Category Archives: User Adoption

Pole-vaulting roadblocks to change

ChangeWhoever uttered the phrase ‘change is as good as a holiday’ obviously never worked in professional Change Management. (Or if they did, their career was short-lived).

Change can be exciting, necessary, even visionary. But it is a big deal – especially in a business landscape when you’re making significant changes to the way employees work or communicate.

In our line of work, building SharePoint intranets and Office 365 cloud solutions, when it comes to User Adoption (UA) of a major system or process change, it’s common for providers to defer to (or at least trust) their client’s internal knowledge and not push back when they opt to self-manage it. It’s very common, as is clients reallocating UA or change budget to accommodate extra layers of technical complexity.

There are intricacies and nuances to every business environment, therefore we don’t propagate a one-size-fits-all approach. However there are a few common roadblocks we encounter throughout this process, which can be dealt with in a strategic manner:

1. Management prejudice

Even good leaders are not immune to a bit of white-knuckled fear around change, and this often presents one of the most challenging obstacles. Change prejudice can exist for many reasons – perhaps a project of a similar nature failed and is viewed as a ‘poisoned chalice’, or maybe a decision maker doesn’t fully understand the benefits of a new technology.

It’s vital to take these leaders on a journey when presenting a new solution or system for their approval. Also, getting them involved through activities like an intranet Executive Blog is also a brilliant way to have them lead from the front and encourage UA.

2. Cultures

To steal a great line from Vanessa Ferguson’s guest blog (Vanessa is Director of Org Devt for our Change Management partners Apricot Consulting), cultures are the engine room of an organisation. However it’s hard to accurately define or evaluate a culture you’re already part of, as there are patterns of behaviour you might not see. Certainly it doesn’t take a genius to recognise a toxic, every-man-for-himself type of culture (and who hasn’t worked somewhere people bolt out the door of screaming ‘save yourself!’ on a daily basis). But in reality most cultural nuances are more subtle.

Working closely with Apricot we perform activities like cultural assessments e.g. sitting in on workshops, to see how people interact, their body language and how they ask questions etc. Together, we aim to promote cultures where people readily share knowledge and skills with their peers. (For an interesting discussion on ‘giver and taker cultures’, read the results of a recent McKinsey study, which shows how organisations benefit when their employees freely contribute knowledge and skills to others).

3. Key influencers

In every organisation there are certain individuals who can influence others or hold sway over behaviour. This isn’t always just someone who thinks they’re top dog, but might a person who is particularly skilled or knowledgeable, who others look to for information. Identifying these individuals and leveraging their position to influence UA is a powerful change management tool. For example, engaging a subject matter expert to publish content exclusively to SharePoint will help drive UA.

While key influencers are not always senior employees, it’s worth mentioning that unit or area managers can become roadblocks if they are not engaged properly. Some managers are so focused on the activities of their unit, they see themselves as needing to operate outside the system. This kind of manager will generally make a comment such as ‘this won’t work for my guys’ during a workshop, and can be mitigated by engaging the individual in the project and (hopefully) flipping them to become a powerful endorser of change.

4. ‘Build it and they will come’ mindset

Failing to engage people will almost always see a new system or project fall flat. And, while Change Management and UA activities need to be reinforced by strategy and planning, bringing users along to change from the outset is probably the single most important factor.

Talk to people, ask them what they need to do their jobs better, how they like to interact with each other and with information, what device they prefer to use. Then let them see the solution, test it, try to break it. Does it do what it needs to do? Then, once a system is deployed, continue to drive engagement through things like reward and recognition structures.

Ultimately, a well-executed UA or Change Management strategy can deliver that deeper level of engagement you are looking for and will result in more sustained adoption. Done properly, it also doesn’t have to blow out your budget as the ideology is fairly simple – however it does depend on the size of your organisation and the level of change required.

Do you think your organisation would be objective enough to self-manager change? Answering ‘no’ might prove to be a wise decision. Contact us and we can put you in touch with an Office 365 or SharePoint specialist to talk you through our UA and project methodology in more detail.

Blogs you might like:

9 things you need to know about User Experience

What’s the buzz with Modern UI

How to get the troops onboard with social collaboration tools

 

What’s the buzz? Demystifying Modern UI.

We’re taking a slightly less technical approach today to consider one of the most common questions raised when we start talking SITE DESIGN with clients.Sws

What is Modern UI? Or, more specifically, why is it important?

Let’s rewind back to the fifties when the Swiss, in their ever-practical wisdom, dreamed up a graphic design style that would become globally known as (wait for it) – Swiss Style. The principles of Swiss Style were all around simple, clean lines and readability, and are still widely used today. In a computing context, we started seeing what Microsoft called ‘Metro’ in the mid-nineties, which was their version of a typography-based design language, based on those classic Swiss principles.

