One of the biggest challenges for any organisation when introducing SharePoint is managing the process of adoption. For many users, moving from systems they are familiar with can be troubling and there may be resistance to change that can damage the programme, and ultimately cause the failure of the project.
Properly implemented, SharePoint can transform the way an organisation works together, fostering improved collaboration, increased accountability, and better security – all benefits to staff, however in some cases, uncertainty about what SharePoint is can negatively affect perception and reduce use.
In order to improve SharePoint adoption in a business, it’s useful to start off by looking at what the barriers to that adoption are.
Why do Staff Resist SharePoint?
When you’re at the heart of the team delivering a project, it’s common to focus on the benefits of the solution. You will consider what potential risks there are, but you might not always include the motivations of staff as part of your thought process. In many cases, the biggest barrier to SharePoint adoption is fear of change.
Driving adoption is best achieved through showing users that while a lot will change, a lot is essentially the same, and in many cases, while working practices need to change slightly, the benefits can outweigh the drawbacks.
Increasing SharePoint Adoption: Familiarity
A simple way of aiding adoption is to focus on areas that users are familiar with, and show the benefits in those specific cases.
In most modern organisations, the default place for storing files is a network drive. Staff tend to be comfortable with the idea of a network drive, because the paradigm is essentially the same as what they’re used to on a local machine – a hierarchy of information that is accessed by clicking down through the structure:
When the issue with adopting SharePoint relates to the fear that it is in some way different, it’s useful to stress the similarities of the system – there are still file structures – and also to stress the benefits:
Key Benefit of SharePoint: Search
In SharePoint, the way files are tagged makes it easier to find them through search. A drawback of a traditional network file system is that documents may be stored inside multiple folders, in which case they can be difficult to find. With SharePoint, the documents can be accessed faster because the system “knows” where they are.
Modern versions of Microsoft Office allow inline collaboration to take place. This means staff can edit the same document at the same time, and work together. In practice though, people will often take their own version of a file and edit it locally.
This can result in multiple versions of a file on the server, with no clear indicator of which is canonical.
Key Benefit of SharePoint: Version Control
When staff are collaborating across a network, a lack of version control can mean that the same task is performed multiple times. With version control, it is simpler to track changes into the document to ensure that a canonical version is in use, and that the final document includes all of the contributions in a single location.
Information management, particularly the way in which information is shared outside of an organisation is essential in most modern businesses. Users in key roles will normally be familiar with a process of releasing information, but in conventional file systems, the process is uncontrolled and relies on user adherence. This can sometimes lead to the wrong information being released to a client.
Key SharePoint benefit: Workflow
SharePoint is configured to provide approval workflows, to prevent information from being released until it has been checked and signed off:
The approval process means that documents cannot be sent to a client until they have been approved by the process manager. This prevents embarrassment, and also, more importantly, improves client satisfaction.
Increasing SharePoint Adoption: Buy In
Demystifying SharePoint and demonstrating the benefits and familiarity that it brings to an organisation will reduce resistance to the introduction, but it is just as important to stress the new features to create buy in.
Communication & Social Media
In many organisations, SharePoint is used as an Intranet and document management system. It also offers social features that allow much closer interaction between users.
SharePoint’s social features and Yammer provide users with a means to share information that they’re usually familiar with. Ensuring that these features are active means that users will have more of a reason to interact with SharePoint as a hub of information which in turn will lead to them using the platform more in their day to day work.
SharePoint allows the creation of TeamSites that provide groups of users with simple access to the information that they require to do their day to day work. Encouraging staff to manage these sections themselves, rather than doing so at a management level means that staff have an increased stake in the success of the project.
Greater ownership of the product within teams gives them an incentive to succeed and use SharePoint
Introducing SharePoint into an organisation provides an opportunity to reward staff with additional responsibilities. Internal shop floor advocates can play a major role in spreading adoption through the wider business. By providing them with additional training and helping them to become the “go to” person within each team or department, their loyalty to the project is recognised, and they benefit from the additional skills and recognition.
To deliver success and help you meet your goals for SharePoint, adoption is essential, and this requires a well-informed, and fully trained workforce. When introducing SharePoint, it is important to provide training that stresses the ways in which change is small while also showing the potential that SharePoint can bring.
For more information about how to overcome inertia toward SharePoint and increase adoption in your organisation, please contact a member of our client services team and we’ll work with you to ensure that SharePoint is able to meet your staff goals, and how we can help to train for improved use and integration.