Top Tips for SharePoint Adoption
The phrase “if you build it, they will come” will remind some people of the 1989 movie “Field of Dreams”. Kevin Costner, prompted by voices in his head, builds a baseball field in the middle of nowhere (or Iowa to be more precise) and, sure enough, at the end of the movie people do indeed come “for reasons they can’t even fathom”, as James Earl Jones’s character tells him.
Here in the real world, things are a little different.
Take, for example, a company which creates a new SharePoint system which allows staff to collaborate, store or share information. It doesn’t matter how good it is in theory, if inadequate planning is given to driving adoption then few if any people will come and you’re stuck with a white elephant.
We spend a lot of time talking to customers about ways to get people using their new portal, but there are three principle approaches I would like to focus on here:
1. Make it busy and interesting
People are naturally drawn to the restaurant that attracts the crowds and is buzzing. It’s the same with SharePoint. Your vision of a repository that is packed with reusable information will only come true if you can get people to start adding useful content from the outset.
There are two ways to kick-start the process. First try seeding the repository with content. Basically this involves finding useful, relevant content somewhere (on network drives for example) and migrating it into SharePoint with appropriate tagging/metadata.
Next, give special attention and support to key content providers. They will almost always be busy with a hundred other priorities so you have to make it easy for them. In rare cases, you may even enter/migrate content for them but this is a difficult call: it addresses the need to get content into the repository, but perhaps at the expense of getting them used to entering it themselves.
2. Create a great user experience
Nobody wants to use an application which is ugly, garish, and looks unprofessional. Out-of-the-box SharePoint sites do not look tremendously attractive, so you have to work on appearance. You need to ensure it is both visually attractive and consistent with the company’s ethos and corporate branding. Depending on the exact requirement, the best approach could vary from something very formal to something quite novel and funky.
Make it look good but also make it easy to use. The system must allow people to easily enter, review, modify, tag and approve content. If this is difficult, unintuitive or time-consuming then there will be significant barriers to adoption.
3. Train people then let them train themselves
In an ideal world, all new systems would be intuitive and no training is needed. In the real world, however, you need to get people comfortable with a new platform if you want them to use it.
Training should not involve full day sessions - people are far too busy for that. So deliver it in bite-sized chunks of between 30 minutes and an hour, and use each session to deal with a different aspect of the new system. This can be delivered using Skype for users who are unable to come to the training location.
Training should also be backed-up by video tutorials with step-by-step guides on accessing features and functionality. These provide invaluable resources for reminding people about features they might otherwise have forgotten about, or as first-time instruction for users who joined the company after the training has taken place.
Remember, building something into SharePoint is just the first step on a journey, and it’s important to put as much if not more effort in driving user adoption.
Build it - then make sure they come.