How IT Can Help Ensure SharePoint ROI

How IT Can Help Ensure SharePoint ROI

by Stacy Wilson

As you well know, SharePoint is a significant investment for any business. Even if an organization uses it simply out-of-the-box, it’s still a cost that deserves good ROI.

It’s the business, not IT, that can deliver that ROI.

For IT to ensure success, it will have to shift its cultural norms in four key areas:

  1. Let the business lead
  2. Ask the right questions
  3. Get people involved early
  4. Give up governance

While these are not easy changes for an established IT team to make, the ROI from SharePoint may depend on IT making the necessary culture change.

Who is Driving the Bus?

More often than not, IT drives the SharePoint bus. This is wrong for two reasons:

  1. The business ultimately provides the funding (let’s face it, IT is a COST center)
  2. Funding comes easier to those things that are “business critical”

IT needs to stand down and let the business lead. To be sure, IT must be actively engaged to ensure success; guiding, offering ideas and examples. But, IT can no longer be the primary department involved in SharePoint implementation.

“We stood it up. The rest is up to the business.” Is it?

Is it up to the business to connect the dots from the technology to results? About 80 percent is the responsibility of the business. The other 20 percent is squarely in the IT court. That 20 percent is cut into two parts:

  1. 15 percent to secure, launch, and maintain the technology—this is where IT can shine
  2. 5 percent to open other people’s minds about what it can do for them—this requires leadership, innovation, cheerleading, and robust conversation, areas in which IT typically isn’t a star

Getting at the Requirements - 7 Questions

IT needs to ask the right questions. Most of the time, IT asks the business “What do you want?” That’s a tough question for most in Finance, Operations, HR, etc., to answer with clarity. Because business people don’t know what’s possible. They know what their challenges are, how they do work today, and what aggravates them. Asking what they want in a new intranet is too abstract.

Instead, IT should ask questions about how they do their work. Here are seven questions we ask the business, plus a bonus exercise at the end:

  1. What tasks, generally, do you undertake in a normal workday?
  2. What types of information do you require from others to do your job? How do you acquire that information?
  3. What types of information do you produce for others? In what format do you provide that?
  4. Which business processes do you use most during your day-to-day work?
  5. What are the greatest sources of general frustration you experience in your day-to-day work?
  6. What things are being done today in a manual way that you would like to automate or streamline? (Paper forms? Processes relying on people?)
  7. What electronic or web-based tools – seen either in use at other companies, on your smartphone, or on the WWW – do you think would be useful in your work?
  8. Exercise: Make a list of the broader topics surfaced during the conversation, rank them according to usefulness.

Now, rethink the “requirements” gathering process. Changes in development practices, such as agile development, make the exhaustive requirements gathering upfront irrelevant.

Instead, we learn as we go, identifying opportunities and assessing feasibility along the way, which is good because that exhaustive process often derails the SharePoint implementation altogether.

Get the basics and get started. SharePoint and the digital workplace are ever evolving. You cannot nail all the fine points down today and expect that to be reality six months from now.

Build Your Street Team - Now

Too many IT shops wait to involve the business until near launch. That’s too late. Getting people from all parts of the business involved early enables you to:

  • Build enthusiasm for what is possible
  • Get the business to recognize the need for change
  • Identify those savvy and willing to serve on a street team
  • Garner executive support that ensures success

A street team is a group of individuals who – with special training and tools – teach, cheerlead, demonstrate, and mentor. This is the most important change-management method in tech change.

True, people engage less with technology change because they know it’s just going to happen to them, and there’s nothing they can do to stop it. But, a well-trained and positioned street team can move adoption farther and faster than any stack of desk-side references.

Governing Beyond Software and Hardware

IT loves governance, and that’s a really good thing. The problem is IT focuses governance efforts on software and hardware. Granted, this is a really important business process and it must continue to be the purview of IT.

But, there is more governance involved in SharePoint intranets, for example:

  • Content
  • Taxonomy
  • Site ownership
  • Strategic decision-making
  • Business process
  • Measurement
  • Policy, standards and guidelines

These are business governance issues and should be addressed with representation from the business. It’s difficult to manage a SharePoint intranet as anything but a democracy. When people are involved in making decisions, they demonstrate greater ownership. That sense of ownership will deliver greater ROI over time.

This shift in the IT mindset and actions will change the reputation of IT in the organization over time. It also sets the right expectations and delivers greater adoption rates. That’s a powerful – and valuable – position for IT.

Stacy Wilson, ABC, Eloquor Consulting, helps companies communicate more effectively with employees in the digital workplace. Her specialty is supporting governance, usability and content improvement for digital workplaces/intranets, along with change communication for technology change such as ERP implementations. Connect with her at LinkedIn or on Twitter.

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