A huge amount of effort and resources go into planning, designing, building, testing and deploying a new Digital Workspace. A Digital Workspace may include a traditional intranet site for top-down communications, sharing of content like forms and contact lists, document management, and teamwork tools. Nowadays, to qualify as a Digital Workspace, your platform may also include live chat, integrated work tools (e.g., individual files and email), and deep integrations into back-end business systems like CRM or IT-service management.
Yes, a lot of effort and thought goes into building and launching. But what about after launch? If you build it, will they come? Far too many intranets and Digital Workspaces get too little investment into making sure corporate users use and get value from the tools—known as adoption.
Another area that gets far too little attention is the who, when and how of the ongoing maintenance and control of the solution—which in the trade is called governance.
Our strong advice based on decades of experience in these projects is to plan, at the kickoff, for what will happen when the solution is delivered into the users' hands. This is too important, with too much money at stake, to leave to chance and hope.
Almost all of the things can go wrong after the launch of any technology tool within an organization are actually the same thing—failure of adoption. The project team markets the solution to the user base and trains them up on how to use it...and nobody actually does.
There is a wide variety of causes of adoption failure:
Sometimes there are no acute symptoms because the organization is not checking for them, that is, not asking for user feedback or not reviewing the analytics regularly. But if you are looking, you will find one or more of the following:
The bottom line in failure of adoption is that your end users do not trust the solution, either because they don't see the value, or the project team has not actually provided the value (for the users).
Things change after the launch of new tools, but not always for the worst. A sign that users are seeing/finding the value in the collaboration suite (besides good analytics reports): the solution owners are getting regular requests for MORE features, applications and integrations. When the IT team is overwhelmed with requests, well, that may be a bad sign (namely, that the initial design was not ambitious enough). But a steady trickle of requests for more is a very good outcome of a launch. But if mismanaged, this enviable situation can turn on you, and ruin the good will caused by the initial strong uptake.
Your project team needs to plan for what happens after launch from day one. As the cliché goes, you can't manage what you don't measure. You're going to need to prove the whole project was worth the investment, right? That means customer satisfaction surveys—regular ones. You'll also need to plan your usage analytics from the very beginning, and create a plan to review them regularly. In both cases, you'll need to decide, before you start building, the solution's raison d'être, its goals and targets, and to do that, you'll need to plan what questions to ask (of both the users and the logs).
Is there a perfect approach to making sure everything goes smoothly? No, but there is one that is almost perfect. I'll be discussing that in Part 2 of this blog series.