Rolling out your SharePoint intranet smoothly

By - January 13, 2015

So, you’re about to implement SharePoint or Office 365 for your company intranet, and there is no doubt that you are excited about the potential that it brings. However, nobody else in the company has even heard that the platform is coming, and not everyone has worked with it before. This happens more often than not, and you know that in order to have the tool be successful, you need everyone to use it. Having plans laid prior to your launch can ensure that everyone understands the tool, the value it brings to their workday, and how to use it. Here are some high-level suggestions you should consider when rolling out your intranet.

1. Have a communication plan
A communication plan defines the message that you are going to send to your users. Could you explain to your users in a paragraph or less what SharePoint is, and how it is going to make their job easier? By having a clear pitch and putting together documentation on how to access the portal, you will have collateral that is easy for your users to reference when they want to log in for the first time and get their hands dirty. You should also consider sending out “tips and tricks” emails explaining the various features of SharePoint, such as versioning or syncing calendars to outlook, that users may not be aware of as they are using the tool. By creating a wiki site on your SharePoint intranet, you could have a knowledgebase that shows users how to do things that they may not be aware of, as well as including troubleshooting information that might prevent simple questions from going to IT. At the very least, your plan should have a date for when the tool is going to be rolled out, and when the emails communicating this will be sent.

2. Identify your site owners
Your site owners will own the various sites on your SharePoint intranet. Your various departments will likely have a site on SharePoint, and someone within that department will need to be in charge of  maintaining the site and its content. These users will become the biggest champions of the tool once they realize the kinds of benefits they can reap for their department. Not only that, many of them will become the first line of support before your help desk, as they will be known as the “SharePoint person” within their department that has all the expertise. No doubt the success of SharePoint is tied to how prepared your site owners are.

3. Have a training plan
If you gave a simple tool, such as a heavy hammer, to someone who has never used it before, they could cause a lot of trauma. However, hammering a nail is actually a fairly straightforward task, as long as someone shows you how to do it. Much like using a hammer, your users will need to have training in order to use the document libraries, lists, calendars and features that SharePoint offers. Not only that, the people who field questions, such as your site owners, will also need training to be able to have good answers.

4. Roll out functionality in phases
Your users are just getting used to SharePoint. Although it would be really great to have all the features you want in your initial release to all of your employees, you may be introducing new risks in your rollout schedule. Not only will timing be an issue, but your users may feel overwhelmed by the introduction of so many features at once, and it may not be clear to them what the use of the tool is if it looks like a Swiss army knife. Having a concise set of limited functionality to start with allows you to launch with a clear message of its purpose and launch on time.

5. Track and share the success of your site
Once you launch, people will upload files, search for content, collaborate on projects and reduce the cycle time caused by paper-based processes. All of these things make work easier, but it’s only apparent to the people who use it. It’s important to highlight this success so that others within the organization associate the solution with the results that it brings. Luckily, most accessed files, most searched queries, most active users, etc. are all identified through SharePoint reports. You can identify the people who use the tool the most, and then interview them to define how the intranet has made their life easier. Perhaps removing the paper-based approval process has reduced the average cycle time by 2 days. By highlighting all of this information, you can clearly demonstrate to your organization the value that a collaborative intranet brings, and how it has impacted existing business processes so far.

To find out more about this or other ways that McGladrey can assist you with your SharePoint needs, contact McGladrey’s technology consulting professionals at 800.274.3978 or email us.

(Content originally provided by: Connor MacDonald)

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