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.


  • A project management IT professional with expertise in planning, estimating, scheduling, and managing IT projects. Having worked on SharePoint for more than half a decade now, focusing primarily on Customer satisfaction, ensuring continued/repeated business and exploring new intra-customer business. Have been integral part of multiple SharePoint implementations right from requirement gathering until the deployment and end user trainings.