After removing barriers to digital transformation at Philips Healthcare, Eric was recruited by Visa and tasked with getting employees to actually use SharePoint. Here is the story.
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The Questions and answers
Well, you shared a next stop; let's talk about that. What is your next stop [after Philips Healthcare]?
Well, I got recruited by Visa, the credit card company. From there, I was a solution engineer. It was part of the SharePoint team. So, I was back in the IT organization but still doing that kind of code development work. And, they wanted a lot more user adoption or digital transformation type activities from me.
So, we did coaching, we did no-code build work, we did training classes, and we did all kinds of stuff. But it was all trying to focus on getting more adoption of the SharePoint platform in the company.
So, I was excited about that because I kind of have seen the playbook. I did not want to use from my previous stop. So, it was a good opportunity for me not just to leave the pain from where I was working but also to go somewhere where I was empowered to make a difference. And to focus on actual real-life adoption in the organization. And I really enjoy that opportunity to do it.
Some key challenges
I got to Visa; they had some challenges. So, I list some of those here. These aren’t really the challenges but they kind of paint the picture.
We had a couple of SharePoint On-prem farms and different versions. The main one people were using at the time was 2010. There was a migration that it started with 2013. There were only about 350 site collections and only about a hundred people that were site owners. So, you think about an organization the size of Visa, it was about 20,000 users at the time. That's a really small SharePoint implementation for that size of the company. The users, as you talk to them, they were very unmotivated about SharePoint. Most of the sites were just document management and people were only using them when they had to.
The governance policies were written by the techies and they were really only accessible by the techies. They did exist in a place where people could get to them but nobody would know they were there, unless they were looking specifically for them.
There was also a competing platform at Visa. There were a lot of users that really didn't know which platform to use for what; and it got down really to personal preference in a lot of cases. They were managed by different teams and had different policies. It was a point of confusion for users.
So, people really didn't know what SharePoint could do because they had no examples to look at; they had no wins that they could see.
We also had a shortage of manpower on the SharePoint team. That's pretty much every IT department I've ever worked at; there's more work than there are people. Which made it a challenge for you to do any kind of outreach to the users because there is always a fire burning, always something that needed to be built.
Finding solutions to the problems
I was empowered by the management and IT to make some changes in how we did things. And we found some things that made a big difference. For instance, we had to change our behavior a little bit. We had to change our behavior before we expect the users to change theirs.
So, we got down to what we called “strategic simplicity”.
A lot of times, our tendency in IT was to build something that was way more complicated than it needed to be. That's true about solutions we build, policies we create, and the way we offer support. We do things that make sense to us but they wind up being these big complicated things for the end-users to deal with.
An example would be ticketing. Somebody needed a new SharePoint site. It was in the ticketing system and it was a long-complicated form with acronyms and lots of blanks to fill out and most people that weren't in IT didn't understand half the things that were in the form. So, we decided to make things a bit simpler.
We kept looking for those opportunities: where can we simplify things?
Governance was one of those. We went through and reviewed all the governance we had and we asked ourselves the hard questions. Why? Do we really need that? Is it making life simpler or is it making it harder?
There's also kind of a philosophical goal too: the purpose of having the platform was for people to actually use it. So, we started leaning more toward the idea of best practices and adoption goals. We started leaning toward those instead of toward rules that locked everything down on the server.
A typical end user is not motivated enough to go through complicated steps before they are able to actually use a digital platform.
Before you build a solution, ask if it will be easier to use; before you create a governance policy, ask if the limitation that you want to impose is necessary. Always aim to ensure that people are able to use the digital tool without friction.
Building simple workflows and creating simple governance policies are not enough; you need to make sure that employees actually use them or follow them. The crucial step to that end is to provide in-context guidance every step of the way. This is where VisualSP comes in. As a digital adoption platform, VisualSP allows you to overlay help items on every window, page, or feature of an application, giving an employee the ability to use a digital tool even if they don’t know how. To see how VisualSP works, watch this live demo.