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Office 365 & SharePoint Intranet: Checklists for Successful Adoption

In Part 1: Office 365 & SharePoint Intranet: The Basics for Successful Adoption, we discussed how to lay the groundwork for your Intranet or collaboration solution, as well as some common pitfalls to avoid. We also learned about not falling victim to the “Field of Dreams” mentality. (To recap, don’t build a great solution and expect people to come – your Intranet takes careful planning, along with ongoing effort and evaluation to maximize adoption.) 

In addition to the tips mentioned in Part 1, here are some additional considerations. Consider them your “strategy checklists” to follow in order to make your Intranet adoption a success. 

Branding and Communication 

  • Get marketing on board. Include marketers, writers, designers and corporate communication resources from the start. Delivering the right message to various teams is critical: this team will have valuable input in the planning phase, so please to them while creating your road map, scope, and vision. 
  • Give your product a name and breathe life into it. This solution should be treated as its own branded initiative, so avoid calling it SharePoint, Office 365 or anything that sounds too generic. This better helps your employees better connect to it, and for employees who have experienced past failed attempts with such solutions, it will help them dissociate. 
  • Change the look and feel of your underlying platform.  Your Intranet should reflect your organization. Again, this where marketing can help. Employees will want to think of this as an application that performs specific and useful capabilities unique to your organization –this differentiation is critical and what resonates most.  Technically, while the features alone may not be unique, the combination of them — along with your brand — make it something no one else has.   


  • Apply concepts to your specific business unit or need when discussing, explaining, or demonstrating features and concepts.  This helps people think about how it will help them in their daily activities directly. 
  • Understand and segment generic vs relevant content. Generic content is important, but shared to all equally.  Relevant content will is specific to geographic locations or business units. Apply the targeting of that content with that understanding, approach and training. 
  • Consider a “CEO Corner” blog post to get people directly connected with the leadership team and provide an easy mechanism to do so. 
  • Discuss options for employee recognition programs. Consider peer nominations, or rewards and highlights that give people additional reasons to care about what’s going on. 
  • Spotlight employees each month with a short article/profile on him or her. This helps people get to know their colleagues and fosters personal interests outside work. 
  • Support user profiles and give individuals the ability to edit this data.  Much like a social network, this makes it easier to find people and learn their skills, and open the door for more collaboration. 
  • Consider gamification:  Apply points for users who are contributing content: for instance, reply to community posts, answer questions, encourage users to fill out their profile, etc.  Tie this into visual notifications via badges (similar to online forums) to indicate expert level users for both support and employee recognition. 
  • Combine techniques to continue building a sense of community based on employees, not just products and marketing. 
  • Highlight projects or products from the perspective of the individuals working on them. This is an engaging “grassroots” way to help disseminate company product/project news. 
  • Promote customer/product success stories: Contribute to a sense of team by showcasing team wins and how they were made possible via the efforts of many different supporting groups.  Discuss how different groups enable the success via certain activities. 
  • Leverage user profiles to highlight colleagues and connect those profiles to their projects and efforts. In larger organizations in particular, this helps create a cross-pollination of ideas and knowledge for people in similar roles. 

Additional Ideas 

  • Make content essential:  You are missing out if you are not seeing it, and the only place it lives is on the intranet.  Don’t send an email with the content – rather, ask internal communications to send the email with a link to their new article instead.  Prevent sending attachments and all information via email unless it’s targeted at the individual. 
  • Get mobile!  Searching your email is a terrible user experience – especially on a phone.  Capture your commonly accessed content (that’s normally sent via email) within your intranet and build a specific mobile experience to make it easy to find and read.  Get them to “read the news” from their phone by going to an aggregated mobile page connected directly to your content. 
  • Understand why people like third party tools like Trello, DropBox, BaseCamp, etc. and figure out how to give them that same great experience within your ecosystem. Office 365 has tools to replace all of these applications while keeping your data within a supported, searchable and secure ecosystem.  This will get people looking inward for innovation, help, and support instead of just solving problems on their own with their own set of unsupported tools and services.  Think like they do! 
  • Don’t forget the small stuff like the cafeteria menu and local events.  Make sure your regional content works or you may risk offending people by including content not applicable to them at all. 
  • Work heavily with legal, HR, and IT to template and publish common documents only on the intranet in their department locations.  Stop sending attachments with the latest IT or HR policies.  Instead post the updated handbook to the HR site, and send people a note about it.  To really spice it up, provide double the points for the first 50 people that read the updated changes.  
  • Understand how each business unit communicates — there are a lot of opportunities to get this content out of email and into a searchable, findable, accessible location within your intranet.  This will get people looking in a new location to find what they need. 
  • Make contributing content EXTREMELY easy. This process should be intuitive and easy. 
  • Think simple by creating and offering what the business needs and what the vision dictates, not what you think should make a good intranet.  
  • Make it searchable. Put some effort into tailoring this to your content, including refinement, filtering, or adding specific search pages with some predefined content filtering. 
  • Learn from analytics to understand behaviors, search queries, navigation patterns and more – all with the goal of using that information to improve the content, structure and your tool’s capabilities. 

Don’t Forget to Follow Through 

Last but certainly not least, the follow-through is one of the most poorly managed aspects of Intranet or Collaboration projects – yet it’s arguably the single most important element. Remember these strategies: 

  • Training:  Ensure you have a system in place that allows you to train and support users for a significant period of time beyond just the initial launch.  This includes offering supporting materials, onboarding new users, and using specific methods to ensure new employees have a documented approach in learning how to use the solution. 
  • Passive Support:  Offer resources beyond the helpdesk for people to reach out to for advice, options, feedback, and best ways to use the tool to solve specific problems. 
  • Active Support:  Include defined check-ins to ensure everyone is able to use the solution, find what they need, and resolve issues quickly. Don’t wait for users to get frustrated – tackle problems proactively. 
  • Content Management:  As part of active support, it’s critical to have ongoing participation, training and encouragement with the content providers.  Work with them on a continual basis to accomplish this.  
  • Ongoing Phases/Planning Meetings:  Find new ways to improve the solution in any and all areas. Actively solicit feedback, discuss the possibilities with the governance team, and put it on the road map.  Make the road map public so people know you are listening and continue to build and evolve a great solution. 

All in all, the adoption of your Intranet and Collaboration project is not a simple technology exercise. Its success is reliant on these core strategies and best practices that require ongoing attention. Remember, we can help you implement your solution and set you up with the strategies that will make your solution a long-term success. And keep in mind, if you’ve already built your Field of Dreams and no one is showing up, we can help get up to speed to make sure it does meets your vision. If you have any questions or need help with your implementation, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

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