an office covered in sticky notes
Sometimes it's hard to break old habits. SharePoint Tasks Lists offers a way to break the bad habit of using sticky notes for project management. PHOTO: Michael Arrighi

Look around your office. Do you see sticky notes hanging from desktops, laptops and white boards?

It turns out the sticky note habit is a surprisingly hard one to break.

Heavy users even stuff color-coded sticky notes into labeled boxes to keep track of activities. Many will tell you they just don't know a better way to manage tasks. Many more will say they tried different tools but didn't find them user-friendly. Some people still use sticky notes even months after SharePoint or Office 365 has been deployed in their company. You can help them break their sticky note habit by convincing them to adopt a digital option, SharePoint Tasks List feature.

The SharePoint Tasks List feature is simple enough for typical sticky note tasks and sophisticated enough for most collaborative daily tasks.

Remember: sticky notes have their place. They're great as a reminder to buy a birthday gift for a friend. But for business-related tasks, there's a better way. Help your colleagues make the transition to SharePoint Tasks List with the three steps below.

1. Explain the Benefits of SharePoint Tasks Lists

Start by finding out how and why the person use sticky notes. Use this information to create a demo as a display of solutions to their problems.

Whether it's a one-person tasks list or a team project, SharePoint Tasks List capability helps users manage their to-do lists with much more flexibility and scalability. Adding tasks, allocating resources to tasks, delegating tasks, tracking completion progress and more are easy with this feature.

Below are more of the benefits you can highlight.

Everywhere Access

Whereas your sticky notes tend to stay where you leave them, your SharePoint Tasks documents are available anywhere there is an internet connection. They are not location-bound and they are not device-bound (and they won't blow away). They are accessible on any device at home, office or the coffee shop.

Detailed Management

Sticky notes inherently come with a lot of limitations. SharePoint Tasks Lists provide more options.

  • Scheduling: Every time you add a task, you are prompted to add start date, due date, and priority level.
  • Delegating: With a tiny configuration, notification emails are sent to different individuals to whom you assign different tasks.
  • Resourcing: Easily attach needed resources to each task on the list.
  • Collaborating: Your team members can get access to your tasks, participate and help out if and when needed.
  • Tracking: Intuitively change the status of your tasks and preview the visual representation of your progress. This is especially helpful when a list includes many tasks.

With time, you will discover even more ways to use this capability for better management of your daily tasks.

Integration With Microsoft Project

The SharePoint Tasks List feature integrates well with Microsoft Project, which can either be Project Online or Project Server.

When a tasks list grows in magnitude and duration, you may want to import it into Microsoft Project for more robust management. Once the connection is complete, the tasks list in SharePoint and the one in Project are synchronized. Every update to your action items in SharePoint is reflected in Project.

In many cases, Project is used by project managers and SharePoint is used by everyone else on a team. This is because Microsoft Project helps project managers have control over several projects in one centralized workspace.

Now that you've convinced your team that SharePoint Tasks List feature can serve them better than sticky notes, it's time to encourage adoption. Start with a daily-tips campaign so they know how to use the feature and then, as with any new software, reward your early adopters.

2. Launch a Daily Tips Campaign

A daily tips campaign breaks down new features into micro-training sessions. Broadcast a short tutorial to your SharePoint users on a daily basis for a period of seven, 14 or 28 days. By breaking down the tutorials into bite-sized pieces, it makes them easy to consume and easier to remember. A tutorial can be a tip-sheet, an annotated screenshot, a screen-capture video, or a step-by-step walk through.

Make the campaign time-sensitive with a well-defined deadline. This gives everyone a reason to prioritize action.

Sending out daily tips is not enough. To make the campaign successful, ensure recipients interact with every tutorial they receive. For example, add a challenge to every tutorial that you send. Bellow the tutorial, add a call-to-action: ask them to complete a certain task after watching the tutorial. This drives users to thoroughly absorb what they learn and helps them put the newly acquired knowledge into practice.

To encourage the interactions even more, give away prizes to quick action-takers.

3. Award Early Adopters

If you reward a behavior, you get more of it. Everyone is more motivated if they stand to gain something valuable. Consider shopping vouchers, event tickets, gift cards, etc. — anything that has value and can be personalized.

Let them know that learning and practicing comes with perks. Create several prizes to award winners at different levels. And remember to publicly declare and praise the winners. This may sound over the top, but it's proven to inspire others to put in effort.

Most importantly, measure results. With a well-deployed communication campaign, a thoroughly executed training campaign, and a well designed award program, you should be able to see your team members breaking the habit of using sticky notes for their daily tasks. Like any other campaign, results may not be as quick or as successful as you would expect. If this is the case, you may need to roll out another daily-tips campaign with a new award program and possibly repeat this effort three times throughout a year.

Help your team members dump their sticky note habit. Using the SharePoint Tasks List feature is much smarter and much more productive. Changing the habit is worth the effort.