Setting Up SharePoint Online: Avoid These Common Pitfalls

October 12, 2018 | Michael Donahue


By using SharePoint effectively, you can build a valuable asset for your company and the employees who use it on a daily basis. The program can adapt to your needs, but you have to first learn how to operate it at its maximum.

In order to develop a successful SharePoint intranet for your team, there are a few common mistakes you should avoid. If you’ve already built a working SharePoint structure, actively work to correct these mistakes.

Optimizing the way your intranet works will give you the opportunity for better collaboration, higher productivity, and good workplace morale. These qualities are irreplaceable. So, avoid these mistakes that put a hinder on your team performing at their best.

Poor search capabilities

Making SharePoint easy to use and good for collaboration could not be possible without effective searchability. Importing content is only half the battle because, without a clearly defined structure, no one can find content quickly or easily.

To make content searchable, a structure should be put in place that makes sense. What will users search for when they need to find certain content? Define metadata and keywords clearly in a way that is uniform for the whole intranet.

It helps when a program’s structure makes sense, even at face-value. There should be no mistaking the contents of a file so that users aren’t misguided when navigating the content.

Microsoft highlights this concern around naming conventions: “Content that is too deep impacts discoverability as well as adoption. If the user cannot find the content that they are looking for after a few levels, they will abandon their efforts and deem the portal as inefficient, which in turn, kills adoption.”

Lack of updated content

If a newspaper only ran stories that happened a month ago, no one would read it and the paper would quickly go out of business. So why should a content management system be any different?

In order to make SharePoint a go-to program for employees, it needs to be the main line for information and content. When users open the program and ask what’s new? they should have an answer. Without relevant content, users have no reason to hang around on SharePoint. Your intranet has to be dynamic, driving the forward progress of content.

It’s likely that your company has a process for content creation, review, and publication - make sure that process is followed and updated through SharePoint.

Lack of training

Without training, users are lost, and this opens the door for frustration and unproductive work.

Training does not have to be all at once. The process of onboarding employees can be a gradual process, especially if they are not particularly keen on change.

As Ingrid Camill of General Networks writes, “It takes content owners and users to make edits, upload documents, and create new pages to keep an intranet fresh and relevant. But it isn’t enough to assume that because users have used a browser that they will figure out how to create, draft, approve, and publish pages on an intranet.”

Take it one project at a time, and be sure that the users are actually learning and not jumping in haphazardly. By doing so, you can effectively teach employees and avoid the disastrous consequences of going in blind.

Forgetting your audience

When setting up the architecture of your intranet, it’s a good idea to keep in mind who will be using it regularly and how they will be using it regularly. If the structure and design are set up in a way that doesn’t align with the tasks of a user’s job, it will be counterproductive for them to use it.

Even if you take employee’s preferences into consideration when designing how your SharePoint intranet will work, it’s still good to have a feedback system in place. Or at least, be open to communicating with users during the onboarding process.

Keep the audience in mind while structuring the content management system, but also when designing the aesthetic. Adoption rates increase when SharePoint intranets are thoughtfully designed and branded.

Poor communication

Remember, SharePoint without collaboration is not as effective a tool as it could be. This applies to all aspects of it – communication between users, keeping up with users during adoption
, and implementing feedback systems.

Don’t fall into the trap of introducing SharePoint and then letting employees run with the line. Keep them updated and let them update you on their progress. Follow through with training, and be sure that users are comfortable using the intranet efficiently before making it your primary program.

SharePoint Maven recommends: “Email your users, inquire about any issues, ask about new functionality they would like to see. In other words, be proactive.”

As we all know, open lines of communication are the easiest way to avoid problems and keep a company’s dynamic strong.

Making it complicated

Simplicity should apply to both the structure of your SharePoint intranet and the content management system. This is especially important for the onboarding process, as employees are novices with the program. Why make the learning process more complicated than it already is?

One way to accomplish this is through a straightforward, uniform structure. Make sure content is what it says it is, and that users don’t have to click on 50 different links to get to it.

Clean up the junk in SharePoint. Remove content that is no longer needed, consolidate unnecessarily separate folders, rename confusing files, and organize navigational tools.

If you can avoid the pitfalls of onboarding with SharePoint, you can avoid the issues that come as a result. As with any new program, it involves a learning process and being open to change. By going in with this prior knowledge, you will be able to navigate it smoothly and effectively.

To learn more about improving collaboration and business efficiencies for your organization through the use of digital, take a look at how Falls Digital provides technology and data solutions to our clients.


Topics: Cloud Infrastructure Technology Modernization SharePoint

About the Author
Michael Donahue

Mike Donahue, Director of Technology at Falls Digital has extensive web platform experience working in both Architect and Developer roles to achieve robust technical solutions across many platforms including: Sitecore, Salesforce, ExactTarget, Ektron, Umbraco, ASP.Net, MVC, Java and Liferay. Mike is Sitecore certified and has nearly a decade of experience working directly with the platform. Mike has tackled a wide range of projects and has provided diverse solutions to fulfill the unique requirements of each client.

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