Successfully driving Office 365 and SharePoint user adoption.

When an organization is new to SharePoint or has upgraded to a more recent version, the changes can be daunting, or even jarring for some users at first but it doesn’t have to be. With the right planning and understanding, we can make this transition much more seamless while teaching our colleagues how and why these changes benefit everyone.

Identify the change

As clearly and simply as possible, describe why the upgrade/change is being made. A good understanding of this is a good first step to easing users into it, whether a migration or a new implementation, explain how it helps both users and the company grow and collaborate. In many cases, a move to Office 365 means more collaboration between apps, coauthoring, integration with OneDrive/SharePoint, external access, etc. Know the product and how it’s being utilized by your company.

Meet with users and key stakeholders

Our key stakeholders are those most invested in the change or could be those who requested them in the first place. This is our first line of adopters and those who will typically help us work with their respective teams in learning about the upcoming changes. They are also usually the most open to the change, this will likely have a more upbeat and optimistic view of the change, this is key to a smooth transition as there will always be some pushback.

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Differences between versions

What the differences are between the previous version and the new version. This is the basic overview of the change, typically this is layout and design changes, for example in Microsoft SharePoint they’ll often move the Site Settings menu from the top left of the page to the top right, then back to the left again. While this change may be subtle to some, it can be frustrating for others. So in each version, it’s a good idea to spend some time covering these changes.

A proactive approach and positive attitude

When presenting on the upgraded product, doing so in a positive manner goes a long way. In some ways, we’re actually selling this, for lack of a better description. There will always be those who are hesitant to the change and we want to work with them as well by educating and highlighting the upgraded features.

Identify Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) where ever you can. Most departments have one or more people who are really good at managing SharePoint Sites, Lists, and Libraries, or is really proficient in Excel, for example, and these are the people we want to help us get the message out. They’re typically more interested and in many cases, have a good understanding of the technologies and how to best utilize them.

Another great way to train users and get them involved is to hold voluntary brown bag lunch sessions and give previews of the upcoming changes prior to launch. This is also a good opportunity to help identify those who are interested and can assist in getting out a positive message. Off to provide one on one training where needed, particularly embracing those who are interested, regardless of their skill level.

Identify gaps and address them

Highlight the changes and embrace them, clearly explaining why they were made and how they can benefit the company. Whenever possible, provide examples based on existing internal data to give a visual representation of the differences.

Understand resistance to change

While some may embrace new functionality and features, there will always be those who like things the way they are and will be resistant to a new platform. As mentioned above, we want to work closely with these users to both convey the usefulness of the update/platform change and how it benefits both them and the company.

Simplifying the process as much as possible makes the transition smoother for everyone involved. Only pointing out the key differences without a deep dive is probably a good idea so we don’t overwhelm them with too much information.


Keep users in the loop with a timeline of the scheduled training and when the cutover for their respective team is. Whenever possible utilize a project or communications manager to help with messaging and prioritization, clear messaging from those making the change will make the process that much smoother.

The Kiefer team can support your organization if you are deploying SharePoint or Office 365. Our team of Business Analysts and Change Management Professionals understands what it takes to successfully deploy and can guide you through the process. Your investment in technology is too significant to take chances on user adoption. Contact us at (916) 932-7220 or


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