5 expert tips to boost Microsoft Teams and SharePoint adoption

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Microsoft MVP Drew Madelung (@dmadelung) shares tried-and-tested user adoption strategies to ensure your users make the most of Microsoft Teams and SharePoint.

Have you looked at your SharePoint and Microsoft Teams usage and activity reports recently and realized a gap in user adoption in your organization?  

This can often happen, whether you have recently rolled them out or have been on the platform for years.  

Adoption and change management are not one-time initiatives. Rather, they should be seen as a living, breathing part of an organization that needs to be fed over time. Especially as things like a turnover in your organization occur, or new functionality is rolled out to Teams and SharePoint.

Take Microsoft Teams Connect (shared channels), for example. The new feature is a game changer for collaboration. But it’s not something you can just turn on and expect your users to know how and when to use it, right?  

That’s why it’s important to take the time and resources to drive the adoption of Microsoft 365. You can even get change management-specific certifications from organizations like Prosci to help you level up your skills.  

1. Provide ongoing end-user training

Training is a core initiative that spans solutions in your organization and should be a never-ending offering that normally has a dedicated team.

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There will always be new applications, processes, and employees coming in that need to have the tools to learn how to get their job done.

That being said, organizations and industries have different types of users that need different types of training. One of the best things to consider for Teams and SharePoint adoption is to focus on the ‘why.’ It’s easy to find Microsoft training that goes through the basics of using Teams and SharePoint, but that’s not the best way to go about it.  

Training tips to boost end-user adoption

Find real work scenarios within your organization. Focus on the scenarios that are familiar to help build your training. Using real-world scenarios will draw your users into the learning experience, particularly if they’re in a scenario unique to their line of work and requires training on how to use Microsoft 365 solutions.  

For example, if there’s a process for Accounts Payable (AP) or Accounts Receivable (AR) that uses a Teams app and a SharePoint site, I don’t recommend focusing on Teams as the training angle. Instead, focus on “how to approve an invoice with Teams.”

Another example is users not knowing the power of SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams together. Instead of product-specific training, I recommend that you focus on “how to access your work files both offline and on your mobile device.”  

Tailor your ongoing training to the tech literacy of your users. For this to work, you’ll need to use multiple training formats. Don’t just send emails with links to video training. Only a small percentage of people will click on them. And even if they do, they may not be visual learners—some people prefer to learn by reading documentation. There are also some users in industries like manufacturing and healthcare who may not actively be on a computer every day, in which case emailing a training video will almost certainly not boost your Microsoft 365 adoption. 

A good place to start? You can start by leveraging Microsoft 365 adoption resources. But to establish your best adoption, you need to provide ongoing training. This should come in the format of: 

  • A training program with dedicated people to do it 
  • Training aligned with the technical capabilities of the users that you have 
  • Integration into existing training solutions where applicable 
  • Involvement with support from the service desk team(s) 

2. Build champions

Champions drive adoption and engagement in your organization. Learning via coworkers is among the most effective methods for adoption.

Has it been some time since you launched Teams and SharePoint alongside a champions program? If so, your program and its training could have gone stale.  

Are you still actively getting new champions and promoting the ones you have now?  

What’s the role of a champion in a team?

Champions combine the technical skills and the business knowledge to become your best cheerleaders for new and/or existing Microsoft collaboration technologies. You can boost your Teams and SharePoint adoption by investing or reinvesting in these resources in your organization. This way, your teams can get excited about the tools needed to do their best work which, in turn, will bring more people into the solutions.  

How champions can support you

Champions are enthusiastic about promoting innovations. They’re your direct line to getting feedback on how Teams and SharePoint are being used and potential resolutions to unblocking business challenges. Champions will also help you scale through evangelism and peer-to-peer training. When you think about the ways your champions support you, it will be easier to find ways to motivate them.  

Motivation for champions primarily comes from the following ideas: 

  • “If it makes my job easier when others around me know how to use the solution” 
  • Recognition for being a champion 

Steps for creating a champions program

  1. Find the people that fit into the two types of motivation listed above, through communication campaigns. New champions may require training to ensure they have the technical skills to be a champion. But thankfully, you’ll be doing that as a first step to boosting adoption. 
  2. Develop a rich community with a defined purpose and build buy-in with your champions. Yammer and Teams are great places to establish a champions network community. By involving the champions in this network, they’ll be encouraged to show sustained support of the program because they had a hand in building it (or refreshing your existing one).
  3. Once you’ve built your champions network community, you should execute your plan. Create recurring meetings with your champions, not just to talk, but also to allow them to talk to each other. Use these meetings, along with the community network platform, to gather feedback about their pain points or any opportunities to improve. 
  4. Reward your champions. It can be as simple as giving praise for speaking up during one of the cadenced meetings, a small trophy, or monetary returns for their dedicated time and level of engagement. Giving recognition, as well as building a plan and a community to help make your champions’ jobs easier, will help you see an improvement in SharePoint and Teams adoption.

