5 Best Practices for SharePoint and Office 365 User Adoption

In the world of internal communications platforms, SharePoint reigns supreme. It is estimated that two-thirds of all enterprise organizations worldwide prefer SharePoint for internal communications, information sharing, business social, and resource collaboration. However, in 2019, Redmond Magazine published a Forrester Research article that revealed most of those enterprises are using legacy versions of SharePoint for managing complex business use cases and that a significant percentage of organizations have multiple versions deployed. This leads to resource contention and low user adoption of the platform.

Having an extensive SharePoint deployment, does not necessarily translate to a widely utilized deployment and as such it is essential to plan to drive successful user adoption and avoid the negative ROI of “shelfware.” Without an embracing user community, any solution can rapidly become irrelevant, with unhappy users going back to "what they know."

Why do organizations think SharePoint user adoption is so difficult?

Why users resist: While companies see SharePoint as an efficient way to incorporate content management disciplines into their environments, workers are still driven by a legacy mindset that matured using shared folders, file shares, and mapped drives.

It’s not just the users: The lack of user adoption is attributed to lack of internal expertise, strategic planning, and user resistance to contributing and collaborating as the top three business issues associated with SharePoint.

Are there other obstacles to widespread adoption of the SharePoint platform?

Possible technical obstacles to adoption: SharePoint product managers and developers rely on user feedback to continuously improve the agility, reach, and functionality of the SharePoint platform. So, while we have focused on user adoption issues, we are equally concerned with technical product issues that may hinder adoption or limit usage.

More top issues with SharePoint:

  • Issue 1: One size doesn’t fit all! The SharePoint Adoption Plan doesn’t work for all organizations.
  • Issue 2: SharePoint training issues persist, like unclear, non-contextual roles and responsibilities, and specific technology gaps.
  • Issue 3: Time lost duplicating work and searching for information across various systems.
  • Issue 4: SharePoint is a product that often requires adaptive change on the part of users. Learning the capabilities of the product is one thing – changing entrenched collaborative practice is another altogether.

Driving Sustainable User Adoption

SharePoint offers a wide range of functionality to your business, making collaboration in different environments much easier and productive. It also provides extensive support for third-party integrations, custom development, and migration. Sustainable SharePoint adoption “on your terms” maximizes value with the least disruption to your organization in three key areas:

  • Collaborate – Allowing people to work efficiently together instead of in silos drives innovation
  • Manage - Managing work proactively instead of reactively reduces time to value
  • Win - Build on enthusiasm over time by adding capabilities through successive iterations

5 Steps to driving sustainable user adoption:

  • Secure stakeholder’s buy-in: The key idea is to know your shareholders, how they relate to the initiative you are trying to launch and how they can help you.
  • Map to business value: Identify opportunities to map SharePoint capabilities to business goals and functions, thereby creating the best practices for enterprise consumption.
  • Drive success: Pick a specific date or period to launch to allow ample time to prepare, build anticipation, and celebrate as a group. Develop proper communication and training before, during, and after the launch
  • Facilitate purposeful collaboration: Focus on how your company will prioritize SharePoint initiatives into practice.
  • Evaluate, adapt and iterate: Create a plan for long-term success to review achievements, maintain momentum, and adapt to new challenges.

A few techniques to increase user adoption:

  1. Try to implement SharePoint in phases.
  2. Training is a big part of user adoption. Identify Super Users and get them to actively use the new functionality, customize their own personal page, and provide peer training.
  3. Design a flexible UI to increase acceptance.
  4. Promote the adoption of new systems and solutions by evangelizing the technology through lunch and learns and incentivize users to change.
  5. Monitor regularly – stay in touch with users. Course correct based on feedback!
  6. Simplicity is key: stay away from things such as trying right away to identify the perfect link from 25 links available on the Quick Launch or Global menu of SharePoint.
  7. Encourage an organizational culture that embraces continuous evolution.

I hope you find these tips and best practices effective in driving successful SharePoint user adoption in your organization. Cambay, a Microsoft Managed Partner is helping several enterprises to deploy and drive user adoption of SharePoint and Microsoft 365 toolsets. If you have also faced these issues and want to learn more about how we can help you succeed, get in touch with me at sales@cambaycs.com

Aqeel Haider

Vice President - Technology

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