Deploying a UC solution does not only revolve around technical activities. Ensuring that people completely adopt the new product is what drives its ultimate success. Adoption and change management services help prepare and guide people through the deployment of the new solution.
This month, we’re asking Andrea Westbrook, Senior Adoption & Organizational Change Manager for the Americas to describe a day in her life. We’re keen to find out about the challenges that arise when trying to ensure successful adoption. By learning some tips for successful change, we hope to find out more about the huge benefits a good transition can bring and just how important a process Change Management truly is.
A unique process
Andrea has been working for the Cloud Communications division of NTT Ltd. for two years now. She manages a team of five, covering the entire Americas region “from the polar bears in Canada to the penguins in Patagonia.” Her change management program blends different principles from different world-class Change Management organizations. By taking those principles and adopting them to UC products, her team have created its own process. These boil down to the following five most important components: stakeholder analysis, resistance identification and management, communication, training, and persona identification.
Furthermore, Andrea and her team follow the principles of ADKAR. They generate awareness and desire for the new state, communicate, understand the client’s needs, manage any resistance and make sure people have the right information at the right time. To do so, she works hand-in-hand with her colleagues in Advanced Services Project Management and Solution Engineering to “make sure we understand exactly what within the technology what the client is going to use – and why.”
In addition, Andrea has incorporated one more piece into her process: sustaining knowledge. “Because Cloud UC products change very frequently, you need to communicate those changes to your employee population. That way, they are not surprised by new features. They can continue getting the best out of the product after the deployment has ended.”
A job of adaptation and training
However, it’s worth noting that whilst this work process won’t always be followed to the letter, the spirit of it always will be. Andrea and her team constantly need to adapt their change management program to their clients. “Our job depends on the client’s level of expertise. The most important piece of information at the beginning is understanding the customers capabilities. After that, we adapt based on a scale of zero knowledge of change management to very experienced. Our methodology is very scalable and is very adaptable and we deliberately created it that way. My team knows what will work the most successfully, from a light touch to a very immersive experience.”
“We don’t just tell people how to use our product. We tell them how to use it in their environment.” According then to the client’s requirements, Andrea adjusts the training. They deliver instructor-led training using the product itself. For those people that want to learn by themselves, they can access recordings of the training sessions, and short video clips. “We will also launch soon some interactive self-paced training with clickable exercises.”
To complete this personalized training, the Change Management team sometimes also provide a “Change Champions” program for experienced clients. Internal champions are recruited from the client’s company. They encourage their colleagues to use the new solution more meaningfully than IT ever can. “With this sustaining program, we train experts so that the customer continues to receive new feature information, refresher training, training for new starters and tools to take their knowledge to the next level.”
People cannot be left aside
According to Andrea, training alone is not enough for employees to embrace a change. They need to know why it is happening. To help in the transition, an unmissable step is to communicate, at the right time, on the “what, why and how” of the change. That way, there is more chance that reluctant employees will transform a negative opinion into a positive one.
“Change happens one person at a time. You have to make sure that all of those critical “one persons” are included”. Andrea doesn’t underestimate the importance of employees’ opinions. As she says, it is the least predictable part in a transition. Indeed, one group of employees may have completely different needs from another group. “We notice that the clients that pay attention to adoption and change management from a people perspective are much more successful than the ones that don’t.”
If you ask Andrea what her favourite project was, she will answer without hesitation “the Florida Crystals Microsoft Teams implementation.” At the beginning, the business team was reluctant to engage because of previous poor experiences implementing new technology. To address this, Andrea and her team, with the help of some Change Champions, created a network. That way, every employee could share questions and help colleagues on the new implementation. “And it worked so well. These people are now volunteering to help with other projects”. This project shows that people are such an important piece for a successful transition. You need to communicate, help and involve your employees.
A good transition brings great benefits
Andrea shared with us an experience she had in a previous company. Employees decided to find their workaround to avoid using the company’s technology because they didn’t understand it. They had two problems: shadow IT and non-compliance. “They were developing a technology solution without having any experience. It was badly designed. It didn’t work very well and it didn’t meet all of the regulatory requirements that the company had to meet.”
Fortunately, the company discovered it before there was any serious implications. At that point, they decided to take change management seriously, to avoid frustration, complaint, negativity, and poor experience. “We want people to use the technology that’s provided, and we want it to be used well. We want it to be a positive experience. That’s the benefit of a good transition.”
To conclude, we will let Andrea have the last word. “The clients that jump into Change Management have a better experience with their employees. They have less support tickets, less frustration, less shadow IT and higher productivity. If you bring your people along with you and you make a dedicated effort to do so, you will hit your goals much more successfully than if you don’t. People can – and do – make a big difference.”