In part 7 of our SharePoint Branding Series, we looked at building out your SharePoint site to be responsive and how, with today’s demand for mobile content, it is necessary to create an environment that can be accessed anywhere, on any device. We also looked at the Top 5 best practices to follow, including: remembering that Internet Explorer in still a popular Enterprise browser, keeping design simple for faster upload speeds, not focusing on specific devices, using CSS whenever possible and hiding features that work well on a large monitor/laptop, but can cause frustration on smaller devices.
In the final entry of our 8-part branding series, we will discuss training and how to implement your new SharePoint environment in order to maximize user adoption. After all, you want to make sure that all of the time, energy and resources invested in building the site, don’t go to waste. The old “if you build it, they will come” adage doesn’t seem to apply in this case, unfortunately. Your users will need to be educated on the benefits and trained on how to use the site most effectively. Fortunately, this can be achieved with proper planning so you can maximize your user adoption.
How to train your SharePoint users for maximum adoption
In a 2016 survey 40% of respondents said their SharePoint implementations aren't successful, with two-thirds (67 percent) having blamed that on inadequate user training. Armed with that knowledge, the great news about training your SharePoint users is that you can make your program to whatever you want it to be. You can tailor it so that it resonates with your unique audience needs. Whether you decide to customize your own videos, hold regular in-person demos or host webinars for remote individuals, that is most important is to let your audience know that help is available. Your users will be most likely to engage and adopt if they know that they can get support when they have questions.
Leadership Support and Change Management
In that same survey, 58% of respondents cited change management for their reluctance to use SharePoint. Sometimes leaders decide to deploy SharePoint simply because it is a well-known name, without fully understanding, what it does and how it benefits the company. Without that upper management support and governance, users will not be as motivated to learn the system and will end up using a mix of different solutions.
Be sure to keep senior leadership apprised to the status and the benefits of your SharePoint launch. If they communicate excitement and encourage adoption, it will make your life that much easier.
Reach out to “influencers”
Similar to the strategy used by brands trying to break through in social media, you may consider reaching out to colleagues who you know will be able to generate a buzz around the office. Show the influencers the benefits of the platform and how it facilitates their day, and soon the word will be spread for you. Of course, this strategy does not take the place of formal training–but it is a way to get users interested so that they will want to learn more.
Know your audience
You only get one chance to make a first impression. When you get to the point of sharing the new environment to users, be sure to do your research ahead of time and have a few specific examples ready that apply to their everyday functions. Present the information from their perspectives so they can see an immediate benefit. For example, if you are training a remote team, show them how they can easily collaborate and share knowledge on Team and/or Project sites. If you are training HR, show them how a site can be created specifically for them and how secure the access can be.
Remember, now that the environment is set up and ready to go, you will need to do some convincing. Not everyone will know what you know and be eager to change their old habits. The more you can speak their language and make their job easier, the better change you have of them becoming a repeat customer.
We mentioned that your training strategy could be anything you’d like it to be–from videos to in-person sessions to webinars–you name it. However you choose to reach your users, be sure to capture that content and make it available for future use as well. We’ve seen video tutorials generate a lot of success for our clients. Those that are kept between 45 seconds-2 minutes make the biggest impact, and then adding them to a library or making them searchable by context makes it easy for users to find the help they need.
In addition to your training library, we highly recommend holding regular “live” trainings where you introduce new features or allow users to talk through issues. These can be weekly, monthly or quarterly depending on what works best for your unique group.
If you aren’t able to create your own training materials, there are plenty of resources already available online. A good starting point is a training blog series for SharePoint beginners that can be found here.