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Try not to kill a SharePoint deployment before it starts

I also thought of another title for this blog post like “Trying to build the roof before the wall?”.

Not sure what I am referring to? Keep reading.

SharePoint is huge and SharePoint Online is a even bigger beast! Agreed?

Over the past few weeks I have been training users in an international organisation, they have just released their Office 365 tenant to the whole organisation and realised that they need to show the users how to actually use it ;-).

This is not even the point of this post, as this happens quite often at the moment, unfortunately we are quite used that customers get a professional in when it’s nearly too late.

During the training preparation, I have been told that users do “not have the time to get trained”, but that “they have lots of appetite for advanced features”. Not knowing quite sure what this meant but confident that the content may be customised, we agreed on several condensed overview of 1.5 hour per group.

The reality was just as expected: 95% of the training attendees never opened the Office 365. So I adapted the training during the short training, being more like a coach on what they can do with SharePoint and the tools in Office 365.

Here is my shout-out and the reason behind this blog’s title:

Having spent enough time with the business users of the various departments, it turned out that all of them would have been very keen to work on a content strategy, data migration plan, departmental site layout if IT had approached them.

Instead, they are now seeing SharePoint as yet another tool that is being imposed at them. A lot of them are not so keen on this idea, and already thinking to not use it since they still have access to the to-be-retired-one-day other cloud storage.

Basically, a big failure of internal communication.

So please! please! Get your users on-board before you even release anything. SharePoint Adoption is a major key to success.

Some ideas:

  • Before deployment:
    • Get your CEO on board and make him/her announce the upcoming platform
    • Invite employees to”15 min drop-in session” (with food provided) to demo 2 or 3 key features, and stay for 30 min Q&A
    • Speak to your comms department.. a lot! IT and Comms need to be best friends as one provides the structure, the other will provide the content.
    • Interview and get a genuine interest in how the other teams work, like HR and Ops … It will be easier to offer them solutions that they didn’t think about later.
    • Let users know that their data will have to be migrated and organise workshops to show them how the migration will work and when you will need their input. This will make the user valued and responsible and it will pay back in the long term.
    • Organise a competition for finding the intranet name.

Or again and obviously, call the professional SharePoint guy early in your deployment project. (hang on… when there is such project plan!;-)