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3 Key Steps to SharePoint User Adoption

21st May 2016

We are creatures of habit and often resist change, particularly if we are unable to immediately see the personal benefits to changing our behaviour, or if the new way of doing something looks complicated, or at the very least more complicated than how we are used to doing something. This is one of the main reasons why technology implantations fail time and time again – you need to get people on board, firstly by taking the time to make sure that the new technology will be of benefit and isn’t just change for the sake of change, and secondly by providing training with the new technology until people are familiar and confident with it.

SharePoint is a technology that has huge potential for improving not only business processes, but also minimising the workloads and frustrations of yourself and/or your staff. Yet more often than not, SharePoint sites are developed without understanding how people currently work, and are rarely followed through with a training plan. It is all fine and well having an all-singing, all-dancing application, but if it doesn’t make people’s lives easier they quite simply won’t use it and you won’t see any return on investment.
Unfortunately if your solution has already been implemented and deployed, you’ve already missed out on the best time to create SharePoint user adoption and get people on-board. SharePoint is not like some other applications that are easy to figure out on your own, and it is also highly customisable so even if you have used it before, the chances are that the new solutions will look and function differently. Therefore if your site has already been deployed without first providing training, your users will almost certainly have faced frustrations and will likely have made the decision that it is not beneficial to them and resorted to old methods of getting their work done, and who can blame them? The good news is that while you will face an extra uphill challenge convincing people that the change they don’t like is actually a good thing for them, that it’s not too late to do so. Here are some steps you can take to turn your SharePoint solution into a success.
1. Keep it simple
One of the easiest ways to ensure successful SharePoint user adoption is to keep it simple. It might sound like common sense, but oftentimes people get carried away with the technology without thinking about what is really necessary to improve business processes. People want to sign in and find the functionality they use without jumping through hoops.
You therefore need to take the time when developing your site to ensure that you gather requirements carefully, find out what is needed to support the business, meet the needs of your staff, and then to design your architecture accordingly. Don’t put infrequent tasks front and centre and hide day-to-day ones, SharePoint will allow you to create a user friendly environment but you will not get this without understanding how your people work so make sure that they are included from the get-go. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to bite the bullet and go back to this step. Involving your people will also make them feel like their opinions count, and will make buy-in much easier later down the line.
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2. Give people a reason to use it
One way to ensure that people use SharePoint is to create an environment that supports them to do so. For example instead of sending an email with an attached file, send a URL to its location in the SharePoint site. However this isn’t the only way to get people to change their behaviour, and you really want your people to use SharePoint because they want to. The simplest way to do this is to make sure they it makes their jobs easier. Again this links back to step 1 – your SharePoint site will only be user-friendly if it has been built with the user in mind.
Hopefully you will have supported users through the change curve, they will be fully on board to use it for their daily tasks. If you haven’t, it’s a much harder route to get them re-bought in and adding value.
3. Provide support
So your site is now fit-for-purpose and lightens your peoples’ workload. Great! However you can’t expect them to log in the first time and know what they are doing. As mentioned previously, SharePoint is not always the most intuitive system to use and you don’t want people to be scared off. It is vital to provide training to everyone to ensure that you hit the ground running. Any frustrations experienced with switching technology will make it harder for people to embrace the change, so it is imperative that you reduce these as much as possible. Training doesn’t have to be time consuming process, especially if your site has been set up with your business in mind. Not only will training help people to do their jobs straight away, but it also shows investment in their development, which will make them feel valued.
It is highly recommended to also have at least one key member of staff who takes ownership and provides advice and support post during the rollout to enhance your SharePoint user adoption. These people should have an understanding of the implementation, and should also encourage feedback from users. They can act as a go-between the user and the SharePoint developer, ensuring that any issue is resolved quickly and that people don’t fall out with the technology.
If you would welcome help with your SharePoint user adoption in your organisation contact us at or 01224 824111.
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