SharePoint Information Governance – part 6: Dealing with Resistance to Change Management in SharePoint–10 Tips


As in any aspect of SharePoint change is ever present.  I like to think of SharePoint as the Vehicle of Change or at least it can be.  Many folks fail to

Tip 1: Resistance to change.

One of the first challenges many folks face is understanding that change is only achieved thru PEOPLE. Yes the audience of change are the same folks who have to use it.  So you need to consider what those folks are doing.  You cannot force change onto a team that is working on year end deal lines, or product role-outs.  Consider a few of the following reasons for resistance to change:

    • Timeline
    • Change of policy or process that are tribal or inherited over time
    • Skill set of employees
    • Tools being used currently

Concerns about retention of employees

Do you think folks are going to be excited about the new software you want them to use, if they think it is going to replace them….seriously.  You need to consider how you are presenting to solution.

Tip 2: Stability.

Is the solution you implementing, is the change going to offer stability?  In many cases SharePoint is being brought in to unify process or create a workflow to streamline a chaotic process.  Show examples of how stability can be achieved, give them ways to recommend methods or process that would show stability.  It is very critical here to also get executive buy in on the stability of this platform.  You do not want to be seen as another tool, that will come and go.

Tip 3: Communication.

So a person will be very resistant to change if they have no idea how that change will effect them.  In the business world it really is ME FIRST.  So it is critical to communicate, share knowledge, provide clear channels of communication to the troops, and also for the troops to communicate to you!

Tip 4: Provide a Outlet to question.

So an amazing consideration is provide a forum or discussion board for people to ask questions, voice concerns, generally vent there point of view,,,but in a creative and effective way.  If you do not give them a way to do this, it will happen thru non-approved channels….last thing you want is emails, or water cooler rants that are not visible, and cannot be addressed correctly.  RUMORS KILL CHANGE.

Tip 5: Bring Cake.

Now I will have to say, “pastries will sooth the savage beast”, if you are going to have work sessions, or very stressful meetings where there will be conflict…..bring food.  It is amazing how often simple snacks, and drinks keep peoples blood sugars and nerves calm.  Consider your audience you may need to be considerate of allergies, or medical conditions so do some research and be considerate.

Tip 6: Encourage Involvement.

In many cases the best way to get people to embrace change is getting them involved in the planning process.  If a person is engaged and gets vested in the change that is going to effect them, they will be less averse to the implementation.  I am not saying it always works, but a champion of a process is less likely to criticize or be put down a process.  I like to get this part going early, but not to early.  Make sure you have a solid understanding of the change needed, possible options to achieve it, and what the possible results would be.  If you go in to early this can be more destructive then beneficial.  Consider your audience, and focus on those who are key to the process you plan to change.

Tip 7: No one man show, work in teams.

So getting change implemented in an organization is not generally something one person can achieve.  You may try, but generally unless you are the CEO you are going to hit some pretty big roadblocks telling departments what to do, or changing there process as an outsider.  TEAMS, yep get key stakeholders to be part of your change team.  Now you might have many teams or project teams working on different areas of a SharePoint deployment, or Custom Solution deployment.

With this you may also consider the broad skillsets, roles in the organizations, and knowledge of the specific change you want effected.  It is always beneficial to have the Subject Matter Expert of the process are part of your team implementing the changes to the process.

Tip 8: All In.

So in many organizations you will get buy-off and general consensus for many folks, however get EVERYONE is not always possible or even plausible.  I like to take a All In approach initially when I start a project, a belief that everyone is going to love it, embrace it, and use it.  That however is nearly never true.  So do not set an expectation that everyone will be on board.  Plan for some conflict or negative view of the change.  Don’t take negativity personally, some folks will get very passionate to you changing a process they have been using for 15 years.

Tip 9:  Plan, Plan, Plan

So in real estate the rule is Location, Location, Location…well in SharePoint the rule is Plan, Plan, Plan. Now I want to first stay you can definitely over plan.  This is referred to “Paralysis via Analysis”.  Now the reason this is Tip 9, is that the above tips all lead to this, you cannot have good communication unless you know who to communicate with.  You cannot get teams involved unless you know who are the stakeholders.  You cannot know what your change will be, or how it will be effective unless you understand the current process.

