In our day-to-day client work, one topic we are very passionate about is user adoption.  We talk about this topic both internally and externally on a daily basis.  After all, we should never forget for whom we are solving problems and building solutions.  Put another way - if a car manufacturer builds 1,000 cars and no one buys them, then what was the point? 

In consulting and professional services, it is even more critical to "get it right the first time."  Our experience has shown that users are very smart - and creative - and will find a way to get their job done, with or without the solution that we have built for them.  Bottom line - it has to work and, for lack of a better phrase, it has to "make things better" and not worse.  To be honest, one of the greatest rewards of what we do is seeing users a) excited about the new solution and wanting to use it and b) getting real value from the solution. 

With that brief overview of why we want user adoption, I wanted to share with you how we collect feedback from all of our SharePoint projects.  At C5 Insight, we have developed a feedback solution which includes a feature that deploys a custom Welcome Menu item, custom dialog page, a custom list template and a list instance from this list template.  The basic idea is that we should make it easy for users to give feedback.  We have also learned that if they need to send an email to someone or tell someone directly about an issue or enhancement, it almost never gets done.  We have found that adding this feature to all of our SharePoint implementations has really increased (and improved) the feedback that users are giving - it's easy for them.  Let's see how this works.

  1. First, we packaged everything as a single WSP solution which is deployed on the server, since we deploy images to the SharePoint system folders (Hive).  Although this is a Farm solution, the feature is scoped at the Site Collection level, so that you can enable/disable for a given Site Collection.
  2. Once the feature is activated, the various pieces of functionality are seamlessly enabled on the Site Collection.  Let's look at each item that is enabled.
    1. A Welcome Menu item is created to give users quick access to share feedback, regardless of page or site.  It also doesn't add to the top navigation or quick launch navigation.
    2. When the user clicks this link on the Welcome Menu, a SharePoint dialog is displayed which simply allows the user to enter comments; quick and painless.  One additional feature we added was to capture the URL for the current user's page.  This is a nice feature because it gives context to the comment and feedback, especially if it is about a specific item on the page.
    3. Once the user clicks the Send button, the comment is then stored in a new list that is created by the feature in #1 above.  This list is named "Site Feedback" and will be on the root of the Site Collection.

      This is a very simple list, which captures the information sent by the user.
      The idea here was to make this entire process very simple and painless for the user.  The default, inherited permissions are set on the Site Feedback list, but this is most often changed to only include a specific group of people who "monitor" this feedback.

As I stated before, this solution is part of our SharePoint Toolkit that we freely give to each client in order to make their implementation more successful.  I'll likely blog on more of these toolkit items in future posts.

In closing, we have found this to be very beneficial for our clients and gives users a voice.  However, now that the feedback is being captured, something has to be done with it (or else people stop submitting feedback).  I'll save that for another post as well.