Hello and welcome to the AIIM micro course on “How to get users to manage and share their content in SharePoint 2013 and not elsewhere”
My name is Amila Hendahewa. I am the lead consultant for Enterprise Information Management practice at N-Able (Private) Ltd. in Sri Lanka.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or follow me on twitter @DocuDude.
At the end of this course, you should be able to: Understand the need for ECM systems Identify what SharePoint is, it’s ECM features & how users are adopting SharePoint Prepare a list of key solution considerations & features that drives user adoption Prepare an adoption plan to promote SharePoint in your organization
We will begin the course by identifying the need for ECM systems.
First let’s see where a typical business user saves his content.
There are several commonly used tools that a typical business user will use to save his content.
My Documents - This is probably the first option that an average user will use to save his content. Even if they are supposed to use a file share, there is a high probability that they will save a copy in their “My documents” folder.
Desktop - Many of the users will first save their content in the desktop with the aim of moving them to another folder later, which may or may not happen.
Attachments - Most of the files we receive as well as sent on email, will be kept as attachments throughout their lifecycle. This is why most of us first search through our emails when we need to find such a file rather than searching in the file share or the ECM system.
Cloud storage - With so many options to choose from, cloud storage services are becoming more and more popular. Most users now tend to save their files in a cloud storage service such as DropBox, as they support anywhere access with mobile devices.
USB drives - Also many users will have some of their files stored in a pen drive or external hard drives.
File Share - Any organization when trying to bring some discipline in to how their files are stored, will start with a file share, arranged according to their departments / team structure.
ECM systems - Apart from all these options, there are many ECM systems also being used.
As the next step of identifying why we need ECM systems, lets look at how a user will share their content with others.
1. Email - The first and most preferred option to share a file with others (with internal colleagues as well as external parties) is to send them on email. Sharing files as email attachments continues to grow, and it is becoming even more popular with ever increasing mail box sizes and attachment sizes.
2. Pen Drives - The second most popular file exchanging method is to use a pen-drive. Nowadays pen drive has become an essential tool for business users.
3. File Share - File servers are the next option. A user can save a file in the relevant folder, or most probably in a common shared folder so that others can get a copy of the file. If a user knows how to copy the file path, they will share that with the intended recipient on email. Otherwise they will have to call the other party and guide them on how to find that file.
4. Cloud - Due to the popularity of cloud storage services in the recent times, users tend to share their files directly from cloud. Especially when the file size is bigger and is not possible to send on email. Since these cloud storage services are easily accessible from any device using apps, this option is becoming more and more popular.
5. ECM systems - Matured organizations use ECM systems to encourage collaboration and information sharing. However due to the complexity and the information overload, in most of the cases it is not possible to manage all organizational content using a singe ECM system.
Having several such options to save and share files with others, now lets look at what happens when we do not use a proper information management system.
One of the main issues that many organizations as well as individuals are facing today is information overload. Even with the ever-growing technological advances, still we find it difficult to access the relevant information when we need it. If the users store their files in a personal storage location such as the desktop or my documents folder then other users will not be able to access these as and when they need. So finding and accessing information has become a costly exercise. A typical knowledge worker spends a significant amount of his time looking for the required information rather than actually processing it.
Irrespective of the way we share our files with others, there is a high probability that we end up in having multiple copies of the same file. Especially when multiple users are working on the same file, it becomes difficult to track and manage all changes. This obviously makes it difficult to find the latest file or the original file. This is why we need to have a proper file versioning mechanism irrespective of the ECM system being used.
Another disadvantage of not having a proper information management system is poor knowledge sharing. For obvious reasons organizations encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing. Unfortunately In an environment where there is no controlled information management practice, a significant amount of its knowledge is not being shared. Think of a situation where a knowledge worker is leaving an organization. There is a high probability that a part of the organizational knowledge also leaves with that individual.
Lack of a proper ECM system will also result in other issues such as information theft, legal and compliance issues etc… These have increasingly become concerns for CIOs around the world.
Now let’s look at what SharePoint is and where it fits as a ECM system.
SharePoint is the collaboration platform of Microsoft. And it is very important to distinguish a platform from a product. SharePoint provides lot of different features and functionality in many areas so it is not a single product. According to Microsoft “SharePoint is the place to share ideas, content and the vision of your company. It’s scalable enough to organize and manage all your information assets but it’s also designed to organize and store documents to enable personal productivity, keep teams’ in sync, and projects on track. It’s where you go to discover experts, share knowledge and uncover connections to information and people. It’s a hub for developers to build and deploy modern apps and for designers to build eye-catching websites.“
So basically you can think of SharePoint as the Swiss army knife for information management.
At a higher level we can group SharePoint features and functionality in to few main areas. And it is important to understand each of these, in order to clearly define what SharePoint is.
