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So you have SharePoint, now what…A discussion about adoption


You’ve gone to the seminars, your peers and direct reports have told you how great SharePoint was and how it will change the organization through collaboration. So you have SharePoint, now what. Usage is sporadic among various teams, there are some documents in SharePoint but it is not widely used and the user base ranges from developers who want to use custom web parts to employees that don’t know SharePoint exists. Depending on hardware, licensing, and staff, SharePoint can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $250,000 annually, so how do you get a return on that investment, adoption.

Dictionary.com defines adoption as “to take over as if it were one's own” and that is exactly the approach that department heads and business leaders need to take when looking at SharePoint adoption. SharePoint unlike most application is not what I call a “must-use” application like Microsoft Office. If you want to write a document, you must use Word. If you want to create a spreadsheet, you must use Excel. But when it comes to collaboration especially of content, all you need is a laptop with a “My Documents” folder and email and you are off and running. SharePoint is an “opt-in” application, like any IM application or any business social application (Yammer, Jive, etc.). So the approach must be different “firm but fair”.

So the question becomes how to create an adoption plan, right. Microsoft offers many templates and videos in their SharePoint Adoption Kit that assist organizations to “rah rah” users into using SharePoint. While that approach will work on some users, cheering the application doesn’t answer the biggest adoption roadblocks: “What will it do for me?”, “Is this something else I have to use to do my job?”, and “Do I have to use it?”

To address those concerns here are some simple ways to garner adoption:

Communication

Cardinal Rule #1: Thou shalt not send attachments over email

One of the biggest mistake organizations make is not making SharePoint their central repository of the truth. You are killing your adoption if you have one document stored in SharePoint and have another version of the document in as an email attachment. Instead of attaching, copy and paste the link to the document in SharePoint. That begins to get users in the habit of looking in SharePoint for documents. Habitual behavior is crucial to SharePoint adoption. A study was done and showed that 90% of all computer users open their email program first. They do it although no one told them to through instruction or policy. When asked why, over 70% of the respondents said “it’s a habit”. The same approach must be taken in SharePoint.

Cardinal Rule #2: Thou shalt command from the top down

A former client was looking at how to increase adoption in SharePoint, through many failed attempts once the organization’s CFO started using SharePoint for document reference for preparation of quarterly earnings calls the VP level reports naturally did the same thing. Once the VPs started using SharePoint to report the numbers, the Senior Directors began to use SharePoint to gather the numbers. You get the picture, Senior Executive buy in is crucial but more importantly, buy in must be top down. You don’t have to be a CFO, but if you are managing a team, once you start using SharePoint, the team will as well.

Quick Automation Wins

Cardinal Rule #3 – Thou shalt automate manual processes

More often than not SharePoint is seen as a document repository, missing all of the built-in out of the box automation functionality. If you have any data collection processes (and I bet your HR department has a ton), SharePoint out of the box can very easily automate and streamline those processes to increase usage and adoption, more importantly answer that question “What can it do for me?”. Some very simple out of the box processes that can be automated are:

  • On/offboarding through the use of task lists and alerts
  • Open Enrollment through the use of InfoPath and a forms library
  • Training Registration
  • Expense Reporting

(I told you HR has a lot of processes that could be streamlined)

In conclusion, taking very simple steps will not only increase your adoption but increase the return on your investment and I would be remiss if I did not say that we at King Strategy Solutions  specialize in analyzing your environment and determining the best adoption approach as part of our SharePoint Landscape Assessment.


Joseph King

Senior Sharepoint Collaboration Expert


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