In my previous article, I suggested steps to take early in the move to SharePoint and promised tips for encouraging use once it’s up. Here they are.
Be patient. Yes, that’s a tip in my other article, but it applies here, too. Launching the site won’t likely be a “build-it-and-they-will-come” event. Employees are accustomed to their routines and processes—for example, using email to collaborate on documents. They need time to become comfortable using and navigating the site. Allow for this, and everyone will be happier and more supportive in the long run.
Enlist fans. These are the early adopters, the people who were ready to use the site when it was only a concept. Fans are essential to encouraging use throughout your organization. They already know how to navigate, have figured out workarounds to quirks and appreciate the functionality. Subsequently, they tend to coach others and help your organization through its learning curve-if you let them. Do so. And be sure to recognize them. Fans are priceless.
Make it simple to get RSS feeds. Ask a volunteer with RSS experience to help others set up their feeds for frequently updated content. It’s time well spent because employees learn how easy it is to subscribe. And they get additional tips along the way.
Another aspect of RSS: Measuring and reporting your subscription rate can help you show executive sponsors a quantitative success metric. Time and money was spent on the site, so they want to see a return on the investment. This is a way-albeit a small, simple one-to show them an early return.
Use a groundskeeper. Everyone using the site has responsibility for keeping things fresh by deleting old documents and posts and by updating links and security access. But it helps to have someone walking the grounds, so to speak, from time to time to ensure this happens. It’s especially valuable if you share a lot of documents on the site. Also use your groundskeeper to lead the purge of documents that shouldn’t be transferred to the site from their old storage ground.
Arrange content well. It should be intuitive to find content on the site. If it is, people will use it. In some organizations—especially large ones with businesses within a business—there might be a tendency to arrange content by team. Decide whether that’s best for the long-term. It can become confusing when a person on one team needs a document, for example, but can’t remember which team owns it. A good search utility can help with this, of course. But in my experience it’s best to have a foundation of intuitively arranged content.
Putting these tips into practice will help inspire people to use your site. And once they do, momentum builds and possibilities flourish to advance productivity, knowledge-sharing and employee engagement.
Trent Meidinger is a communication consultant in St. Paul, Minn.