I could probably come up with more than 4 steps, but here’s a progression that may look familiar to some of you:
- “I’m using SharePoint because you made me”
- “I can find something useful in SharePoint, I guess it’s OK”
- “I can learn about my business from SharePoint, that’s a cool dashboard, keep up the good work”
- “I start my day in SharePoint, it helps me be productive — answers questions, routes forms, create content – just by using a web browser. I couldn’t do my work without it”
Does any of that sound familiar? If it doesn’t, maybe if I can expand on these, you might see how this can really help with SharePoint adoption.
I’m using SharePoint because you made me
This is where many SharePoint environments start and end — and essentially fail.
Sorry if you think I am picking on your implementation, but there’s a lot more that you can do with SharePoint than just decree everyone will use it, set it and forget it. This is also the kind of environment which may start and end with one web application, one site collection, everything is based on the team site template, and every document library is called “Shared Documents”. It’s an ok start, but you can do a lot better.This use of SharePoint reinforces the impression that SharePoint is just a fancy file share.
I can find something useful in SharePoint, I guess it’s OK
Okay, so if you have read this far, maybe you want to know what might be a better plan. I think what you need next is, as Eddie Murphy said years ago in one of his first comedy albums, is a hook, an eye catcher.
Maybe this is just making sure SharePoint search is working. For some folks, this is all the reinforcement they need that if they add content to a SharePoint site, they can easily find the information they added. My experience has been if you can demonstrate there’s value in one piece of SharePoint — like SharePoint search of SharePoint content, file shares, web sites, Public Folders in Exchange and more — your job as an internal SharePoint evangelist becomes much easier.
I can learn about my business from SharePoint, “that’s a cool dashboard, keep up the good work”
If you get this far with your SharePoint deployment, everything else becomes easier. You are demonstrating value and getting positive feedback. But what did it take to get here?
Talking to your customers
I know, some of you joined an IT organization precisely because you didn’t want to deal with humans, but this is SharePoint, a product that will shake you out of your habits and ultimately make you and your customers more effective.
For some organizations, just having a view of the open issues on a SharePoint page is the dashboard they need. For others, it’s having a strategy map in PerformancePoint which shows a process and different colors to represent the state of the process — like Green for good, Red for bad. And if you’re really thinking long term, you probably have realized that SharePoint can manage requests for services — like IT Services — provide a dashboard of service states, and do surveys to get feedback on performance. All great things for a dashboard and for demonstrating that SharePoint is a valuable part of your company.
“I start my day in SharePoint, it helps me be productive — answers questions, routes forms, create content – just by using a web browser. I couldn’t do my work without it”
Make the interface disappear. Not literally, of course, but you can aim for a SharePoint environment where users can “just get stuff done” without realizing they’re using several features of SharePoint tied together to make things happen.
Content types, for example, can be the cornerstone of this. If you have a need to creating a daily briefing in PowerPoint or a weekly status report for your manager, or an expense report, there’s a lot of power in creating these as content types. You can publish that content type to different site collections in SharePoint 2010, and you can tie a bunch of things together — like capturing metadata based on a corporate term store, a workflow which routes the document for approval, auditing which makes sure you capture information on who deleted or accessed the document, and a retention policy which archives or simply deletes a document after it has served its purpose.
If you do this well, users may not even realize they are using SharePoint, “it just works”. Instead of creating a document on their desktop and then uploading it to SharePoint, and then playing 20 questions — “Why do I have to fill out all these fields?!?”, and then sending an email so someone can act on it, and then doing what no users usually do — like deleting the file when it is no longer needed — you select the kind of document you want to create and then the magic happens: Automatic routing to an approver, automatic deletion, defaults for metadata fields and more.
I know for some folks, this is a tough sell. I hear all the time “You’re dreaming if you think users will create content from within SharePoint, they create it on their desktops and then they think to upload it”, but I think if you can show how this will save them time and effort, you will all win.