Enterprise collaboration is a hot topic these days. Companies actively look for ways to modernize their internal communications and to collaborate more effectively, introducing new generation tools into their employees’ daily routines with efficiency gains in mind.
If you, too, are considering introducing some form of social collaboration into your organization—a collaborative intranet for example—keep in mind that human change management will account for 80 percent of your initiative’s success or failure. And contrary to common wisdom, the change management needs to start well before the actual tool introduction or even before a tool is chosen.
Below, we recap the steps that need to be followed BEFORE an actual social collaboration launch in order to start from a winning position and ultimately succeed.
Step 1. Make sure it is a cross-team initiative where the IT and the functional teams are represented
A social collaboration initiative is bound to deeply affect all employees in the company in terms of the internal communications as well as the company IT structure. Introducing all of the protagonists’ representatives as early as possible into the process optimizes the ultimate chances of succeeding.
So if you are an IT executive, invite other teams (typically an HR executive and the internal communications department) into your planning process and involve them in all steps of the project. If you don’t, prepare yourself for endless complaints about the implementation and, ultimately, failure.
In the same way, if you represent the users, get IT on board as an active member and not just an executor. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your project stalled forever and IT being responsible for security, company IT standards, and the tool’s integration into the company environment.
Step 2. Plan for integration into your organization’s work processes
Many organizations already suffer from a pile-up of collaboration tools, which hinders efficiency rather than promoting it. Sometimes for each team and even for each specific task, a different tool is used, forcing employees to switch from tool to tool and make a decision as to what communication channel to use.
Social collaboration definitely does not resolve all issues, but it can help if you give some serious thought as to how it can speed up internal business processes. Identifying communications that can flow faster through social collaboration channels and workflows that can be performed through tools integrated via a social core also allows for a more compelling “what’s in it for me” argument for employees.
Step 3. Define and state your main purpose
Going first through Step 2 will help define a specific goal that you want to achieve through social collaboration and possibly even future metrics for your success. Spending some time refining this goal and formulating it helps all players get on the same page as to what your organization hopes to achieve.
Some examples of goals that we heard from our clients include improving employee engagement, providing a unifying link for collaboration tools, switching to a user-centric environment, improving company communications, providing communication channels between front sales and back R&D teams, and reducing mail-all overload.
Step 4. Plan for integration with other collaboration tools
A stand-alone social tool that employees have to subscribe to for the sole purpose of networking among colleagues rarely becomes a success, especially if the organization fosters multiple collaboration tools. Instead, it becomes just another tool. In fact, lack of integration is one of the most common reasons social and collaboration tools fail in an enterprise setting.
Alternatively, social collaboration sticks much better when it is directly planned as the centralized backbone of other internal collaboration systems rather than a replacement or additional tool. In order to achieve that, the project needs to aim for sufficient integration—at a minimum, integration with the enterprise directory and the internal document management system
Step 5. Ensure top management support
Ensuring management cooperation can be a make-it or break-it factor for social collaboration adoption. In a nutshell, it is near to impossible to build a successful internal social collaboration system without management support throughout the organization and that is usually ensured from the top down.
Step 5 bis. Define how social you really want to be.
One of the reasons to ensure top management support as soon as possible is to define the “next step” social engagement goal for your organisation. Most managers do not desire to switch overnight to a transparent culture where everyone can voice their opinion about everything. But most managers welcome the idea of communications improvement.
The good thing about social collaboration in an enterprise is that it does not have to be an open forum if the management does not want it to be. You can choose to enable social for teams or department collaboration only, restrict permissions as to what can be posted where, etc.
Having a better vision of what you are trying to achieve will also help you choose the right solution for your needs.
Step 6. Choose your solution.
Finally, after all of the above, your project team is ready to choose your solution among different software providers or an internal development by the IT group. Take your time—the right technology choice does not guarantee success, but a bad choice is surely enough to prevent it.
At this stage, a common pitfall is to spend hours evaluating feature scopes among the available solutions. Features are important, but they will make no difference if the tool is not used by employees, that is, features do not drive adoption.
In our opinion, the two main things to remember while shopping around are these:
- User experience—This is much more important for social collaboration than any other software.
- Integration capabilities—How easy would it be to integrate the tool of your choice with your existing environment?
The importance of the above points is commonly underrated but can make a huge difference in the adoption success.
Let us know if the post has been helpful to you by leaving a comment or contacting us. Good luck in your collaboration initiative!