Here’s How to Make it ‘SharePoint Rocks!’

Google “SharePoint sucks,” and you’ll get a lot of results. Why so much dislike for a platform that offers so much? With 85 percent of Fortune 500 companies using SharePoint, let’s face it, SharePoint is here to stay.

“Five years ago, about a quarter of our clients used SharePoint. Now, nearly all of them are requesting it,” says Paul Hillman, partner at Michigan-based technology firm C/D/H.

So, what’s up? Are C/D/H clients and all those other organizations just gluttons for punishment? Both the short and the long answers are “nope.”

SharepointThe customizable SharePoint platform streamlines business processes. It has document management and business intelligence reporting. It allows document collaboration and co-authoring with no regard for physical location. And it keeps users connected, with social networking tools like discussion boards, blogs, and even Yammer, all of which are accessible from mobile devices.

With all that flexibility, the sky is the limit.

But an “if you build it they will come” mentality can overwhelm and create animosity with the people who are supposed to use SharePoint — mostly because they don’t know where to start, how SharePoint can actually help, or they weren’t given proper training. This doesn’t mean formal training is needed for all users. Instead, create an internal SharePoint users group that meets over lunch to discuss SharePoint tips and tricks. Let’s face it, who doesn’t love free food?

Begin with small wins. Replace an out-of-date, paper-based directory with an always-up-to-date searchable employee directory. It’s more accurate, less cumbersome, and a heck of a lot more useful. Create a collaboration space that workers can use to manage tasks, issues and documents. After all, who doesn’t want fewer meetings? Eliminate company-wide emails with a centralized news and events center for company news.

And don’t call your intranet or extranet “SharePoint.” With all of the tools and capabilities SharePoint has, it might sound overwhelming. Call it “Fred,” or hold a contest to see who can come up with the best name for your platform. And run it using SharePoint.

While you’re at it, create a visual brand and information architecture plan for your SharePoint platform. Give users what they need on an attractive, uncluttered home page.

Let users know they can collaborate on SharePoint, and can find and publish information to a large number of people quickly and easily. Let them experience the benefits and efficiencies first-hand. You’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll find their own uses for the platform.

And give users a voice. Drive adoption by communicating with users what’s in it for them, before they even ask. Reach out to your users, learn which tasks they perform daily, and show them how working with SharePoint makes their lives easier. Whether it’s sending the same document to 50 people every week or manually updating a report for routing to upper management, discovering easier, more efficient ways for users to do their work is key to making SharePoint a critical business application.

Adoption happens when users understand what’s in it for them. Make yours a “SharePoint Rocks” experience.