7 top tips to improve Office 365 adoption and change management

Adoption and change management (ACM) is an essential activity in ensuring that your Office 365 implementation is successful and delivers the enterprise-wide benefits and ROI expected by your senior stakeholders. Office 365 opens many opportunities to raise productivity, drive innovation and transform collaboration, but this often requires users to learn how and when to use new tools, adopt new behaviours and gain confidence across the digital workplace.

Successfully changing user behaviour is never a given and is rarely mandated; employees are also usually very busy, frequently overworked, and already bombarded with messaging relating to other change initiatives. Digital workplace teams need to work hard to gain the attention of employees, win over hearts and minds, and continually reiterate messaging to truly embed behaviours.

Here at Content Formula, we’ve implemented hundreds of Office 365 / Microsoft 365 projects, often supporting the ACM work stream with launch, support and training activities. In this post we’re going to explore seven tactics that we’ve seen often work.

1 Involve and train your champions

In our recent post about how to drive Office 365 adoption and change management, one of our eight essential elements  was “top-down and bottom-up communications”. While you must show a tool has the support of senior leaders, bottom-up messaging from peers also helps to drive adoption. Involving a network of local champions and ambassadors who can frame their messages using scenarios, use cases and terminology that makes sense to different locations, functions and teams, will make change communications far more relevant across a diverse workforce.

Hearing a recommendation from a peer also can also give s a message more authenticity, while champions can also provide some local support by answering questions and even performing some training. We’ve seen many times how a a network of enthusiastic champions makes a real difference in an Office 365 roll-out and helps small central digital workplace teams achieve more.

Successful champions tend to be recruited on a voluntary basis rather than being “conscripted”, and central teams are often surprised about how enthusiastic and energetic they can be. Training and engaging them through formal and top-up virtual sessions, assets such as slide decks, maintaining a support community, and recognising the contribution of individuals, are all tactics that can help.

2 Focus on real use cases rather than concepts

All too often Office 365 change management campaigns centre on higher level concepts such as “increasing collaboration” and “working smarter” and “increasing our productivity”. These messages are all benefits of the platform, but they need to be communicated in conjunction with specific use cases that resonate with employees and illustrate the tangible benefits of the 365 platform. In this way, users can more easily see “what’s in it for me” and how Microsoft 365 and its tools will impact everyday working practices.

For example, your new digital workplace might help users to see all their notifications in one place, find the contact details of a colleague, ask a question to an expert, see the latest news, support a professional community, make it easier to manage a project, or use a whiteboard in a virtual meeting. All these are real world use cases that illustrate the benefits of a platform and support adoption efforts.

3 Creating engaging campaign assets

Creating engaging campaign assets to increase awareness of the launch of Office 365 or some of its constituent tools such as a SharePoint intranet or Yammer can support adoption and change management efforts. Eye-catching images, imaginative concepts, relevant and relatable messaging and consistent themes across multiple formats can all help to drive curiosity, spread information and even create a “buzz”.

There are a number of different types of assets that can be created, including:

  • Page tours that walk users through new features on first logging into a site, for example an intranet
  • Promotional banners that can appear across your digital channels
  • A training centre with self-serve resources – see below for more details
  • “How to” videos that are instructional, but also might explain the “why” and the related benefits of a tool
  • Tailored training to special groups including digital champions, content publishers or managers
  • Lock screen graphics to reiterate messaging across the office
  • Even a Q&A chatbot that can answer questions about Microsoft 365 or tools within it.

We’ve produced all of the above for different clients, and each has proved to be successful. We can help produce these for you as part of our new Office 365 ACM service.

4 Plan out your reinforcement activities

When we support our clients with Office 365 ACM we follow the ADKAR framework – a leading change management model based around five stages (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement). This last “reinforcement” stage is very important as it truly embeds changes in user behaviour for the longer term; without it, any initially promising adoption levels from your first launch efforts can start to wither.