Today, the brightly-coloured, live tile interfaces we see in products like Windows 8 are the modern evolution of this design and what we Win 8refer to as Modern User Interface (UI). The guiding Win 8thought behind Modern UI is that by minimising graphics and focusing on short, sharp content and large tiles, the user enjoys a more simplified, responsive interaction with a site.

While the above is a very broad strokes overview, we wanted to provide some context around what Microsoft were trying to achieve with Modern UI, so we can explain why we believe this design is the future of all intranet, internet and extranet sites.

Cloud computing with products like Office 365 is no longer the future, it is here and now, and delivering businesses a reliable, cost-saving alternative to traditional IT infrastructures. Enhancements like mobility and multiple device channels are also becoming commonplace and will soon be expected, at minimum, by users. (We’ve talked in previous blogs about how SharePoint 2013 delivers to these needs with its new capability set – please read if you wish to get up to speed).

The next step in the digital workplace revolution is BYOD, or bring your own device, which refers to employees bringing their own device such as smartphones, laptops and tablets to work and connecting to their corporate network. (A sure sign that the user is in the driver’s seat from an ‘access to information’ perspective).

Taking all this into account, it appears that users are starting to outgrow traditional communications channels and standard websites. Enter the Modern UI intranet. Sleek, familiar, fast and with the ability to surface user-specific content within 1-2 touches or clicks. An optimised experience across every device channel means a better user experience, which leads to higher user adoption levels, reductions in administration and training costs, and productivity increases.

As an example, we recently embarked on an exciting project with our sister company, OSC, and Microsoft Global, which involved us designing a new Office 365 communications portal tailored to the needs of the retail industry. (Feel free to read about this innovation on page 22 of the current edition of Microsoft’s Speak magazine here).

Why is this solution a potential game-changer? Because we’ve taken the standard communications platform – in this case an intranet – and totally flipped the user experience by introducing Modern UI. And, by considering the most common interactions and information needs a group of users has on a daily basis, and representing this in a scrollable, convenient format, we are delivering information straight into their hands, in a manner that is familiar to them. Further, with the introduction of dynamic news and social feeds, we are giving users the ability to contribute re-usable knowledge back to their organisation.

For some businesses, this kind of leap might be too far down the track to really consider, for others, maybe it’s the next logical step. Regardless of where you’re at, we don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions and would therefore evaluate your business on its current state fully before recommending Modern UI as an option. But we hope you found this blog useful in terms of understanding Modern UI principles and potential.

Where is your company on its digital journey? Our Office 365 and SharePoint consultants will answer your questions via Live Chat on our website. Jump on over and ask away.

Guest Blog: Why Change Management can make or break your project

In a recent blog we talked about increasing productivity and revenue by enhancing User Adoption. Three areas outlined as important for People Engagement included the development of taxonomies, education and training, and strong leadership support. Today, Vanessa Ferguson from our partner company, Apricot Consulting Group, takes a look at the People Engagement and Business Alignment components of User Adoption and outlines how Apricot works with nSynergy to implement change.change man

Business Alignment

Grounded first in assessment, we prepare our clients for the journey that they need to make by assessing their current organisational climate. Business alignment is essential to the adoption framework because without it, businesses will not be able to build momentum or keep adoption levels high enough to provide continuous, ongoing value. It involves the assessment of five key areas:

  1. Organisational Assessment
  2. Coalition
  3. Vision, Mission and Values
  4. Project Management
  5. Governance

Organisational Assessment involves understanding organisational structures and leadership paradigms. We identify the ‘key players’ who we will be working alongside to initiate change, and who is best equipped to influence change among the group.

Coalition highlights the need to create a sense of urgency and momentum around the need for change with key stakeholders. We work to convey the message that change is being implemented for the greater good of the business, to help staff function more efficiently, not simply for the sake of change.

Creating a simple vision and mission that people can grasp and remember is central to the change process. We ensure that staff members (at all levels) are involved in the development of organisational values. This helps employees who may not be commonly involved in decision-making processes to identify with, and express ownership over the long-term vision of the organisation.

When implementing change, Project Management involves establishing a holistic strategy, plan, timeline, and milestones to ensure that the change lasts. When ‘wins’ are made (i.e., successful completion of certain milestones) we aim to implement processes that recognise and reward achievement.

The final piece to the Business Alignment puzzle involves us making an assessment of Governance. It’s vital that terms of use, policy and procedures encourage appropriate participation while protecting critical IP and meeting compliance obligations.

