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Four Essential Actions for Implementing Collaboration Solutions

By Corey Jacobson, Director, CIO Advisory, KPMG

Corey Jacobson, Director, CIO Advisory, KPMG

Digital and mobile collaboration solutions are changing the way people work together, and businesses operate. In this digital age, inculcating new ways of working and introducing new capabilities rapidly into the organization’s culture are essential. Companies implementing collaboration solutions envision accelerated innovation, improved communications and productivity, and lower costs. Alternatively, solutions without coordinated IT and business support can jeopardize the overall success of a collaboration solution.

"End users determine the ultimate success of a collaboration solutionEnd users determine the ultimate success of a collaboration solution"

End users determine the ultimate success of a new collaboration solution. Very often companies purchase a collaboration solution without defining a clear business case for when and how it supports the company’s goals, objectives and ways of working. This in turn slows the user adoption rate and creates an unsatisfactory user experience. Incorporating the following four key actions in to the implementation strategy and plans will help ensure a successful implementation of a collaboration solution.

Understanding the Impact of Change

Managing change helps people adopt their new reality, as without their buy-in, having the best solution will not matter. Changing how users connect, communicate, and share can be very disruptive to an organization’s culture. A collaboration solution can have a major impact on the entire business model, and the rate and frequency of change can negatively impact business operations. Ensuring continuity and maximizing productivity requires a clear implementation strategy and plan, solid understanding of solution business and user impacts, and a plan for mitigating risks. When implementing a collaboration solution companies should (1) analyze organizational and operational risk and readiness; and (2) engage various stakeholders groups being impacted with targeted communications, involvement strategies and alignment efforts to create buy-in, ownership and understanding of the solution.

Utilizing Solution Champions

A well-placed solution champion can significantly improve the chances of the collaboration solution’s eventual success. Even though well-constructed communications and training can be effective, many times success hinges on a few well-placed early adopters. These champions are typically the go-to users within each business group promoting the use of the collaboration solution. Champions have incorporated the solution into the group’s ways of working and lead by example, showing others how the collaboration solution can be used effectively. They also advocate for their business group by raising concerns and 21 enhancements to the solution delivery team.

Building Awareness through Training

Training programs can improve adoption rates and reduce support costs. Training should be tailored to the needs of the users using the right tool, in the right place, at the right time. The training program should identify the gaps between user’s current knowledge and the new solution. After analyzing key learning requirements, document the stakeholder groups that need training. Focus on the different requirements for admin related tasks vs. general user tasks and develop a strategy to address the needs of both. Strategy includes a training timeline, development tools, roles and responsibilities for training delivery, and a plan to coordinate with other work streams. Deliver training through various forms and methods in order to create the most efficient training programs. Typical training options include video clips, quick reference guides, quizzes, and user manuals. Most importantly, make sure the training messaging effectively communicates expectations: the how, when, where, and why for using the solution.

Testing User Scenarios

Testing is essential. Without the requisite testing, a seemingly straightforward deployment can create a series of unintended outcomes. To ensure the expected warranty and utility of the solution, companies must account for the ways users interact with each other and systems. Scenario testing is a way to simulate real-world user experiences. It creates test cases that model the collaboration solution by covering multiple situations with multiple interactions, which help find defects that other testing may not uncover. Although complete testing of all possible interactions is virtually impossible, consider the most common interactions and situations when setting up scenario testing. It’s also important to provide users an effective way to submit defects that may encounter as it’s unlikely that scenario testing will have uncovered all potential problems. To further aid in testing, develop a pilot program. A key component of pilot testing is the incorporation of functionality checklists where pilot users test specific interactions. Other pilots might allow users to simply start working in the new system and organically find issues to report. Pilot testing can also be done in waves, testing your most tech-savvy users first and moving gradually towards the less technically sophisticated users.

Collaboration solutions when deployed with the business case in mind, foster effective information sharing. It drives innovation; cost-effectively connects people around the globe, and improves how users get their work done. More than ever before, bridging the gap between technical solutions and business needs is essential to the success of collaboration capabilities. These four actions solidify the foundation of a company’s collaboration capabilities encouraging employees, customers, and partners to more effectively connect, communicate, and share.

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