How to improve SharePoint end user adoption

SharePoint end user adoption

“One of the hardest lessons learned by far too many organizations who have deployed SharePoint over the last decade or more is that an end user adoption strategy is critical to success.”

This is the first line from an interview/article with SharePoint MVP Asif Rehmani from top SharePoint and Yammer man, Christian Buckley.

And that comment says it all about the problems that SharePoint has had over the years. It’s strange given the sheer number of SharePoint installations globally that the product itself struggles with end users.

Put it another way. Many organisations have not realised or realised too late that user adoption is critical to success. To me, user adoption is a journey. It is not training though that is an important part of it. (Side rant: too much SharePoint training focuses on SharePoint features and not on clear business usage and value). Adoption and regular usage can take time. People have to be shown not only how to use SharePoint but when it is the correct to use it. It also has to fit into the way people work. And it has to integrate with existing processes and ways of working.

I have lost count of the number of times I have heard of SharePoint being brought into an organisation by IT as some sort of magic wand to clean up shared network drives and get people collaborating and managing documents. They have no strategy and precious little thought for the poor old end user trying to figure out how to upload a document. And it also costs money in terms of licencing, infrastructure, time and other outlays. It’s like building a house and not putting windows and doors in it.

If there is no clear user adoption planning, you get site sprawl in site collections, some used regularly, others that are ghost towns. You get documents all over the place with no metadata, no categorisation, no structures and users then complain that they can’t find anything or the sites have become unwieldy. Finally, you get the inevitable complaints: “SharePoint sucks!”


So what to do to improve user adoption?

  1. Be crystal clear about what SharePoint is being used for from a strategic point of view. And see that from the end user’s perspective.
  2. Show people how to use SharePoint on a daily basis and how it integrates with their work. Don’t train people in using features. Training is on-going not once off.
  3. Show simple ways, tips and tricks to get the most out of SharePoint.
  4. Build sites, pages and sections that make it easier for users to get things done and to find information. For example, using dashboards. The search functionality in SharePoint 2013 is very powerful and customisable.
  5. Build simple database/directory type apps using Access that can add functionality to your sites and users.
  6. Show people how to use the integrations with Microsoft Office and Yammer that can work so well with SharePoint.
  7. It is a journey. You have to keep guiding people on that journey.

Here is a recent presentation by Wendy Neal, SharePoint Consultant at McGladrey and Andreas Grabner, Performance Advocate of Dynatrace on this very topic: ‘Driving SharePoint End-User Adoption: Usability and Performance’