As a freshly anointed SharePoint Knight it is my duty and honor to share insight from my daily battles out there mostly fighting valiantly and fiercely against un-productivity and false use of information management tools. My first quest is about how the evil and dark villain of low SharePoint End User adoption and productivity could be defeated.
May peace favor your swords fellow heroes…
Nowadays the use of SharePoint is quite widely spread within small-medium and large enterprises. They all use SharePoint in some kind of way but very seldom to its full potential. Usually just parts of SharePoint are used or sometimes SharePoint is used totally wrong. Therefore End-Users often have similar challenges while working with SharePoint:
- SharePoint is difficult to use and not very intuitive
- SharePoint is not more than another file-share system
- I am used to work with folders, why should I change that?
- I cannot find my documents or information I need, even though I use Enterprise search
- I am used to keep my documents on a local folder structure, why should I change that?
Does this sound also familiar to you? These are just a few examples of challenges or hurdles End-Users identify while working with SharePoint. So can we now blame only the End-Users for this dilemma? No, we can’t! As it is in many other similar cases, it is seldom the End-Users fault, when a system is not working or used as it should be. In our case it is so that the End-User simply does not know what is possible to do with SharePoint. Also End-Users do not have the time to learn all the time saving features by themselves. End-Users like to have information served on a silver tablet.
So what else plays an important factor when it comes to SharePoint productivity? It is in the most cases also about the quality of the SharePoint Infrastructure and the attitude the End-User has towards SharePoint and Change. So let’s summarize this now. The factors of SharePoint productivity are:
1. The ability to use SharePoint in the right way
2. The SharePoint Infrastructure quality
3. The Attitude towards the use of SharePoint
For example: If an End-User not really knows how to work with SharePoint, the acceptance to use SharePoint is rather low. So what do we usually do next? We try to customize and “tame” SharePoint in a way it is not meant to be. But basically we did not tackle the problem by its roots, we just fought the “symptoms” of the underlying problem. Also too many customizations lead to higher maintenance costs and the upgrade of SharePoint to newer versions can become painful.
Another example: The SharePoint infrastructure is suffering because of bad implementation or lacking information management or governance. In this case the End-Users would be willing to use SharePoint regularly, but low response times or difficulties to find and organize information is slowing down the work with SharePoint heavily. Also this scenario has a strong negative influence on the User acceptance and the productivity, because End-Users cannot find their stuff.
As you can see, those three factors of SharePoint productivity are highly interlinked. So where lies now the treasure of the dragon? It is important that you can accomplish a healthy balance between those three factors of SharePoint productivity. How to accomplish that, we are having a look into that now.
Part 1: The ability to use SharePoint the right way
This is the cognitive aspect of SharePoint productivity. In other words, it is about the ability of the End-User to tap the full potential of SharePoint to work as productively as possible. Its not only about if the End-User is able to create a site or a document library. It’s rather about, is the End-User able to create a meaningful sub site structure or a document library with sorting and filtering of documents which decreases the time to find document. Usually End-Users are not fully aware about what lies under the “SharePoint-Hood”. It is crucial for the ones implementing SharePoint in an organization to show the End-Users how to tap into that true value of SharePoint.
Ok, so how can you now train your End-Users to become high performance SharePoint End-Users? Here are some simple examples how this could be achieved:
- Do not set the focus only on feature based training. Show your End-Users the real value of SharePoint by giving real life use cases or user stories. For example: How to manage your project with SharePoint, or how to create high performance team document libraries, etc. So in other words focus on human-centred training content.
- To successfully implement SharePoint in your organization you should not run it as an IT implementation project. Working with SharePoint dictates a change in the way of how people work on a daily base. Therefore a SharePoint implementation project should be run as a Change project, where IT is involved.
- Find and support your SharePoint Key-Users, heroes and enthusiasts while educating your End-Users. They can be your agents outside in the business world where SharePoint is used heavily.
- Invest time to cultivate your SharePoint End-User community. Its the End-Users working with SharePoint, so the “pulse of SharePoint” should be measured at the right spot.
- Take End-User feedback serious. There is nothing more frustrating if an End-User feels that she or he is talking to a wall and that opinions are not taken serious. But if End-User feedback has an influence on the improvement of SharePoint and End-Users can feel that, it will raise the acceptance of SharePoint significantly.
- Make the education of End-Users creative, interesting and exciting. For example use Gamification elements in educating End-Users would be a cool way to bring more excitement into trainings. For example you could have monthly challenges for teams to come up with ways to work more productive with SharePoint. The winner team would win a prize like a team-building weekend in a cabin in the woods of Finland.
These are only some of the possible ways to raise the productivity awareness of the End-Users while working with SharePoint. In the end of the day it is about empowering the End-User to see the value of the work with SharePoint. After the End-User starts to understand what is possible to do with SharePoint and what positive impact it has on the daily work and productivity, all the innovative ideas will start to spread by itself. End users will pick up their own swords and swing it against the dark and evil villain of low adoption and low productivity. Sooner or later you will have a full army of other SharePoint Knights following you into battle.
SharePoint, strength and honor