SPFest Chicago 2013: Achieving Successful SharePoint User Adoption with Sue Hanley

Successful user adoption is always a challenge. In her session titled Unlocking the Secrets of User Adoption Success, Sue Hanley shared with us her secrets on how to get your users to consistently use your SharePoint environment (find her slidedeck here). Like most speakers I’ve heard this week, Sue agrees that SharePoint isn’t as important as are its results. Setting your organization’s intranet as the default home page may give you great numbers, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that your users have adopted your SharePoint solution. As she walked us through her best practices, she used case studies and examples to tie everything together. So how do you get your user adoption up and stay up?

According to Sue, the first step to achieving user adoption is to realize that results are the goal, NOT usage stats. As long as work is getting done and things are running better than before, your solution is a success. Adoption happens slowly; you won’t get your entire office to embrace SharePoint all at once, so be patient. Users want to know what’s in it for them – if there isn’t a clear benefit, then they won’t use it. Also, you must make sure that the solution you build is worth adopting. For a solution to be adoptable, it must solve a problem. If you aren’t making something easier, it’s not worth the time to build the solution.

Engaging your users is also a key element of user adoption. Social features and quality content are two ways to go about engaging your users. Using the likes and ratings features of SharePoint 2013 can provide a feedback loop as well as reinforcement for users. If you post content and people like it, you are more likely to continue to post. Also, if your content starts a discussion, it is more likely that your content is relevant and will continue to be updated. This provides a great benefit to both the users as well as the organization as a whole.

Think ahead when designing not only your solution but also your implementation. No training course is one-size-fits-all. Users learn most effectively doing, so tailor your training around times when users will be performing the tasks being trained. For example, if you have a new user that needs to learn how to post in a discussion, they will learn the process more effectively if they receive a piece of training and then go and put that new skill to work.

Fun and support are the final two elements. It’s said that a person needs 66 days to change a habit, so consistent reinforcement is crucial. One of the best ways to do this is to have fun with it. Come up with themes for the trainings. Maybe it’s October and Halloween is a few weeks away. Why not then hold training with a Halloween theme? According to Sue, food also tends to be a strong motivator.

According to Sue, the keys to user adoption are as follows: that you need to make your solution useful, training needs to be both informative and fun, and you need to provide adequate support so users don’t give up. Following these guidelines is going to put you in good shape for consistent user adoption.

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