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SharePoint User Adoption Key Factors: Part 3 of 4

In this post we will continue to examine the key factors that influence user adoption of the SharePoint platform. For an overview of the factors that affect user adoption, take a look at Part 1.
Grow with the Culture
Planning for growth from the start is critical. The SharePoint platform should grow as the corporate and business culture shifts. Some key concepts include:

  • Deploy an initial version of a solution with a baseline set of core functionality, allowing for users to begin identifying with the solution immediately.
  • Implement the necessary governance components from day one ot ensure the solutions grows in a stable, sustainable manner, while at the same time not stifling the organic use and interaction with the solution.
  • Introduce new and innovative features as part of pilot or beta rollouts to glean valuable information based on actual user experience and interaction with the system, as well as communicating to key users that ongoing evolution and investments will be made.

Trusted Infrastructure
Do the users in your organization trust that their critical data is secure and accessible? Users must be instilled with a sense of confidence that the SharePoint platform is reliable and trustworthy. Users don’t want to think about down time, maintenance windows, or technical problems. Bandwidth, software version, and infrastructure concerns should be considered from the beginning of any strategic planning. A failure in the infrastructure can erode user confidence and become a key detractor from successful user adoption.
Communications Plan
Is there a plan for communicating with users about the new SharePoint-based solution? It is important for users to be aware of the new solution and the key benefits that it will provide for them well in advance of the actual deployment date. A communications plan serves to notify users of what to expect during the solution build process, how the solution will be used after the implementation is complete, and to educate them on the interaction of the solution with other line of business systems. This communications plan will serve to transition users from being unaware to being knowledgeable promoters of the solution and to be more accepting of the changes to the current system and processes. The more knowledge that the user community has about how and why the solution rollout is occurring the more quickly user adoption will occur and issues related to resistance of change will be mitigated. Some possible forms of communication include:

  • Email, blogs, wikis
  • Advertisements within existing systems
  • Posters
  • Lunch/Break room advertisements
  • Internal webinars
  • Elevator/lobby video systems

The communications plan should incorporate as many different types of communications as are available within the organization.
User Support Plan
When users have an issue with the SharePoint-based solution do they know where to turn to for help? Having a well-defined plan for user support is a key factor to the user’s adoption of a SharePoint-based solution. The user’s confidence in the solution will erode if you are unable to provide satisfactory user support. Contributing factors might include:

  • User unable to reach a satisfactory resolution to an issue
  • Inability to provide user support in a reasonable time frame
  • Lack of resolution to repeated or continual problems interacting with the solution

Your organization should have a detailed plan for supporting users. The plan should include procedures for how issues will reported and escalated within a tiered support structure. The organization should set clear expectations related to response time and priorities.
Dynamic, Fresh Content
In order to make your new SharePoint-based solution into a destination that users will want to visit and trust, it is critical that the content is kept fresh and relevant. Users who see the same content day after day will feel disengaged and eventually stop coming. Some simple techniques include:

  • Identify the users who are responsible for creating content and ensure that they have the time to perform this function
  • Leverage the content expiration and rentention policies in SharePoint
  • Inventory the existing communications that are sent through email and consider creating a home for that content in the SharePoint system
  • If you are migrating from an existing platform consider purging content that is date or irrelevant

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Patrick Falgoust

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