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July 22, 2010

SharePoint user adoption – Getting acceptance

by Anders B. Skjønaa (

This is the first of a set of articles, about using a structured approach to SharePoint adoption; driving ROI to the max. This one is about the acceptance process, a key element in early endavours of SharePoint Corporate Adoption.

When implementing SharePoint, you will quickly realize that your biggest challenge is making business users use it! You know that SharePoint does a lot, and you know that the functionality is something that can really make your coworkers more productive and efficient, and it may even solve some known hard issues underway. That’s why you bought SharePoint, right?

But users are not adopting these new features. Most of the time users are merely using SharePoint as a glorified file-system and search portal. That’s not exactly what the demo’s promised…

Corporate Adoption

So what can you do about this? Well – you should probably have done have done what you need to do a while back – when you were designing and building your SharePoint environment. I call it CORPORATE ADOPTION and it’s – without a doubt – something that you need to build into the project plan, for the SharePoint implementation project.

So what is corporate adoption all about? Well it’s a quite broad subject that spreads much further than training of users. To really understand what this is all about, you need to put yourself in the chair of the receiver – the person whose working habits you are about to change.

Getting acceptance

Like with any change, there are really only two drives that can make them happen;

  • Acceptance
  • Need

Either you need to ensure acceptance from the receiver or the receiver must understand that there is a need to make this change to be able to keep thing running (essentially keep their jobs)

With SharePoint, I have not (so far) seen anyone lose their job for not using it properly. So you can probably concentrate on ensuring acceptance in your SharePoint project. But doing so is not necessarily the easiest thing on earth.  

Ensuring acceptance means that you need to make a “contract” with users, where they are willing to spend the required amount of time to adopt the changes you are proposing on them. You just might get a better grip on this, if you think of this as a contract. For example you may have a harder time to get the contract signed if it’s too big or if there are too many unknown parameters. That should tell you to go “simple” and not implement everything at one time.  The good thing about these “adoption contracts” is that you can extend them at any time!

So get the contract with your users, and make all the usual activities you need to close any other deal; communication, demonstration, needs analysis, negotiations (in this case this may be users driven design or focus group work) and more communication. This is quite the opposite approach to most SharePoint implementations. We tend to install everything SharePoint can do and make it available through the intranet. But users that visit the intranet, are most likely task-oriented (most of us are really busy during the workday, so we are pretty good at not spending too much time in trying new thing out – especially if we don’t really understand what we need them for…) so the majority of users will never realize that there is a new way to accomplish things that used to take much longer.

The acceptance process is a vital part of the SharePoint corporate adoption process. has detailed out the full adoption process and put together a complete framework to enable companies to consistently drive more value from SharePoint investments. This program is called SHAREPOINT EVOLUTION. For more information please visit:


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