Reporting once again from the SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, one of my latest sessions tried to offer strategies to ensure buy-in for your latest SharePoint project. 

Adam Levithan, the presenter of this session, starts with a question "Why are you here?"

The response is to be expected: people in the room have had problems with buy-in due to culture and more. They're here looking for tips, shortcuts and strategies to achieve this.


  • Understand Context
  • Identify Value
  • Create Buy-in


Context is priceless: it's true that without good context people don’t bother to look at or even find it.
Adam says that context is in the branding of a site, because then it's aimed at me. My response is if it were my site and my personal brand, then I would agree, but if it’s another brand that I don’t care about, then it's totally useless. This can be discussed however.

A discussion about the different roles in the organization follows. The managers
just work to get their own things done, not knowing what other managers really do, and maybe not knowing what their staff is doing either. The staff does their work and reports up. They want to solve problems that they see in the organization; with or without technology I would say.

This leads to disjointed views and approaches to accomplishing tasks. 

Identify Value

Adam discusses what a collaboration failure looks like -- no clear business needs, lack of engaged
stakeholders, bad experience, large growth of site -- he calls it a "mad mess."

Business development has to be measurable, the examples he offers are kind of strange and difficult to follow.

According to Adam, business value is having all tasks gathered in one place, having a shared calendar and shared documents. This is a bit naive i would say, this will not solve a business need. He thinks the business value is that the collaboration. I admit it could hold some value, but not very measurable. And it's a small value in general.

HR uses an InfoPath form to let employees to request salary increase. It's an application, but does it really work that way in an organization, not from what I have heard!

So what Adam is saying is that features can give business value. But you need to know what business goals you want to support, you can't just add features to hope they give ROI in my opinion.

Next thing that gives value according to Adam is sharing. Yes, it can speed up the job, but the end users need to change the way they work before this would start working, it's all about change, the intranet or collaboration site needs to be their daily living place. Don’t you agree?

To offer a loose summary of this section:

  • Organize: centralize communication and documentation
  • Discover: Connect with people, easy ways to find information and people
  • Build: Customize look and feel, business processes

So this was to identify value, but I don't think he has talked at all about how to identify value, more about how to use features to try and get some sort of value.

Create Buy-in

  • Align the value
  • Prioritize the features
  • Publicize a roadmap

Different needs: I get to see the list of things that was created with the different features in SharePoint.
Mapping needs to parts of the organization like CR, IT, etc. Then you Map the needs to the features SharePoint has. Then you prioritize them all.

I’m sorry to say, but this sound all wrong, we don’t look for features we look for real business value, we don’t invest in SharePoint to map our needs to the features!

But to continue, we then should communicate what we do, and show a roadmap, then we should increase functionality based on feedback, then add more features.

The biggest problem is that when you do this you get a single person's feedback, and that doesn’t necessarily give value for more than that one person.

My conclusion is that this approach is not a good approach to get lasting buy-in. 

Editor's Note: Read more of our SharePoint Conference coverage