SharePoint Adoption: What Does It Take?

September 20, 2016

In terms of end results, the difference between a proper SharePoint adoption and a misguided one is tremendous. A good implementation drastically reduces costs, eliminates workflow headaches and improves productivity. A bad implementation wastes time and resources, and may accomplish little more than bringing your already-clunky document storage folder structure online. Simply put: If you don't take the necessary steps to implement SharePoint properly, then SharePoint can't do its job.


Here are some industry best practices to keep in mind as you begin the deep dive into the world of SharePoint:


If Leadership Doesn't Champion SharePoint, Nobody Will Adopt

A strong SharePoint implementation supports a company's primary objectives, streamlines the processes involved and makes those processes more visible and easier to monitor. Top-level managers are usually tasked with achieving these objectives, making them a natural fit for "leading the charge" in adoption. Employees need to know that using SharePoint is important, and executives can show them why that is.


Two things that SharePoint does exceptionally well is help employees collaborate and share information. Executives can help their employees understand the effect those benefits will have on the organization, and how SharePoint will provide them.


Executives can also ensure that SharePoint adoption is a high priority for everyone in the organization. If the implementation isn't a priority, other projects will take up employee's time. A successful adoption of SharePoint in an organization requires the support of the entire organization, starting from the top.


There is No "One Size Fits All"

SharePoint is a developmental platform, not a "plug and play" application. It can offer multiple potential solutions to any given problem, and deciding on the solution that best fits your company's needs can be a daunting proposition. There is no one perfect site or automation template that is going to work for every department in your business. SharePoint sites should be as unique as the departments they are built for, because the differences in the details matter.


It takes SharePoint expertise to bring out the value here. You must have resources with both knowledge of SharePoint operation and the ability to evaluate the needs of a company and its individual departments. Only then will you gain understanding of which parts of each site must be unique, and how to properly implement those differences. This ensures that the tool is working for you and not the other way around.


Set Priorities for the Adoption Process

Once you've decided to adopt SharePoint, it's not unusual to feel unsure where to start. It's important to begin with high-value projects that can alleviate pain points in the business and provide immediate benefits. But even then, which project comes first?


Look at what your organization is trying to achieve, and identify the key drivers. Next, make a list of those drivers based on priority, and then begin to work through that list. As each key driver is implemented, the benefits of SharePoint in the business process become visible to employees and customers, giving employees even more motivation to be supportive in the adoption.


Adoption is Easier when Employees have a Vested Interest

Adopting SharePoint to take on critical business processes means many employees will need to re-learn how they participate in these processes. Some of them may be resistant or find themselves unclear as to why things are changing. Others may simply be intimidated by the complexity of SharePoint or its effect on their job. This is natural, but avoidable.


During the development process, be sure to involve the people who the solution is intended to help. Help them understand the positive impact that SharePoint will have on their role in the organization. Ask them what they need rather than telling them, and use their input as the solution is built.


When it comes time to train them, employees will see how their input manifested itself in the new solution, and be more enthusiastic about learning the new way of doing things. Furthermore, learning the finer details of SharePoint is easier for employees (and executives) when they are applied to a real project, not a generic demo.


Don't Rush It

When adopting SharePoint, it's important to keep the timeline of the project in mind. From start to finish, a SharePoint adoption project can take a company up to a year. This includes the time it takes to learn what the tool can offer your company, plan the full implementation, build it from scratch and train users of all levels on how to use and maintain the solution.


Some companies choose to base their SharePoint adoption around pre-built SharePoint templates. This jumpstarts the process, reducing the amount of time to complete the project to somewhere between 3-6 months. That time frame is dependent on the complexity of the solution and how well it fits into the template, but the organization certainly gets a head start.


We're Ready! Now What?

When you go into SharePoint adoption with a solid understanding of the tool, the full support and involvement of top level management, and a list of priorities for implementation, that's when the path between "Why are we doing this?" and "When can we start?!" shortens considerably.


In our decades of working with companies to deploy SharePoint to solve business problems, we find that knowing how to avoid SharePoint adoption pitfalls from the start is much easier than trying to correct them later on. Are you looking to adopt SharePoint and see its benefits in your business, but unsure how to move forward? Get in touch and we'll talk about the best path for you.


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