There have been lots of articles written about change management and it has all been said before. That’s why I’m still amazed when I walk into an organisation that is implementing a new system to find they do not have a change management strategy in place, or if they do, it is merely window dressing!
Let’s talk about an implementing platform like SharePoint for internal collaboration. In essence, if you are moving from shared drives to SharePoint, you are fundamentally asking users to change the way they work on an hourly basis. Yet some organisations don’t invest in the change management necessary to make the change successful. Although, they have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on the new platform, they don’t invest in a good change management strategy to take people on the journey.
I remember a few years ago, I was implementing a newer version of an eDRMS (that shall remain nameless). I knew the existing version was hated and I was attempting to rollout the new version and get users to save their electronic files into it. This was a big task, as the system already had a bad reputation and had been poorly implemented in its first iteration. Sound familiar?
Anyway the technical upgrade of the system was going to be the easy bit! Getting users to use it for electronic document management was going to be difficult. I needed something to catch their attention, to let them know what was happening and to ensure they felt informed and engaged. I knew I wasn’t very imaginative so I engaged marketing for an hour, and basically bribed them with lunch in exchange for some ideas.
We came up with “Matrix Reloaded” as our theme except we called it “System to remain nameless” reloaded (insert whatever system you see fit J). Yes, I super imposed my face over Trinity’s and my bosses face over Neo’s on the matrix reloaded poster. No, I’m not going to show you but it looked ok, you will have to imagine it.
We issued numerous posters like this with different messages. The communication was done well in advance so people were not surprised and it was regular. We had regular morning teas with updates on what to expect. We also invested a lot in training before go live and post go live. We did floor walks and followed-up with teams post the release.
We also ran a competition for the most documents into the system and pitted business unit against business unit. Again, we had tally boards posted everywhere – in the lifts etc. This was to get teams to engage and be part of it. There was always lots of chocolate handed out and on launch day, we had a morning tea with muffins! One always gets a crowd with food.
So there you have it. Was it successful? Yes. Did anyone say to me, I never heard of this project? No. Did people use the system? Yes!
In summary, if you are about to invest in an upgrade to a new system, make it an opportunity to relaunch the system and get more user engagement. Make the investment worthwhile.
- Write a change management plan and communication plan with tasks, dates and assign the tasks.
- Engage marketing, even if it is just for an hour to get some ideas. They have imaginative and bright minds.
- Try and align it with something like a movie release (preferably current but sometimes the old ones are great also).
- Start early, when you get the go ahead for the project – Start communicating even if details are scant – SharePoint reloaded …….coming soon – like a movie poster.
- Bribe people with food, people will always come for updates if you put on some food.
- Provide good solid training and keep offering it – there is no such thing as too much training.
- Floor walk on Go live Day.
- Check in with groups a few weeks post Go Live.
- Incorporate the training into your induction process so that the change doesn’t get lost over time.
- Set up a competition between groups to get engagement.
- Offer more training!
- Follow up with teams again and gain feedback for system improvements.
- Keep listening!
SharePoint 2013 is about to be released, and your organisation may be considering to upgrade or implement shortly. Use this upgrade as an opportunity to engage with your users and rebrand the platform. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by and don’t ever get told it is just a ‘technical upgrade’.
Always invest in change management to gain maximum ROI from the system.
If you’re considering upgrading to SharePoint 2013, Jacobs is offering a Readiness Engagement to help you through this process. It’s a great place to start.
Kraft Foods is the global company who own – amongst other things – that great Australian staple food, Vegemite. I also own Vegemite – in fact I had some just now – but not as much as they do. They own the concept, brand, intellectual property, recipes and machines to make Vegemite. Whereas I’ve just got a jar of it in the cupboard.
Mmmmm, Vegemite …
Anyway, this global food-generating empire decided to go social. They wanted their employees to be able to share information in a way that was faster, easier and was also a rich source of Vitamin B.
The Associate Director of Collaboration and Social Networking Solutions at Kraft is a man called Vinicius da Costa, a name which can be literally translated to “Wine on the beach”. Which is a pleasant way to pass the time. As is eating Vegemite on the beach, for that matter.
Anyway, Mr Da Costa makes a Very Important Point in his interview on the Newsgator website. (View the interview with Mr Da Costa.) He proclaims thus:
“I think that the biggest lesson I learned so far is that the change management that is needed to implement is part of the transformation. My role is not really about implementing Newsgator or a capability. It’s really about transforming the way people operate at Kraft. The transformation does not happen just by implementing a tool. It’s really about changing people’s ways of working.”
This is an ultra-important point IMHO. There are many benefits to having a socially networked business, but just implementing the tool is not enough to make it work. You need also to provide training, reasons, and an ongoing campaign to give people the impetus to use it.
We often forget that there was a time back in the last century when people didn’t know how to use word processors and spreadsheets. They needed to be trained, encouraged, incentivised. Whereas now people are born with word processing lobes in their brains. Social business networking will one day reach that point, but it isn’t there yet. To make it happen requires a change management effort.
These are interesting learnings from the Elders of the Vegemite Protocols, and highly relevant to my next early adopter, eBay.
We often forget that eBay was once a tiny start-up; the original website was just a part of a programmer’s personal site. I know this is true because I read it on Wikipedia.
