SharePoint MVP, Christian Buckley, recently blogged “Planning for Productivity in SharePoint”, which insightfully captures how to measure success and focus on the outcome of an application deployment, particularly a collaboration application like SharePoint. Here’s how Buckley sums up End-User Productivity:
“The result of changing your focus to end user productivity is a higher return on investment. Faster employee on-boarding and training, more business output, and stronger platform usage — all of which means a faster realization of the financial investments you’ve already made in SharePoint.”
It’s easy to get buried in feature lists, especially with new releases on the horizon, but if you keep your focus on the end-goal – user productivity – you are in a better position to maximize ROI.
Top three tips driving user adoption and productivity
As many have discovered, “if you build it, they will come” is not a strategy for success with SharePoint deployments. For it to be attractive, users have to be more productive in SharePoint, and it has to deliver a higher ROI for the business. Buckley and other experts (for example, here, and here!) have lots of great tips for boosting SharePoint adoption, but these three stand out:
- Improve the user interface – Gather end-user requirements to design an interface that maximizes their productivity: What needs to be easy to find? How will users find what they need? Then think about site aesthetics – for example, branding the SharePoint intranet sends an important message to users about what it is and how seriously they should take it.
- Training, training, training – From professional training to internal “quick tips” bulletins, training is essential to ensuring users get more from any application. One idea: identify SharePoint “power users” in your organization and invite them to teach a training class. Not only do they know your users functional requirements better than anyone, but this is also a professional development opportunity for those employees (and anyone in HR can tell you that professional development is key to better employee recruiting, retention, and improvement)!
- Focus on performance – Sometimes, for those of us at headquarters, we forget what it’s like to be in the remote office. If a collaboration platform is only as strong as its weakest link – and if your remote office workers are abandoning SharePoint like rats off a sinking ship – then you need to work on making the SharePoint experience usable for workers far and wide. That means improving page load times, accelerating file upload and download times, and ensuring servers can handle peak demand. Sadly, this last point is often missing from user adoption tip lists (I hope to change that!), but if you need a more concrete example, read this case study about Golder Associates, a globally distributed environmental and engineering services firm.
What’s great about these three strategies is that you can apply them whether you are planning a SharePoint deployment or looking to boost productivity (and therefore, ROI) of an existing deployment. Why? Because these three elements never really go away. Yes, you can put solutions in place (like Steelhead WAN optimization and Stingray Aptimizer Web Content Optimization) to address some underlying issues, but the user interface will need to be updated, training will need to happen on a regular basis, and performance will need to be monitored.
Where are you going to start? What’s your tip for driving user productivity?
To learn more about how the Riverbed performance platform can drive productivity for SharePoint, check out this ESG white paper.
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