Microsoft SharePoint is a powerful collaboration tool for businesses. Its robust features enable employees to share, create, and organize information related to the growth and vision of a company. Simply put, SharePoint serves as the hub of your company’s innovation and growth. In spite of its numerous benefits, many SharePoint deployments continue to fail.
In a review of the top barriers to a successful SharePoint deployment, experts have found that many companies lack a strategic deployment plan and struggle to maximize the program’s usefulness. In fact, the AIIM 2013 survey found that over 30% of companies interviewed have achieved only a “basic deployment,” as opposed to their previously high ambitions.
In order to help your company gain the full benefits of SharePoint and avoid a failed deployment, we will share our insights about the platform. Before we discuss tips to ensure a successful SharePoint deployment, let’s take a look at a few reasons why such deployments fail:
- Lack of deployment strategy – Executive leaders need to develop a detailed deployment strategy that has measurable goals. Answer the following question: “What does a successful SharePoint deployment look like for my company?” Without a clear answer, your team will not be able to use SharePoint’s capabilities effectively. To achieve a successful launch, your entire organization should be on the same page regarding the program’s intended use and, ultimately, the desired results.
- Lack of training – Many deployments fail because employees do not understand its features. When asked about lack of progress toward full deployment, nearly 20% of companies cited a lack of resources as its primary cause. Ongoing training can elevate a basic SharePoint deployment to a full one. Once a team gets acquainted with the program, providing additional training based on current adoption rates can motivate employees to delve further and take advantage of advanced features.
- Resistance to SharePoint’s features – The platform is only as effective as its user. Often, SharePoint deployments fail because employees are hesitant to change their preferences to accommodate a new system. Nearly 30% of survey participants indicated that employee resistance to committing documents to SharePoint led to a failed deployment. Factors that contribute to this resistance may include a poorly organized launch or ineffective change management tactics.
- Lack of governance – In order to implement SharePoint’s features in a way that complements a business’ structure, governance over its use should be clearly detailed in company-wide policies and procedures. Use of the platform that is not standardized across an organization’s departments leads to confusion and lack of productivity.
- Neglect of customizable features – SharePoint’s customizable features are often ignored or used incorrectly by businesses. The program’s ability to integrate with external systems further complicates its use, particularly if a company’s goals for its use are unclear. Businesses that fail to customize SharePoint to perfectly meet their needs are more likely to experience a failure.
- Lack of IT resources – Adequate IT resources are a vital component for a successful deployment. Many companies fail because they lack IT resources, including data administration, storage, infrastructure and security.
- Social resistance – Even if companies achieve basic SharePoint adoption rates, deployment of the program’s full features often stalls. In the aforementioned survey, approximately 25% of respondents reported that user resistance to joining and contributing to SharePoint’s enterprise social networking feature was a significant barrier to successful deployment. Without the use of this essential collaborative tool, organizational innovation is hindered.
- Successfully matching workflows – Nearly 20% of survey respondents reported difficulty matching complex business processes with SharePoint workflows. This is related to lack of detailed knowledge regarding SharePoint’s capabilities, and is a significant factor that contributes to failed SharePoint deployments. SharePoint’s custom workflow features allow companies to manage complex business processes, but a lack of understanding about this option may prevent full deployment.
What can be learned by examining the ways SharePoint deployments can fail? We gain knowledge about what other businesses have done incorrectly or where they have fallen short, so we know where to concentrate our efforts in the future. Using this information, let’s take a closer look at the ways your business can successfully use SharePoint’s capabilities and features:
- Clearly define the vision & involve key business units – Prior to choosing SharePoint, it’s important to clearly define your company’s vision for the future as well as your company’s expected outcomes. If your company consists of multiple departments, define how each will benefit from using SharePoint and which company goal they will each be working toward. Also, make sure each key business unit is accountable for & measured by the outcome of your SharePoint project.
- Understand SharePoint’s capabilities – Before launch, it is necessary to review the solution’s features and fully understand how these capabilities work together to enhance productivity and collaboration. Understanding SharePoint’s core features allows companies to “connect the dots” prior to launch. Specifically, try to envision how your company will share, organize, discover, build and manage information with SharePoint.
- Utilize effective change management strategies – A major contributor to failed SharePoint deployments is resistance from employees. Employees who feel as though they were left out of the decision-making process are often more likely to delay adoption rates and resist change. To prevent this occurrence, it’s essential to discuss changes in management strategies at the executive level. Consider discussing the benefits and projected use of SharePoint with employees prior to implementation and allowing time for questions and concerns.
- Establish policies for use – Because of SharePoint’s design, agreements should be made at the organizational level about how the program will be used. Businesses that fail to outline policies for use and integrate these policies into existing rules of governance struggle to successfully launch SharePoint. Prior to implementation, it is necessary to establish specific policies for use.
- Create strategies – Employees are more likely to respond positively to SharePoint implementation if established goals and strategies are put into place. With department-specific strategies in use, employees are better equipped to use the program successfully and efficiently while achieving results aligned with company goals.
- Provide training – Detailed training is required if a successful SharePoint launch is the goal. The program’s six core functions include web content management, documents & content management, business process automation/workflow management, collaboration & social media, business intelligence and search and content discovery. Providing thorough training to employees unifies employee understanding of the program and its capabilities.
- Customize – Without ensuring proper customization of SharePoint, full deployment is at risk of failure. In order to properly customize the platform and receive the full benefit of its features, it is necessary to first define casual users, power users, site administrators, and developers. To complete the customization properly upon launch, SharePoint implementations should include guidance from experienced Microsoft SharePoint professionals to maximize use of this solution.
- Secure reliable IT resources – Depending on the size and scope of your organization, you may or may not have access to adequate IT resources. Since SharePoint’s enterprise-level features require a solid infrastructure, security, and data administration, it’s essential that businesses have access to experienced IT professionals. If your company lacks an in-house team, consider working with SharePoint specialists to secure needed resources.
- Encourage use of social features – SharePoint offers powerful social tools – employees are able to engage in discussions, share information and collaborate within the platform. Encouraging participation in these features will lead to faster adoption rates and successful SharePoint implementation.
- Compromise – Some businesses make the mistake of trying to fit deficient existing workflows into SharePoint’s platform. While this is feasible for some companies, it does not work for others. Prior to launching SharePoint, evaluate your company’s workflows and identify how SharePoint may be able to streamline the process.
The bottom line is that successfully implementing SharePoint within an organization streamlines communication and collaboration while enhancing productivity and encouraging innovation when it is used properly and planned for adequately. Are you interested in more information or further assistance? Our team of Microsoft SharePoint consultants at OIS will gladly help your company successfully implement SharePoint and boost adoption rates. To learn more about our SharePoint services, click here to contact us today.