Moving to SharePoint? Tips for early steps

Don’t be intimidated by the platform. Heed this advice before you build your site.

If you’re responsible for helping your organization move to SharePoint, attention to important early steps will help you with a strong start and long-term success.

I was a SharePoint skeptic at first, but after assessing, implementing and using it for two years in my businesses at a former employer I became a fan. It provides new channels to advance productivity, knowledge-sharing and employee engagement.

Before you build your site and move content to it, consider the following suggestions.

Determine the purpose. Be clear on what you want to accomplish and get buy-in from stakeholders. For example, reducing email volume is important for some organizations. Others want centralized project collaboration or an internal communications stream. Whatever the reason—and as with most things in life—knowing what you want will help you get it. And you will avoid sidetracks later when you’re deep into the details of building your site.

Help others become comfortable. Since most people tend to shy away from a change in routines and habits, you might have a headwind in the move to SharePoint. Generating understanding and acceptance up front will foster active users later. Share the reasons for the change along with a high-level roadmap with key steps and timing. And always be ready to happily answer questions along the way-there will be many.

Invite input. SharePoint has a number of uses, so facilitate brainstorming with co-workers on how to benefit from this. Some of the best ideas will come from them. In addition, you might get tuned into hidden organizational or operational problems the site can solve. Be sure to recap and recognize the input you receive along with the ideas you use.

Be patient. The move to SharePoint takes time and effort, especially in the beginning. Help others understand that and be comfortable with it yourself. Recognizing that Rome wasn’t built in a day will help you stay on course at every stage of the move.

Investing in these practices up front will pay off in the long-term.

Trent Meidinger is a communication consultant in St. Paul, Minn.

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