Adoption is definitely the toughest part about SharePoint projects ... if you want your project to be a success a "build and users will come"-strategy is not a good approach. The next tips are a compilation of an email discussion with some other MVPs about user adoption.
- Communication - involve people early. Provide a sandbox to play with before the production system system is ready. Provide short informal training sessions. This goes a long way, but it’s not enough.
- Education and training are key components for success. Try to use a "train-the-trainer" principle so that people within the organization will promote your solution.
- People will resist change so deal with it. So people don't like it when something looks, and or acts differently than what they people are used to. Through customization and development, you should be able to deliver a much more familiar experience and subsequently promote user-adoption. “Delivering a familiar experience” is good, but a lot of SharePoint concepts are just plain different, and people do need to change how they think. That’s hard, no way around it. Instead of a familiar experience, I aim for an obvious experience.
- Use the "What's in it for me" principle. People probably won't use your SharePoint solution just for the fun of it (well some of them will). So try to explain them the benefits using examples out of their daily work routine. If that doesn't work you can always try to appeal to their better nature, appeal to their egos. You don’t need to reward people with free stuff, but some sort of recognition for “most docs migrated” or “most posts” or any sort of recognition at all goes a long way. You can even take it one step furhter by integrate SharePoint within role descriptions/responsibilities.
- Look for senior sponsorship/leadership within the organization. People are sheep so look for need a senior project sponsor to actually use it and make it the way they do business.
Don't take the list above for an exhaustive list - you will probably come up with some other thoughts. Don't hesitate and leave a comment.