UK: Deploying A Collaboration Tool Into Your Business: Touch, Pause, Engage.

Last Updated: 19 October 2012
Article by David Ross

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

The deployment of a collaboration tool can be a great addition to a business and bring real benefits – but once you've decided what system is for you and perhaps run a pilot, what next? How should the new tool be deployed to your firm? As a starter for ten, here is a simple three stage process for the deployment of a collaboration tool. It's not exhaustive – but these stages should provide a good guide. The stages have borrowed a slightly overused rugby metaphor to describe the roll-out process – but it fits pretty well. Touch, Pause, Engage...!

Touch: Set your objectives, discuss the programme with stakeholders, and review the lessons learned from the pilot.

The first step should be to set your objectives. What do you want the tool to achieve? When will the roll-out start? Who are the users? Defining what you want the system to do by setting your goals will help everyone involved have these goals at the forefront of their minds.

When deploying a collaboration tool (or any other tool), senior stakeholder engagement is key. Visibility of senior stakeholder buy in is key to increasing adoption of the tool, while their input at an early stage of the project will make sure the system is designed to meet the needs of management (e.g. pipeline reporting) as well as staff and ensures alignment to the company strategy.

It's also important at this point to think about the lessons learned from any pilot or surveying that has been carried out. There are many benefits that can be gained from running a pilot – spotting potential obstacles, identifying super users, etc, and building on this will improve the final outcome for the wider release.

Pause: Planning and defining what success will look like.

Objectives have been set, stakeholders engaged, lessons learnt. The next step is to plan your roll-out. Every firm's plan will be different, but should detail the deployment strategy, how users will be trained, more specific timelines, how the system will be moderated (if at all) and contingency plans. Planning can be sometimes overlooked as it's one of the less glamorous parts of the roll-out, but determining how you will reach your objectives and what you'll do if things start to go off track is critical.

Once the plan is set, this should be used with the objectives to define what good will look like for your collaboration tool. Simple metrics such as number of users logging in per week can be helpful, but the reality of most businesses is more complex than this and you may need to use a number of measures to properly gauge success. It's important to tie results back to objectives – for example, if your system is being rolled out help share content, number of files posted will be a more important metric than login frequency. It is worth noting that different roles will use the system in different ways and therefore may need to be measured differently.

Engage: Engage users and deploy system.

As you approach the roll-out, user engagement is key. Openly discussing the new system and benefits with the users will create more buzz and excitement over its launch, and in particular holding sessions where you discuss the programme with small groups is a great way to build interest...but it's not hazard free – a dull presentation will do more harm than good and create an uphill struggle later!

Once users are engaged – it's time to roll-out. There is no 'right' way to roll-out – only a way that is right for your company based on the culture and fit of the system. Broadly speaking though, most deployments will fall into one (or more) of these three methods:

  1. Business Unit by Business Unit: The tool is deployed to one business unit at a time. This is the simplest way of deploying a collaboration tool as you only have a smaller, defined group of people to give access to and train. However, you risk losing some of the buzz and benefits if the roll-out is too slow.
  2. Big Bang: This approach involves setting a 'D-Day' which is widely communicated with the business. On the morning of this day – logins are sent out to all users with training materials and floorwalkers help support new users. It has the benefit of getting everyone up and running in one go, but is resource intensive during the short roll-out period.
  3. Viral: A viral deployment only works in some businesses, but when it does the rewards are great indeed. This approach involves giving a number of key users access, while everyone else has the ability to create an account if they wish. In the ideal outcome, the buzz and excitement from some key users being on the system and collaborating draws more in – so every user that joins has chosen to be there.

In conclusion....

As with any technical roll-out, deploying a collaboration tool into a business is not an exact science and there are bound to be bumps in the road along the way. There will be plenty of unforeseen challenges but there will also be unforeseen benefits and success can come in many different and unexpected ways. To minimise the number of unforeseen challenges, invest in upfront planning for the roll-out and scenario examples. This will give the greatest chance of your collaboration tool being a great success.

Deloitte will be hosting the next Social Media Leadership forum event 'Socialising the Workplace' on the 30th October 2012. If you would like to discuss this blog and other similar topics in more detail, please do join us.

 This is a follow up post to ' Collaboration: begin with a pilot, take it for a test drive'

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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