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SharePoint Blog

June 12
Measuring the Value of SharePoint – a Success Story

Why is it so hard to measure value in the first place?

It’s an all too common refrain when considering not only SharePoint, but any enterprise software solution – are we gaining value commensurate with the investment that has been (and will continue to be) made?

The basic challenge lies in the diversity of viewpoints across a typical organization, specifically, what does “value” mean?  What are the specific goals to be accomplished or challenges to be overcome by virtue of using SharePoint?  Some examples:

      ·         The Executive team has access to a dashboard that provides insight into leading performance metrics, enabling sound decision making.

      ·         Project Management teams share information more effectively to provide enhanced Client services.

      ·         Geographically distributed product managers efficiently share specifications and development plans with far flung colleagues in in real time.

      ·         Business development teams work together on dynamic proposal and pricing information to deliver engaging and inclusive presentations.

      ·         All staff have 24/7 access to human resources documents as well as, say, 401K or benefits information as a direct link from the Intranet home page.

      ·         Leadership can call attention to important information by posting audio or video files and making them available companywide.

      ·         Information Technology teams can take advantage of SharePoint’s integration with widely used tools like Active Directory for authentication.

With all of these potential benefits available simply by taking advantage of out of the box functionality in SharePoint, why did a recent AIIM report (Connecting and Optimizing SharePoint, AIIM 2015, find that “63% of SharePoint deployments are stalled or struggling to meet expectations?”

Sure, SharePoint isn’t a perfectly designed solution; yes, the navigation is not always completely intuitive, but the fact that more than 6 of 10 deployments are struggling can’t be tied solely to less than perfect design. 

In our experience, the struggles that most organizations face with using SharePoint have little to do with the design of SharePoint and everything to do with the lack of planning for its use.  Considering the list of potential benefits above, what if:

·         all of those examples were laid out as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, and Time-based) goals within the overall SharePoint business plan? 

·         all of the individuals expected to use SharePoint received relevant, context based training helping them to understand (and, therefore, embrace) the value that can be achieved specific to their role? 

·         a single source was made available for the documentation of security parameters across the solution that will help to protect sensitive data?

o   Of note, according to Info Security Magazine in a 2013 article, only one third of all organizations that use SharePoint have a security policy (so, 67% do not!)

·         specific roles and responsibilities were defined with the intent of directing usage and growth of SharePoint within the organization?

The irony is that, considering the investment necessary to procure and implement SharePoint, the planning for its use is a pittance by comparison.  Still, a far majority of organizations don’t make this investment and suffer the consequences of ineffective controls and frustrating adoption.

Let’s get to the “success” part already

As the title of this post implies, there is hope for organizations willing to invest time and critical thought in their SharePoint business plan and communicate that plan effectively to staff.  The genesis of this Client success story came from a simple comment in our introductory meeting – “How can you help us to convince staff to use this tool?”

Our answer really boiled down to a strategy applicable to all organizations – create your SharePoint business plan (aka Governance) and communicate that plan effectively to staff.  The “convincing” part will really only happen when the benefits are clear.  If value definition is in place, the convincing takes care of itself.

As in most Governance engagements, the most significant challenge was in the commitment to allocate a team (the Governance Committee) to invest time and share input to define and document relevant processes and procedures.  Once the committee was established with shared goals, the work to produce the first version of SharePoint Governance flowed naturally.

Committee members found themselves engaged in conversations that focused on helping the organization achieve greater efficiency and effectively enable staff.   They found frustration giving way to enthusiasm as the roles and responsibilities were defined and the benefits of a connected and empowered workforce were made clear by the work they were doing.

This team was successful in creating an effective Governance plan by erring on the side of the” least amount possible.”  In other words, Governance (like any business plan) is dynamic and will require ongoing attention, so why not start simple and build over time?  With the critical elements of the plan in place; including site maintenance, administration, security, compliance and adoption, the work moved to the next stage: communication with the greater staff to encourage adoption.

Special attention was paid to defining the benefits to staff members based on the expectations for their role in using SharePoint.  These benefits were made clear in a variety of formats such as executive led “Town Hall” meetings, videos posted on the SharePoint Intranet and email and print communication focused on the benefits of use.

Once the awareness was raised among the staff, the next step was to issue a capabilities assessment, meant to identify the specific training focus.  By documenting the delta between the defined responsibilities and capabilities among various staff roles, we were able to create training material and a training schedule that made it easy for staff to attain the required knowledge. ​ 

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