Let’s face the truth. End users are often dissatisfied with their SharePoint solutions. While promptly fixed technical issues cause only temporary unhappiness, unfriendly design and poor functionality, if left unaddressed, can lead to constant disaffection that will be very hard to overcome, even if the system performs well.
Unfortunately, SharePoint owners and SharePoint support teams prioritize exactly technical troubleshooting and often ignore UI and UX issues, thus leaving behind the most critical factors of SharePoint adoption. What’s worse, users almost never participate in SharePoint support and maintenance activities, which are generally delegated to an IT department exclusively. However, if SharePoint solutions get modified regularly while employees stay unaware of changes, get ready to welcome even heavier user antipathy.
How to Marry SharePoint Support, Maintenance and User Adoption
There are at least two measures that will allow you to make SharePoint support and maintenance an essential part of your SharePoint adoption strategy:
- Rescope SharePoint support and maintenance to extend troubleshooting activities with continuous enhancement of a solution.
- Make SharePoint support and maintenance more user-oriented so that every change is valuable and effective.
Now let’s see how to put these ideas into practice.
Switching From Troubleshooting to a Continuous Improvement of Your SharePoint Solution
Look and feel. SharePoint’s UI and UX are the most disputable sides of the platform. Plain, boring, unattractive and feeble are only a few adjectives attributed to both out-of-the-box and poorly designed or underdeveloped custom SharePoint solutions. For this very reason, SharePoint UI and UX improvements are the first must-haves of your support and maintenance package.
Functional capabilities. SharePoint solutions should solve real tasks and not be a depot for every function that other enterprise solutions couldn’t embrace. Even such core activities as workflow and document management should align with employees’ needs. Thus, if employees require a separate site to collaborate on sensitive documents or a new workflow that involves more stakeholders, you should respond to these needs. This way, expanding a solution’s functionality is the next candidate to join the list of mandatory maintenance activities.
Integrity of information and processes. Usually, SharePoint is just one of several enterprise solutions that function simultaneously. By integrating SharePoint with other systems, you enable uninterrupted information flows and business processes – that is, if integration is flawless. To ensure this, you should carefully support and tune such working tandems as, for example, SharePoint and CRM or SharePoint and ERP to let employees use the best capabilities of both systems and perform their tasks effectively.
Shift Toward User-Oriented SharePoint Support and Maintenance
If users don’t participate in the evolution of their solution, poor SharePoint adoption will be a logical consequence. However, it is always possible to involve users more actively in SharePoint support following the principle of four I’s.
Investigate through user feedback. To reveal technical issues, you can carry out regular monitoring of SharePoint solutions and deployments. At the same time, it is also highly recommended to get user feedback to detect issues that annoy users or hinder working processes. Users can provide you with valuable insights on the system’s effectiveness, which will let you prioritize support and maintenance activities.
Interact with end users regularly. Apart from gathering user feedback, you can also:
- Offer questionnaires to analyze SharePoint adoption throughout the company.
- Provide collaboration spaces where the SharePoint support team and end users can discuss possible modifications to SharePoint solutions. To avoid endless and chaotic discussions, it can be reasonable to select a limited group of users who will voice the existing issues and talk them over with support specialists.
- Furnish a task management system for users to address support issues and follow their status.
A great plus is that all of these options can be delivered within SharePoint, which will stimulate users to turn to SharePoint on a regular basis.
Implement in a timely fashion. Every improvement is valuable if its implementation is timely. When users wait for a requested feature for months or even years, SharePoint adoption will suffer. You should also avoid accumulating requests. Piling user requests up and solving all the troubles at once is a bad scenario for SharePoint. In this regard, it’s rational to establish a time frame of one to two days for fixing “hot” issues and one to two weeks for delivering critical improvements.
Improve users’ understanding of SharePoint. Finally, user training should be another tradition of your SharePoint support. Sometimes users don’t even know about capabilities of their SharePoint solutions and hardly follow improvements made by the support team, so it’s logical that SharePoint use, in this case, is very limited. While carrying out training sessions, you can present the latest tweaks and teach employees how to use them effectively. Training sessions are also essential for newcomers to understand how a particular system functions and how to use it correctly.
Turn Words Into Action
To ensure SharePoint adoption through SharePoint support and maintenance, you have to take real action. You can start with officially prioritizing the adoption-focused support and maintenance activities in your SharePoint strategy so that your in-house support team sticks to it. You can also improve your service-level agreement and negotiate an extended support package with your service provider.