A “Measurable” Approach to User Adoption

Maggie Swearingen

by Maggie Swearingen on 5/21/2015

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Date Revised:

Applies to:
SharePoint Capabilities Assessment, user adoption

Description: Maggie offers a tool to help companies identify specific areas where user adoption is good or needs work, and whether users want more training on particular topics.

Laying the Groundwork

Typically, the conversation goes something like this:

CIO: “We’re implementing SharePoint to improve employee productivity and engagement.”

You: “Sounds great.”

CIO: “I’ll need monthly usage reports and an executive summary that demonstrates how this technology is changing our organization – for the better!”

You: “Sure. Great. I’ll get on that right now.”

Since you are well aware that analytics, metrics and anecdotes by themselves don’t tell the whole story, how in the world are you going to demonstrate continued success and growth?

After working on several dozen SharePoint implementations over the years, I got really tired of never knowing if SharePoint did, in fact, change organizations. I believed it could, but I was never able to prove it. Finally, while working on a user adoption project proposal, it dawned on me. We could measure this – iteratively – and show growth and improvement. We could set the proverbial bar, and it didn’t involve complicated mathematical formulas or spinning data.

Enter the SharePoint Capabilities Assessment

You can administer the SharePoint Capabilities Assessment to the SharePoint user base at any organization. It can take a survey-like format, but it is not a survey. We don’t ask our users how they feel about SharePoint, we ask them point-blank, “Do you even have any idea how to use this tool?”

Astoundingly (or perhaps not so …) the answer is usually – “not really.”

The SharePoint Capabilities Assessments (figure 1) walk the user through a variety of questions and ask them to rate their competency with the various skill sets required for using SharePoint effectively, and dare I say it, strategically.

  SharePoint capabilities assessment matrix and questions

Figure 1: Sample assessment matrix and questions.

What do I do with all of this data?

Get ready to be dazzled by this sophisticated statistical analysis.

Let us say we had 102 respondents for our assessment. Figure 2 shows how they answered two statements. Respondents were invited to pick one of the first five answers and indicate in the final column if they were interested in additional training, regardless.

SharePoint capabilities assessment results

Figure 2: Example results from 102 respondents for the SharePoint Capabilities Assessment.

I use this data to create composite scores.

Column 1 + Column 2 = Success Score and Column 4 + Column 5 + Column 6 = Training Score. In the example in figure 2, “I can log into our SharePoint site” has a success score of 94 and training score of only 10. However, “Using search to find colleagues” has a success score of 46 and a training score of 107. It’s clear that creating a training module around using search would be not only useful for staff, but if the “Yes! I want more training” column is any indication – a welcome addition to their training center. Certainly, you could do more complex analysis with these numbers – perhaps weight the “Yes! I want more training” responses – but since the pinnacle of my math career was Algebra 2 in 1996, I figured why mess with a good thing.

More to the point – this gets us exactly where we need to go. We have solid benchmarks upon which we can chart the success of our upcoming training and adoption program. Over time, we want our success composite scores to go up, and see our training scores level off. Additionally, these scores allow us to pinpoint specific areas for improvement within our organization.   

Writing a Capabilities Assessment

Typically a good capabilities assessment runs the gamut from things you know you want your users to know how to do – e.g., log into the site – to things you think it would be great if more people knew how to do without your help. While assessments will vary slightly from organization to organization, the following are topics you should include:

  • Site access
  • Document management – accessing libraries, uploading documents, tagging documents, creating libraries, creating library views
  • List management – accessing lists, adding list items, creating lists, adding list columns, creating list views
  • Using site search

Additionally, depending on how deep you want your assessment to reach, you may want to add the following:

  • Site management – site creation, site templates, permissions and security
  • Workflows – creating and modifying out-of-the-box workflows
  • Content types – creation and management
  • Managed metadata – what it is, why you would use it, when to use it effectively
  • SharePoint Designer – this will identify the real SharePoint geeks out there!

Finally, if you are assessing an Office 365 implementation, you may want to consider expanding your assessment to include the other features your organization is leveraging in Office 365.

  • OneDrive
  • Skype for Business
  • Delve
  • The video portal
  • Yammer

Etc., etc., the list goes on … the key to a valuable assessment, though, is not to just stop at the skills you know your users must have to get-by; it’s also to assess growth over time and expanded engagement with the solution. You can only get these metrics by including them in the initial assessment, even if they seem like unlikely skills for your staff to ever have.

Does this actually work?

Yes. The capabilities assessment helps you identify pain points in SharePoint user adoption and address them head-on with a targeted training program. Everyone knows that training helps increase adoption, but rarely do we know exactly what kind of training. The assessment not only highlights that missing piece, but also gives us a number by which to measure success.

Of course, it’s only one piece of the puzzle, but it’s certainly more telling than creating a PowerPoint every month with the number of unique users and visits; it gives your executive team a clear understanding of the meaning of these metrics and the roadmap you intend to follow toward the strategic vision for your SharePoint implementation.

Topic: Strategy and Adoption

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