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One-Platform-Fits-All Solutions Don’t Always Work

Why Sharepoint may not be the ideal solution for employee suggestion programs

Posted on January 16, 2015

Wide-spread popularity of cloud-based solutions and enterprise social networking lead to the rise -- and expansion -- of software like Sharepoint.

Since being launched in 2001, SharePoint has had remarkable success and enjoyed widespread deployment. Of the companies that have an Intranet 2.0 tool, in 46% of cases it is Microsoft SharePoint. No other vendor enjoys more than a 15% share.

Originally designed as a document sharing system, SharePoint has expanded to serve as a solution to, well, everything. SharePoint promises to provide intranet portals, collaboration tools, social networks, extranets, websites, enterprise search, and business intelligence. With all of these services with just one license - you can imagine why it is so popular.

The Problem with SharePoint for Employee Suggestions

Behind the surge in popularity lies two unpleasant truths: 

First, many users don’t like it. 

According to a 2013 survey by Forrester Research, 62% of business management respondents stated that "users don't like the SharePoint experience." That’s a 10 point rise in user dissatisfaction since the 2012 survey.

In the words of one software executive, “SharePoint is the Swiss army knife of software—able to do almost anything, but nothing particularly well.” 

It’s hard enough to get people excited about a new initiative like an employee suggestion program. Using a program they hate for that initiative makes it that much more difficult to generate adoption.

Second, true to the Swiss Army knife analogy made earlier, the employee suggestions tools don’t offer all the features one needs for a successful employee suggestion program. More often than not, there is no management, collaboration, or status of ideas in a homegrown suggestion box built using SharePoint. 

(This may apply to building similar tools using platforms such as Google Forms as well)

These things mean that in the best case scenario, employees simply won’t use the program because it would require them to use a platform they don’t like. The worst case scenario is that because of the lack of moderation or collaboration features, ideas get lost in the mix and the program becomes a dumping ground for ideas which are never implemented. 

The result of this half-solution is instead of engaging employees, a SharePoint suggestion box can often havethe opposite effect and, after they see their submitted ideas languish, actively disengages employees.

In a sad irony, it exacerbates the original problem.

Specific Solutions for Specific Problems

For some business needs, like marketing, it makes sense to have an all-in-one solution because it actually makes things easier on the end user. For business problems as complicated as engaging and developing your workforce, specific strategies for doing that may require a specific solution. A specific solution, like a dedicated employee suggestion platform like Vocoli, is the foundation for you to market the initiative internally. It sends a clear message that management is on board with making something like an employee suggestion program a priority.

Turning people back to an existing program they openly dislike is not the way to start up a new initiative as important as employee engagement.

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