SharePoint deployments tend to be complex projects. You have to get a budget for the project, plan the farm architecture, secure hardware, complete the installation, and configure the farm. After all of that, many people consider the process complete because SharePoint is “deployed.”
There is just one thing missing: users. Despite the fact that the demos make everything look easy, and everything is available inside the firewall, outside the firewall and across the globe, users just don’t seem to be flocking to the new software. If this sounds familiar, perhaps these few tips will help speed up your user adoption.
I have walked into many organizations that have been attempting to gain user adoption for months, even years. Typically in this scenario I find that even the word “SharePoint” is enough to garner groans, grumbles and rolling eyes. When that happens, it is likely time to stop pushing forward and take a step back.
Analyzing what is not working for your users is a significant portion of the user adoption equation. In some cases, the software may not be the problem. The issue could lie with training, timing of the release, or even with the messaging around the release. Whatever the case may be, pushing forward with a release after significant user pushback could alienate your users.
On the other end of the spectrum, some organizations have a significant user population that doesn’t even know SharePoint is an option. This can happen when the organization has an “If you build it, they will come” strategy. While that can be a valid strategy, I tend to see organizations stop short of the finish line.
Running the farm configuration is not considered “building it.” It is important to turn the configured application into something that is functional for your users. SharePoint has a lot of raw functionality. Finding a way to harness that functionality is critical to gaining user adoption. I find that spreading SharePoint throughout the organization is most successful when the initial rollout is to a high-visibility department such as IT or human resources. Other departments will see the value added to the pilot departments and start asking for their turn to implement it.
The final tip for gaining user adoption is to stop trying to motivate your users to adopt SharePoint and start incentivizing adoption. To be clear, I am not asking you to hand out gift cards to anyone who uses SharePoint. Making users’ jobs easier is usually significant incentive to adopt software. If you can deliver productivity gains in a user-friendly fashion through SharePoint, users will adopt the change.
While there is no magic potion or secret formula for SharePoint adoption, there are certainly steps that can be taken to help speed up the process. These are just a few of the many ways to gain user adoption. Have other tips? Tweet me at @brprigge with #SPAdoption.
Brian Prigge is a SharePoint Architect with RAMP, where he leads the implementation of RAMP’s suite of video hosting, search and discovery solutions into custom SharePoint integrations.