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

My day of sessions in London was kicked off with Driving User Adoption with a SharePoint
Center of Excellence,
presented Ant Clay. He started off 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 serious 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 support 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

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

  • 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 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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