Implementing SharePoint into an organization for the first time can be tricky for many reasons. As SharePoint consultants, we often see that the majority of implementation time is spent getting the technical side of things off the ground, and while most companies have learned to organize governance documents and committees to help prepare the business, one thing I still often see neglected is user adoption.
There will never be an adoption plan that fits every organization, as companies are using SharePoint in many ways, but I have included six proven methods below that will at least get the gears turning for what may work in your organization:
• Before the governance committee is even formed, you need to have adoption in mind. When deciding who will be on the committee, make sure all major departments are well represented (yes, even if that means going outside of the senior leadership team).
• Make sure the governance committee understands and can clearly communicate the business objectives for SharePoint back to their respective teams and departments. This is a big part of the awareness phase of adoption, making sure the message to the end users is clear.
• If you plan on using SharePoint as an intranet or to replace a file share, you need to perform user interviews. Select several employees from each department and ask them about the documents they use. A great resource from Microsoft is the document usage worksheet that can be found here. Ask them what they would like to see on an intranet home page (links to HR forms, the employee directory, etc.). Also, use this time to try to identify if there are general concerns about the technology. The earlier you detect those, the easier they are to rectify.
• After the interviews, work with your governance committee to identify users that seem to be promoters of the new technology. Also, identify several users that may be detractors, or just more hesitant about the upcoming change. Invite these individuals to a monthly user group. This can be a webinar or a lunch session.
During this session, provide quick training on a hot topic (i.e. customizing library views), and then open the session up for discussion, allowing them to share concerns and questions, and to talk among themselves. Use the feedback they provide wisely and continue these sessions for some time after SharePoint is live. When following this method, I have often seen the detractors become the best promoters within an organization.
• Within your site architecture, be sure to create a learning center. This should include short instructional videos, presentations and FAQs. If you plan on using SharePoint 2013, I would also build in a community site for your user group so they can communicate with each other outside of the monthly sessions.
• For the love of all that is good and decent in this world, USE MY SITES! Especially if you are implementing SharePoint 2013. There are many out-of-the-box features built into My Sites that are excellent for increasing user adoption. Some include newsfeeds, aggregation of all a user’s tasks, SkyDrive Pro, and the ability to follow certain documents, sites, and tags.
If you are at all concerned about user adoption, exploring these six options will definitely help. If you are looking to try out some of the aforementioned features in SharePoint 2013, you can visit sharepoint.rackspace.com and request a completely free trial of the product. Best of luck with your implementation, and may the adoption percentages be ever in your favor!
Joelle Farley is a consultant with SharePoint911, a Rackspace company, with a heavy focus on workflows, InfoPath, Excel Services and Visio Services.