3. Reinforce solutions

In the evergreen world of Microsoft 365, we must continuously share what’s new with SharePoint and Teams.

Keeping your users informed with changes to Microsoft tools will prepare them for what’s coming and get them excited about a potential solution that could fill a gap.

A good example is a feature release like the newer “chat with yourself” capability in Teams. If you just had an initial adoption communication campaign, this feature would never be communicated to users. They wouldn’t know why it can be useful in scenarios, such as moving between devices.  

To boost your adoption, bring a consistent solution reinforcement campaign into your toolkit:

  • Use existing IT communication channels such as newsletters, town halls, email campaigns, Microsoft 365-focused Yammer communities, and SharePoint news to provide a multi-channel approach to your reinforcement.
  • Your consistent awareness campaign can also be informed through your champions, who can identify business-specific solutions that should have a higher priority reinforcement than others.  
  • You need to stay updated with new and changed Microsoft features to identify potential solutions that could address business needs. The Microsoft 365 Message center is a good place to start.
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Microsoft 365 Message center

The message center will help you keep track of major, minor, and feature updates.

Two nice parts about the message center are the Tag highlighting “user impact” and the ability to track your message center tasks in Planner. Here’s a great way to manage the tracking of tasks in Planner: 

  • Set up a cadenced meeting with your team to review the tasks in Planner. 
  • Update the “user impact” tasks with technical feedback that is business specific such as “start with champions for release.” 
  • Assign the tasks to the communication team that needs to be added to the queue for the next solution reinforcement communication. 
  • Communicate the new features to your organization and watch your adoption improve! 

4. Share user adoption success stories

How often have you been in a situation where someone asks you, “What do you want?” The only response you can give is, “Well, what can you do?”.

This is a common chicken-and-the-egg scenario for technology adoption where users don’t know what’s possible, so they get stuck.

Showcases of successful solutions in SharePoint and Teams will let your users see the potential of things like communication sites, pages, web parts, apps, channels, tabs, custom integrations with the Power Platform, and more. 

This is another advantage of having champions because they can step up and deliver user success stories.

If finding user adoption success stories in your organization is challenging, you can start with usage reports. However, you’ll need to first identify users who are open to sharing. One great way to go about it is through organizational or team hackathons or product innovation engagements. Empower your users to develop something new within their business using SharePoint and Teams to solve a business pain they may be experiencing in their daily work. Their success can then be shared within your Microsoft 365 community! 

Related reading: Microsoft Teams channels best practices

Share organizational success

Along with user success stories, there are organizational successes that can help boost adoption.

You can track and communicate information across your organization, such as the retirement of legacy systems, overall use, and process simplification. These are best communicated in regional or town hall scenarios with messaging focused on the change occurring in the organization.

Statements that focus on success and that can boost adoption can look something like this: 

  • We have successfully deployed Teams and have over 70% of our staff using it, and we’d like to get to 100% before the end of the year. 
  • We have successfully moved off our old document management platform, and our staff now has full access to the powers of SharePoint. 

5. Ask for continuous feedback

After a successful SharePoint and Teams deployment, it’s important to stay in touch with your users and get updates on issues and improvements. You don’t want to end up in a reactive state to helpdesk tickets that are stacking up.

Be proactive in communicating and tracking the tickets and issues that arise:  

  • Are you seeing service-level issues?  
  • Are they endpoints?  
  • Are you seeing issues that reveal user expectations regarding how users expect Teams and SharePoint to work? 

Questions like those ensure continuous feedback from your users about their experiences with the solutions. Your champions could also provide feedback that dives deeper into how you can boost adoption—look further into your documented issues.

Categorize and group the issues on a schedule and report them back to the technical architecture team and the communication team. As a committee, you can decide what should be communicated to users. 

This type of continuous feedback is necessary for the employee experience. If you have happy employees, you have better retention, collaboration, and more. No one likes having technical issues, and if you can remediate incoming issues for SharePoint and Teams, you’ll boost adoption with happier users! 

 

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