Portals – SharePoint is a portal solution capable of creation and management of web sites in forms of Intranets, Extranets or Internet Sites.
ECM – SharePoint provides a rich set of content management tools.
Search – SharePoint comes with enterprise search capabilities.
Enterprise Social - SharePoint can be used as an Enterprise Social networking platform.
BI - SharePoint in combination with tools like Excel, provides Business Intelligence capabilities .
BPM - SharePoint workflow platform allows us to create workflows and applications that can be integrated with other systems.
Depending on the functionality being used, SharePoint can be perceived in different ways by different users. (One of the comments from a recent AIIM industry watch survey was “SharePoint is seen within our organization as a jack of all trades but master of none.”)
So what does this mean? It means that SharePoint is not a ECM product. SharePoint is a platform that also provides ECM functionality among its other uses.
Now that we have an understating of what SharePoint is and how it fits as a ECM tool, lets briefly look at some of its ECM features.
Document Libraries SharePoint’s ECM functionality is primarily based on document libraries. Document libraries allow you to create and manage documents and to share them with other users. Document libraries provide several different features such as metadata management, views, document security, versioning, ratings etc..
2. OneDrive for Business Formerly known as SkyDrive Pro, OneDrive is basically your personal document storage in SharePoint. You can think of this as your “My Documents” folder with additional features.
3. Content Types, Metadata & Templates You can use SharePoint content types, metadata and templates to categorize and manage organizational information at many levels. These include site templates, list and library templates and most importantly document templates. Although looks very simple, these are very useful features for any organization.
4. Versioning As we discussed, versioning is an essential tool for collaborating on documents. SharePoint has built-in versioning capabilities that can be used on documents as well as other content types such as web pages, lists etc..
5. Offline availability One of the very useful feature of SharePoint is the ability to sync document libraries for offline usage. This allows you to access a copy of your files stored in SharePoint, even if you are not connected to SharePoint. The changes that you do to the offline copy will be automatically synchronized once you connect to the system.
6. Document previews Using Office web apps with SharePoint, you can get a quick look at a file (Microsoft Office files) which is stored in SharePoint without downloading it. This is very useful to find a file quickly among many similar files.
7. Site Mailbox Together with Exchange 2013, SharePoint 2013 provides the facility of managing emails together with documents. This is a recent integration that allows you to create a mail box for a SharePoint site so that you can store the related emails together with the documents. Once integrated with Outlook, this allows you to easily manage attachments.
8. Records Management Records management is an important area in enterprise information management. SharePoint provides in place Records management capabilities, allowing users to declare documents as records without moving them to a special location.
These are some of the ECM features in SharePoint.
Now that we have an understanding of SharePoint and it’s ECM capabilities, lets look at how easy or difficult it is to use SharePoint, for an end user.
Before looking at how successfully SharePoint is being used, lets identify what the users are expecting;
Simplicity - No user expects a solution to be complicated. We all would love to have a simple interface without unnecessary details or controls. Simplicity is a major expectation from any system.
Minimum change - Generally no one likes change. That is why there is so much of resistance from average users when a new system is being introduced. Obviously it will not be practical to avoid changes and some cases will require radical changes to improve.
Mobility - Mobility has become an essential component of todays knowledge workers. Everyone expects to access the information they want irrespective of where they are, using whatever the device they carry.
Speed of access - Due to ever-growing expectations, users today expect instant responses from whatever the systems they use. Therefore system response time is a critical success factor for user adoption.
This slide gives a summary of how successfully SharePoint is being deployed today. This is based on the AIIM Industry Watch survey “SharePoint 2013 clouding the issues”
According to the survey, 33% of the organizations are struggling with their SharePoint implementations, and for a further 28% the progress has stalled. 40% are moving forward but only 6% describe it as a “great success”.
Here are some of the comments from the survey;
“On-going user adoption is usually the main challenge we experience with our deployments”
“Biggest challenge at my organization is that our SharePoint plan is an IT driven initiative”
“Deployment of new functionality on SharePoint always seems to take longer than hoped.”
“Microsoft is pushing new versions of SharePoint too quickly. We can hardly get used to one before the next version is out.”
So what these figures indicate is that there is room for improvement in SharePoint adoption.
To improve adoption, first lets try to identify the issues faced by the users.
One of the great difficulties with regard to adopting SharePoint is that, SharePoint can be very difficult to describe to users because it encompasses so many applications, uses, and functions. (SharePoint 2010 Adoption Best Practices Whitepaper by Microsoft).
Users often have many alternative ways to achieve the same outcomes as they do with SharePoint. For an example, there are several options users can choose for sharing a new document – posting it to a SharePoint site is one possibility, but so are e-mailing as an attachment and saving to a file share. So unless a user finds some real value, they will go for the most convenient option.
