One of the greatest points made during a presentation was a simple and succinct point:
SharePoint doesn’t suck. You suck!
Thanks Dux for that quote.
The reason that is such a good point is that SharePoint is not the reason for your troubles, it is not the reason you have challenges. The reason is solely on the Administration and team who built, manage, deliver, and support SharePoint. Sorry guys and gals, but you are now under the bus.
Passing blame will solve nothing, so get over that quickly we need to get our users back on board, and get some wins in the SharePoint column. So let’s talk tips to getting them back.
Tip 1: Learn what the business thinks of SharePoint
Identify what your users really don’t like, or have challenges with. Rumors, and complaints don’t cut it. Do analysis and research, and document this. You will need this ammo for your strategy, and you will need this to get funding and buy in from the person with the money.
Don’t promise anything during this discovery, you will just get yourself in more trouble later, if you don’t deliver. This does give your users a sense you are trying to make change, make things better, give them HOPE!
Tip 2: Miscommunicating SharePoint
Quit using SharePoint to CYA! I cannot count the times I have heard a Support Tech or and Administrator say the reason something does not work is simply “SharePoint”. That is like saying guns hurt people, really, I have never seen a gun jump off the table and hurt a person. It does take an act to make the pain, so don’t perpetuate the stigma of “SharePoint did it!” Remember my first point, it was likely deployed, designed, or built to perform a task.
Now I am not saying you did it. Remember a company is a living creature, it grows, and changes. Thus a solution you created for one person or team 3 months ago could be antiquated or just plain wrong for the business now. SharePoint needs to evolve with your org.
Tip 3: Communicate what SharePoint can do!
Come to the table. In many cases the stigma the business has is actually completely wrong. SharePoint can do it, and even Out of Box sometimes. So sit with your users and see what they are doing with SharePoint. I am amazed at how often administrators deploy and forget a Team Site. Take the time to go back, set a few hours a week to meet with teams using SharePoint, and offer tips, training, suggestions, support in a face to face environment. Many times this defuses the issues, and gives them a face and context to the challenges they experience.
Tip 4: SharePoint Discussion Boards!
Give your users a outlet! By providing a Discussion Board, or Forum that your support team can moderate, you get two things. First your users can socialize the challenges, giving you and the community a way to answer issues “visibly”, not in a support queue silo. How many times do people ask the same question?
Second the Discussion topics, give you information for your SharePoint Knowledge Base or Wiki. Take those gems of information and communication and create a way for folks to look up answers. I even like to let Product Champions and lead create entries, they are the troops in the field.
Your users will see this as a method to grow the tool, and a Jedi Mind trick to get them to use the tool and collaborate.
Tip 5: SharePoint Branding and Naming!
In many cases the name of SharePoint is burned or forbidden in your company. So re-brand. Common if Chrysler can do it, you can. If Coke can come back from New Coke, so can you. Many times a branding effort that you use with your products can be applied to SharePoint. Giving it a new look that matches the companies styling. A catchy name like:
The Portal, My Company, The Communities
Simple I know, but it works. Look at my post about SharePoint Adoption for other tips.
Extra tip: Hire an outside consultant
Sounds like a job pitch, but seriously. In many cases the users in the organization see you or IT as the bad guys. So going in you are already fighting an uphill battle. By bringing in a outsider, you can defuse that issue right away. They don’t have the history or the bias as an employee. Nothing like Fresh Eyes on a Problem!
Keep in mind that in many cases the Stigma of SharePoint is cultural or based on a past experience you will have to overcome. So you have two real options. Try and change the mind of your users, or try and convert them. Pick which camp you want to be in and embrace it. Plan for a long trip as getting over any Application or Solution stigma can be as long as waiting for the users to retire and be replaced. Just remember that when someone in the halls ask you:
“Why does SharePoint Suck?” Respond in your head “SharePoint doesn’t suck. You suck!