6 tips to improve SharePoint User Adoption

Normally I work on projects for different customers but from September 2012 till May 2013 I worked for one client. This was a great experience because you really get to experience how end-users are dealing with SharePoint on a daily basis. I gained so many new insights in Document Management, Adoption and Governance. In future blogs I want to talk more about Document Management and Governance but for now I want to provide you with six useful tips to improve your SharePoint User Adoption. You should start with User Adoption before the start of your SharePoint project but this post focuses at User Adoption after the project is delivered. Let’s be honest, that happens most of the time.

Knowledge sessions
We, the SharePoint fan boys, have a lot experience and knowledge of SharePoint features such as the My Site, Search or Team Sites. Your end-users often never heard of these features. They have been working with file shares and e-mail for years and never had to create their own profile (apart from LinkedIn or Facebook) or work with metadata instead of folders. The change caused by SharePoint has a major impact on their daily work life! Inform your end-users on a regular basis about the key features of your SharePoint portal. We organized a SharePoint Online 2010 My Site knowledge session to explain and demo the benefits of the My Site for the employees. The session contained the following subjects:

  • Newsfeed
  • Editing your profile
  • The benefits of adding skills, past projects and expertise
  • Searching for colleagues
  • Storing personal and shared documents

Try to compare the subjects with real world examples. For example; The Newsfeed and My Profile with LinkedIn. All the attendees know LinkedIn and how it works and its benefits. You can explain the advantages of adding skills and expertise in combination with searching for colleagues. Its a lot easier to find a colleague when he or she has a complete profile! Try to use examples from you customers business. Are you working for an insurance company? Don’t search for keywords such as Office 365 or SharePoint but for travel insurance or policies. This makes a lot more sense for the participants and they will make the connection with the technology a lot faster.

Try to keep the session around 45 minutes because the concentration of the attendees will drop rapidly after the 30 minutes. Considering that for most people this is new information. Its a lot to take in!

Use real world examples
I already mentioned this in the previous tip. You really have to use examples your end-users can relate with. I made this mistake a couple of times with explaining the advantage of metadata compared to folders. Don’t just show your users how to create a new column and fiddle around modifying the view. Look at their current file share and recreate this (or a parts of it) with the SharePoint’s Document Management features.

Knowledge base
Create a knowledge base (Enterprise Wiki anyone?) were your end-users can look up information and instructions about your SharePoint portal. You should also look at creating short instruction video’s. A lot of users prefer videos to reading pages with loads of text.

Avoid the word SharePoint
This sounds strange because you are probably really excited and positive about SharePoint and eager to implement SharePoint with your customers. A bad SharePoint implementation can really hurt the name of SharePoint with end-users. There are always end-users with a bad SharePoint experience from previous employers or projects. These users, who don’t like SharePoint anymore because of previous experiences, can get involved in your SharePoint implementation and really hurt your adoption. That is why I try to avoid the word SharePoint because for end-users the technology shouldn’t matter but the solution to resolve their business problems.

Collaborate with Internal Communication department
In all my years as SharePoint Consultant I have seen a powerful and prominent position of the Internal Communication (IC) department in SharePoint Collaboration portals. The IC department is often responsible for publishing news articles and maintaining the content on the home page. My advise is work closely together with IC to communicate about your portal’s SharePoint features. IC can add articles introducing new SharePoint features or announce the knowledge sessions.

Share success
One final tip: Share your success stories! I supported the customer with implementing team sites for multiple departments. To show other end-users within other departments, who are often skeptic about SharePoint, what the benefits are and how relatively easy it is to create a well made team site.

I hope you find these tips useful! Don’t hesitate to comment or leave your tips 🙂

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