People Engagement

Following the assessment of processes relating to Business Alignment, People Engagement strategies can be implemented. The five key components of people engagement include:

  1. Cultural Assessment
  2. Recognition
  3. Communication
  4. Education
  5. Key Influencers

Culture is the engine room of the organisation. The best way to measure an organisation’s culture is to engage with its employees and learn about “how we do things around here.” Any consultant entering a new organisation is required to take note of its culture and adapt accordingly. Apricot founder and CEO Derek Linsell was once the CEO of the AFL Foundation, a predominantly male sporting environment where irreverent language is often considered the norm. In stark contrast, Derek has also worked extensively with the Salvation Army, an evangelistic organisation dedicated to helping the poor and unfortunate.

In both cases, it was imperative that Derek be aware of the organisational culture in order to engage employees and be accepted by the group. It would have been inappropriate for Derek to use poor language in the presence of Salvation Army Officers, just as it would have been inappropriate for him to initiate a meeting with AFL executives by opening in prayer. Culture is related to productivity, and we at Apricot are aware that it heavily impacts analysis, planning, risk and ultimately the success of User Adoption initiatives.

Recognition processes promoted by Apricot encourage positive behaviors by linking them to performance, rewards, and goal achievement. Similar to the implementation of taxonomies for collaboration, recognition process provide clear guidelines and promote standards of behaviour that employees are encouraged to strive for.

When introducing new IT solutions, we ensure that employees understand new methods for viral and programmatic communication. Employees should feel supported and understand that there are structures in place for when assistance is required.

Importantly, establishing programs for ‘onboarding’, ongoing learning, and knowledge retention is vital for the change process to be effective. New staff members need to be properly educated and trained in new processes, not simply shown the ‘old way’ by employees who have not properly adopted the new system. In addition, employees should have access to ongoing training, and learning should be assessed regularly, either formally or informally.

Similar to understanding organisational structures and leadership paradigms during the business alignment process of change, we believe it is necessary to identify and empower advocates who will inspire others to engage. It is equally important to defuse resistors (i.e., find out what forces or people might dampen enthusiasm). In most cases, 20% of the group will feel positive about change, 20% will feel opposed to change, and the remaining 60% will be unsure about change. Our aim is to engage the middle 60% to bring the proportion of the group who are positive to 80%. In order to this we work with organisational leaders and make sure that they are intentional about promoting change and demonstrating their own adoption of new strategies.  After all, a new IT solution is only successful if people use it.

In summary, adding User Adoption solutions to technology enablement leads to a more attractive, comprehensive package and an improved ability sell. Deeper engagement with customers can also lead to ongoing relationships, additional projects and increased revenue. A win for everyone.

Thanks Vanessa. Anyone looking to find out more about Apricot and nSynergy’s combined approach to delivering winning SharePoint solutions, please get in touch today.

How to get the troops onboard with social collaboration tools

CollaborationIn our last blog we talked about SharePoint 2013’s new social collaboration capabilities. If correctly installed and rolled out, these tools can result in significant productivity improvements and financial savings, as well as becoming the perfect breeding ground for ideas and innovation. Therefore today we would like to start drilling down into a few best practices for User Adoption.

1.       Develop taxonomy for information

Many organisations learn the hard way when giving employees freedom to information if they don’t take the time to create standards around how information is presented and shared.

You can combat this by developing taxonomy or set of guidelines around content e.g. establishing naming conventions or subgroups. Setting the right parameters can make a big difference to how effective and useful collaboration is.

2.       Invest in education and training

We encourage every organisation we work with to adopt some kind of training or education program specifically for social collaboration. Generally, we do this through a combination of group training with some one-on-one sessions – tailored to each user group as necessary.

In addition, training on company collaboration tools should be part of the on-boarding process for every new employee. If employees understand the benefits of the tool from the outset they will quickly learn how to apply it to their work.

3.       Emphasise senior leadership support

Demonstrating that senior-leaders are visibly involved creates a powerful sphere of influence. Make it a priority to get your top people trained up early on, so their use of the technology can become a public endorsement.

For example, when rolling out their social collaboration tools, one of the biggest global IT companies encouraged senior leaders to be among the first to complete their profiles, start blogging and post status updates. Trust and transparency was created and, within one year, they went from 5,000 active employees to over 15,000.

These are just a few of the tactics we employ to ensure our clients achieve the highest rates of User Adoption when launching social collaboration tools. But as this is such a far-reaching topic, we’ll be sure to touch on it again in future. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch if you would like to learn more about SharePoint 2013 or our approach.