Optimize Your User Adoption Strategy for OneDrive

OneDrive migration strategy

Optimize Your User Adoption Strategy for OneDrive

By Tracy van der Schyff | December 21, 2017

When was the last time you broke an old habit? Whether you used to bite your nails, obsessively scroll through Facebook, or procrastinate until the very last minute, we can all acknowledge that breaking a habit is difficult and tiring—no matter what! In fact, adopting a new habit to replace another makes it a bit easier to let go of the “old way of doing things.”

If you’re thinking about deploying a new platform or service, you need to consider exactly what you’re demanding from your users. Are you asking for them to replace the way things used to be with something unfamiliar? Or are you presenting them with a blessing in disguise? In many instances, rolling out a new platform or workflow demands a lot from its users, so fully understanding user adoption and operational change is crucial to the success of your migration.

User adoption is the baseline for measuring a successful deployment, so the question remains: how exactly do we ensure positive (or acceptable) user adoption? Read on to discover how to best optimize your user adoption strategy for OneDrive.

Understand Your Transition Management Strategy

First, let’s take a look at the last couple of years in the technology space: Teams, Groups, Sway, Stream, Planner, To Do, Bookings, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Skype, and Office 365… to name a few.

If we can’t possibly have a tailored plan and approach for each of these, then what will your transition management strategy be?

User adoption is never about “new technology.” In fact, it’s about breaking old habits (or systems and processes) and replacing them with better, more efficient ones.

Users who already lack the self-esteem to troubleshoot or learn on their own will always struggle with new systems. I’ll use the analogy of riding a bicycle. (And no, I’m not referring to “Once you’ve ridden a bicycle…”).  

When new employees start at an organization, they’re issued with a brand-new bicycle (sometimes a hand-me-down). Some of them can already ride a bicycle because the job description stated that bicycle literacy is a prerequisite. However, some of them “wing it” for the sake of getting the job.

When upgrading your platforms and solutions, it’s similar to making a shift from a bicycle to a motorcycle. And in some cases, even directly to cars. Do not make the mistake in thinking that all your users will go to YouTube to watch the “How to ride a motorcycle” video. Statistics tells us that about 75% of your users won’t.

Since most of your users can barely ride a bicycle (And when they fall, they will blame IT), they will struggle even more getting accustomed to the motorcycle or car.

The Truth Behind Digital Literacy

Most organizations believe that their users are digitally literate. Unfortunately, this is not true.

I’m a trainer, and I include Digital Literacy in all my courses, which includes Advanced SharePoint. However, if I had to ask my students if they need it, they’d reply no because they simply don’t know. In other words, we only know what we know and we base our assumptions on that.

At least 90% of the people I meet don’t use the Windows Button on their keyboards to find programs, settings, or files. They split and move their windows by moving it with the mouse (instead of the Windows Button and Arrows). They still save all their files on their desktops because it’s easier to find. They are really bad at searching for content because no one ever showed them how to use the “+” and “-“ to promote and demote search criteria.

Why am I telling you this?

If you expect to only train your users how to share files from OneDrive, you’re making a big mistake. They have a lot of catching up to do, and it’s not their fault. Your transition management should include encouraging Digital Literacy and teaching your users the basics.

In order for us to facilitate this change, we need to first empower our users with the necessary skills to be digitally literate, and the same goes for management and the company culture.

Ensure a Successful Technology Adoption

A successful technology adoption happens naturally when the user understands that:

  • There is a need for change.
  • The benefits of change have been sufficiently communicated.
  • Training and support is available.
  • Company culture fully enables the evolution.

Even among veteran OneDrive users are those who don’t know how to fully utilize all of the functionalities built into the system. If you want to on-board your users to a platform that they’re unfamiliar with, you need to help them become aware of OneDrive’s many features.

How Do You Create a Need for Change?

To explain this, I’ll sketch out another scenario: Your company is rolling out OneDrive, so you need to compile an email with steps & screenshots to help the users.

 Here are the steps:

  1.     Navigate to Office 365.
  2.     Sign in.
  3.     Click on OneDrive.
  4.     Click on the “Sync” button.
  5.     Click “Yes,” “Yes,” “No,” and “Yes” in that order.  
  6.     Done.  

You’ve checked every box—mission accomplished.

So, Why Do Users Not Adopt OneDrive?

In short, you never created the need.

The user does not realize that they need OneDrive and that it will help them. I help organizations create campaigns to “create this need.” These are awareness campaigns.  

In these campaigns, we share the pains and struggles of current systems, like:

  •     Are you tired of asking IT to assign permissions to your folders and content on the File Share?
  •     Do you wish you could share content externally?
  •     Can we have an expiry date on documents we share?
  •     Frustrated by not being able to access your files from your home computer or your mobile phone?

Do you know what this does? It builds a relationship of trust and common interest with your user. It also makes them realize that they need and want more. (Need created.)

Explore New OneDrive Features

Since the majority of users are not self-learners, you can facilitate this adoption by creating a culture that addresses the importance of instruction and guidance. I personally follow “What’s New to Office 365” and “Office Blogs for OneDrive” to stay up to date; these are resources that you can push to your users for further support.

Here is just a sample of the newest OneDrive offerings that your organization can benefit from:

  • Expiration dates on Sharing.
  • Right-click and share from Explorer or Finder.
  • Files on Demand: See all of your files and only sync if necessary.
  • Add Scans directly from the File menu.

If you stay consistent with your communications and campaigns, you can build an environment of trust and reliability that will encourage your users to transition into (and come to love) OneDrive. By putting your users first, you will be rewarded with self-learners who cultivate continuous improvement and growth—all essential qualities to a healthy and happy organization!

See our recent blog, “OneDrive for Business Roadmap: 2018 and Beyond“ for more details.


Here’s your takeaway: If you’re hoping to on-board your users to OneDrive, think of what you’re demanding from them. Instead of forcing them to adopt a new platform, inspire them to recognize how much more efficient and effective OneDrive can be and allow your work culture to naturally catch up. Over time, you’ll notice old habits being broken and new systems and processes being implemented.

For more support, try a free 15-day trial of Essentials for Office 365 and see how Metalogix can help you take control over your content management environment.

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Tracy van der Schyff

Tracy is a Microsoft MVP and an energetic, hyperactive adrenaline junkie who sees challenges and issues as opportunities and thrives on improving processes, environments and the general quality of life. Her broad knowledge about IT and Business gives her the ability to communicate on both levels and convey meaningful requirements and narrow the (ever present) gap between the two.

Written By: Tracy van der Schyff