SharePoint Adoption: 12 Tips to Get Employees on Board

December 3, 2018 | Katrina Catacutan


Getting employees and coworkers on board with a new enterprise content management and document management system, like SharePoint, can be a challenge. Training them on how to use it well can be even more of a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be.

SharePoint offers a whole host of features and capabilities that shouldn’t be overlooked. By training people on SharePoint and highlighting its features, you can avoid having employees seek external tools when they aren’t entirely necessary. Not only that, they will be skilled with using the software and everyone on the team will benefit.

Onboarding employees to SharePoint involves two key factors: Training them well and getting them excited about using it. By doing so, you can prep your employees for optimized use and set up a smooth and productive future with the program. These tips are designed to help you accomplish just that.

1. Start with training

This is step one because, without training, users will just become disoriented and frustrated.

A good way to begin showing SharePoint is to conduct a live demo, like this one from SP Marketplace. It’s much easier to explain a program by showing employees how to actually interact with it. And by doing a demo, you can show your colleagues exactly how to use the program for their daily tasks. If they can see the practicality of it in the process, that’s a bonus.

“Because adults learn best by doing, the majority of adult learners still prefer hands-on classroom training,” says Leanne Bateman, SharePoint Project Manager and Trainer for Beacon Strategy Group. If budget allows, Bateman recommends “supplementing hands-on classes with written instructions and short, task-based videos.”

2. Divide it up

The process of switching over to SharePoint doesn’t have to be all at once. You can divide up the implementation and take a staged-in approach to content migration,
easing employees into the change. Use it for one project here and another assignment there.

By using the program for small and more trivial tasks, users can avoid feeling overwhelmed and pressured while they learn.

3. Keep it simple

If you set up your SharePoint content structure in a way that makes no sense, users will likely feel more overwhelmed than they already do when trying to navigate the system.

How is your content organized? By creating simple, straightforward displays, files, and folders, the structure of your company’s SharePoint is easier to understand. This can make a world of difference, especially for new users.

4. Sell it

Even if users are already enthusiastic to hop on board, it never hurts to highlight the really cool features of a program.

Show your employees and co-workers why SharePoint is such a great program for them. Surprise them with some of its unique and awesome features. After that, it won’t be hard for them to see why the adoption is happening.

5. Open communication

If users have questions - and you can bet they will - it’s best to keep an open door about it. Whether you or someone else is the SharePoint expert, make sure employees are encouraged to and know where to go when they are stuck.

Not only will this keep your employees from becoming frustrated and unproductive, but it will encourage feedback, which is tip number 6.

6. Accept feedback

When employees come with feedback, even if it’s negative, don’t turn them away. There’s a good chance that they’re only upset because they don’t fully understand the capabilities of the program yet. 

Feedback might also be a good system for you to learn how the specifics of your company’s program work. If the structure of your content management is mixed up and confusing, employees won’t be afraid to let you know. You could even incorporate feedback into your SharePoint training program by using feedback workflows within the tool to collect employee feedback.

7. Customize SharePoint

Want employees to feel comfortable with the program? Customize the settings and overall structure of SharePoint the same way you would on any other system: incorporate your brand. Suddenly, it will go from a scary, foreign world to a familiar and understandable go-to program.

Pay attention to the aesthetic and your users will take notice. No one wants to work with a program that’s gives them a headache.

8. Check in regularly

This is especially important if you decide to implement SharePoint in stages. Take the time to check in on your users and see how well they’re learning the program. When you do, be sure to encourage them further. Again, show them how they can use it for their position’s needs.

Checking in will also let your employees know that you’re open if they have questions.

9. Start at the top

A good way to implement SharePoint is through the power of influencers. Company leadership is step one.

The power of SharePoint is that it’s not an individual platform. It is collaborative. It can be used on all levels of business, especially when it comes to content creation. Company leaders can be great promoters of the program.

 "If you don't have senior management support and governance for SharePoint, people will say 'maybe I'll use SharePoint, maybe Dropbox, Box or seeming else,'" says Barry Jinks, CEO of Colligo. "So you get this mishmash of document storage solutions throughout a company."

10. Keep users updated

This can be accomplished through social media, emails, newsletters, even meetings. Make sure employees know where they stand in SharePoint and within the projects they’re working on.

By checking in with users, you can gauge where they are with learning the program. Depending on that, send them video demos or explain some of the functionality in the next step of the process. If you or a coworker happen to stumble upon a new, awesome capability, tell your users about it.

This way, the updates will help employees with a simple reward system. By progressing within SharePoint, they will grow more and more comfortable with it and want to continue on.

11. Transfer existing content

This is not a way to force employees to use SharePoint, but another tactic to help them feel comfortable with it.

Throw existing content into the system and make sure it’s not hard to access. By using the program with familiar content, it could help users transition much easier.

If nothing else, users will know the content and they’ll understand what should be done with it. That’s half the battle, and the rest is part of the learning process.

12. Optimize SharePoint for everyone

How do you make sure SharePoint (and the user) performs at maximum?

  • Avoid common SharePoint pitfalls – Other businesses have done exactly what you’re trying to do, and many have documented their errors. Learn from their history.
  • Make sure SharePoint is updated - By updating with new features and fixes, the program will be running at its best for everyone who uses it.
  • Incorporate feedback - Is your content system not making sense for the majority of employees? Consider changing it up and implementing their suggestions.
  • Follow through with training - Don’t leave users in the dark after introducing SharePoint. Instead, regularly check in and continue the process. Even if they want to seek further training on their own, be sure it’s available.
  • Have fun! - Remember what we said about selling it? Don’t shy away from some of the cool, innovative features of SharePoint. If you can get others on board with the cool parts, their experience will be that much more amazing.

Want to learn more about SharePoint adoption? Be sure to check out Falls Digital’s change management resources on the blog.

Topics: UX Change Management SharePoint

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