One of those things that I have seen from time to time is organizations who have implemented SharePoint not examining the usage statistics, feedback, surveys, or measuring user adoption correctly or on a continual basis. This is extremely important because it allows us to adjust, shift, and improve our SharePoint deployment over time.
From the very beginning of a SharePoint project (or any project) you should determine how you can measure it’s success. The typical two things that we measure on any project is time and money. In SharePoint projects this is still an accurate metric, however it’s important to note that SharePoint is a solution set that delivers value over time. It does not realize it’s full value until some time after the initial implementation has been completed. This is in part due to the considerable training, user adoption, and basically learning to leverage the functionality best.
So if SharePoint realizes it’s value over time, it also makes sense that if we can continue to improve, focus, and adjust our SharePoint implementation over time it’s considerable value can be further enhanced and even tailored to specific needs. Needs that we will begin to see as the SharePoint platform matures within the organization.
I have never met someone who doesn’t think of SharePoint and almost automatically begin thinking of point solutions, or quick wins. Personally I believe this is one of the main reasons it’s so hard to think of a larger measurement and long term success of a SharePoint implementation. We are tempted to only consider the individual business cases as measurable and spend our time examining and reviewing these.
It’s also important to examine the entire SharePoint deployment or implementation. This can provide extremely important insight on where perhaps things are falling short, such as training, user adoption in certain areas of the business, or new needs/missed needs of the users. The best part? SharePoint offers a bunch of tools to help and assist in achieving a much better idea of overall SharePoint adoption, and success in areas of the business.
The platform gives you surveys which are a great tool that can be used for very flexable and specific analysis requirements. I highly recommend that ANY SharePoint project, and certainly the entire SharePoint ‘comfort’ level of the organization be surveyed from time to time. This can help us get more information than the basic “time and money” metrics. This can tell us how happy people are, how satisfied they are, frustrated they are, or how much they are using SharePoint.
If you haven’t used SharePoint survey’s before. Start now and get a more comprehensive picture of your users, adoption, and “SharePoint Success”.
- Plan and Create a Survey: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointtechnology/HA102085781033.aspx
- Responding to a Survey (for the end users): http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointtechnology/HA102085791033.aspx?pid=CH102386051033
- View and Analyze Survey Results: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/sharepointtechnology/HA102088111033.aspx?pid=CH100649421033
Another great thing SharePoint provides is an easy way to organize what I call “feedback funnels”. We can use something as simple as a ‘contact, or provide feedback’ link on each site or area so that users can communicate with the owners and leaders of that content. You could use SharePoint lists for feedback (survey’s as suggested as well) or even InfoPath forms. You could also add in the ability for users to rate content which is another form of providing feedback which benefits everyone.
The important thing isn’t really the ‘how’ this is done though. It’s the building of a culture and people so that they WANT to communicate feedback. It’s really important to help everyone feel like their input is invaluable and important.
SharePoint at it’s base is a collaborative platform. If the organization doesn’t communicate adding SharePoint won’t do anything except perhaps promote visibility of the communication issues, or provide a tool/framework to begin communicating more with and to start the conversations around communication needs in the organization.
If the organization is already collaborative then really drive the point that they are building the SharePoint intranet (as an example) and that with their feedback it can be much better.
Analyze Usage Statistics!
An intranet and/or extranet is similar to a website when it comes to measuring user interaction. Page hits as an example is an extremely important unit of measurement that can help determine what pages may need to be updated, improved, or easier to get to. It’s important to measure the usage statistics regularly and to make them a part of the continual improvement process for SharePoint. There are even webparts you can add or develop that will show the most popular pages, articles, or content for users.
One thing I personally enjoy is the users statistics. When you can see who has, and hasn’t been visiting certain areas of content it can greatly improve your ability to identify people who may need more training, knowledge, support, or understanding of why that area is important and beneficial. It also helps you identify the power users for some of your content. These people are extremely important in improving overall user adoption in the organization and can help take your SharePoint implementation to the next level.
The last example of usage statistics I will provide will be on how search queries and search terms can help you improve search, the taxonomy of your sites, and present certain material on dashboards or homepages. You can even create your own custom tracking, or implement solutions that provide greater visibility of key statistics and indicators. As an example if you have media content the podcasting kit can help show the number of downloads or views of certain material.
That was a fair bit of rambling but hopefully something in here helps someone out there or helps spark an idea that hadn’t been considered,