We're not talking about the cost of migration tools. We're not
talking about the servers that you'll have to buy or even the
licensing. The true cost of changing to SharePoint is the people
The costs are in the cost of the change itself. They don't
change from product-to-product, but the cost of change is real.
Let's take a look at what it takes to keep from being a victim of
the trough of reduced productivity.
It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better
In moving to SharePoint we're trying to make folks more
productive. It should be easier to find information, not harder. It
should be easier to review versions, not harder.
However, no matter how good a training program you've got, it is
going to get worse before it gets better. Hopefully, it gets much
better, and the time that it's worse is small. Take a look at the
graphical representation below of how the process of change
There are basically two reasons why change reduces productivity.
First, there's confusion. Confusion causes most people to stop, or
at least slow down. Think about what happens when you're driving
along and the person ahead of you doesn't know where they're
supposed to turn. They'll automatically slow down. Confusion
happens both ahead of and behind any training you might do.
The second reason for the reduced productivity is the
retraining. That is that it takes time to train on new things and
that time reduces the overall available time for productive work.
It's important to note that this productivity reduction impacts
multiple people. In an instructor led situation the instructor's
productivity is consumed by the training process.
It's interesting that confusion shows its impact twice. Before
training, as worry sets in and people wonder, "what does this mean
for me?" and after training, as users try to make sense of the
training they've received.
They try to translate the examples in class into what they do
every day. This is a normal part of the sense-making process.
Shrinking the Trough
One of the most common ways to attempt to shrink the trough of
reduced productivity is to skip training all together. The
reasoning is simple. It costs money, it takes time and we can't
clearly see the specific benefit, so let's eliminate it.The key
problem is that it elongates the confusion time dramatically and
makes the trough both deeper and wider.
Some organizations err in the other direction and send everyone
in the organization to half-day training on SharePoint. The result:
the training, coaching, and mentoring component of the downward
slope of the trough is huge. The argument is that the confusion is
reduced and the climb out of the trough is quicker. This is
possible, but it's not guaranteed.
There are two keys to shrink the trough: open, honest, direct
communication and targeted training, coaching and mentoring.
Open, honest, direct communication reduces confusion (and
concern), thereby reducing the downward slope before the change and
after training. Users know they're getting the straight story and
they know they can ask for help, so they don't worry about it.
Targeted training optimizes the time spent and focuses the users
on what they need to know to operate SharePoint (not everything
SharePoint can do but what they need to know to make SharePoint
Open, Honest, and Direct Communication
Change is threatening. It challenges the comfortable status quo.
Ultimately it means that something may have to change for every
individual person. It's personal (or rather it should be).
All too often when we're talking about SharePoint
implementations, we build presentations around the benefit for the
business: improved efficiencies, reduced cycle times, and return on
investment. However, individuals don't know how they'll adapt or if
they'll even need to adapt. In other words, they don't know if
they'll be eliminated by the solution.
If you're implementing a new system on top of SharePoint that
will eliminate positions, you'll have to say that. You'll have to
Of course, you'll want to talk about shifting things around to
protect the valued employees (all of them). If you're not open to
discussing things openly, then everyone will worry more about what
it means - reducing productivity.
If you've ever sensed that someone isn't "shooting straight"
with you and you've spent hours and hours trying to figure out
about what or why, you know what will happen if you're not direct
with the users.
Training users on a new system is a delicate balance. They need
to have enough to know the system.
Too much and they'll get bored. Too little and they'll be
What's worse is that the needs of each user will be different.
If you try to use the one-size-fits-all method for training, you'll
invariably end up training some users too much and other users not
enough. That's why you have to target train, so that you're
offering only what the user needs to know and not more.
This is where coaching and mentoring can come to the rescue.
While they're not traditionally thought of as training, they're a
part of the mix of helping a user become effective with a
By making coaching and mentoring services available, you allow
users to get some baseline training and then ask for on-demand
training. Of course, you can supplement this with reference
materials like the SharePoint Tutor as well. Ultimately providing
some standardized baseline training either a computer based
training (CBT) or Instructor Led Training (ILT) and then supporting
that with coaching, mentoring, and reference materials, you can
minimize your training costs and reduce the trough of reduced
On the Other Side
Getting through the trough of reduced productivity isn't
impossible or even difficult. You can get there by being open,
honest, and direct with your communication and by creating a
training plan that minimizes the effort for the user, and the
confusion they'll experience on the other side.
The better you can deliver your communications and your
training, the sooner you'll be reaping the benefits of your new
Robert Bogue is a Microsoft MVP for SharePoint, an
internationally renowned speaker, and author of 22 books including
the SharePoint Shepherd's Guide for End Users. You can find out
more about Robert's work to encourage business value out of
SharePoint at http://www.sharepointshepherd.com/
or more about his technical solutions at https://www.thorprojects.com/blog
This article was originally posted on SharePoint Pro.
Stay tuned for more SharePoint content by joining our community or by
following us on twitter or facebook.