The “User Adoption” concept has become one of the IT industry’s favourite terms. We’ve reached a point where you could think that this is some kind of magic pixie dust that guarantees success in each and every project. Experience, however, demonstrates that “User Adoption” presents challenges at which you can easily fail.
In this post, I will outline a series of best practices for SharePoint User Adoption, which we have mastered through implementing systems for our clients. Our tips will hopefully help your employees to embrace new technology – read on!
Why can SharePoint User Adoption be a challenge?
Proper understanding is the first issue you might encounter when approaching this concept. It turns out that experts assign the “User Adoption” phrase various meanings, and even if they were able to create one definition, they tend to differ as to the method of achieving the same goal.
In my humble opinion, you need to begin a discussion about “User Adoption” by answering two basic questions:
First – does the developed system corresponds to the users’ needs? Simply stated, SharePoint features need to perform necessary functions for the given organisation’s employees, or they should at least be useful.
Second – does the system provide a good solution to the specific problem? If the application is designed properly, thought-through or even pleasant-to-use, your employees will use it more eagerly.
Having worked with numerous clients on digital workplace projects for over a decade now, we’ve learnt the proper way to create systems to which employees quickly get used. This minimises the risk of implementing systems that may end in failure.
6 best practices for SharePoint User Adoption
#1: Focus on solving your organisation’s problems
When running business workshops, I often encounter this type of situation. Imagine a decision maker in charge of IT purchases who wants to implement SharePoint because of its interesting range of features without considering how these are going to help their organisation. Only by focusing on issues which are problematic to our organisation can we develop a truly successful system.
#2: Set achievable goals
SharePoint is an efficient tool, but it’s not a cure for all evil. Unfortunately, there was a moment of “over-promise” in its marketing, which in turn led to some clients being disappointed after its implementation.
When deciding on the implementation of SharePoint, you need to focus on several areas which increase your company’s productivity. Very often, companies want it to replace their file repository systems, because it’s easy and Microsoft itself promoted this feature. And yes, this part of SharePoint is functional, but it does not introduce any significant change or value to the company.
The goals the technology needs to achieve have to be SMART – Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely, but most importantly – they should embrace the true benefits for your organisation.
#3: Think twice and plan UX in advance
Technological capabilities evolve rapidly, but user expectations are not that far behind. SharePoint is a tool for increasing working efficiency, and just like other portal solutions, its development needs to begin with designing the appropriate User Experience (UX).
Briefly speaking, we define the typical user patterns, personas, etc., in order to understand how the company employees will use the implementation. By ordering a tailored system, you make sure that the provided solution will be used and will become popular in the organisation on its own.
#4: Prototypes are worth it!
IT people know a lot about business, but sometimes the industry assumption might be that they know all the everyday requirements and routines of given departments. This risk exists not only at the planning stage, but also when the system is being prepared for launch. Meanwhile user acceptance surveys or even BETA version workshops can help you avoid implementing a solution which lacks key features.
In the case of crucial SharePoint modifications, it is always recommended to prepare a clickable prototype and perform focus user tests with this version. It is much simpler, and cheaper, to identify imperfections with a small focus group than when the whole department or company is already using the software. You can make a first impression only once.
#5: Change should be managed
It is best to launch a SharePoint implementation in phases, for example, through monthly releases. This way users will not feel overburdened and will adapt to the new tool in steps.
It is always a good idea to hide all the standard options that will not be used so as to not overcomplicate the basic system view. If you gain user trust, further application development will gain its own momentum.
#6: Customise it to your needs. But thoughtfully.
SharePoint isn’t an out-of-the-box solution, but an Enterprise Content Management type platform. This means that it lets you develop solutions which introduce true business value. Simply speaking, with SharePoint you get a huge bag full of building blocks. The individual pieces do not represent anything by themselves, but they enable you to create a coherent and functional entity.
We need to remember, however, that if we cut a building block in half to create a desired shape, we interfere with the whole design. So before we start changing the code, we need to think this through and plan how to do this properly to benefit the organisation.
As a Microsoft Gold Partner in the “Collaboration & Content” competency, we are proud of our experience of many successful SharePoint implementations. If you are looking for a solution of this type for your organisation, do not hesitate to contact us – it will be our pleasure to assist you.
Managing Partner at Unity Group. Founder of Internet Designers - one of the first interactive agencies in Poland. After merger with Empathy and Contium brands, Grzegorz was in charge of combining all parts into one coherent entity. Digital workplace expert and innovator. He shares his knowledge with clients on day-to-day business and participates in seminars and conferences as a mentor.