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Event and meeting coordinators who use Outlook have one thing in common: they dislike being the bottleneck for everyday tasks relating to calendar management. When looking to convert users from Outlook to SharePoint, people like this are prime candidates to start with. Showing them how any team-member with the right permissions can edit and update the calendar will make fast adopters of them. The calendar managing capabilities native to SharePoint make a great stepping stone towards SharePoint adoption. 

It comes down to this: employees who use a specific feature in one tool will readily use a similar but improved feature in another tool. For example, if they are currently using the file sharing feature in Dropbox, they will easily welcome the similar, but improved features in OneDrive for Business. As long as the capability is better in the new tool, the transition is usually effortless.

This is the key to persuading Outlook users to try certain features in SharePoint.

Turn Outlook Users Into SharePoint Early-Adopters

Certain Outlook features are considerably extended in SharePoint. Those extensions are built mainly with the aim to enable collaboration.

Since the utility of the features are the same in both tools and the learning curve during the transition is negligible, persuading Outlook users to adopt corresponding features in SharePoint is very doable. In many cases, a simple quick demo is enough to successfully persuade people to make the transition.

As it helps to quickly convert as many early-adopters as possible, you should undertake this step, among others, as early as possible in the implementation process of your adoption plan.

Live demos will serve you very well.

Related Article: How Executives Can Lead the Way in SharePoint and Office 365 Adoption Efforts

Use Familiar Features to Demonstrate the Benefits of SharePoint

Exploiting the similarities in features between Outlook and SharePoint is the first step toward shifting your workforce over to SharePoint. 

What makes this even easier is the ability to synchronize items created with some of these features. For example, a calendar list created in SharePoint can be displayed in Outlook as well. All changes made to the calendar list in Outlook are also automatically reflected in SharePoint, removing the need for back-and-forth between the two applications. This integration gives Outlook users the flexibility to make a smooth transition. During this phase, they can manage SharePoint calendars and other items within their more familiar Outlook environment, which gives them an opportunity to discover SharePoint features without having to abruptly abandon Outlook.

This approach has proven to be very effective.

The following features readily loan themselves to any demos you create to help persuade Outlook users. Be sure to focus on the SharePoint collaboration capabilities, many of which Outlook doesn't offer.

  • Contacts: Demonstrate how managing a contact list in SharePoint allows them to share with colleagues the responsibility of creating, editing and deleting items on the list.
  • Tasks: Create a small fictional case study on how they can allocate resources to tasks, delegate certain tasks, track completion progress of tasks and more.
  • Calendars: Show them how sharing calendars in SharePoint gives everyone the opportunity to participate in the planning of meetings and events.
  • Discussion Board: Create short demos on how a SharePoint discussion board gives their entire team a simple forum that allows them to share ideas and feedbacks on a topic, something that email is less than ideal for. 

Your ultimate goal is to show Outlook users how using these features in SharePoint will give them opportunities for collaboration. Using quick demos and fictional case studies, aim to persuade them to give SharePoint a try for all the work that needs input from their colleagues, mainly contacts lists, tasks lists, calendars lists and discussion boards.

Asking and persuading Outlook users to try corresponding features in SharePoint is just one of the steps you can take to initiate SharePoint adoption. The task is simple and cost-effective. If successful, the secondary effects will be the organic discovery of other SharePoint features, events that lead to higher usage of the platform and return on your investment.