As we discussed SharePoint comes with a lot of different features. Of course these features give greater benefits to power users. But they make it a complicated environment for an average user who will not be using majority of these features. A good example is Microsoft Office. As we know Microsoft Office comes with lot of different features. But how many of these features are being used in our day to day work?
Another issue is that most of the SharePoint projects are driven by IT so there is less buy-in from business users. According to the AIIM survey, in 49% of organizations, the current driving force is the IT Department. One of the respondents comment was “Biggest challenge at my organization is that our SharePoint plan is an IT driven initiative. Not much buy-in from other department, because they don’t know enough about what is going on and what you can do with SharePoint.”
Another issue in SharePoint deployments is the frequent upgrades. One of the respondents comment was “Microsoft is pushing new versions of SharePoint too quickly. We can hardly get used to one before the next version is out.” . This clearly shows that business users need more time to learn and really adopt a platform rather than what the IT expects. This will be even more challenging for SharePoint online users as Microsoft keeps on pushing new features every 3 months.
Some users may face compatibility issues when using SharePoint. Obviously SharePoint is optimized for Internet Explorer, but it provides almost similar experience with other browsers as well. But you need to have the relevant browser version based on the SharePoint version deployed. Sometimes this could be a challenge for an organization with different OS and browser versions being used. As an example SharePoint 2013 supports Internet Explorer 8 and above however SharePoint online in Office 365 supports only Internet Explorer 9 and above. This becomes even worse for organizations having multiple SharePoint farms in different versions.
Another issue that most of the todays mobile workers are facing, is the lack of a mobile app for SharePoint. Although there are many 3rd party apps, there is no SharePoint app from Microsoft.
This is the last chapter of this course where we will look at how to encourage users to use SharePoint to manage their content.
Now lets look at what we need to consider when planning to drive end user adoption for SharePoint. Most of these are not limited to driving SharePoint adoption but are the basic principles of driving user adoption for any solution. Let us understand these principles and adopt accordingly with SharePoint.
Use functionality in a way that help drive adoption As we discussed, SharePoint comes with lot of functionality. So first we need to carefully identify what we are going to use and how. We will discuss in details about these key consideration and features in the next slide.
Start Small & Grow Introducing many features at the same time will surely discourage an average user from using any system. Therefore we need to plan and adopt a phased approach where only a limited set of features are introduced at a time. Once the users are comfortable with the features only the next set of features should be introduced.
Have some quick wins For any system to gain user attention, it is essential to have some early wins. Many of the projects either fail or do not bring in the required results because of the time it takes to deploy. Therefore it is essential to target 2-3 key pain points that can be converted in to quick wins. Some examples are - centralizing the management of document templates (word, excel, PowerPoint etc..) - implement a common contacts list - SharePoint survey tool - Issue Tracking / Help Desk system
Governance A SharePoint farm can be very complicated having different site hierarchies, naming conventions, custom permission levels etc… According to AIIM industry watch survey on SharePoint 2013, governance is a major issue in most of the projects. Therefore we need to have a governance plan in place right from the start, which should not add additional burden to users. Also it is very important to separate system administration from content management. The users should be given the ownership of managing their content while IT can focus on system administration.
Training For power users SharePoint can be an intuitive product so that they can start working without much training. But for most of the average users it is not the case. Therefore having an effective training plan should be an essential component in your SharePoint deployment strategy. You need to make sure that users have a clear path regarding the use of SharePoint even for the simplest of tasks.
Communication Strategy Communication plays a key role in a successful launch as well as for long term adoption. Unfortunately the need for a communication plan is not considered seriously in most of the cases, specially in projects driven by IT. For successful SharePoint adoption we need to have a communications plan right from the start of the project, rather than waiting till the completion of the project.
Content Migration Strategy In many SharePoint projects content migration becomes much more complicated than anticipated. The major reason for this is the difficulty of identifying which data to be migrated. In an organization which does not have a planned information architecture you cannot expect the content to be organized properly. In such cases it will be difficult to migrate the same in to SharePoint without careful consideration. So you need to select one option out of the 3 options below;
Clean and migrate everything Migrate nothing. Start from present and store only the new content in SharePoint Clean and migrate selected content only
User Support Plan User support is a key component to support long term user adoption. There are many options that you can use to support the users including; Help Desk Having a contact person identified for every portal page Forums / Community of Practice for different user groups End User manuals / “Cheat Sheet” Tip of the Day
Also consider having a End user feedback system for continuous improvements and engagements.
Rewards It is a good idea to have a rewards system in place, as a short term strategy to get the users to try and start using SharePoint. This could include individual as well as team awards.
Now lets look at what are the key solution considerations that we need to keep in mind, in order to drive end user adoption.
