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SharePoint & user adoption: you’ve built it – now will they come?

Posted on 11 Feb, 2014 by in Collaboration & productivity, SharePoint | 1 comment

One of the big problems with SharePoint is convincing your employees and other vested parties to use it. You spend a ton on buying this software, deploying it, and customizing it, but is it worth it if you have low SharePoint user adoption? You still have to get people to click into it and start working with it.

Why is SharePoint user adoption so hard?

A simple answer: the business technology world is still driven by shared folders, file shares, and mapped drives. “Look on the drive” and “Save it to O” are common refrains in users’ everyday work lives. Those things just work, and now you as the IT person come in and say you have a great new solution that will make everyone’s lives better, make the company more money, and put more luscious, thicker hair on your head. Somewhat justifiably so, your users are skeptical.

The Harvard Business School did a study entitled “Why Consumers Don’t Buy: The Psychology of New Product Adoption,” by John T. Gourville, and the result of that study was the conclusion that a new product has to offer a 900% improvement over whatever existing solution is in place in order for users to immediately adopt it without hesitation. When you compare shared folders and e-mail with SharePoint, do you think there is an easily provable case that SharePoint is nine times better? I am not sure there is.

One of the larger issues of SharePoint user adoption is that users don’t have as much of a reason to use SharePoint as they do, say, their e-mail. Day in and day out, your employees check their e-mails, send them, file them, respond, and otherwise interact with their mail clients. Getting used to the environment is inevitable, and in particular, other people also use e-mail—so your employees are responded to on the same system they are using. E-mail is always there. Plus, sending attachments, documents, presentations, and everything else through e-mail has a low risk and high reward payoff for your employees: they do their jobs, send what needs to be sent, and are pretty well assured of its delivery.

SharePoint is not any of these things

  • It is not part of something your users already use often. Reference the aforementioned e-mail application (although of course parts of SharePoint can be integrated with Outlook and Office so that users can interact with SharePoint items through those applications and not on the SharePoint page itself). SharePoint is a separate animal. It is somewhere else you have to click to get what you want, somewhere else to store things that used to conveniently come in e-mail, somewhere else to look besides the shared drive. Users mostly feel like steps are added to their regular workflows here and not subtracted leading to lower SharePoint user adoption.
  • SharePoint is not minimalist, with intuitive choices and functions. E-mail is pretty simple: compose, send, receive, delete, file. The client may have more features, but those simple ones are exposed pretty cleanly. Shared folders have files you can drag and drop and delete and that is just about it. Conversely, a default SharePoint site has a ribbon or a toolbar of functions, a menu on the side with a bunch of places to access and store things, widgets in the main part of the page conveying information and announcements, and the potential to be integrated into an overall structure that may be much bigger than just the site you’re currently looking at. It can be easy to not know where to start or even get lost along the way.
  • SharePoint is not (at least initially) warm and cozy. Consider the direction Microsoft has been going with SharePoint: it added social features to evoke “Facebook memory” in users. In SharePoint 2013, you can like files and posts to discussion boards, and you can rate things with stars. Frequent contributors and users are recognized and called out, a nod to gamification. SharePoint has very little of this in version 2010, and in SharePoint 2007 these features were practically non-existent. These features serve one purpose: to increase SharePoint user adoption and to make users want to use the system.

There is also the issue of change being hard. Employees have busy days already and a lot of muscle memory. Perhaps they don’t think anything is broken, so why should they bother to learn something new? Why change especially if the payoff for the end user is dubious from the start? This goes ten fold for a system that’s overly complex and hard to master like SharePoint.

Maybe that’s why companies like Huddle build their collaboration platform with user adoption in mind—making the user interface simple and intuitive. People want a clean design they love to use with powerful tools that work the way they do. There’s no need to overcomplicate things. Sounds so elementary, but if people love to use it, they will use it.

Collaborating with one another should be easy. And Huddle offers a unique adoption guarantee, for 100% of your initial user group to be trained and using Huddle actively in 90 days or those three months are essentially free. This is an industry first and speaks volumes to the level of complete confidence in user adoption.

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1 Comment

  1. Sanjay Abraham

    February 12, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Great post! SharePoint no wonder has been the fastest growing MS product in history but the lowest usage per sold seat. Serious problems with adoption. SharePoint environment is often a virtual Ghost town. Scary. ScarePoint:) Need to foster engagement sir!

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