Tip 10: Resistance Is Futile. Chuck Norris says so!


So the reason for this last tip is simple.  If your CEO says do it, are you really going to sit and complain.  Nope.  If you have an antiquated 20 year old process on paper that can be replaced by a 3 minute SharePoint workflow, do you think you can really justify the old process. Nope.  Sometimes you will just need to pull out the big guns and say, sorry change is happening, get over it.  If they ask why, just say “Chuck Norris says so!”

SharePoint Information Governance – part 5: Change Management–defining it for SharePoint

So the word CHANGE is a word that translates straight to LOST REVENUE in the mindset of executives.  I have to say, yep in most cases this can be a painful part of your governance. I do have to say though this can also be a point where you can start saving money, actually streamlining process, and in the end make money…yes I said make money.image

Now if you are asking me to go down the process of preaching one change method versus another, no way.  I don’t want to make my Change Management guys and gals I work with agree by putting one of them above the other.

Let’s take this post helping you define and explain guidelines for getting your change process started.

Change for SharePoint

The purpose of change management is to ensure that SharePoint changes are appropriately assessed for both business and technical risks, and to maintain the stability and reliability of SharePoint by reviewing, tracking, and communicating the proposed changes.

Now this is not the vehicle through which Strategic Decisions are made, that is up to the SharePoint Strategy Team (who we talked about in the Roles and Responsibilities), is should be the method used to minimize risk of service outages during implementation, as assist the Strategy Team implement the grand decisions they have made.

Types of Change for SharePoint

So first I like to define what CHANGE means.  for a lot of folks this can actually be a point of resistance.  Get use to the word RESISTANCE, you will experience it a lot in change management around SharePoint.  Now there is different types of change, so I like to define at least two, there can be more, but two a good start.

  • What Is Change: ‘Change’ is defined as an action that results in altering the SharePoint features or services.
  • What is Emergency Change: ‘Change’ that is required to restore an application or return a piece of infrastructure to production due to (….act of god, failure, disaster, PEBKAC….) I do like to list out a few, but you will need to go to your DR documentation for this.
  • No DR to reference for what an Emergency is, sorry we are not talking about that hear.  Maybe later.
  • More Changeimage
  • More Change

Criteria for Change

So you have helped your fellow man understand what Change means…great.  Now we have to define when that can come ask for change. Not all changes to SharePoint must follow the change management process. For example: ‘changes to the layout of individual sites within a collaboration portal do not require a request for change (RFC)’

RFC is Request For Change, a formal request process using a form, workflows, approvals, and signoffs.  I am a fan of InfoPath, and doing this within SharePoint…Let SharePoint govern SharePoint.

I like to break this into two tiers: Small Change, and Med-Large Change. Both of these will follow the RFC process.

Small Change:

 Modify or create new SharePoint templates and master pages
 Modify the SharePoint look and feel (branding)
 Develop new web parts
 Develop custom solutions on the SharePoint platform
 Deploy third-party solutions on the SharePoint platform

Med-Large Change:

  •  Impacted Users are enterprise wide
     Number of Users exceeds 500
     External Users are directly (visibly) impacted
     Critical Business Applications or Interfaces are impacted
     Significant Financial Impact is possible

So I did not cover addressing Resisters in the Change Process, I will try and tackle that in the next post.  Say 10 points to tackle.


So the Change Management process should be a extension of your best practice change management process already.  The big thing to keep in mind is all the moving parts in SharePoint.  Now this will be a series of posts in the next few days, just to cover change…it is a bugger and can cause a lot of folks to stumble.  SharePoint is a diverse system with a significant amount of challenges.  So change needs to address this.  From Publishing process, Internets, Farms, Custom Code, Configuration, DR, Backups, Security, and future Customizations.  Get ready for a ride, this should be fun, just remember that a governance is a living document/process and thus will likely also change your IT process.