and take "SharePoint's" name out of the picture and let’s look at a SharePoint implementation (less the SharePoint Best Practices needed) as a typical I.T. project your organization may roll out...

  • Executive & business sponsorship is key
    • Can’t just be an IT driven project
  • Define business goals, vision & success criteria
    • Then measure & report actuals vs. planned
  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Plan for multiple phases & iterations – don’t try to boil the ocean
  • Develop a release roadmap
  • Information architecture, governance & (simple) templates are huge
  • Consider use case scenarios, usability & the user interface
  • How will end users interact?
    • ‘WIIFM’ - “What’s in it for me?”
  • Think about training & communication plans
  • Migration & upgrade planning
  • Drive & reward desired changes in behavior
    • Have a feedback loop – formal (surveys) & informal
  • Internal marketing & case studies

Then lets mix in some critical factors for success:

  • Factor time in for training
  • End users, IT administrators, developers, support, designers, authors, contributors
  • Not a 1 time event
  • Develop a communication plan
  • Internal user groups & champions
  • Think about process & role changes
  • First phase will take the longest
  • Plan for regular releases to add value (e.g. quarterly updates) after initial release

If we take a step back and think of some core requirements for a successful Phase 1 SharePoint deployment there are:

  • Look & feel with usability is important but very much overlooked
  • Tackle governance, migration planning & information architecture – lay the foundation for future phases
  • Team sites, templates, collaboration, documents, workflow, web parts, content types, metadata, social features (tagging, rating, wikis, blogs, etc.)
    • Take in SharePoint 2013's Communities and added features into this!
  • Search – searching within SharePoint and simple crawling of content outside SharePoint (e.g. file shares)
  • Promote My Sites - including people & expertise search - Don't walk away from this fight and try and ensure at least a pilot of "SharePoint Social" \ My Sites are implemented in Phase 1
  • Celebrate quick wins, success stories and build momentum

Microsoft SharePoint 2013 and SharePoint 2010 are so popular that users are going to want to use it but as SharePoint's lifecycle or maturity grows in your organization you have to continue to offer new features and take advantage of the 5000 bells and whistles it offers.

I have had several clients ask me about long term SharePoint end user adoption this week and I wanted to write this quick article to help some of the others out there that may be asking themselves these very similar questions.

One final very important item is the promotion of SharePoint Power Users within your organization. They are the most effective first line of defense in not only solving issues userse may have with SharePoint but also bringing new ideas to the table.

At EPC Group, we tell all our client to start a SharePoint Power Users Group within your organization asap! Have them meet once a month for 1 hour and bring in a few Pizzas. I bet you the $65.00 you will spend on the Pappa Johns Pizza during that 1 hour Power User meeting will spawn more ideas, more "aha" moments, and bring more productivity to SharePoint in the following month than you can ever imagine.

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