By Erica Hodgson
The other day I was at a conference where not-for-profit organisations were trying to figure out how they continue to service their audiences with their budgets being murderously cut. It amazed me how open they were to change, how welcoming they were to innovative ideas and new thinking.
But then I thought, the people who chose to attend such a conference are the early adopters; they’re the easy ones to get on board. There are other people, the majority perhaps, that do not attend such events and yet really need to hear these ideas and work with these remarkable people.
Because enthusiastic, open, early-adopters are only a part of cultural or organisational change. Only when we can engage the majority, and the laggards, can we help embed change.
The ‘big bang’ intranet launch leaves people behind
There was a time when IT departments would develop great tools and launch them with a big bang upon the organisation.
While the tools were developed following excellent IT processes, few within the organisation used them. And that was that; the IT department had provided the tools, and then were on to the next great idea.
When developing a new intranet, or rolling out any big system, proper change management is needed to help understand people’s requirements alongside the stated ‘business requirements’. Change management is more than a good communications plan, and more than user research – it’s about working with end-users to reduce their anxieties, learn new skills, and help them adjust to an ever-changing digital workplace.
In 2008, I developed the ‘Get IT’ change methodology, to help engage ‘end users’ and involve people at every stage of technical development.
‘Get IT’ provides a phased approach to help organisations address the user’s journey through change and increase adoption of new ways of working. When ‘Get IT’ was applied to the Department of Education’s re-launched SharePoint intranet, we reduced transition time to BAU (business as usual) by 30% – meaning, we helped people get back to working as efficiently (or more) as before in less time than in previous launches.
‘Get IT’ is more than communication and marketing. It’s more than training; it’s more than support on the day of launch. It is about understanding who your users are, how they function in the organisation and what actual working benefits the system will provide them. Based on this information you can design an overall journey for your users, taking them from concept to design, on to the beta and through to release and use.
To understand your end-users you need to get to know who they are, what they expect, how they like to be talked to, how they like to learn, and how they like to be supported. You know the best ways to get this information – you can use interviews, shadowing, have informal chats – any method as long as you are asking questions and listening. You’ll never get a truly ‘representative’ sample, so keep communicating and keep listening. The information people provide is the insight you need to create in-depth profiles and use-cases.
As you’ll expect, people across the organisation will have different skill levels and mixed approaches to technology. There are IT natives who can adapt to using a variety of different tools with ease, and others who do not understand simple terms like ‘cursor’ or tasks such as ‘right-click’. Though frustrating – such know-how can be easily taught.
As you build your profiles and personas, and ask the right questions, you’ll come to an understanding of people’s willingness to experiment, learn, and change. And this is harder to address.
Once you have the information about your users, skills and attitude, you need to analyse what the new system will mean to your audience and how it will affect their working day (for good and bad). That will be the ‘brief’ for you to build your introductory communications and training.
You can also use what you’ve discovered from user research with the programme stakeholders and senior management team to help them move away from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to IT / digital changes and to gain the resources and time needed to address and meet the needs and concerns you’ve found.
Technology, intranets, sites – are only tools at the end of the day; that is all they will ever be. The success of an intranet is not about the platform or the integrated tools – it’s about understanding the people who need to get things done, and taking them on a journey to achieve the vision and mission set out by the business objectives.
Erica Hodgson, IT / Digital transformation
An IT / Digital business transformation professional specialising in improving organisational adoption of new technologies. Erica has a proven track record in developing and implementing award winning, effective and sustainable change programmes within UK central government departments.
With more than 10 years’ experience providing government departments solutions to improve their user engagement within cultural change programmes, Erica recently launched her own consultancy providing organisations with creative solutions to increase the adoption of new ways of working through IT enabled change programmes.