With so many organizations upgrading to SharePoint 2013 either on premises or in the cloud, it’s more crucial than ever to ensure that your upgrade and migration are seen as a success to the business user community.
We know that the main factor to ensuring a smooth upgrade and migration for enterprise applications and platforms is to involve the business user community. However, since many of these upgrade and migration initiatives are led by the IT department, sometimes the business users (and business reasons) for the upgrade and migration are forgotten.
In the latest installment of the TriCore SharePoint blog series, we will discuss the importance of partnering with the business user community. Keep reading to access our free & brand new SharePoint ebook!
Communication - The Key to Success
Communicate often and early. That’s a best practice that never goes out of style. Some best practices come and go, but communicating effectively is the key to the success of any enterprise initiative…especially when upgrading and migrating a collaborative platform such as SharePoint.
The business users should be informed as far in advance as possible that the SharePoint environment will be upgraded. This communication should include a high-level timeline, the reason for the upgrade (3 Reasons to Upgrade to SharePoint 2013), and key points of contact in order for business users to have concerns addressed quickly and efficiently.
By taking the step of communicating early and often, the business users will have time to prepare themselves for the new features as well as system outages during the upgrade. This will also build a sense of excitement for the upgraded platform and all that it has to offer.
"What's in it For Me?" - Generate a Positive User Experience
But what does this new platform have to offer the business users? How do you build excitement for an upgraded enterprise platform? In today’s day and age, many platforms over promise and under deliver. The key to driving a positive user experience is to get the users excited about the new and improved features (value) that they will use on a daily basis.
For each group of business users, this could be a different set of features. For instance, the legal department would want to take advantage of the Records Center feature improvements and the ability to store additional versions of documents while at the same time using less storage space on the system. The accounting department may want to make use of the improved Excel Services features. Marketing might be excited about the improvements in business intelligence. Project Managers would be excited about the new features and tighter integration between SharePoint and Project Server. The list can go on and on.
In the end, ask yourself, from a business user’s perspective, “What’s in it for me?” If you don’t know the answer to that question, then ask the business users how they currently use SharePoint, and share your knowledge of the improvements to the features that are most important to them. By taking this approach, you will elicit improvements and recommendations from the business user community that may not have been considered.
Recruit Early Adopters - The Future Champions
Early adopters of technology love to try new and improved features. Every department from accounting to technology has team members that are interested and willing participants when evaluating new technology and features. This is where the excitement begins for the business user community. The positive energy can become contagious when business users see their peers excited about new features, increased efficiency, and applications that will make their work easier (automated workflows, auto-complete forms, etc.).
These early adopters that are participating in the pilot initiative for a SharePoint upgrade and migration will be your best advocates within the organization. Not only will they be communicating positive feedback to their peers regarding the improvements in the platform, but they will also have a stake in the success of the upgrade. Business users who have direct input while rolling out an updated platform tend to associate personal ownership in that platform and maintain close working relationships with the entire implementation team after the upgrade and migration is complete.
Another benefit of early adopters is that they can volunteer to help train the general user population on the new and improved features. It is one thing to have someone from IT perform user training…it’s much different when a business user conducts the training and “speaks the same language” as those in the audience.
Announcing the Successful Migration
Once the upgrade and migration is complete, it’s time to announce the successful results to the organization. This is the second-most overlooked item of a technology migration…the first is communicating early and often.
Ensure that in your announcement you credit the business users who participated in the pilot initiative as well as to identify those most spirited business team members. Remember, without the business users advocating on behalf of this initiative, the project may “die on the vine”.
In a nutshell, communicating early and often is the first step to a successful SharePoint upgrade and migration. Second, ensure that the business users are involved from the very beginning (planning stages) through the celebration party at the end of the project, and then everyday going forward as they utilize the platform.
When speaking with the business user community, always frame the upgrade and migration conversation regarding the value of the new and improved features. This will have a positive impact on your business users and will garner their support.
Remember, without a business need or requirement, there would be no reason for a migration and upgrade. In the end, not only will the business users define value as “new and improved features”, but they will also identify “YOU” as bringing value to the organization.
If you’d like to talk with Alan about SharePoint, Project Server, and the Microsoft Business Intelligence Stack, feel free to email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org