There's Real SharePoint Adoption and then there's just adding "Social"

Poor SharePoint adoption strategies lead to employees disengaging with their intranet.

People are doing some pretty crazy things in order to try to drive much higher rates of adoption for SharePoint in the enterprise.  Over the last year an enormous amount of attention has been given to weaving various types of social communication systems into the SharePoint environment.  The theory seems to be that since these types of communication systems are popular as stand-alone systems, blending them into a SharePoint environment will provide a reason for more employees to enter the SharePoint environment.

Stating it the way I have, it’s pretty easy to see the flaw in this approach.  Sure, people may enter the SharePoint environment but that doesn’t automatically mean they’re going to start using it to save an organization money, increase revenues or generally improve the efficiency of anything.

If you want substantial SharePoint adoption, the kind of adoption where employees are going into the environment because it truly helps them do their job easier, faster and with less stress, you need look no further than intranets that have been championed by Corporate Communications Departments.

From what we can determine, the Corporate Communications department is only responsible for driving an intranet project about 10% of the time, but when they do, the results in adoption rates are dramatically different (compared to the typical IT Department driven project where the goal is “let’s get everything off the shared drives”).  I think the reason is simple.

The primary focus of a Corporate Communications department is to get all of the employees and managers educated about the corporate goals for the coming year. The secondary purpose is to motivate the employees to do their jobs in a way that supports the attainment of the corporate goals. When you start thinking this way you build a very different intranet. An intranet that’s all about providing valuable content that really helps the employee do their job in a way that not only achieves the corporate goal but boosts morale at the same time.

A few of the features common to corporate communications intranets are:

  • Exciting, Upbeat Delivery (page design and presentation of information is very upbeat)

  • Easy to Use (layout, structure and navigation scream “Findability”)

  • Current information (daily updates or real-time)Personalized Information (regional or individual)

  • Relevant Information (helps you achieve your personal business goals)

  • Valuable Information (“Oh Wow” information that saves you serious time and effort)

  • Social News (the strategies and techniques that other employees are using to exceed their goals)

You can foster ‘Social’ by adding a chat system or you can achieve real Adoption by implementing a design  that makes your employees feel energized, empowered and relevant.