4 ways to turn SharePoint into something your workers love (iStock)

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There's not much in the way of enterprise software that's more widely used than SharePoint. According to commonly cited figures from Microsoft, some 80 per cent of Fortune 500 companies are running the platform. And yet it's difficult to say with any sincerity that it's widely associated with employee satisfaction: on the contrary, many users seem to hate it.

They'll give dozens of different reasons for this. Some will cite lack of training, others poor governance, and a few the belief that SharePoint is a jack of all trades and a master of none. In reality, though, it almost always comes down to a botched implementation – the failure to set up the platform to meet the wants and needs of the people who'll be using it.

So, can you turn SharePoint into something your workers love? Absolutely – but it'll take a little more care and attention than installing it out of the box or putting the entire implementation in the hands of a disengaged developer. Here are four tips that should help you understand what makes for a happy and healthy relationship between SharePoint and user.

Understand your users' needs

It might sound obvious, but there's nothing more important to a successful SharePoint implementation – or indeed, any attempt to develop enterprise software – than to capture and understand your users' needs from the very outset. After all, what makes for a failed IT solution? That's simple: an employee finding a new link or app on their desktop on a Monday morning, with no idea of how it got there or the problem it's intended to solve.

So, you should spend some time at the start of the project speaking to your users, learning about their working practices and problems, and finding areas in which you could make their lives that bit easier. Then, focus on the SharePoint features that facilitate this – not the rest.

Promote communication and collaboration

SharePoint can be a lot of different things. Generally, though, it's billed as a communication and collaboration tool – something that should help, rather than hinder, employee satisfaction. So, if your workers hate SharePoint, there's a good chance it's not letting them communicate and collaborate effectively.

This could come down to a lot of things. Perhaps they routinely struggle to find other users' files. Maybe they're crying out for an enterprise social networking tool like Yammer. Whatever the case, the way you implement SharePoint may make all the difference.

Empower a mobile workforce

Even in the time since the launch of SharePoint 2013, the number of people who use mobile devices for work has been growing rapidly. As such, there's more and more demand for their employers to add responsive design in their web apps, and SharePoint is no exception.

If your sites and pages were created with large-screen monitors in mind, there's a good chance they're frustrating for users who connect from smartphones and tablets. If they're adaptable to different devices and resolutions, on the other hand, they're much less likely to inspire loathing.

Put the business in charge

One of the SharePoint community's favourite discussion points is the tendency for organisations to put their IT departments in charge of managing the platform. Sure, it might be their job to handle installation and maintenance, but the business should be responsible for content, governance and best practice.

This isn't just the best way to run SharePoint from an operational perspective – it's the best way to run SharePoint for maximum employee satisfaction, too. Build a solution that empowers your users rather than constrains them, and they'll want to come back to it again and again.

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