SKILLS & TRICKS
It’s been quite some time I didn't get a chance to write about SharePoint and its implementation. Recently I saw a lot of people asking on LinkedIn Groups if SharePoint implementation should be handled by Business OR IT. At times it amazes me to see the replies and how we look at this platform with our small vision.
In my humble opinion, when an organization decides to move forward with SharePoint - they need to know that SharePoint implementation starts from that day itself and the first step is to realize what the word SHAREPOINT means (Share and Collaborate).
It’s time for the business and IT to share and collaborate to make it a success, otherwise it won't work and you can keep on blaming either one of them. Usually IT decides the technology and business users wait to adopt it. In my observation, if the system integrator holds a few sessions with both (IT / Business) and explain them how SharePoint works and talk about Governance Plan - things can be made very easy. This is the second step for a successful implementation of SharePoint because it will engage both IT and Business Users to have a more solid understanding of what they are about to use.
Majority doesn't care about the above and at some places it becomes a one sided game - either business goes and does everything or the IT. Most of these kinda implementations don't go smooth and plenty of people get frustrated with the whole process.
Now this leaves us to another question: User Adoption for a Successful SharePoint Implementation.
If you miss this catalyst then nothing will work out for you and everything will go to the bin.
“Engage, Plan and Gather the Requirements”
If SharePoint Replaces an Existing System: It should be part of your training and communication plan to explain Users why it’s been replaced by SharePoint. Answer all questions raised by your Users so that any negativity is removed and adoption becomes a more smooth process.
Slow and steady wins the race – remember this and keep a glass of water near you because you will need it a lot of times to cool yourself down.
In your implementation Plan mark the four or five features which are most requested by the business users as Phase 1 of the Project. Try to avoid them giving everything SharePoint has to offer in one go, let them play with it, get used to it and then let them request for new features which you can roll out in Phase 2.
Focus on quality over quantity
I have learned this through experience that most successful SharePoint Deployments take the course of several months and best would be to first let your users get accustomed with DMS, Lists and Libraries, then workflows, MySites, etc
“ Lets restrict the access and then have our users request for it”
Do you remember what parents say “I want you to have fun and explore the world but when I say watch out for a particular thing – Trust, I have your best interest in mind”
Governance actually means setting boundaries and levels which will ensure SharePoint to Grow its roots to every user. Have you noticed that some Users build fantastic sites (meaning they are allowed to use SharePoint Designer) which helps the team to adopt the SharePoint Collaboration mindset and change their mode of work. When Users are able to create their own business solutions – they address a teams’s unique and specific needs directly.
But don’t forget about Governance in the name of creativity – You might be the one calling a SharePoint Consultant in a panic wanting Governance and Taxonomy discussion to happen the next morning.
You also need to engage the Content Owners to socialize this information with their Department’s users so that the message is correctly and consistently reinforced.
“Remember that Users will only retain 35% to 40% of what you have presented so your game plan should be to give them at least 60% in three or four stages. It’s not a 100 yard sprint but a marathon.”
A good way to do that would be creating videos about different SharePoint capabilities like Version Control, Exporting a List Contents to Excel, Add HTML Code in the Content Editor Web Part, etc. Some of us might think that Users simply won’t care about the IT’s Disaster Recovery and Backup Plans for SharePoint – in reality they do care about it but they don’t realize the impact it’s going to cause and they are unable to raise these concerns. Best way would be to train them and share your plans for Disaster Recovery and Back up so that they have more confidence in storing the business critical data on it without any excuse.
Technology is not the only success but Communication is the real success
“Don’t think that your Users won’t be able to manage it and who will convert a list to XSLT format?”
Give them time and training, open up the more powerful capabilities of SharePoint to those who you feel are grasping the platforms power and you will be astonished to see the solutions they will built on it. You can also speak with the management of your organization and include SharePoint Content Owner Responsibilities in the Job Description of the Users. By doing so you are ensuring that this learning and experimentation becomes part of the work they are responsible for. Without this focus it would be difficult to have SharePoint reach the adoption level that you require.
In other words you will be creating a User Community which will be willing to handle SharePoint and come up with solutions. This will work to create a culture of community and support within your company. The IT Department will participate to provide Governance, Guidance, Education and act as a Subject Matter Expert on SharePoint.
OK I need to stop here otherwise I might end up writing a book about SharePoint implementations and User Adoption. I believe I have covered the most critical factors on which User Adoption is based and remember that your Users need to feel comfortable within the environment. There is no magic when it comes to User Adoption and not every department in your organization will adopt it at the same pace but you must foster your Users Adoption for SharePoint.