iStock-Unfinished-Business-2Doing more with less is generally a common theme these days for organizations. Many either downsize or move business functions off shore to adjust their cost structure. As a result staff must take on the additional workload and develop expertise as staff leave. Also as offices move or open on other continents working with staff that are distant can be challenging. Specifically dealing with time zone, cultural and style differences add an additional layer to accomplishing your job goals and related activities.

Organizations have adopted collaboration tools such as SharePoint, Lync and LiveMeeting to help staff work (collaborate) together better given operating realities. The tools offer virtual meeting spaces, voice and video services that can help employees discover and connect. Though the tools are integrated there is still room for improvement. Specifically, though organizations have collaboration tools they have not done an effective job in facilitating adoption. For the most part staff have adopted the tools organically with little or no training and or mentoring. For those staff that use (still use) email and file shares it’s easier because its 2-3 clicks and you’re done. Why? Let’s contrast email/file shares with SharePoint:

  • File Shares and Email- Create or find document, Open email, attach file and send or just save the file to a network share (2-3 steps).
  • SharePoint – Create or find document, determine how to best categorize file, locate a site that best meets your needs, open the site, browse to a document library, upload the file, fill out the meta data, save and then copy link and email the link (10 steps).

Which would you chose?

From an IT perspective, moving from file shares and public folders is labor intensive and often too daunting to approach unless there are several drivers both technical and business related. Also, enforcing the Information Architecture and data management policy is near to impossible for them.

Maximizing adoption requires a multifaceted approach. Specifically, business policy, training, mentoring programs and tools. Business policy would mandate usage compliance and is usually driven by management and HR. Training could take the form of classroom (physical or virtual) training, lunch and learns, books and local mentor to help. Tools are those such as SharePoint and add-ons that enhance the connectivity to reduce the number of steps (using example above – reducing the 10 steps required).

Microsoft collaboration tools offer a great foundation for collaboration and with some add-ons the tools can be greatly improved to improve user adoption by improving end user experience.