Encouraging User Adoption – Get Creative!

Several of the really interesting discussions I had at last week’s SharePoint Summit in Montreal were about encouraging user adoption of new SharePoint collaboration sites.  I shared a few of my favorite techniques, some of which I’ve written about before and will summarize below, but I need to give credit to a very clever approach developed by Todd Bleeker of Mindsharp.  Todd’s got a web part that “snows” on your site.  It’s really cool and the snowflake image can be changed to pretty much anything you want to make it more aligned with your business.  

The idea is that you can “hide” the web part on a page and award a prize to the first dozen people who find it.  I set the one on my test site to shower snowflakes for 60 seconds (any longer and it’s totally annoying).  Then, I decided to change the image to a checkered flag to share with an Indianapolis-based client for sites launching next month (race month, for those of you who haven’t been to Indy).  Todd’s got great instructions so that even a non-techie like me could install and configure the web part and even change the image in only a few minutes.  Take a look at it here.You need to choose creative adoption techniques that work for the culture of your organization, but here are a few ideas we’ve tried in the past:

  • “Get Sharp on SharePoint” – a weekly ½ hour training and communications session to introduce (or re-introduce) a new SharePoint topic (for 15-20 minutes) and then take questions for the rest of the time.
  • “Stall” Stories – OK, I will admit in advance, this is NOT for everyone.  One of my clients placed flyers each week on the back of each of the bathroom stalls in their office building with a “What’s New on the Portal” summary.
  • Scavenger Hunt - At a major asset management firm, the portal team created a “scavenger hunt” to encourage people to use the portal to look for specific information provided in clues.  When a user reached the last clue, their name was entered into a drawing for a dinner for two at a local restaurant.
  • Birth Announcement – one client created a very clever looking card modeled after a birth announcement to announce the “birth” of their new intranet.  Instead of a cigar, recipients got a chocolate bar with the logo of the new intranet on it.  Somehow, they managed to pull this off for an entire global company at the same time (local time, that is) on the launch day.
  • Web Cam Window – a New York client with the majority of their staff in inside offices positioned two web cams – one facing the street and one looking out at the New York harbor – and showed the images on the home page of the intranet and used that “hook” to create a fun reason to go to the new intranet.  (The firm is a law firm and one of the partners joked that they should position one of the cameras at the Starbucks in their lobby so that they would know where the paralegals were in the afternoon.)

The concept behind all these creative concepts is to add a little interest and fun to the new collaboration environment launch.  Clearly, it’s quality content and good usability that will get people to “stay,” but sometimes, you need to add a little push to get people to take the time to try something that’s different.  As I have said in the past, you can’t mandate the use of a collaboration solution the way you can for a new general ledger or accounts payable system so a little creativity goes a long way!

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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