Evolution Conference Roadshow: Driving User Adoption with a SharePoint Center of Excellence

My day of sessions in London kicked off with Driving User Adoption with a SharePoint Center of Excellence, presented by Ant Clay. He started off by talking about a common problem: even if you are initially successful in the adoption of SharePoint in your organization, there will likely be a drop-off after three months. This is kind of like a honeymoon period. The question then is how does an organization keep that interest going? Since SharePoint is such a complex thing, it takes a seriously planned effort to keep users engaged and focused.

Ant’s suggestion is to create a “Center of Excellence“. The Center of Excellence is a group of people within an organization whose task is to continually foster SharePoint adoption and growth. This group is separate from IT; they are not supported in a technical sense but rather support in a proactive sense. While this group should include a technical authority, it is made up of mostly business-focused people. Generally, you will want to include the following individuals: a technical person, a SharePoint specialist of some kind, a business analyst, a change agent, a project manager, and someone in charge of training. The goal of the group is to leverage their skills to proactively train and assist end users to make sure they are getting the most out of SharePoint and that SharePoint’s use is being maximized within the organization.

One of the many tools this group can use is a community. Creating a user group in the company is a great way to help people see the value of SharePoint and to use training to proactively cut down on help tickets. The main thing the Center of Excellence does is to keep SharePoint an evolving story. Specifically, Ant believes that you need to keep people interested in how SharePoint can be used now and how it can be utilized
in future projects. A clue that this group is successful is the emergence of “Tummelers” (Yiddish for a person that gets everyone dancing at a Jewish wedding). Once these people start surfacing organically, you will know that the Center of Excellence is working.

There are four factors that are required for this tactic to work:

  • First, the group must be outward facing. They have to see their co-workers as a market and reach out to them.
  • Second, the group has to be autonomous. They have to be able to change and adapt as needed so that they can keep up with the change in the organization.
  • Third, they need to be Holarctic. They need to be able to function in an agile way making decisions and implementing ideas.
  • Last, there needs to be serendipity. Tummelers need to rise and people outside the center need to start helping drive the message.
  • Additionally, there needs to be some momentum to keep the level of enthusiasm consistently high.

There are plenty of challenges for this group but then again, there are always challenges with implementing SharePoint in an organization. Finding the right people to create this internal group can make
all the difference.

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