Why is change so difficult? From an administrative perspective, it could mean you’re having to give up some degree of control, which can be really difficult – especially in an organization with little technical expertise. In life, we generally run into the same obstacles that make change difficult: we bring our own life experiences, we bring our good and bad habits, we are impacted by our current mood and feelings, and we create an environment around ourselves which can add or detract to a change. Think about all of the complexities of what is going on just inside our own heads – and now add the complexity of some sort of new technology AND the dynamic of a team, which consists of a number of people all balancing their own mix of emotions, experiences, and environmental factors. It’s a lot to handle. No wonder change is so difficult.
Collaboration itself can be a difficult concept for people to embrace. It takes time to incorporate new tools and processes into the corporate culture, and many of the exciting new features may be counterintuitive to the way your business is run. It's something you need to stop and think about. SharePoint is a platform -- it can be shaped and molded to meet your unique business requirements, but must be designed with the user experience in mind, and with an understanding of how each change will impact that experience. While there are many benefits to providing new collaboration features and services, such as increased innovation and improved process efficiencies, it is important to understand and prepare for the cultural impacts. Ask yourself:
- How do these new features fit into / align with our business focus?
- How will they impact our productivity?
- How much new training will be required?
- What should messaging look like for this change? How will we get the word out?
- How do these changes impact our security policies?
- Are our governance and change management procedures understood, and are they ready to handle the influx of new feedback and issues?
- How much visibility / transparency will I have, will my manager have, will end users have into the metrics around the change?
- What does success look like, and are we tracking toward that baseline?
I don't know your organization, and what degree of change they are ready to accept, but I can advise you from experience to work closely with your stakeholders to identify the overall vision and business priorities and to communicate to your end users and all stakeholders early and often. Plan to involve your end users in these discussions throughout the planning and execution cycles. Capture their feedback, let them help shape (or define the limits of) your new system. Provide visibility and regular communication around your plans, and you will be successful in your new deployment. Change will always be difficult, but you can mitigate the risks and anxieties around change by making things as transparent as possible, and by erring on the side of over-communication.