Last year’s SharePoint user study 2019 also revealed some unpleasant findings from everyday use with SharePoint. For example, around 50 % of employees in companies that use SharePoint do not use the portal. The usage figures for the individual functional areas were also queried, and instant messaging (72% not used), OneDrive (57%) and discussion forums (48%) stand out negatively.
Even if the SharePoint domains document management and team sites can shine with very high utilization rates, the question arises as to where the obvious acceptance problems come from and how they can be improved.
From training practice, these problems can be summarized in four cause areas: There is a lack of knowledge for the required functions, there is a lack of training, there is a lack of approval in management or department, or there are deficiencies in versions, technology or configuration. Let’s take a closer look at these points:
If a lack of knowledge about the possible uses of SharePoint is the problem, best practice examples can help. You look at the use in other companies, what benefits they have drawn from it, and what possibilities SharePoint generally offers for this. Another possibility for better mediation and marketing would be awards for particularly successful solutions. The establishment of a productivity community would also help to accelerate the exchange of knowledge. In general, training courses also help to impart basic knowledge about functional areas.
Let’s imagine a building contractor buys an excavator and makes it available to his workers on the construction site. Two weeks later he realizes that nobody has used the excavator – because there was no time to learn. A comparable situation can also be observed again and again in the SharePoint development area. The employees lack an understanding of the tool and how to work with it. Reasons for this are often that the benefits were not properly conveyed beforehand, or that SharePoint is simply the wrong tool.
The most important rule for more acceptance and readiness for training is: Communicate and demonstrate the benefits for each target group. There is no point telling employees about generic functions like lists and libraries unless they understand how and where they can really save themselves time and work.
The typical SharePoint mistakes:
The following list illustrates – in a negative way – how companies often misunderstand or ignore the benefits of SharePoint:
If there is a lack of approval for SharePoint, it may also be due to the lack of support from management. If the managers don’t work with SharePoint, how do you want to convince the employees of the benefits?
Restricted user rights are also a common cause of rejection. If, for example, employees are not allowed to upload files or configure anything, this quickly creates frustration and scares off enthusiastic users.
Unnecessarily high hurdles can often be found in access procedures such as authentication. If users type in long links in their browser and have to authenticate themselves three times before they can access their SharePoint, that is a deterrent. Often this is followed by a cumbersome navigation through the pages in order to open a simple file. In such environments, one shouldn’t be surprised that the usage figures are not going through the roof.
Often, however, the governance is too strict or the uncertainty too great. The users do not know exactly what types of information they can and cannot upload to SharePoint, or what happens to the data they upload.
Even an unstable, unreliable SharePoint system can cause aversions. If users often cannot reach the server, access is very sluggish, or error messages appear when accessing libraries, the impression arises that one has to work with an unreliable tool. So there is a growing tendency to continue to store business data better on the desktop.
At the top of the list of SharePoint annoyances is the mess with different SharePoint versions that are used simultaneously in a company. Sometimes you have to do with a SharePoint Foundation, sometimes with the server, and then again with the Enterprise Server. From the user’s point of view something works that will not work the next time without being able to identify the causes.
It also becomes really confusing when the employees are confronted with a mishmash of website collections, especially since the most varied of features are often activated.
The examples mentioned all come from everyday life in companies and are intended to depict the most common hurdles that slow down or even prevent the success of SharePoint online. Everyone can use this list to check what may apply to their company in order to identify potential for improvement.