We work with many clients who have implemented SharePoint in their organizations but aren’t utilizing it to its full potential or aren’t getting the maximum return on investment that they could be. There are various reasons for this, including improper planning, lack of time and resources, and inadequate user training to name a few. The end result is that the users are just not using SharePoint as much as the organization would like.
We are oftentimes asked to come in and help them get back on track in their user adoption efforts. We usually start with the same types of things that we would if this was a brand new implementation – so the following tips would also apply if you’re starting a new SharePoint project:
1. Pick a primary area of focus
Choose a main area of focus and concentrate on that area first. You don’t want to wait until your entire site is built out before delivering anything – that could take a while and you’ll lose momentum. A lot of companies choose to build out their Human Resources area first because that will affect the most users and get them to start using it immediately. For example, every user is interested in requesting time off. Something simple like a time off request form and approval workflow will get every user onto your site eventually. Then users will start to become familiar with the interface, and as you roll out additional functionality they’ll know how to use it.
2. Go for the quick wins
You’ll want to choose the small things that are very simple to implement, yet will also have a big impact. The vacation request form mentioned above would fit that bill. Keep in mind that it doesn’t necessarily even need to be business related. At one company I worked for, we moved our old online classified ads solution that was built in a different technology into SharePoint. We used a basic SharePoint announcements list, and a lookup list contained the different ad categories. So even though it wasn’t a work-related solution, it was super quick to implement, and it was something that almost every employee glanced at daily. It was just what we needed to get people to start using the SharePoint site.
3. Keep it simple
SharePoint provides a lot of functionality, and it’s tempting to get caught up in all the bells and whistles. It’s important to remember that unless it provides enough business value to justify the extra time and expense to implement, it’s probably not worth it. Also companies may not know exactly what they want. SharePoint’s rapid deployment model allows you to start out very small, and then add more functionality later once you get a feel for how that particular functionality works or have a better understanding of what your needs are.
4. Roll new stuff out in small chunks
You don’t need to adhere to a strict agile approach, however you should create a plan where you will roll out new functionality on a regular basis (perhaps monthly or quarterly), publish that plan and stick to it. You could create a rollout calendar in SharePoint so users can easily see what exciting new functionality awaits them and when they can expect to see it.
5. Remove the “old way” of doing things
Once you’ve moved each bit of functionality into SharePoint, don’t forget to remove access or delete the old way of doing the same thing. If the only place a user can find their team’s financial reports or the company’s benefits documents is in SharePoint then they won’t be tempted to continue doing it the old way, which in these cases might be to go to the shared drive. The same is true for manual processes. If the old way to request time off was to email Suzy and she’d take care of it, then Suzy must be taught to be firm and redirect the users to the SharePoint form.