SharePoint User Adoption

Hello and Welcome to our first in a series of blogs about the world of Microsoft 365. Our first article is one that hits home to us often and we get asked very regularly about it. User Adoption for Microsoft SharePoint.

In a topic that seems a bit daunting at first, largely because it’s one of the deciding factors of a successful rollout of Microsoft SharePoint or not. Below we will highlight just some of the key areas for user adoption you could adopt or even just note down. The Key point is that your users should be at the absolutely front of your priority list when it comes to changes in technology and its worth never forgetting.

Management and Key Business stakeholder Involvement

One of our key focus points for better user adoption is to get buy-in from the top down, as this is just as important as adoption from the bottom upwards. This will show users a sense of direction but also put a face to the project.  Having a key leader will give a sense of direction and purpose to meetings, presentations and provide a voice for the project that users can relate to and connect with. Finally it is worth noting that having certain key stakeholders present at each phase/stage of the project as its rolled out will help, as this will ensure that if any issues arise there is a swift action taken to reduce any negative impact on the rollout.

Creating a Communication Plan

The way in which you communicate  to the users is probably one of the more critical parts of your adoption strategy. These forms of communication can come as meetings, newsletters, email blasts or video presentations.  However letting people know SharePoint is coming, when SharePoint will be ready for BETA, the start of Training and milestones of the project will greatly help to build suspense, excitement but also create positive vibe around the business about the upcoming changes. The communication plan will therefore be key to how the project will be received but also allows you to let users know what’s coming so they are prepared for change. Change can be positive and it can be negative.  You will need to ensure what you communicate is correct, factual and to the point to draw people into investigate and take an interest in the changes to their day to day working lives with a SharePoint rollout.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Don’t go rushing an implementation!!!…ensure you fully understand your deliverables and recognise what steps will take longer than others. This could range from training rollout, migration of data, knowledge and understanding session, investigation phases and financial decision and recruitment.

There are many factors which you may not account for and rushing into a deployment of SharePoint with certain key areas missing could lead to a bad experience. The most important here is forgetting that the users are the main focus so ensuring they are informed, educated and provided guidance is equally as important as the build of an environment using SharePoint. So ensure you do not rush over certain areas and give each just as much attention as the last.

Rolling out SharePoint should be where possible done in phases. This could be done as follows but not limited to providing some basic Architecture and initial communication system for news, links and some quick win content like FAQs and more. Then in a phase 2 you may now include a document management center before moving onto a phase 3 collaboration hubs and more!.

This also helps with knowledge and understanding by giving users less change and more time to adapt and learn the technology at each stage. Our suggestion would be to include training along the way which we shall speak about in this article, also as this will aid in the users understand of what’s coming out now and what’s coming later. The hype of new and improved will keep people driven and motivated to use SharePoint. It is possible to rollout more quickly but only with the correct team relevant training and great onsite support available to aid with users adoption of the changes to the business.

Feedback and Analysis

When rolling out SharePoint its key to know what the immediate benefits will be for the users but also the long term advantages for them. This will greatly help your communication plan, training and more as the conversations you have are focused on the benefits of the change and not so much the downsides. Getting feedback from users of current solution will ensure you get immediate wins and buy in from users that what they are changing to is for the better and will provide immediate solutions to any problems and is one of the easier methods to getting people on board. Feedback should not stop at the initial stage it should be ongoing during each phase and will give you immediate data as to what is working, not working and allow you to offer quick solutions to ensure adoption remains high.

Analysis of the SharePoint site can be monitored through the rollout using some standard analytics of page views, site views and activity on the SharePoint site, this will give you measurable stats to see the adoption success.

Training & Education is Critical

It goes without saying that one of the key points of user adoption that we find is the biggest concern is TRAINING!! This is absolutely critical regardless of any users background in IT or previous use of the technology and this goes for management and Users. SharePoint offers many new ways of working, excellent collaboration tools and a range of features which can offer users greater control of their data. Having users do basic End User training on simply “What is SharePoint” and how to use the basic controls is critical and cannot be missed. This will help the user better understand the need for change, it will help showcase the benefits visually of the technology but also aid in key areas like navigation and basic understand of how it works. Missing this step will lead to the downfall of adoption and make it much harder to win over users to the change.

You also have Power Users training which will show users more about sites and subsites, building libraries and lists, configure and manage permissions and more. You then have more IT training which could be Site Collection Admins or Server Admins training courses which then ensure that more users manage your rollout internally and can provide quicker solutions to users.

Knowledge is key!, It cannot be forgotten about when thinking about user adoption for SharePoint.

Why Out of the Box

A common terminology for SharePoint this but Out of the Box is using the tools which are provided without using any 3rd party or custom development. This will aid with many things but as the topic is user adoption what does this actually mean for users…? There is at least 2 main reasons to keep it out the box and the first being that it is much easier for people to self – troubleshoot standard tools and best practices when stuck reducing the overhead from IT and Power Users. The second is that training is kept to showcasing the benefits of the original product and people don’t have crazy ideas of other ways something custom could be used as that can send you down and endless spiral of custom solutions, constant support and upgrades along with training and upskilling on new solutions. Out of the box ensures things are constant at least initially until everyone is fully adopting the technology and ready for more change.

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