Microsoft market research indicates that 78 percent of Fortune 500 companies are SharePoint users. Every day for the past five years, 20,000 workers have joined the ranks of SharePoint users. One in every five knowledge workers now has access to SharePoint, but that doesn’t mean these workers are properly trained in how to use SharePoint.

In spite of the high number of users, many view SharePoint as nothing more than a glorified network share. But organizations who provide contextual, business-relevant training and actively cultivate a sustainable SharePoint adoption program will find those initiatives to contribute to more widespread utilization of SharePoint to address users’ specific day-to-day business needs and therefore maximize the organization’s SharePoint investment.

As you may have experienced, providing traditional cookie-cutter one-size-fits-all technically focused training is not enough to drive sustainable SharePoint adoption. The key to organizational buy-in is being able to provide sustainable SharePoint adoption “on your terms” -- a program that is relevant to your organization’s specific needs and goals.

Sustainable SharePoint adoption “on your terms” maximizes value with the least disruption to your organization using three key steps:

  1. Collaborate -- Get people working efficiently together instead of in silos
  2. Manage -- Manage work proactively instead of reactively
  3. Win -- Build on enthusiasm over time by adding increasingly beneficial capabilities through successive iterations

The most effective sustainable SharePoint adoption programs are focused on accomplishing the following goals:

Drive Excitement

Use an incentive-driven sustainable SharePoint adoption program to excite and inspire users with the potential of SharePoint to help their daily business activities.

Facilitate Change

An effective sustainable SharePoint adoption program delivers a business-contextual learning program so users will shift their understanding of SharePoint as more than a glorified file share. This program will promote SharePoint as an essential business tool that can support and enhance their day-to-day business activities.

Empower and Assist

Through training, mentoring and self-service support, you can help users increase involvement and understanding by having them develop their own relevant business productivity solutions. Your program should complement and build on the existing governance foundation, and, if applicable, technical training that has been produced by the IT group who manages and owns SharePoint.

Editor's Note: Interested in hearing more of Dux's ideas on SharePoint Adoption? Join him on April 19th in Chicago at his "How to Get Sustainable SharePoint Adoption" workshop

A Phased Approach

Taking a phased approach to sustainable SharePoint adoption helps to minimize risks and maximize business value delivery. It is critical that key business groups such as HR and corporate communications are involved in driving and facilitating this program.

With the customers I’ve worked with, I found that the following three phases worked really well:

Phase 1 -- Awareness: Drive Enterprise Momentum


Learning Opportunities

In this phase, the goal is to work with high-profile business groups, facilitate an interactive workshop to increase awareness of the business value of SharePoint, and develop the relevant sustainable SharePoint adoption plan.

Driving excitement, facilitating change, and empowering and assisting these high-profile groups will increase adoption and buy-in throughout the organization. This phase typically take place over a period of one to two months, and involve some of the following activities:

  • Identify common business use cases and map to SharePoint capabilities
  • Map training and adoption resources to existing SharePoint artifacts such as site taxonomy, a migration plan, a support model, a governance plan and training
  • Conduct executive briefing to showcase the business value of SharePoint to key decision makers
  • Identify and engage SharePoint business champions/evangelists
  • Develop self-service support resources and training for users

Phase 2 -- Buy-in: Enterprise-Wide Adoption Campaign

The goal in this phase is to take the sustainable SharePoint adoption plan and roll it out corporate-wide. The SharePoint business champions/evangelists you groomed in the Awareness phase will help drive the program. This phase can last from three to six months and include some of the following activities:

  • Deliver instructor-led training to both site owners and business users
  • Compare “before” and “after” notes after some weeks of SharePoint utilization to demonstrate how SharePoint has improved business activities
  • Sponsor regular adoption activities such as lunch and learns, competitive campaigns and internal user group events

Phase 3 -- Engagement: Mentoring and Coaching

In the final phase, you will continue to drive the adoption momentum for the next six months. Users who participate in the first two phases will need continuous mentoring and support to increase their usage and to maximize the benefits of SharePoint. This six-month phase may include the following activities :

  • Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of self-service support platform and knowledge co-creation repository
  • Gather user feedback and identify business use cases to promote
  • Groom, mentor and coach SharePoint champions

As you may know, SharePoint adoption doesn’t happen overnight. It is a change management exercise that can reap a lot of benefits if implemented intentionally.

I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and experiences you may have on sustainable SharePoint adoption. Please leave your comments below.

Editor's Note: To read more of Dux's thoughts on creating a winning SharePoint strategy, check out SharePoint Implementation Checklist: Aligning People, Technology & Process