The Optimal Training Strategy for Sustainable SharePoint User Adoption

Posted by Asif Rehmani on Jun 10, 2019

Employees will not abandon their current favorite tools and adopt SharePoint on their own; they have to be driven.

To make sure that everyone actually uses SharePoint after deployment, and more importantly, to widen and deepen usage to the extent that return on your technological investment is achieved, a thorough change management is essential. For best outcomes, undertake the change initiative and the technical SharePoint deployment project concurrently. SharePoint user adoption campaigns should be rolled out in parallel with installation and configurations.

You have to prioritize change management in order to drive user adoption of the platform. The amount of value that your organization gets out of SharePoint is directly proportional to the number of users and the extent of usage. Initiate and manage the change needed to reach that goal. One of the key steps to that end is user training.

At VisualSP, we have helped a lot of companies bring their employees to actually use SharePoint after deployment. We have helped them get the most out of the platform and attain greater productivity, collaboration, data security, regulatory compliance, and higher return on investment.

One of the biggest problems that companies face is the poor results they get after running training programs. Whether they hire an outside expert trainer or use an internal IT personnel, the outcomes are usually that end users forget most of what they learn within a week, leading to lower usage rate.

This is one of the questions that we get often: what is the best way to train employees and help them use SharePoint to the fullest?

Here is the answer to that question.

There are several approaches to training end users, the list includes:

  • Running Live Training Sessions
  • Building A Training Site
  • Broadcasting Daily Training Emails
  • Hosting Q&A Sessions
  • Providing Context-Sensitive Help

Should you choose one of these approaches over the others? Actually, no, you should implement all 5 of them. Create long term training programs that deliver all the 5 methods of training, including, especially, providing context-sensitive help.

An optimal training strategy is not to rely on one program of training but to use this proven set of training programs in a coordinated way. An optimal training strategy for sustainable SharePoint user adoption is a comprehensive one. Make use of classrooms, emails, sites, and contextual help systems.

One Training Program Is Not Sufficient

Many companies go for the default traditional approach: they run a few classroom training sessions and wait for results. When end users need help when using SharePoint, they expect them to use the platform’s native help center, search the web for tutorials, or request help from the IT department.

Usually, when user adoption seems to stagnate, they would run a second round of training sessions. There are companies that repeat this process multiple times, especially if they have the financial means to do so.

Firstly, this kind of spending can be prohibitive for most companies. Secondly, this approach is ultimately ineffective. At times, it proves to be a waste of resources, especially given that people forget about half of what they learn 24 hours after a class is over.

The second most commonly used training program for companies is reliance on help sites. They populate the sites with help items and instruct end users to visit them every time a need for help arises.

Help sites are helpful but not enough to increase usage to the extent that the platform becomes an asset.

Even worst, there are companies that don't even help employees get a clear overview of the platform. They just send them the link to the native SharePoint help center and expect everyone to read the help documents and be able to use the platform.

Among other factors, fragmented and limited end user training programs explains why many SharePoint-enabled companies fail to achieve sustainable user adoption.

Combine Multiple Approaches To User Training

To keep usage growing, adopt a comprehensive training strategy that not only ensures clear grasp of the platform but also provides automated self-service continual learning. To implement an optimal training strategy, roll out all the 5 training programs in parallel.

Run live training sessions, build a training site, broadcast daily training emails, host Q&A sessions, and provide context-sensitive help.

Program No.1: Run Live Training Sessions

Being an advanced digital tool, SharePoint is built on concepts that may not be familiar to everyone. This is where holding classes is indispensable.

Bring everyone in a real or virtual classroom and thoroughly explain how SharePoint works. Lists, libraries, sites, permissions, workflows, web parts … what are they? What do they do? How do they relate to each other?

Throughout this training program, which may have several scheduled classes, focus on the overview of major concepts, features, and capabilities. Detailed step-by-step tutorials showing how to complete tasks should be presented in the other 4 training programs.

If delivered diligently, running live training sessions help end users to fully understand how SharePoint capabilities solve document management problems. In addition, the events set fast learners to get up to speed with further learning on their own and possibly become early adopters.

Learn more about running live training sessions in this article.

Program No.2: Build A Training Site

After attending classes, end users need a place where they can find help items and tutorials whenever they need to.

This training program consists of creating, maintaining, and growing a help site, a knowledge center.

With all the help items and governance policies on one user-friendly portal, end users have the opportunity to learn in their own time and gradually improve knowledge of the platform.

Also, build the SharePoint site as a community hub where everyone can create new posts, ask questions, and give answers.

To review some of the best practices on this training program, learn more about building a training site in this article.

Program No.3: Broadcast Daily Training Emails

To encourage end users to expand their knowledge on SharePoint, it helps to bring the help items and tutorials directly to them, by email.

Broadcasting daily training emails is a simple way to enable continual micro-training and give end users a way to consume information in bite-sized digestible chunks.

When deployed in a way that maximizes everyone’s engagement and participation, mastery of the platform improves gradually and instance of discovery of more capabilities multiply.

Learn more about broadcasting daily training emails in this article.

Program No.4: Host Q&A Sessions

After learning any area of SharePoint, everyone would always have a few questions that need detailed answers. A live face-to-face or online Q&A session is suited for this purpose. Back and forth emails using a help desk seldom produces satisfactory outcomes.

Plan, organize, and host live events where confusion is cleared and knowledge is expanded.

With live discussions on SharePoint, you provide end users with opportunities to learn not only from the questions that they ask but also from those ask by their colleagues. Also, since the events are live and interactive in real time, learning gets more engaging and your IT support team save a lot of time by giving answers to everyone at once, instead of individually.

Learn more about hosting Q&A sessions in this article.

Program No.5: Provide Context-Sensitive Help

If the learning process is easier, people will make efforts to learn. Instead of leaving a SharePoint workspace in search of a tutorial that may or may not be found, it is much more preferable to stay within SharePoint, click on a tab, view the right help item, and immediately continue with the task at hand.

In this approach to training, you provide end users with one-click help, giving them the ability to use SharePoint without knowing how. It doesn’t matter whether the end user never learned the steps or just forgot them, all it takes is a click to see how a task is done and be able to get it done.

When instant help is always available at the moment of need, the learning curve is no longer a barrier to SharePoint usage. Installing, configuring, and customizing a contextual help system is the most important program in the optimal user training strategy; sustainable user adoption depends on it almost entirely.

Learn more about providing context-sensitive help in this article.

Aim For User Adoption That Is Ever-Growing

To implement change management that leads to successful and sustainable SharePoint user adoption, follow a strategy that combines the 5 training programs. Such a comprehensive set of proven methods is the optimal approach.

When the 5 programs are coordinated strategically, the weakness of some is balanced by the strength of others, making your company much more likely to achieve and sustain the intended SharePoint usage level. When implemented diligently, collaboration, productivity, data security, and regulatory compliance will become the ever-improving business advantages.

With time, gradual gain in knowledge about SharePoint will give end users the ability to use the platform as intended and to the fullest, making your company a digital workplace that is always ready for the next digital transformation.


Topics: VisualSP Help System, SharePoint Adoption, Office 365

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