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Successful user adoption for SharePoint 2010

One of the key measures of success for any solution implementation is user adoption. We can deliver the best solutions but if no one knows how to use them what value do they add?

Most business cases for the implementation of business solutions (including SharePoint solutions) require articulation of success factors and return on investment before funding will be approved.  Return on investment of any solution is dependent on successful user adoption.

When planning the deployment of a solution (such as SharePoint 2010 and associated business solutions hosted on the SharePoint platform) there will be an element of up-skilling and in some cases process re-engineering required. This has a significant change impact on users and needs to be managed as part of the implementation to enable successful adoption.

What is a User Adoption Strategy?

A User Adoption Strategy is a mechanism for identifying and managing the change impact to users with the goal of ensuring successful solution adoption. It can be addressed in its own right or through other mechanisms such as a change management strategy and/or a training strategy.

Our experience with focused user adoption:

During our many years of experience deploying IT solutions, we have seen that user satisfaction and use of new systems can be relatively low where a user adoption strategy hasn’t been considered, or where appropriate levels of training or coaching support haven’t been provided for users of the solution. Dissatisfaction is often expressed within the user community and in some cases this is not fed back to the solution owner, IT or the project team.

Where user adoption is considered an integral part of the delivery of new applications or enhancements to existing applications we’ve seen that the business objectives for the solution are met and users reap the benefits of streamlined tools and processes. As users become familiar with the solution they often offer suggestions for extending or enhancing the solutions to complement their business needs as well as utilising the solution for its intended purpose.

How can we gain the most value from SharePoint 2010?

SharePoint is a platform and can be used to deliver solutions for a diverse range of business needs. SharePoint 2010 business solutions include collaboration sites, intranets, web sites, extranets, business applications, enterprise search and integration of business applications.

The more we expose users to SharePoint based solutions the more likely they are to quickly accept and adapt to using these solutions. It is important to plan a roadmap for the release of SharePoint based solutions into your organisation so that users are comfortable with the toolsets provided and the rate of change.

What do you expect to find in a User Adoption Strategy?

A User Adoption Strategy consists of:

  • Purpose of the solution
  • Key objectives of the solution
  • Scope of the user adoption strategy
  • Key objectives of the user adoption strategy
  • Future vision
  • Assumptions, constraints and dependencies
  • Risk assessment
  • Roadmap for user adoption
  • Investment in user adoption - how are the user adoption strategies to be funded
  • Measuring success of user adoption initiatives
Roadmap for user adoption:

Pre-deployment initiatives:

  • Audience analysis
  • Stakeholder and key users involvement throughout the solution design
  • Design the solution for User Adoption
  • User Acceptance Testing involvement
  • Training Plan and Delivery
  • Communication Strategy

Day One initiatives:

  • Communicating the solution launch
  • Targeted training and coaching
  • Business Champions and IT Champions

Post Day One initiatives:

  • Feedback channels
  • User community
  • Follow-up training and coaching
  • Initiation programme for new users of the solution
  • Analysis of user behaviour, e.g. through site and search usage reports
  • Refine (or enhance) the processes and/or solution based on feedback and understanding of user behaviours
When is the best time to develop a User Adoption Strategy?

We recommend developing the User Adoption Strategy as early as possible in the project. Precursors to defining this strategy will include:

  • Understanding the context of the solution - establishing a clear understanding of the project goals, objectives and scope. Commitment to delivery of the project
  • Understanding the people who will interact with the solution - audience analysis e.g. stakeholders, consumers, contributors, administrators, indirect consumers of the outputs of the solution. Business processes impacted
  • Understanding the content that will be delivered by or through the solution
What have users come to expect?

As a user of many systems over the years we have come to expect that the solution will:

  • Be familiar – SharePoint 2010 has adopted Microsoft and industry standards to deliver a familiar user interface and user experience
  • Be easy to use
  • Provide access to information about its intended purpose and use
  • Be designed to cater to user needs and align with business processes
  • Provide access to online help

We expect our organisation will:

  • Provide business solutions that meet the needs of the users and the organisation
  • Provide appropriate training, if and when required
  • Provide access to training resources
  • Provide access to business champions who are familiar with the use of the solution and associated business processes
  • Provide channels for feedback on issues associated with the use of the solution or requests for enhancements to the solution
  • Provide acknowledgement of receipt of feedback and provide updates of the status of actions as a result of the feedback

We expect our colleagues will:

  • Provide support and guidance in the use of the solution and associated business processes.

With the launch of SharePoint 2010 we’re presented with the opportunity to take advantage of new and improved features that provide a solid foundation for enterprise scale business solutions. When considering these features and business solutions we need to ensure that we don’t lose sight of user adoption as a key component of the delivery of successful business solutions.

Posted by: Bernardine Slagter, Developer Consultant | 05 May 2010

Tags: SharePoint 2010, User Adoption Strategy

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