Wednesday, 11 March 2009

If you build it, they will come

"If you build it, they will come". The tag line from the Kevin Costner film "Field of Dreams".

I regularly get information about using the newer web technologies within the business. "You must have a portal, it's essential for staff to have blogs, make use of Twitter" etc. These proponents seem to believe in the statement above -"If you build it, they will come".

The reality for me is far from this. I set-up a SharePoint portal over a year ago, did numerous demos, sat with people to train them. Of over 150 staff, less than 25 are making use of it on even an occasional basis. We have 15 portal sites, of which 2 are in semi-regular use.

We've proven that it works with several major projects. It shows that with the data in one place, it makes it easier to collaborate, there are fewer problems, and the time saved is quite noticeable. But still people won't use it - Why?

I wish that I had an answer. I will say that training is a definite problem; even though I have spent some time with various individuals, they still don't understand what the benefits are and I think that there is more chance of me winning the lottery than getting them to use the portal. I have difficulty even getting them to go the portals - you would think that I'm asking them to perform brain surgery.

I constantly get loads of offers from companies that want to help me re-design portal pages, develop wikis, set-up IM servers, introduce all manner of other projects. They all say the same; this will help you win business, retain customers / staff, help you develop products faster, get them to market quicker, yada, yada, yada. But if we cannot get people to use these products, they are just another waste of money. It doesn't matter how wonderful they are, they are only of value, when they actually do something for us to achieve our core goals.

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