The SharePoint promised-land of full adoption and enthusiastic users is only accessible by the route of solid education at every level. Too often SharePoint sites gather dust as document graveyards because IT and management didn’t have the budget or foresight to fully train users or even make them aware of what SharePoint is. Education is the first step toward adoption.
It’s true. SharePoint is a website, and you would assume that would mean anyone familiar with the internet could pick it up immediately. The problem is that SharePoint is a very important website that will house the documents and content users spend hours developing. To store that information in a little-understood or even unstable application is a risk most users are unwilling to take.
To accept SharePoint, users have to see a benefit in using it, and that means that they need to 1) know what it does and 2) know how to use those features. Education is key.
Educating IT and Management
But users aren’t the only people in the company who need to be educated. IT and Management also need a full understanding of the platform’s potential and the business problems that could be solved with it. Demonstrating SharePoint to management in action, as a functional tool used by similar companies with identical problems, will inspire enthusiasm, build executive support, and direct the project toward the most pressing issues.
IT also needs to understand the strategic direction of the company and the hurdles that lie in the way. Many SharePoint sites are laid out with the best of intentions and even executed well, but are aimed at the wrong goal posts. IT needs a firm grasp of what SharePoint should do, not just what is can do.
Without continuous support and education, SharePoint can run out of steam. If the application was adopted to solve real business problems, and it succeeded, then that’s great, but what’s next. What are the new problems that should be considered?
User Groups and Product Advisory Boards are the way to push SharePoint forward. Give the users a voice in determining the direction of the development, and they’ll actively think about their processes and the ways to improve them using SharePoint.
For more ideas, see my post on the MCS blog on Educating on SharePoint.