Now it’s a giant, a juggernaut, a household name, an ever-growing Gargantua. Its explosive expansion recently sent its managers scrambling for better ways to communicate internally, before the company exploded itself apart like an explosively-expanding explosion or something.
In a one-hour webinar on the Newsgator website, Ramin Mobasseri, eBay’s Enterprise Portal Solutions Manager, talks extensively about the change management methods they employed to ensure the adoption of the Newsgator system at eBay. View the eBay webinar at Newsgator.
The eBay process is impressively agile from the very start. That is, they are always gathering feedback and adjusting the system accordingly.
Some of the significant elements of the roadmap are:
1. Initial Proof-of-Concept: They began with just a three high-level use cases, opened a small system up to some users, and began gathering feedback. A SharePoint site was set up with a basic list where anyone could register their suggestions, feedback, use cases, whatever.
2. Scrub the Hub: “The Hub” was eBay’s existing intranet. Very few users had rich information in their User Profiles, an impediment to making social networking work well. So eBay implemented an ongoing campaign to encourage and provide incentives to people to beef up their user profiles, especially the “Ask Me About” section. This campaign is ongoing today – well after the full launch.
3. First Wave: eBay opened the system up to a subset of the company – highly-interested users from all levels of seniority in the organisation. Again, they encouraged and fostered feedback.
4. Help & Feedback site: This was a SharePoint site which included virtual training modules, the training schedule, instruction materials and cheat sheets. People could submit questions to experts, and see FAQs. This was the centrepiece of gathering feedback from people.
5. Second Wave: This involved setting Newsgator up so that user statuses could be published to Twitter and LinkedIn simultaneously, by way of encouraging users to use the microblogging functions.
6. SNAP: eBay gathered together a Social Network Advisory Panel (SNAP). These were company evangelists, as well as social networking promoters from outside the company, who gathered together to discuss the system and prepare to take it to the next level.
Anyway, those are a few ideas and learnings from two corporate titans. I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoy eating Vegemite. Live long and prosper.
Given my background in document and records management, I understand the pain of getting good user adoption. I’ve been reflecting on the challenges I’ve faced when implementing numerous electronic document and records management systems (EDRMS) into various organisations and how my learnings could be relevant to implementing social tools within an organisation.
So, I was reading a blog from Laurie Buczek The biggest failure of Enterprise 2.0 Social Business and one of her key messages was: “The big failure of social business is a lack of integration of social tools into the collaborative workflow.” I completely agree. One doesn’t want yet another siloed application for users to deal with. The social tools out there need to be able to embed themselves into existing enterprise tools (e.g. collaborative platform, document management systems, email systems, CRM systems) to promote strong user uptake. Users are busy enough in their day to day jobs without having to go to yet another system.
Another blog by Dion Hinchcliffe called Putting Social Business to Work depicted really nicely how social business should be integrated into the business.
Start where the users are already
Studies indicate the average employee spends approximately 50% of their time dealing with emails. If workers are spending lots of their day using an email application, doesn’t it make sense that an entry point to the social business tool should be there too? They need to have the ability to write a status update, pose a question (crowdsource) and review activity streams from within their email application. I’m not advocating that email becomes the only launch pad for social, in fact, quite the opposite. What I mean is that users work in different domains, and unless the tool is accessible across those domains, they won’t engage as deeply.
Similarly, an information worker will spend a lot of time on their team site, reviewing and updating team documentation. If the tool makes it easy to share, comment and “like” content from within the team site, they are much more likely to do just that. This would provide enormous benefit to the rest the team as they are able to easily keep tabs on what other team members are working on, even if they are not co-located.
It must be mobile
Many users have jobs where they are not at their desks all the time, but are mainly are out and about. Remote access from mobile devices is absolutely vital to ensure they have the ability to engage and gain the benefit of social networking. The ability to review activity streams and write a status update while being mobile is essential. More and more users are expecting this sort of functionality in their workplace.
I believe therefore, that when selecting a social media tool you should ensure the following:
- It has capabilities to plug into your existing enterprise tools e.g. email, CMS, instant messaging
- It has multiple access points e.g. email, team sites, project sites, intranet and CRM systems
- It is easy and intuitive to use
- It can be accessed via multiple devices e.g. mobiles and tablets
Realistically, this ‘bring it to the people’ approach is the only way I can see social tools becoming ubiquitous across the organisation. I’d be interested to hear what do you consider a crucial ingredient for achieving great social business uptake and therefore a more efficient way to work.
Want to learn more about building a social business strategy? Come along to our Social Business breakfast event in Melbourne, June 13. We’d love to talk social with you. And it’s FREE!
I recently read that intranets (think also online workspaces, online communities etc…) are like cocktail parties. You arrive and case the room to see who else is there and where the action is. You decide pretty quickly whether you’ll be staying awhile, and will be in for a great night. Or, if it’s a quiet affair – missing the big personalities, the ambience and the buzz – you’ll stay for just a drink or two before heading off to find the action elsewhere.
This analogy worked for me. These days you need only look at an intranet homepage to decide if it’s the ‘stick around and enjoy’ version of the cocktail party. Or not. Is there a home page activity stream full of comments from a wide range of people on what matters most? Can the activity stream be personalised, to feature what matters most to you? Are the news articles, event listings, and communities fresh and brimming with comments, ‘likes’ and other signs of strong participation? Is there a people directory, where a quick search will unveil expertise, past projects and current clients of colleagues across the entire organisation?