SharePoint 2010 – General guidelines for driving user adoption

At a recent conference, a show of hands highlighted that the majority of people consider SharePoint 2010 to be a platform rather than a solution.  This point of view is correct but if we are looking to drive user adoption then this can only be through deploying SharePoint as a solution and by engaging our users.  Users can be put off by staid, featureless information sites and are now looking for interactive solutions which encourage collaboration and variety.  With this in mind, I recommend adopting some of the points detailed below in order to drive user adoption and reap the benefits of a great deployment with rich content and an interactive user community.

  • The important thing when deploying SharePoint is to have a defined plan with realistic goals.  It is vital to assign accountability and responsibility to appropriate people or teams.
  • Define a communications campaign to support the launch of the solution.  Bolster this with emails, posters and if possible, have a launch party!
  • Give the site some kind of branding, an identity and an up to date look and feel.
  • Engage users in the design of the solution so that they feel part of the project, are engaged early and are able to influence the design so that it meets their needs.
  • Ensure that there is budget set aside for training materials and define a specific training.  Only those users who know how to use SharePoint properly will get the most value from it.
  • Stop sending communications out via email and start publishing them to SharePoint first.  This could be company newsletters, social memos, new employee news etc.  If you have a remote workforce and still need to send emails then at least publish them to the site before sending out the email communication.
  • Ensure that navigation is intuitive, simple and not too deep.  Make it quick and easy to locate the most popular sites and activities.
  • Encourage users to save documents to SharePoint and provide training on how to connect libraries to Microsoft Outlook to make it quicker and easier.
  • Include a wide range of content formats including pictures, video and surveys.  Make the content varied and interesting, presenting users with various experiences for interaction.
  • Prime the system with as much information as possible such as the company handbook, document templates, events calendars, company policies etc.
  • Make SharePoint the first port of call for performing day to day admin operations such as purchase requisitions, annual leave requests, car sharing schemes, meeting room booking systems via SharePoint calendars or lists etc.
  • Identify key users in the business who can receive additional training and act as local experts, providing informal training and advice to colleagues.  Maybe set up a user group which could take some kind of ownership over (or certainly influence) initiatives, new content, layout etc.
  • Delegate content ownership out to individuals, teams and departments.  Encourage them to take ownership of their content and to keep it fresh.
  • Ensure that authors (individuals or teams) are able to dedicate time every week to refresh the content and ensure that it is up to date, relevant and interesting.
  • Turn on Enterprise Search and ensure that you have defined adequate content sources, metadata and search scopes.  A great search experience will certainly make users return to the site.
  • Define various audiences within the organisation so that you can target specific content to them and ensure that irrelevant content does not clutter up their screens.
  • Encourage the adoption and use of Social Media tools such as news feeds, blogs and My Sites; users should at the very least be encouraged to update their profile information.
  • Engage a senior member of the business to write a blog and try to ensure that this is updated semi-regularly.
  • Set up specific informational sites, wikis or blogs for specific interest areas.
  • Set up a competition to encourage a more social aspect to the site; this could be something like a competition to upload the best photo of the local area, best team photo for example.
  • Provide recognition.  You could reward the generation of content so that people are encouraged to use the site; this could be via a competition or by displaying league tables of the most prolific users.  This of course needs to fall in line with usage policies so that only relevant content is uploaded.
  • On a final note, I would say that the site needs to look fresh, be regularly updated, easy to navigate and engaging.
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About rearcardoor

Chairman and founder of ImageFast Ltd, a leading UK ECM consultancy business and Microsoft Gold Partner. Over 20 years experience delivering successful ECM projects utilising scanning, data capture, document management, records management, workflow, BPM and SharePoint.
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