SharePoint Conference.ORG: Susan Hanley’s Secrets to Achieving Successful User Adoption

Why is it important to invest in user adoption planning? Bethesda-based Susan Hanley, of Susan Hanley LLC, shared 12 SharePoint user adoption strategy secrets to answer this question in her keynote address: From Vision to Reality: Unlocking the Secrets of SharePoint User Adoption. The critical elements she identified endorse transition ease when introducing users to SharePoint.

Hanley used a myriad of references and examples to support her secrets, but for the sake of time (and space), I’ll provide a summary of each “secret” below:

Secret 1 – Adoption is not the end game.

Why aren’t they coming when we build it? According to Hanley, adoption rarely happens at once; it’s a gradual process. For starters, messaging is critically important. It is imperative that the solution is worth adopting and
addresses the issue.

Secret 2 – Adoptable solutions solve real problems.

Hanley suggests incorporating features that engage users, such as ‘likes and ratings’, ‘help and feedback’ – especially feedback regarding how useful the search feature works.

Secret 3 – It’s personal.

Well-written, engaging content helps make the user experience that much better. By creating accurate – and current – content, you’ll captivate your audience. Another tip Hanley offered was to avoid the commonly
used “click here” hyperlink. Most readers skim content for the information they’re seeking. By providing descriptive hyperlinks, content is more effective and makes information more accessible.

Secret 4 – You can prepare.

We all know change can be difficult, especially when adopting new technologies. Expect delayed gratification, no guarantees, and squishy benefits.

Secret 5 – It’s about change.

“This is how we’ve always done it,” is the typical response (and resistance) when it comes to changing up the status quo. It’s important to ease into change. Hanley suggests starting small (don’t focus on solving all the world’s problems at the same time); keep it simple (don’t tackle too much at once); consider your culture (start projects with allies and receptive stakeholders); consider the “long wow” and help users create new habits. It’s also important for leaders to model the behavior for employees to follow.

Secret 6 – It’s all about comfort.

When it comes to training, plan a roadmap. Stagger information to prevent information overload. Training should jump-start users enough to function on day 1, yet prepare them for additional training down the road.

Secret 7 – It’s about communications.

Be creative by developing a communications plan that incorporates unique launch ideas, establishes regular events, and leverages existing meetings and events.

Secret 8 – It’s about support.

It takes a village. Make sure the help desk, evangelists, and moderators are prepared!

Secret 9 – It’s about fun!

Don’t be afraid to incorporate incentives and rewards to help kick start adoption. Hanley suggested scavenger hunts and events that involve food are highly effective.

Secret 10 – It’s about listening.

Piggybacking off of the second secret, you need to seek feedback and apply it. By identifying challenges and conducting usability tests, you ensure that you are doing what you think you are doing.

Secret 11 – You’re never done. 

Secret 12 – It’s about sharing.

Don’t be afraid to shamelessly “borrow” great ideas.

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