September 7, 2014
In this five blog series, I will describe the top five obstacles that I have encountered on the SharePoint battlefield and share my recommendations for overcoming them.
- Obstacle 1: Preconceived Notions of SharePoint
- Obstacle 2: Lack of Communication
- Obstacle 3: Lack of Governance
- Obstacle 4: Mismanagement of the Training Effort
- Obstacle 5: One Size Fits All Training Program
In the last blog post, I discussed combating preconceived notions of SharePoint with baby steps. Today I will discuss another common obstacle that businesses must overcome in order to reap the full benefits of SharePoint – communication.
Obstacle 2: Lack of Communication
A common theme I see is lack of communication and unified vision for a SharePoint initiative. If an organization does not communicate the scope, purpose, impact and capabilities of SharePoint to the end users adequately and prior to roll out, many issues will surface. As a result, users are not always aware of all that SharePoint can deliver for them which leads to inconsistent use. Enter the snowball effect: Inconsistent use leads to not leveraging the available features and tools which leads to low (or lowered) motivation to continue learning about the platform.
Here is an example: A company implements SharePoint as a document management system. The users have not been given adequate direction on where to store their documents or how to migrate existing documents to SharePoint. The snow ball effect leads users to guess where to store documents, potentially create duplicates of documents and become frustrated with the platform. Files will be strewn about across several platforms, libraries, drives etc.
Recommendation: Create a Communication Plan
In order to cultivate high rates of user adoption for a new technology, everyone should be involved in some degree even from the beginning stages. Many end-user level employees will have the “what’s in it for me?” attitude and I can’t say I blame them. Learning a new technology can be daunting. To combat this, the leadership team may want to consider developing and implementing an effective communication plan to keep users informed and to create excitement throughout the entire process.
Here are a few things to consider when developing a communication plan:
- Start with the basics and explain what exactly SharePoint is and how it will be used within the organization. Clearly stating the benefit of SharePoint to the end users will increase their understanding and interest in using the platform.
- Executive management should be involved in outlining the vision, and short term and long term goals that SharePoint is intended to achieve with the organization. When employees understand that their managers have goals and expectations for SharePoint, and when those expectations are socialized by management, employees will have more incentive to use the platform and learn the features.
- Inform users on how SharePoint will affect their day to day work and responsibilities. Creating an abrupt change in an employee’s work day will likely not go over well; communicating the changes to everyone will soften the blow.
- Speak to the training and support that end-users will receive throughout the entire process. It’s important to let the users know that they will not be hung to dry, so to speak. Let them know who they can turn to for help.
- Clarify how SharePoint will work with the current technologies and what technology it may be replacing, if any.
- Build excitement about what SharePoint can and will do for you. Remember to keep employees updated during all stages of the project. Throw a launch party!
It’s as simple as that, to overcome lack of communication, create a communication plan! It’s just a matter of doing it. Check out the next segment to find out how to combat a lack of governance.