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Adoption Strategies for User Profiles in SharePoint 2010

[ 5 ] January 16, 2012 |

Rolling out User Profiles on SharePoint 2010 isn’t of much use if people don’t fill them out. Frequently organizations struggle with getting employees to fill in their profiles for a number of reasons.

Here are some tips from my experience that can help overcome this.

Encouraging Executive Adoption

One of the most fundamental mistakes that organizations make when rolling out profiles is not leading by example. Users will not follow if the executive team is not leading by example and the most powerful statement that a CEO or CIO can make in adoption of User Profiles is to ensure that they are up to date and to actively use it.


Bear in mind the the CEO’s profile will probably be the profile that will be visited the most, so it has to be filled in according to the policies the organization has established. If the CEO is not inline with the policies then it is highly unlikely that the organization will follow. Remember that actions speak louder than words and a profile that is completed from the CEO has immense sway over the perceptions of others.

Another tip is that if the executive team has assistants that could fill in their profile, SharePoint 2010 allows you to define an assistant on the profile that then can fill in the details without other users knowing. Sneaky, but in the battle for adoption, very valuable. Check out the post here.

Effective Communication

You need to communicate what the purpose of the User Profile in the organization. A bad example of communication is this:

As part of our SharePoint roll out each user has a profile. Please be sure to fill out the fields necessary in your profile by March 23rd 2010

Mr Horrible CEO

A much better example is to state why users should fill in their profile and what is in it for them:

As part of our ongoing attempts to tap into the amazing information in our organization each employee now has their very own user profile! Your user profile contains a wealth of information such as past projects, your skills, expertise and social interests.

We encourage you to fill in the profile so that you can find like minded individuals easier, find experts in topics your are interested in, see who worked in previous projects and help us all learn more about each other to strengthen the ties in this wonderful organization.

Mr Awesome CEO

Highlighting Functionality

Another approach is to highlight additional functionality that a complete User Profile provides such as activity feeds, people search, colleagues in common,organizational chart and others.


Expertise finding is particularly valuable for many organizations and having a complete profile is obviously a pre-requisite to this. By highlighting the business value that expertise finding provides, then tying this back to SharePoint functionality with people search, users can make the link that unless they fill in their profile they will not be found.


Social Programs

A interesting example I saw at one organization was the social clubs would only be approved and funded if a corresponding number of employees had their User Profiles filled in with their interest specified in this area.


Conversely in one organization Human Resources would poll users profiles and create events based on the interested contained. In this example they found that many people had a love of scotch in the organization so they bought someone in for the day to talk about the process of making scotch whisky ( unfortunately no one could drink Sad smile )

Featured Employee

Another frequent approach is to use a User Profile to create a ‘Featured Employee’ that can be shown in an area of high visibility- usually the home page of an Intranet.

Serveral organization I have worked with have used this to great effect within their organization in the following ways:

  • One organization had a ‘Friends Leaving Us‘ list that drew information from a User Profile called ‘Retire Date’. When any employee was within a month of retiring they would get free meals at the cafeteria. However they could only get on the ‘Friends Leaving Us’ list by having their entire profile populated
  • Another organization used these Web Parts on the home page of various projects sites that would cycle through employees that met a specific criteria. In this case a field called ‘Current Projects‘ was listed and once a web part was configured with the project name, all employees that matched the criteria would be shown at random. It was a great way to introduce project members to each other.

I hope that you enjoyed some of these tips and tricks with getting employees to fill in their profile. In the end you have to ensure that this information is providing business value to your users. If the value is apparent then employees will populate and continue to keep their profiles up to date.

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Category: Case Studies, Change Management

About Michal Pisarek: Michal Pisarek is the founder of Dynamic Owl Consulting and a Microsoft SharePoint MVP. View author profile.

Comments (5)

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  1. […] Related posts: Setting up search for user properties in … … Read the original here: Adoption Strategies for User Profiles in SharePoint 2010 … ← Sharepoint Tips And Tricks: The importance of synchronous event […]

  2. Ruven Gotz says:

    This is one of the banes of adoption. Thanks for the article Michal!

    I find that as simple as it is to fill the profile in, it’s one of the hardest things to make happen. One factor is that people aren’t sure about how much detail to put in, or what types of elements are suitable. So, I recommend that if you have training sessions, use a bit of time to have a “profile party”. Even if a relatively small set of people are getting hands-on training, seeding the profiles with a bunch of well-done ones can be very helpful.

    In your example message from the CEO, include a screenshot of ‘prototypical’ profile, so that people will understand what is being asked of them.

  3. Chris Howell says:

    Another great article Michal; thanks!

    Agree that it needs to be explained so that staff understand the “What’s In It For Me”.

    I’ve seen My Sites deployed without this and it simply ends up a mess with daft entries in the fields and silly photos. Simply cannot use the data for any kind of content delivery or finding people when people list their skill as bear wrestling or keeping people away from their wife’s food.

    Demonstrating how the information can be used will help a lot so people can make a connection between what they enter and what it helps them do.

    I’ve also been working with Lync 2010 and keen to use IM an Expert ( which is integrated with SharePoint and would also leverage/surface information that users enter.

    If it isn’t reliable and accurate, the technology is seen as the failure.

  4. Don’t forget about tools which can help to fill user profiles, like HarePoint Active Directory Self-Service for SharePoint, because is most cases SharePoint profiles are syncronized with AD profiles.

    WBR, Alexander

  5. Tudor says:

    Hi Michal,

    You mention the ‘Featured Employee’ that can be displayed on the home page. I am actually very interested in creating a web part or somehow creating something to display a random employee each day of the week. I was just wondering whether you have come across any articles for doing this or any web parts that are already created?

    Thanks for any info!

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