User adoption for SharePoint is the key to its success like any other product. If you implement SharePoint and your employees do not utilize it, then you would consider it money wasted. Sometimes SharePoint is looked at negatively by people when they have seen an implementation fail. It’s not SharePoint’s fault, it is very similar to if you get a puppy and never train it to go outside. In the end, it is the person/team that implemented SharePoint.
Getting users to engage with your newly implemented SharePoint platform really isn’t that difficult in most cases. There are some guidelines you should follow and we will cover those here. The most important predecessor is that you had a reason to implement SharePoint. I have worked with many businesses around the United States and found that some people just want to implement SharePoint because they heard it worked well for someone else, or it worked well at their previous job. While SharePoint has seen some success in those situations, I like to think of those as there was a business problem, it just wasn’t identified correctly.
One of the first things people notice in my experience is SharePoint isn’t as modern as other websites, this comes as a fault from Microsoft, it simply isn’t as modern as the new website design styles. In their defense, can you imagine WordPress completely changing their interface every three years when the way websites are designed changes? No, what happens is these platforms provide you the options to create a modern look and feel on your own, it changes to frequently for a platform to say “This is the way it should be, let’s spend tons of time building this out and making it modern” by the time development is finished, the “way it’s should be” is going to be different. So what your company needs to do is determine, do we have the budget to brand SharePoint, do we have the skills to manage the customization’s, and what does our user base care about? If your user base is all graphic designers, or people that really care about the user experience, then you are going to fight an uphill battle if you don’t apply some branding and UX to the SharePoint sites.
There are ways to make SharePoint more intuitive without providing custom master pages, or completely branding your site. It’s all about web parts and views. Keep those in mind and your users will find value in your solution.
Another way to get users loving SharePoint is to provide some easy to use workflows that will help them automate some of their tasks. The most used SharePoint workflow today is the approval workflow, this takes the need for users to constantly keep track of emails or verbal conversations with management to approve tasks, budgets, ect.. Simply saving them the 15 minutes of getting up from their desk and walking to the printer to get a piece of paper signed will make them want to start using SharePoint. Build upon this though, the key to SharePoint adoption is the users, so work with them, meet with them, get their input. The best approach to this is look for advocates in the teams, there likely isn’t enough time in the year to meet with everyone. Some key attributes of a advocate would be someone who is constantly improving the processes for the team, technologically savvy, very personable, and outgoing. Those users generally have the respect of their colleagues and understand what is going on with the business processes the best.
Finally you can implement a news source inside of SharePoint. If your company has a corporate communications team, or even a team that is an advocate for sharing company news then this option is a good move. Contrary to popular belief employees do care about what’s going on with their company, they love hearing good news or big deals that are signed. It gives employees all kinds of motivation to work harder knowing their company is doing well. These news sites can be aggregates from many teams or just company news. That is based on the amount of content produced, my approach is if you aren’t having updated news once a week then it’s aggregated from multiple sources, to ensure when users come to your site they have fresh content to look over. Keep in mind that you can also pull in news from outside sources in your industry, and this can make SharePoint a centralized hub for news for your users. The benefit to this method is you can also add in your important company announcements to get them seen by a higher number of your users.
Adoption isn’t hard as I said before, it starts with the users and ends with the users. Get them involved early, keep them involved, and listen to what they have to say.