A question and conversation that often pops up in the SharePoint world surrounds SharePoint change management. Organizations are constantly struggling with ways to plan ahead and address change management from an issues and risk perspective; moreover, they are looking for plan-ahead tips on what they will encounter as they move through their SharePoint journey. Unfortunately there is no “list” or “steps” that I can recommend; change is a living, breathing, moving component of SharePoint and that, in itself is an important take-away of this piece.
The first recommendation I have is to actually have a journey, this is the foundation level step that is missed as companies begin to plan out their enterprise solution. As I have polled audiences this past year, I have found that over 80% of people do not have a formal journey that they are following. By journey, I mean the strategic steps that map out the goals and locks down the objectives for your SharePoint enterprise deployment. To me, this should begin with buy-in for SharePoint at an executive level, providing the business alignment required to move through the path. At the end of that evolution is using SharePoint as a strategically aligned and integrated tool in your organization, managing your entire operation with critical process and workflow every step of the way.
Education is an equally important component of your change management strategy. Remember that expectations are equal to satisfaction plus performance. You cannot have expectations of someone or a system if you do not understand what it will do, how it will change and what you are expected to know about a system. Deployment statistics have shown that 72% of projects implemented with specific emphasis on educating stakeholders and the user community throughout the project achieve success. When project team members are educated on SharePoint and how the product will positively affect their business long-term, adoption and change become better understood and the project overall becomes easier for the project manager to control.
Next to note is communication. It is critical that both organizational and SharePoint information is shared early and often. Information about the project, timelines, and deliverables will create an expectation for business and end users throughout the organization and therefore must be available at all times. When first communicating on change management, emphasis should be placed on the “low hanging fruit” of the organization. What change will be the most impactful for the company? What is the fastest way to make that change so people can see the benefits of SharePoint early on in the project? Once the change has been identified, communicate it so that the business can see the success and changes with their own eyes. Watch this series for additional information and insights on change management and SharePoint.
Eric Riz (SharePoint MVP) is the Executive Vice President of Concatenate, a software firm focused on maximizing SharePoint through product innovation and systems integration based in Toronto, Canada. You can reach Eric by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @rizinsights. Read his other SharePoint thoughts on his blog at www.ericriz.com.