Driving SharePoint User Adoption [Part 2]

We have looked at the challenges and few basic rules to enhance user adoption for SharePoint sites in the previous blog Driving SharePoint User Adoption [Part 1]  Now, let us look at methods to promote user adoption and how to get a few easy wins for adoption.

Promoting User Adoption

Below are a few tips on the methods to promote user adoption:

Launch a Great Campaign

  • Start the launch campaign and create a healthy curiosity within the user community. There is a reason why movie trailers are created months or years in advance. They create the much needed hype and excitement!
  • Conduct some pre-launch sessions/open forums where the users get answers to questions they may have on the new launching site
  • Plan the application launch day and make it creative with posting the screenshots of the application across the floor with some interesting facts about the application

Promote Your Site Actively

  • In the first week after launch, identify the team/department which uses the application the most and reward the team members
  • Send frequent remailers to end-users about the good statics of the application usage
  • Have the email id/phone number of the people/system administrators on each page for a few days, so that users know whom to contact in case of errors/issues

Eat Your Own Dog Food

  • Use SharePoint for your own document sharing and collaboration
  • Lead by example – employees model the behavior of the leader
  • Top management should be active in internal blogs
  • Leaders should refuse to accept emails with too many attachments, large attachments or messages copied to several people

Make Your Home Page Interesting

Announcements Weather
Employee Directory Employee of the month
  • Make sure your Home Page is extremely attractive/user friendly and useful
  • Few sample widgets that you can have on the homepage are – announcements, current weather, tip of the day etc. The application should create interest in the users to make them want to check it at least once a day
  • Love-at-first-sight will have a long lasting impact

Provide Training

  • Train SharePoint owners on their responsibilities and how to be webmasters of their respective sites
  • Get users involved early and explain how it will make their job easier
  • Train users!

Encourage and Incorporate User Feedback

  • Collect formal and informal user feedback. It is always good to work towards improvement and have a regular release plan. Always show some progress to the users and win their confidence.
  • Post positive feedback’s regularly via bulletin boards/emails
  • You can use the SharePoint out of the box survey tool itself to capture user feedback.

Easy wins for SharePoint adoption

Below are few out-of-the-box features of SharePoint which can be exploited to win good user adoption.

Search Experience

  • Exploit search capabilities of SharePoint
  • Configure search with the right refiners
  • Optimize search speed
  • Maintain consistent search experience


Today’s world is leaning towards automation. We all know time is money and if we can gain time by automating a few processes, that will not only add to our business value, but will also result in better user adoption. SharePoint offers out-of-the-box workflows which are simple enough to be configured.

Below are few points to be considered around automation:

  • Automate simple processes
  • Leverage out-of-the-box workflows
  • Have notifications at various steps
  • Enable reporting around the process
  • Make approval process easy with mobile enablement

Mobile Enablement

  • Have the application mobile enabled
  • Release Intranet apps
  • Notifications on mobile(Email/SMS)
  • One click approval


  • Adoption is not that difficult, provided it is part of the strategy right from the beginning of the project.
  • The right features of SharePoint should be leveraged based on business needs
  • An appealing application will always have a good user adoption.

Driving SharePoint User Adoption

Today, IT success is measured by long term user adoption and driving adoption is about understanding the business challenges that you will address with solutions. It is about ensuring that people across your organization understand the benefits of adoption and embrace the solutions you provide. However, the fact remains that driving adoption is difficult and it takes time. More importantly, it is not a one-time activity and could require multiple iterations.


Below are the top four challenges of user adoption:

  1. Define the need – The first challenge is making sure that the application is meeting user needs. One should try to understand what the end-users need rather than forcing users to use the features available with a tool/technology.
  2. Project scope – It is better to always start small and grow big!! If the initial project scope is enormous, it could lead to requirement leaks, vast timelines, too many features and by the time you achieve all this, the user’s need itself could have changed! Hence, one should always keep this in mind.
    The best thing to do under these circumstances is to get users to categorize user stories/or what we call as requirements to “Must”/”Should”/”Could” and “Won’t”. All features which are ‘must’ and ‘should’ can go in the first release and ‘could’ can follow. One always has to look for phased roll outs.
  1. User requirement – Once you define the need, confident that SharePoint can meet your needs and are clear on the scope, then user requirements comes into picture. Capturing the user requirement and making sure the end product is exactly the way user wanted is one of the biggest challenges of the software industry. Communication is a very important aspect during any phase of the project execution. In most of the cases, there will be unstated requirements and if one goes by developing only stated requirements, it could lead into project failure. Engineers are expected to capture/cover unstated requirements to certain extent and these should come out of the discovery/requirements phase for a successful project roll out/user adoption.
  2. User experience – I have to quote a line about user experience here – “User interface is like a joke. If you have to explain it, it’s not that good”. Few things like the page load time, the way users are notified about success/failure of a transaction in the site, the ease of data entry are all very important and will lead to a very good user experience.
  3. Previous bad experience – A bad user experience will hinder not only the adoption of the current site and technology but also will have a huge negative impact for future implementations.

Best example for user adoption

Now that we have talked about challenges of user adoption, let’s see an example for good user adoption in the market. As you all know, e-shopping has had one of the best adoptions in the market and all of us are truly amazed by the variety of the audience it has!! As technology keeps advancing, people are learning quickly and adopting themselves to new technologies and are open to the new and convenient option of online shopping. This indeed is a cultural difference where most of the people today prefer staying indoors and buying stuffs online than physically visiting shops. This wasn’t the case a couple of decades back. If technology can bring in such big difference which is welcomed by millions of users, why cannot SharePoint implement bring a positive difference? It definitely can, provided we follow a few guidelines in implementing a SharePoint application.

Three basic rules for user adoption

  1. Don’t make me think – User adoption should be taken care right from the beginning. An application’s success depends greatly on its user experience. We have to make sure the application requires minimal or no thinking for its usage. This should be a standard guideline to follow across the applications we develop.
  2. Five point rule – Count a point for every different font, font size and color. Redesign if it is more than 5 per screen.
    – Marisaa Mayer, CEO YahooThe application should not distract the users and should let them retain their focus on the application. This is the most important rule to achieve.
  3. 9x or better – A new product has to offer 9x improvement over the existing solution in order to be easily adopted. At each stage of designing/developing the application, keep this in mind.


  • It is all about user – understand their needs
  • Adoption is a process and not an event
  • Application success majorly depends on the user adoption
  • Adoption should be considered and budgeted as part of the project strategy

Blog on methods to promote user adoption and the easy wins for adoption coming up shortly.

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