It’s not surprising that many people fear SharePoint. It’s been described as a “beast” and a “monster.” In reality, however, it’s hardly as menacing as it’s made out to be.
SharePoint powers many company intranets, file shares, websites, knowledge management systems, business intelligence centers, and more. Its purpose is not to confound, but to facilitate collaboration. But because of its complexity and size, it remains an acute pain point for many workers.
A Gartner study conducted earlier this year identified a significant gap between SharePoint usage and value. For example, nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that they use SharePoint, but they assigned it an average of 14 points out of 100 for value.
The Gartner survey results are in line with the findings of countless previous studies—that most people will not scramble to use technology they believe will frustrate them. They may use it—mainly because they have been instructed to do so—but they’ll use it reluctantly and stick with the features they know. The result is low, inconsistent or incorrect SharePoint usage, which makes the technology less effective. For SharePoint to work as intended, people need to use it, and use it properly.
This dilemma—vicious circle, chicken-and-egg, catch-22—can be resolved. Here are three ways to ensure your users and organization get the most value out of SharePoint:
- Decide what you want it to do. Be sure to have specific use cases in mind when implementing SharePoint—“because you want it” should not be one of them. Examples include sharing live documents during meetings, real-time collaboration and file sharing with the ability to easily and quickly view all changes made to a document, plus the elimination of multiple versions and unwieldy attachments.
- Ensure your users understand how it can improve the way they work. Resistance happens when people are confronted with change and no context. Provide an overview of how it works, how it can simplify collaboration, improve productivity, what makes it break, and best practices to follow. Convince employees that they want to use it.
- Give users the tools and support they need to master the technology. SharePoint is a monster of a tool—not a scary kind of monster, but a giant and complex one. It has countless features and capabilities and gains more with each update. Ongoing support and training is a requirement.
In a Quora thread titled “Why is SharePoint so disliked?” one contributor captures the SharePoint challenge succinctly:
“Most of the installations I oversee happen because someone in management says: ‘I WANT SHAREPOINT!’ because they read an article or heard about it from a colleague at a conference. I go in and ask what they want it for, they say they don’t care, they just want SharePoint. SharePoint can do A LOT for your company, but unless you know what you want it to do, and evangelize it, people won’t use it….”
SharePoint is and has been a pain point for many business users, but it doesn’t have to be. By determining strategy, and providing communication and guidance, business leaders can ensure their users and entire organizations get the most value from it.
Image: Designed by Evening_tao/Freepik
Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.