At SPTechCon San Francisco last month, I was asked many times about guidance on proper adoption strategies and techniques for rolling out and maintaining strong SharePoint deployments. The questions came from various people in the SharePoint ecosystem, but particularly project managers and end users who were actively deploying SharePoint and were seeing a disconnect between features being deployed and used by their project teams.
As each and every situation is different when it comes to SharePoint adoption, I asked a few questions to get the conversation started. How was your adoption plan created? Did it take into account the users’ needs? Who created the plan? Was it created by the business team, the project manager or someone else? Who is responsible for your adoption plan today? Your plan is a living, breathing piece of information, and must be managed accordingly. The answers I got ranged from blank stares to smirks as people realized they had failed to launch an adoption plan from the start.
Here are some tips to ensure this doesn’t happen to you, and to get your SharePoint project adopted by the entire organization:
Start simple. Talk to your team and ensure they understand the purpose of having an adoption plan, as well as a definition of what the plan is and will include. Do not automatically assume that someone who has not been involved in an enterprise software rollout will understand the purpose or need for your plan. A SharePoint adoption plan describes each of the benefits your SharePoint project will bring to the organization and, moreover, how it will be communicated to stakeholders, users and project team members.
Manage expectations. Be sure your team members have clear expectations and appreciation for their roles, as well as how their involvement will be included in the plan and project. Use your plan to gain buy-in and as a means of communication representing more than just a document. With a plan in place, you can discuss activities and their priorities.
Remember culture. Start small and with the right users in order to grow within your corporate culture. Your corporate culture is what defines the business, and therefore defines the degree of adoption you’ll be able to achieve with your plan and through your SharePoint implementation. Irrespective of the industry you’re in, the following is true: Each and every person on your project has their own background, thoughts, perspectives, history with the company or industry, and personality. Be sure to include elements of a user support plan to manage the needs of your staff and end users.
Incorporate technology. Maximizing SharePoint adoption means using the technology itself to its fullest on the project. Use SharePoint team sites and integrate document management to govern the project management aspects of the project. Be sure that the technical aspects are respected, which means e-mailing links to documents, uploading project plan tasks and discouraging offline communication. Remember, adoption is a team effort, which requires everyone’s input and commitment.
Educate. Include educating and training your team members in your adoption plan. Design and implement a formal training plan to ensure support is offered at the right time to the right user. Implementing and communicating a training plan shows your team members and employees of your long-term goals that the adoption of SharePoint is something that will be corporate-wide.
Measure progress. It’s easy to recommend steps and encourage your project teams to increase adoption, but the only way to truly know how you’re doing is to measure your progress. Capturing user feedback and sharing their stories among the team will promote increased adoption within the organization. Set objectives, and reward teams or team members who accomplish adoption and the goals that have been made.
Finally, when putting together your adoption plan, be sure to get executives involved to ensure stakeholder involvement and buy-in. Also, embrace and allow collaboration patterns to emerge as your team members begin using SharePoint during the project and after the implementation of the solution.
Eric is the EVP of Systems Integration for Concatenate, a software firm focused on maximizing SharePoint through product innovation and systems integration based in Toronto. You can reach Eric by e-mail at email@example.com or on Twitter at @rizinsights. Read his other SharePoint thoughts on his blog at www.ericriz.com.