How to assemble a digital workplace team?

eXo Platform Blog

Embarking on a new digital workplace project is often a tricky task for businesses. Whether to buy or build a digital workplace, businesses need to put in place a project team that will be responsible for selecting and managing the digital workplace and guaranteeing both its initial and long term adoption.

A failure to do so means that the project will be basically doomed from the start. More often than not, we have witnessed businesses rely solely on IT to manage the project throughout its various phases completely overlooking other functions. In this case, the digital workplace wouldn’t necessarily reflect the needs’ of multiple teams or to create and engage communities; thus making it irrelevant for some end-users.

In truth, a digital workplace project is a multidisciplinary one. A host of teams should be included in various phases of the project from researching and planning all the way to change management, launch, post-launch and so on.

This leads us to three important questions:

(1) Which teams or departments should be included in a digital workplace project team?

(2) What are the common and most important roles?

(3) What are the best practices to approach such a project?

In this blog post we will try to answer these questions and share our years of experience managing digital workplace projects and dealing with a diverse client portfolio.

  1. Which teams should be involved in a digital workplace project team?

As mentioned earlier, a digital workplace project is designed for everyone in a given organization. This means that multiple teams and departments should have their say in selecting and managing the digital workplace.

When we approach a technology related project, the focus shifts primarily to IT, and rightly so. At the end of the day, their deep understanding in technology, knowledge of the collaborative market and the available solutions give them an edge over other teams especially in the initial phases. Here, IT has the critical responsibility to either choose the right solution among many or build one from scratch. This is why during product demos for example, IT team members are always present to ask a variety of functional and especially technical questions about hosting, software development, among other questions.

However, digital workplace projects are so complex that they require the input of multiple teams and departments to guarantee their long term success. These teams also require the assistance of external consultants (ideally from a tech provider or a local certified partner) to help with matters related to the identification of use cases, change management, training, community management, and so on.

Depending on the complexity of the project and the industry, we can see businesses refer to a host of different teams to handle their digital workplace. Ideally, HR and internal communications should always be involved. Their role is crucial to first promote and spread the word about the new project, and, of course, continuously produce and convey engaging, informative, and above all, targeted content for their communities.

Having said this, a digital workplace project team shouldn’t only include IT, HR and internal communications. Different industries have different challenges, which induce a whole new approach and teams to effectively put in place and run a digital workplace. For example, within highly regulated industries such as healthcare and finance, organizations should take into consideration the critical nature of the information stored and exchanged within and between departments by including stakeholders responsible for managing large volumes of data and communicating policies and procedures.

Additionally, we cannot speak about a project of this magnitude without referring to decision makers. Generally speaking, people responsible for making such decisions should always be in direct contact with the departments we have listed above. Decision makers often include the C-suite (CIOs, COOs all the way to CEOs depending on the organization). The reasoning behind this is rather straightforward. Typically, the C-suite has better visibility on available budget and is directly involved in producing the digital workplace governance model. The latter should be in line with the whole organizational vision and refers to the collection of processes, roles, responsibilities and rules that can deliver and shape the digital workplace.

  1. Common roles in a digital workplace project team

Before discussing the roles and responsibilities of project team members, we should first identify the various phases of a digital workplace project. Generally, a typical digital workplace project can be divided into two main parts. First is research and planning. Here members are responsible to assess their current IT environments, identify any user painpints, look for potential solutions and, last but not least, implement the chosen one. The second phase is more about managing and maintaining the digital workplace. Here, team members are expected to ensure high levels of adoption and engagement through various types of content, managing permissions and access control and eventually measure and assess the digital workplace for future improvements.

Now that you have an overall idea about the various phases of a digital workplace project, let’s dive deeper into each role.

  • Digital workplace project manager

As is the case with any new initiative, digital workplace projects require a project manager. The latter will be involved during every phase of the project by coordinating different stakeholders and making sure the project is conducted within the predefined budget and time.

The project manager’s most common responsibilities include identifying end-users’ needs, choosing the right solution, leading the implementation/deployment and developing digital workplace policies and guidelines.

  • Digital workplace committee

The digital workplace committee usually consists of executives who determine the whole vision of the project and provide the required funds for the project team. More often than not, the digital workplace committee has the final say in selecting the solution and laying the foundation for its usage. They are always in constant contact with different parties to stay up to date with the latest developments and act accordingly by developing and aligning strategies and visions.

  • Digital workplace administrator

The digital workplace administrator is mainly responsible for handling matters regarding the overall and day-to-day functioning of the digital workplace. Their main priorities are to ensure that users are well equipped to use the solutions to its full capacity and especially, that they are well aware of the various policies, procedures and guidelines.

In most digital workplace teams, administrators are also responsible for managing permissions (be it accessing specific content or areas/spaces) in order to ensure that content is secure and can only be displayed to the right people. Last but not least, this role also involves determining and tracking specific KPIs (usage, engagement and efficiency metrics, satisfaction scores, among others).

