The history of SharePoint is full of stories of teams or individuals bypassing rules and ignoring IT protocols to try something, build something that better meets their unique collaboration requirements. In fact, you could argue that "bucking the system" is one of the primary reasons why many organizations gravitated toward SharePoint in the first place: they had some kind of intranet portal or knowledge management platform in place, they needed functionality beyond what was available, IT was unable or unwilling to provide for their needs, so they found SharePoint and deployed it on their own. Many of these organizations had tools and systems that were locked down and tightly controlled by IT, which in many cases could greatly impact usability and adoption.
It's a universal truth: the more controls you put on a system, the less likely it is that people will use that system.
The problem with this SharePoint scenario -- which is not that uncommon -- is that IT organizations inevitably need to support these end user-driven "rogue IT" efforts. Moving from an unsupported, rogue state to an IT-supported platform can be a painful and contentious endeavor between business users and IT. Organizations that are able to get past the politics and communication barriers that are often found between the IT organization and business users will find themselves able to build stronger solutions. Leadership author Stephen R. Covey often talked about the need to understand first, and then to be understood -- which is exactly what needs to happen between business users and IT.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
~ Stephen R. Covey
Collaboration has become an enterprise necessity. Some would say that we're moving into an new era of intelligent, social, and dynamic portals and intranets. But most organizations have traditionally focused on deploying the platform, failing to consider the measurements of success -- and how much the disconnect between business and IT needs can impact that success. Increasingly, administrators and executives alike are recognizing the need for more of a focus on SharePoint productivity. Why this focus?
- To simplify the interface into SharePoint
- To better align end user activities with the needs of the business
- To better streamline business processes
- To get more out of SharePoint investments you've already made
Focusing on end user productivity means a higher return on investment (ROI) for the platform -- and the business activities it support. Productivity means more users on the platform, getting more out of the platform. Productivity means faster employee on-boarding and training, more business output and stronger platform usage -- all of which means a faster realization of the financial investments you've already made in SharePoint.
By and large, users want to be productive, they want to reduce tedious and repetitive business processes to be automated and optimized, but with a user experience (UX) that is engaging, provides the data they need to do their job, and is visually pleasing. IT organizations want the systems they support to be efficient, effective, and perform well. These two sides are not mutually exclusive, however it takes communication -- and active listening to understand the needs and constraints of each side and, ultimately, building a system or solution that makes each side happy.
When a collaboration platform like SharePoint meets both the requirements of the business users and the security, compliance, and governance constraints that the IT organization is responsible for managing, adoption improves dramatically -- and adoption has a direct link to productivity. Even the most up-to-date technology, rolled out on time, under budget, with all of the latest features, and built perfectly to manufacturer specifications will fail if end users do not adopt. The secret is to ensure that IT works closely, and iteratively, with end users to develop a collaboration platform that meets the needs of both constituencies.
Because when business users and IT work together on a shared vision of what the system should be, success is almost guaranteed. And if the platform is successfully build and deployed, adoption will increase, and productivity will follow.
Want to hear more about how we can help your business users and IT team work together and achieve improved productivity? Join a free webinar on the topic: Bridging IT & Business Expectations for SharePoint, taking place on Wednesday, October 28th at 8am PDT and hosted by Beezy and CardioLog Analytics. Register here.
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