Oooooohh, is that SharePoint?
How often do you hear those words? As a SharePoint Consultant, I tend to hear, “Ugh, SharePoint!”
But what if you could hear joy in people’s voices when you mention the Sh-word?
I’m here to tell you how you can elicit that response.
We updated our demo site (see below), and the “Ooooohh, is that SharePoint?” question seems to be sprouting from clients’ lips more often than not when I open the site in front of them.
Not just because it has soft colours that are soothing, but because of the user experience I take them on and the pointers I provide along the way.
More often than not, the user experience is not properly considered nor planned when implementing SharePoint. This is especially true when it comes to using it as a document management system. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for document management. That is why it is so important to consult with your users beforehand.
For example, will you take the users down the journey of metadata, or will you keep, the most likely, familiar system of folder structures? See video.
Will consistent navigation menus be present, and workspaces be the same layout for all teams?
Or will your users have more freedom in determining layout, number of libraries, lists and other apps?
What about naming conventions, permissions, retention or formal records management (e.g. policy review, committee papers)?
These are all questions (and so many more!) that need to be answered during the execution of a SharePoint implementation project but thought about and asked during the planning stage.
It is recommended to do this by talking to users. This can be done through small group or individual interviews, or by facilitating groups to gather as much information as possible in a short amount of time.
Analysis of current information management systems is also required. Along with asking users how do they want to organise and use their information? How do they want to find it, see it, name it, etc.
Surrounding these questions is another aspect that is often ignored until late in the game; governance.
Forming a SharePoint, or Office 365, governance group at the onset is essential to successful implementation. This group should include users from different work areas, from senior management, the information management and security team(s) and from information technology.
This ensures that the entire organisation is represented, you have the knowledge experts, and buy-in from the top.
It can form the project group or at least have representatives on the project team/group to ensure decisions and information are communicated to all stakeholders.
Making governance decisions needs to be done in congruence with talking to the users. Yes, decisions can be made at the senior level without consulting, but if the organisation is not prepared and capable of enforcing them, it may be better to ask before demand.
Best Practice Pointers
- Raise excitement about SharePoint – have competitions (e.g. name the intranet, list the top 5 Microsoft Office apps…), print posters outlining the benefits, hold information and question and answer sessions, create FAQs and post them on the current intranet.
- Listen! I cannot emphasise this enough. Your users are the ones using the system, so listen to what they want and need. If decisions are made without consulting (e.g. metadata instead of folders), talk to them and listen to their concerns, their questions and provide answers.
- Pilot it on a team that is an easy win and who are eager. Piloting a new system is integral to its adoption success but try to do so with a team that will be fairly straightforward. For example, finance and human resource teams are often very organized (they have to be!) so use that to your advantage. However, if they are not eager or willing to transition to a new system, then go with a team that is.
- Ensure you have buy-in and communication from senior management. Release videos, blogs, newsletter articles from the President/CEO/VP, etc. Get the message out there that senior management are behind this 100%.
- Provide training to all levels and in different ways. Not everyone learns the same and not all users are super users. Plan and execute training accordingly. Interactive, group, Wiki pages, promote YouTube or Lynda.com videos, one-to-one, lecture style, these are just a few. Trust and empower your users, they will appreciate it.
- Have a start date and an end date, especially for the use of any legacy systems. Do not operate more than one document management system at the same time beyond giving appropriate time to migrate files, perform an audit of what remains on the old system and time for final clean-up if needed. It is recommended that the old system be made read-only or have it ‘disappear’ when no longer used. Keep the information if required so it can be retrieved and/or archived.
- Implement it in a planned and logical(for your organization) staged approach. Do not bite off more than you can handle, rush implementation or do it all at once.
- This is related to listening, but continues after the project, provide support. Make sure you have the resources and knowledge (or out-source it) to give your users the support they need.
Using a new system, be it SharePoint or another, can be intimidating, especially when it is implemented without any consultation and training.