The role of the administrator is often given to IT personnel since they have the required technical skills to handle the solution by importing users, managing permissions, performing further customization, etc.

  • Community managers and content creators

It goes without saying that content is the backbone of any successful digital workplace. This is why it is extremely important to assign content creators whose sole objective is to create and convey compelling content in order to engage communities and keep them informed about a variety of news, activities, events and policies.

Usually, this role is given to either HR or internal communications specialists who are obviously well equipped to handle such a position. Their understanding of corporate storytelling and ability to develop both content plans and various types of content help them massively to get everyone onboard and ensure that the digital workplace isn’t just a typical static intranet.

  1. Best practices to create a digital workplace winning team

  • Determine the project scope and objectives

The first step towards assembling a digital workplace project team is to establish the project’s overall scope. By answering the “what”, “why” and especially the “how” of the project, team leaders would have a holistic view of what is needed to accomplish these goals and would be able to determine the skills and capabilities to look for in potential team members.

  • Break down roles and responsibilities

Once the project’s scope is identified, it is important to break down the project into a set of tasks and subtasks. This way, team leaders would be able to associate certain activities with the individuals most qualified to manage and handle them based on their skills set and of course their level of experience.

Each of the roles mentioned above require individuals who have the capacity to perform them. For example, project managers should be able to effectively coordinate various stakeholders and lead by example, administrators require the technical expertise to handle technicalities and effectively manage the platform and content creators should obviously be effective in creating and conveying content.

  • Look for specific traits and qualities

To create a team capable of collaborating together on a continuous basis, it is important to look for specific traits and qualities. The two most obvious qualities to look for in potential team members are communications and the ability to work well within teams. Regardless of abilities, all team members should be able to communicate and collaborate with their peers and effectively get their point across all the while avoiding conflicts. Both these traits have the potential to keep everyone on the same page and create an environment of trust and transparency where everyone is able to share their ideas.

Another important quality to look for is organization. Organized individuals make for excellent team members and for a good reason. Their ability to organize their tasks by order of importance coupled with their efficient use of resources would significantly help the entire team respect predefined deadlines and achieve the project’s overall objectives.

Additionally, when selecting team members, experienced team leaders often look for proactive individuals. The latter are synonymous with leadership, control, preparation and the capability to anticipate changing circumstances.

Last but not least, managing a project should also be about skills and experience. Digital workplace projects are often critical for businesses, which obviously require individuals with the right experience and set of skills to lead them from the start.

  • Make sure to include people from diverse backgrounds

When it comes to digital workplace projects or any other project for that matter, the more diverse the team the more it is able to innovate, come up with new ideas and solve problems efficiently. With diverse teams, there are endless possibilities for team members to learn from each other’s experiences and expertise which can only be beneficial for the entire team. Additionally, having individuals from diverse backgrounds would eventually help in widening perspectives and examining problems from a variety of lenses, which can only lead to better informed decisions.

Let’s summarize

A common misconception about selecting and creating project teams is that they solely revolve around the individual qualities of team members. Sure, as we have mentioned there are certain qualities and skills that should be considered.

However, if team members are not equipped with the right tools and best practices to facilitate their constant interactions they will most likely be confused and disengaged. This is why it is important to lay the foundation for effective communication and collaboration right from the start to ensure team members know how, when and where to communicate, thus avoiding any confusion or potential conflicts.

Digital Workplace Solutions

 

What is a digital workplace?

A digital workplace is a next generation of intranet solutions or intranet 2.0 that is based on three pillars: communication, collaboration and information. In a way this definition is true but it doesn’t cover the whole spectrum of the term.
Here are some definitions of digital workplace:

  • An evolution of the intranet
  • A user centric digital experience

See the full definition of digital workplace


What are the common and most important roles in a digital workplace project team?

Here are the common roles in a digital workplace project team:

  • Digital workplace project manager
  • Digital workplace committee
  • Digital workplace administrator
  • Community managers and content creators

Find out the common and most important roles in a digital workplace project team


What are the best practices to create a digital workplace winning team?

Here are 4 Tips to create a successful digital workplace team:

  • Determine the project scope and objectives
  • Break down roles and responsibilities
  • Look for specific traits and qualities
  • Make sure to include people from diverse

Find out some best practices to create a successful digital workplace project team


How to launch an effective Digital Workplace?
  1. Understand users’ needs
  2. Identify your digital workplace ambassadors
  3. Build the digital workplace brand
  4. Training and onboarding
  5. Plan the big day

Find out how to create a digital workplace


How to be a good digital workplace manager?
  • Analytical skills and approach
  • Focus on employees
  • Communication and strategic vision

The success of a digital workplace project depends on a number of factors

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Product Marketing Specialist

I am a product marketing specialist at eXo. My role is to assist marketing and sales teams in their operations and present our digital workplace solution to the world. I mainly blog about the latest tech trends, digital transformation, internal communication and how to navigate through eXo Platform.

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