Getting more from SharePoint- Part 2 Improving user adoption
The value of design patterns
Design patterns are core pieces of functionality that users in similar roles must have to do their jobs. Everyone needs to organize a repository of in-process and completed documents that provide places to collaborate with others. Tasks and approval processes need to be managed. The details of types of documents, projects and tasks form the nuances of how that information is organized, managed, retrieved and acted upon. User acceptance of SharePoint applications will be improved when the right information is available for the tasks and the right processes are reflected in the application.
To achieve that kind of efficiency, consistent ways of accomplishing those tasks across workgroups, departments and ultimately the enterprise need to be developed and socialized. Human resources (HR) is a good example of how design patterns can be used. HR content and documents are fairly consistent from organization to organization—from job postings to policies and procedures, annual reviews of feedback mechanisms, companywide news and messaging, etc. Therefore, the process of design can be accelerated by considering what other departments do and how they structure their repositories. That can be accomplished with a walkthrough of other business unit departments or by sharing approaches from noncompetitive industries. Even when an organization is starting from scratch, the design and development process can be accelerated by using existing design patterns. However, organizations must understand how to use the technology in the context of their business for pattern design to work effectively.
Users don’t hate SharePoint
They hate poorly designed applications. We hear endless examples of why people don’t like SharePoint, but in reality what they don’t like is the lack of functionality, the poorly constructed taxonomies, confusing navigation, endless fields to fill out and poor-quality content. With the correct approach to design and deployment and with adequate training and ongoing updates, people like and in many cases love SharePoint. It helps them do their jobs, makes tasks easier to accomplish, improves efficiency and lets workers redirect their efforts to the more challenging and fulfilling parts of their jobs.
Acquiring the resources to correctly deploy SharePoint when the organization has incorrectly deployed it in the past can be a difficult task. The best way to justify the investment is to focus on one high-value process and go through the intentional design approach, leverage appropriate design patterns, test with users and provide training and just-in-time help. SharePoint is a powerful collaboration and knowledge sharing tool, and users will be able to see the difference when they have a well-designed, deployed and supported environment. Measure the baseline and then measure post-deployment. Many internal processes are difficult to measure; however, several mechanisms can be used to measure impact, from subjective usability to more objective data quality, process efficiency and business outcome impacts.
The alternative to making the needed investment is a high-friction, inefficient, difficult-to-use information environment that will put the organization at a disadvantage to those that understand and apply those core principles. Because our digital world depends on the machinery of internal collaboration and knowledge sharing, that investment is increasingly becoming an imperative.