After writing a product
review on harmon.ie, I had a discussion on twitter with
@ericatoelle where she argued that software and tools don't really
don't increase SharePoint adoption. At first, I was taken back and
thought, "Wow, how can you say that?" To me, it seems like a lot of
SharePoint's barriers to entry have to do with the complexity of
performing what should be simple tasks. Third party tools can fill
these tools and dramatically improve the user experience. When it
comes to managing documents and document metadata, simplifying the
user experience seems to me to be something that would really make
a difference. Erica talks about
SharePoint adoption as intrinsic motion on her blog with a
great reference to a Ted Talk. I love Ted Talks.
That said, I do think I see where Erica is coming from. It's far
too easy for IT to gloss over the user adoption problem, and
instead try and patch it up with a stand-alone tool. I totally
agree that this one-off approach won't work.
But when your strategy is to use a tool to bring contextual
access to SharePoint from within your users' preferred client, and
you support their experience with proper education and a community,
you'll make your users a lot happier. It's the community, brown bag
training, and all-around active *LISTENING* that will get people to
move from using file shares and email for document sharing to using
SharePoint. You heard their requirements, but did you reflect them
back to users? Did you help them get past why IT thinks SharePoint
is so great for business and actually show how SharePoint can save
them time and effort? And did you show them how SharePoint within
the context of their workflow makes their jobs that much
The following three strategies are key to increasing user
adoption. Keep in mind that any single approach won't solve your
adoption needs; you need all three to be successful.
1. User Education: Barriers to adopting new
technology have a lot to do with people's discomfort with the new
way of doing things. Often times these tools feel foreign, and for
many business users, adopting new tools doesn't come naturally. So
the more we can do to make SharePoint feel like an organic
extension of what people are accustomed to, the easier we make it
for people to realize its value. IT talking business value doesn't
sell product usage; positive personal experience does.
2. Community: When users call support for help
with their issues, and the support/help desk says… "I'm sorry but
that issue you're having isn't something that is broken, so I can't
help you… Call back when you have a problem…" the user is going to
say some very bad things about support. They're also likely to say
the product sucks. Users need someone they can talk to -- a product
coach or a community guru who's down the hallway or at least within
an email's or newsgroup's reach away. FAQs, Knowledge Base
articles, and self -help tools are a good start. But it's the
microblogging and getting questions answered quickly that will make
your adoption strategy successful.
3. Client Tools and Solutions: Client tools
like harmon.ie that bridge the gap
by bringing SharePoint into people's work environments can really
make a difference. For example, if I'm used to saving files and
dragging them into my file share or simply attaching documents to
an email and sending it to a public folder for archiving, then I'm
going to need the new process to be just as easy to navigate. To
save a document into SharePoint, I'm going to struggle with the
long URLs and I'm going to struggle with copying the URL to the
email, saving the document locally and then uploading it to the
server. If there's a tool that can make this process 4x to 6x
faster, then it's going to make my life easier. Now I'm listening.
Especially if I see that SharePoint ultimately benefits me and not
just IT. Give me end-to-end solutions - not patches.
You may have heard Apple's suggestion that apps in the app store
should not need documentation. I'd suggest the same with most
client-based SharePoint tools. Things need to be that intuitive and
simple. But until we get there with desktop software, we need
cohesive solutions that include training and community support.
What do you think???
Oleson was a speaker at the European SharePoint Conference
2011. Why not keep up to date with Joel's amazing
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