Digital workplace project: 3 biggest fears and ways to avoid them

eXo Platform Blog

It has been a while since I wanted to explore the theme of client fears. Indeed, it always strikes me, when taking feedback from our delivery teams, how much clients’ biggest fears about their digital workplace project differ from our own fears. Especially, when we are at the start of a new project.

As we celebrate Halloween, it seems like the perfect opportunity to talk about it. So what are your biggest fears when starting a digital workplace project? Below is our clients’ top 3 fears list.

  1. That the management will not like it

Even though most digital workplaces are owned by senior executives, the fear of disappointing the CEO or their peers is never far from their minds. And that is only natural.

A digital workplace is often a strategic initiative, very visible and quite expensive. Therefore, the expectations of everyone involved are huge.

Moreover, the situation gets even more stressful when there are political struggles within the management pool – for example when, the digital workplace budget gets attributed to HR rather than the IT or Communications departments, or vice versa. The frustrated department might be extra demanding.

  1. That the users will not like it

 

Imagine you spend months preparing and driving your digital workplace. And finally you launch and … nothing. Users check it out and never come back. It is so cool, but nobody but you seems to be really using it.

In the end, all you have to show for your efforts is a beautiful internal website, a spent budget, a disappointed boss and laughing colleagues (back to point 1).

This is a very scary vision for any digital workplace owner.

  1. Failure to execute

 

Designing and delivering a digital workplace is a huge endeavour and a big responsibility.

Imagine another catastrophic scenario – you launch an IT project to build your digital workplace vision, you spend money, the project runs late, there are unexpected issues … you have no more budget and nothing to show for your efforts.

Which is worse? Launching but failing to add lasting value to your employees or not being able to launch at all?

What about eXo in all this? Are we afraid of the same things as our clients? Not exactly. We have our own “catastrophy in the making” scenarios. Here is our top 3.

  1. Endless project

We are afraid when the digital workplace team comes up with a very long list of custom developments that are “absolutely necessary” for the digital workplace to work for “their employees”.

Since all of them are “absolutely necessary” for the first launch, the client starts with a development cycle of several months. The longer the cycle, the more things can get delayed. Worse, the team keeps adding new things to the list, almost as if they were afraid to launch. Everything needs to be perfect but is never perfect enough.

One of two things generally happens: either the client never gets there, or he gets there but the users’ needs have evolved so much in the interval that the project already needs a makeover.

  1. Understaffed change management and adoption

A lot has been written and said on the subject of change management and the key role of the human component in any digital transformation. However, clients rarely fully measure what is needed to really onboard the users. Some expect their digital workplace to just work and go viral. Some expect onboarding work to be needed (training for instance), but only after the project launch. Others have an idea what needs to be done, but do not know who will handle it internally.

Any such situation is on our top 3 fears list for the project success. As usual, this has a direct impact on the users’ satisfaction and adoption.

 

  1. Hostage situation

Finally, we are also afraid of what we call a hostage situation. That is when the digital workplace team takes its own requirements or that of a couple of peers as the general rule that applies to most employees in the organisation.

Product owners know this well – it is dangerous to guide your product evolution only by what feels right for you as a user. This will only capture 1 user out of millions of potential users and will make you go the wrong direction 99% of the time.

The same is true with the digital workplace. Make one solely for you – chances are you will be the only one to use it.

Taking a step back, we share our clients’ goals and concerns, but we approach them from a different angle. As a consequence, we see different ways to deal with the fears and avoid failures. What can we do?

  1. Avoid failure to execute by avoiding an endless project. Instead, adopt an agile approach for your project. Launch as soon as possible to confront your employees to the digital workplace and gradually drive improvements from users’ feedback.
  2. Convince your users by taking them into account at each step of the project, from the very first design stage. Make sure your change management has an owner and a sufficient budget/time allocated to make it happen. Build your workplace for your employees directly, rather than providing them with something and then trying to make them learn it.
  3. Manage your management. Try your best to handle the pressure without jeopardizing your digital workplace success by tailoring it only to your management needs. Communicate about your process and progress. When you successfully launch and onboard your users, you will have no trouble to prove the project value to your management with tangible results.

Do not hesitate to comment. We would love to hear about your fears for your digital workplace or answer your questions about what we do

 

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I am eXo’s chief operating officer, ultimately responsible for all operations ensuring client acquisition and success. In this blog, I write about modern workplaces and their benefits to organisations and their people. Occasionally, I also blog about my personal areas of interest, such as communication, personal development, work–life balance, sustainability and gender equality.

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