Having access to a tool and actually being able to use said tool are two different things. And all too often, SharePoint users find themselves in the unenviable position of having the right to use the content management system (CMS) to streamline workflows but don’t feel they have the support to do so.
In these cases, the difference between access and adoption is often embedding.
Adoption, in this case, means the widespread uptake and use of a particular solution within an organisation. Embedding refers to making this practice a regular part of everyday activities, with buy-in from every level of the organisation.
With SharePoint, adoption represents the CMS being used widely in workflows across your organisation. Every document, every point of collaboration and accessibility is managed and maintained centrally by SharePoint. When a file is shared, it’s accessed through a link rather than emailed directly. And when your colleagues need to find information, they don’t browse internal servers – they visit the relevant SharePoint portal to use the quick access features built expressly for this purpose.
It’s important to note that not using SharePoint is not a problem in and of itself. There are many solutions aimed at helping organisations securely and efficiently manage and share content, and SharePoint is just one of many. The information in this article can apply to any CMS used to help enable internal collaboration.
The main reason you want to encourage adoption is that without widespread usage, no CMS can deliver efficient collaboration.
Picture a situation when stakeholders feel that a chosen CMS offers little value to them. They may understand how to use it and may even prefer the workflows it enables. What’s more, the chosen CMS offers granular, centralised security that enables a safer working environment – and is already being paid for by the organisation. But if their colleagues are not on board with SharePoint, they find workarounds that may not be in the organisation’s control, and the efficiencies enabled by the CMS get lost.
Additionally, the workarounds could include using platforms such as personal cloud accounts as filesharing platforms and email for document storage. While functional, these are rarely as efficient as a dedicated CMS, with individuals possessing different preferences or accessibility to various solutions. Version control becomes difficult, and user access is nearly impossible to enforce. And when team members begin using solutions outside organisational control to perform their tasks, it can potentially increase information security risk.
Conversely, the benefits become apparent when SharePoint is embedded within your organisation. Sharing documents is simple, fast, and secure. Collaboration is streamlined. And version control is automatic, with granular accessibility and review controls built into apps that your colleagues already know.
Demonstrate the value on a personal level. SharePoint is known for its range of features and integrations, and finding setups that deliver results the way you want them is an essential part of the process. When your organisation decided to deploy SharePoint, chances are that it began by assessing the needs of different stakeholders and determining how the CMS could address these needs. Translating these outcomes to personal benefits helps your users understand and appreciate how their new CMS will make their professional lives easier. In turn, this can help drive adoption.
Provide tailored education. The mechanics of SharePoint’s storage and sharing systems are usually hidden behind a user interface. This interface differs from file-based document storage that users may be familiar with. And with so many features and integrations available, SharePoint can present a steep learning curve for some people. This is why tailored education is vital to help drive adoption. Custom explainer videos and one-on-one mentoring can help key individuals identify the steps they need to take to realise the benefits of their CMS. They can also encourage questions that can lead the way for more educational opportunities.
Identify your SharePoint champions and prioritise their migration. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “The Tipping Point”, the author introduces the concept of three personality archetypes:
These users are your SharePoint champions, and they’ll be critical in helping drive adoption. By giving them training and moving them across to your SharePoint environment, these unofficial power users can help train others and spread the good word about your new CMS. Their presence and involvement can help generate excitement, make the chosen solution feel simple, and help to demonstrate the value it enables – all steps that help to embed the processes faster than mere training alone.
If you’re experiencing pushback against SharePoint adoption, there are a few things you can do to try and overcome it.
The key to driving adoption with SharePoint lies in your ability to demonstrate how it makes life easier for its users. This opportunity can take the form of matching solutions to use cases, providing practical education, and selecting SharePoint Champions to help guide stakeholder usage across your organisation.
If this is all a bit much to do in-house, First Focus can provide access to professional SharePoint consultants and Microsoft-certified engineers. These experts can examine your environment and collate your needs to deliver tailored educational and mentoring solutions to help your people make the best possible use of SharePoint.