User interface design is an important criteria in user adoption for any system. Being a portal solution, SharePoint has the capability to support extensive web page designing and customization. Therefore you may want to change the look and feel of SharePoint matching with your corporate branding and something more attractive than the out of the box solution. However it is recommended not to over-customize your SharePoint system especially if it is not a public facing web site. Otherwise it may result in; Complexity Slower response time Upgradability issues
Here is what Microsoft says “Use SharePoint as an out-of-box application whenever possible - We designed the new SharePoint UI to be clean, simple and fast and work great out-of-box. We encourage you not to modify it which could add complexity, performance and upgradeability and to focus your energy on working with users and groups to understand how to use SharePoint to improve productivity and collaboration and identifying and promoting best practices in your organization”
Next important consideration is the information architecture.
The information architecture in an ECM system should support the users to find information in any of three scenarios: 1. I know it exists and I know where it is. 2. I know it exists, but I don't know where it is. 3. I don't know if it exists.
So a user should be able to search as well as browse for information in an ECM system. Therefore planning your SharePoint architecture in a way that supports users to find information in minimal time is a important area to focus on.
Not only for SharePoint, but for any system the response time should be minimal. This should be considered seriously when planning the architecture.
SharePoint is a highly scalable platform that uses a multi-tier architecture. So you need to do a proper sizing and come up with the optimum architecture keeping in mind the future growth. Another factor to consider is the ability to cater for fluctuating demands. As an example there could be increased usage during specific periods such as month end, quarter end etc… So you may need to consider virtualization technologies that allows instant scaling of system resources.
Another best practice that is under estimated in most cases is the ability to work offline. SharePoint supports syncing document libraries so that you will have a copy of the file even when you are offline. Accessing this copy is far more faster than accessing the file stored in SharePoint.
Once the users start using SharePoint frequently, more and more files will be saved there. This will result in increased database sizes and decreased performance. This will be accelerated when versioning is used. Therefore you need to have a plan to remove unwanted files from the system.
Todays mobile knowledge workers expect to have access to their files at any time, irrespective of where they are. This requires online as well as offline accessibility to their content using a set of multiple devices. This is why the tools that provide such facilities such as dropbox are getting popular day by day. Similarly SharePoint also has several features that we can use to support mobile and offline users such as; OneDrive Microsoft Office Apps Offline Sync of Document Libraries SharePoint newsfeed App Integration with Outlook
Also there are many 3rd party apps that gives various additional features for using SharePoint.
As we use multiple systems in our day to day work, it is expected that these systems are integrated. There are many ways that SharePoint can be integrated with other systems. Some examples are;
Microsoft Office - From Microsoft office it is possible to directly save documents in to SharePoint. Site Mailboxes - Integration with Exchange 2013 allows you to manage related emails and documents together. Lync - Integration with Lync allows you to communicate with users directly from SharePoint Yammer - It is possible to use Yammer integrated with SharePoint instead of SharePoint social features. Document scanners - Most of the document scanners has in-built integration with SharePoint, allowing you to directly upload scanned images to SharePoint.
Due to the convenience it brings in, such integrations will definitely encourage users to use SharePoint.
Now lets look at some of the simple things that we can do to encourage users to use SharePoint.
The first thing you can do is to connect the SharePoint libraries as offline folders. Once configured, the relevant SharePoint libraries will appear as folders under the favorites group in windows explorer. This will allow the users to easily access the documents in these libraries. Further you can also create shortcuts for these libraries in your desktop.
Another very useful feature of SharePoint is the ability to generate alerts based on changes in content. If you are a member of a team working on a project, you can create an alert to the project documents library. Then when a new document is added to the library it will send an alert to you with a URL so that you can directly access the document. This will save time since you don’t need to check for updates from time to time.
Another action that you must take is to create multiple views for libraries so that users can easily find files. As an example you can create views; to show only the documents added by a particular user to show the documents created within the last month to show only word documents or power point slides etc…
As emphasized earlier SharePoint is a complex platform so we need to make it simple as much as possible. One such thing you can do is to remove the unnecessary items from an average users view . These could be files as well as web parts / applications that are not relevant to a particular user. To show items for selected users only, you can use “audience targeting”.
If you are using the built in site templates in SharePoint, please take an extra effort to remove the unnecessary items once a site is created. Always try to use custom templates that are optimized for reuse.
Although SharePoint has lot of different features there is always the room for 3rd party add-ons. There are tools that allows to perform certain SharePoint actions much easier. So it will be worth considering some of these based on your needs.
Finally here are some resources that will help you with the adoption plan.
In this course you Understood the need for ECM systems Identified what SharePoint is, it’s ECM features & how users are adopting SharePoint Learned the key solution considerations & features that drives user adoption Learned how to prepare an adoption plan to promote SharePoint in your organization
How to get users to manage and share their content in share point 2013 and not elsewhere