Home Workforce Productivity Driving SharePoint Adoption

You may have heard lots of buzz recently about adoption of SharePoint and collaboration platforms, and for good reason. According to a recent AIIM survey, more than 63% of organizations report some dissatisfaction with their SharePoint projects. AIIM offers some insight into possible reasons for failure, including these commonly cited causes:

  • Senior management didn’t endorse the project
  • Inadequate user training
  • Users never really liked it
  • Not enough planning and scoping at the outset

Many adoption conversations focus on one or two activities to increase adoption, but these discussions are missing the big picture. Driving adoption isn’t a one-time activity that you can check off your to-do list. Just like a project has a lifecycle, adoption has its own lifecycle – and throughout this lifecycle are actions that organizations can undertake to improve adoption outcomes. Conversely, missing key milestones can result in lower levels of adoption and dissatisfaction with the solution as a whole.

Driving Adoption Starts Early and Never Stops

While it sounds daunting, it is true: adoption activities start early in a project lifecycle and never stop. The diagram below illustrates a high-level project lifecycle with key adoption opportunities highlighted. If your project has already passed some of these markers, you can still review each area and determine how it might impact adoption.

Driving SharePoint Adoption

While an in-depth review of each of the adoption opportunities outlined in the diagram would make this post prohibitively long, some key steps to consider include:

  • Plan. When your project is in the planning stages, it is the perfect time to start activities that impact adoption. You have executives’ ears as you are soliciting their buy-in and support. Leveraging this endorsement is critical when you later ask them to publicly advocate for the project.
  • Communicate. It should come as no surprise that communication is key throughout the entire project lifecycle. Good communication is the number one way to positively impact adoption, and likewise, poor communication is a major cause of failures. Frequent formal and informal communication throughout the project is essential. Consider creating a communication plan, especially if your previous collaboration efforts have seen poor adoption.
  • Involve. When people are involved, they feel ownership and want to see a project succeed. That translates directly into positive adoption. Involvement can take on many forms and often varies across levels within the organization. In an earlier blog post, we outlined a few ways to get employees involved in a project.
  • Design. Design for adoption involves a great user experience, innate usability, and the functionality that users expect. It also means serving up appropriate and useful content in intuitive ways. If you don’t make the solution easy and valuable for the user, they will find ways to work around it, which is the death knell for collaboration.
  • Technology. If the technology side of a project seems like the last place where adoption is impacted, that is not the case. For example, if application performance is poor, users immediately form a negative impression that is very hard to change.
  • Incent. What is the best way to incent people – the carrot or the stick? We’ve found that a combination of both is most effective. But more importantly we’ve found that, depending on the specific project, incentives can be critical for adoption. We recommend putting adoption metrics into performance plans.
  • Support. The project is launched, people are using the new solution – so why is ongoing support important to adoption? Because there will be questions. People will need help, and giving them a strong support network and timely responses will further enhance their impression of the solution. We’ve seen projects launch to great fanfare, but quickly fade when users couldn’t get the help they needed.
  • Measure & Revise. One of the most powerful things you can do for any collaboration project is to define your expected business benefits, measure against those benchmarks, and make adjustments as appropriate.

Are all of these areas important to every project? In short, yes: each should be considered for every project. Some will not require much effort or may not even be used, but each area should be reviewed at appropriate points throughout the project lifecycle.

If you are struggling with adoption on a current project, or looking to maximize adoption with a project in the planning stages, we are happy to share our adoption success stories, approaches, and ideas in greater detail. We’ve been here before and done this with quantifiable results for clients just like you. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, get in touch via Twitter @tahoepartners, or contact me directly.

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An expert in SharePoint and Enterprise Collaboration strategy, Dave has delivered SharePoint business solutions ranging from dynamic websites to a program to capture and track employee ideas. Dave is a regular distance and event runner and is always looking for new endurance adventures.

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