SharePoint has long promised collaboration and communication across organizations; in fact, this has been one of the key strategic goals of the product and selling features as long as it has been available. Unfortunately, regardless of the version or module, organizations have left the strategic components of communication aside and left it out of critical conversations. Much like you expect a vehicle to be able to take you from point A to point B, organizations assume that SharePoint will simply make communication easier, and this is sadly not the case. The reality, in fact, is that a firm communication strategy can mean the difference between the success and failure of SharePoint in your organization.
Here’s why. Organizations who communicate tend to over-communicate, providing too much information to their teams. This is a risk to the organization because of the potential to lose readers and disconnect with the audience (those who are being communicated to). However, this risk is manageable and with coaching and expectation setting, companies can ensure that staff are up to date and on top of the latest developments that affect the organization. Conversely, organizations who fail to communicate with their teams set a poor standard and tend to alienate staff by not advising on the latest and greatest developments of the company. This precedent filters down to management, project and product teams who follow along with the corporate “standard”.
This is where the SharePoint problem comes into play, when organizations implement SharePoint to solve their communication problem without setting reasonable objectives and offering guidance on the product. Without the appropriate governance, training and expectation setting, your teams won’t be able to follow along; it is unreasonable to simply expect that a team will know how to communicate with each other on the SharePoint platform.
With respect to SharePoint itself, its robust feature-set has now expanded to the point where significant time and effort must be placed on defining a communication strategy. Those setting the strategy no longer just have to define a Team Site strategy, but have to define which tool is to be used across teams in order to communicate. For example, should a project team be using OneDrive for Business to share files, or a SharePoint site? What about teams; should they be communicating via email or through Yammer to discuss documents or updates? These considerations didn’t have to be taken into account 12 years ago when SharePoint 2003 came out, but they are critical in today’s rapidly changing environment.
The answer, of course, is dependent on the type of organization you have. A younger and more youthful organization (start-up) might be more adept to communicating through Yammer, which a more mature organization (law firms, banks) would not be. To define your strategy, look around your company and see what communication tactics you already have in place. Companies who widely use email or Lync should consider Yammer as a potential method. With its integrated communication features, follow and “like” functionality, users can adopt a simple interface to allow for any and all project level conversations and discussions to take place.
For more structured companies who may find Yammer ineffective to use, creating simple communication standards may be a better way to go. Implementing distribution lists and document linking can provide a seamless way for staff to access information while maintain organizational standards. This ensures that pertinent information is sent via email and not potentially through alternative methods such as Lync.
For more educational content on collaboration why not check out Jasper Oosterveld’s conference presentation on ‘External Collaboration with SharePoint Online and Yammer’ Download presentation now>>
About the Author: Eric Riz is the Founder & CEO of Empty Cubicle, a Human Resource platform providing verified candidate data to employers. A two-time Microsoft SharePoint MVP, Eric works with many Fortune 500 companies on their business adoption, change management and deployment strategies to ensure they maximize the benefits of Microsoft technologies and successfully implement SharePoint-based solutions.
Find out more about Eric on his blog and follow him on Twitter!