From the outset, always plan some reinforcement activities that follow your initial launch period to remind users of your core messaging on an ongoing basis, building on your earlier efforts. These activities could include:

  • recognising adoption efforts such as highlighting teams who have used the platform successfully
  • leading engagement-led activities that encourage people to use tools such as a mini-campaign to get people to complete their profile
  • providing ongoing support, for example through an online Yammer community.

5 Plan self-serve resources

Self-serve resources can support adoption for users, as well as special groups like content owners and publishers, by providing information on how to use Office 365 tools, which tools to use for what purpose, and the benefits of each. Creating a self-service SharePoint site or intranet site aimed at your users, with an additional site for your content publishers, can prove to be a valuable resource that IT support helpdesks and digital workplace teams can point people towards. These resources are not only useful in your initial launch, but also an ongoing basis.

For example, when we helped Entain Group launch their Entain.Me digital workplace, we created a site for content publishers called “Entain.Me Guru” with how to guides, help videos, recordings of publisher training sessions and an embedded Yammer feed from a publisher support community. The site was created in the run up to launch but has remained live as an ongoing reference point.

6 Use Office 365 to drive usage of Office 365

The Office 365 platform itself can actually support some of your Office 365 ACM activities. For example, Yammer groups make excellent user or community support groups, while a SharePoint site is the obvious choice for a learning or knowledge-focused resources site. Taking an “eat your own dog food approach” and using the very tools that you are trying to promote to drive your ACM efforts sends the right message to both users and stakeholders, and can even get employees used to using the relevant tools.

7 Ring fence your ACM budget

As a rule, adoption and change management activities relating to Office 365 are sometimes not adequately budgeted for. The extent of ACM effort needed tends to be either underestimated or does not extend for a long enough period. Another danger is that there are other unexpected costs aspects of the project that emerge which were not budgeted for; these then end up eating into the ACM budget, which tends to be regarded as expendable, compared to other workstreams within your project. If you do have an ACM budget, ring fence it to ensure that it doesn’t get spent on other project aspects and that the spend is dedicated to critical ACM activities.

Need help with your Office 365 change and adoption? Get in touch!

We know how important adoption and change management is to the success of Office 365; this is why we’ve created a new Office 365 ACM service that assists with everything from planning your strategy to creating engaging campaign assets to providing ongoing support. If you’d like to discuss this or any aspect of growing your Office 365 adoption, then get in touch!

How to drive Office 365 adoption and change management

Adoption and change management (ACM) is a big-ticket item for any team involved in launching Office 365 or Microsoft 365, as well as constituent tools such as a SharePoint intranet, Yammer, Teams, Viva and OneDrive. Microsoft 365 is a strategic platform that is designed to be used every day at scale, so you want to make sure as many employees as possible are using it in a way that drives value.

Good levels of adoption can never be assumed – they don’t just happen on their own. Change management efforts are needed to influence both the hearts and minds of busy employees so they know how, when and why to use the new digital workplace tools at their fingertips. It’s worth noting that “adoption” is not just about getting higher numbers of active users, but also about using tools in the best way possible to drive productivity and achieve positive outcomes. All your employees using 365 tools, but in less-than-ideal ways, does not amount to good adoption.

In this post, we’re going to explore why ACM is so important for the Microsoft 365 digital workplace, some of the associated challenges and the elements that need to be in place for a successful ACM programme.

Why is good Office 365 adoption so important?

There are several reasons why adoption of the 365 platform and its tools is critical.

Supporting your ROI

Office 365 is a significant strategic investment, designed for adoption at scale. The benefits will not be fully unlocked without good levels of adoption, and you need an active ACM initiative to achieve ROI.

Productivity and efficiency

365 tools are designed to transform both employee and team productivity, improving efficiency across multiple processes. The higher the adoption levels, the more opportunities there are to derive productivity benefits across your organisation.

Communication and collaboration

Teams, Yammer and SharePoint can revolutionise communication around companies, as well as transform collaboration across different locations. Good levels of adoption lead to flows of information and knowledge that are critical for remaining competitive, allowing everybody in the company to work together effectively.

Enables remote and hybrid working

The age of hybrid work is here. Good adoption of 365 tools is critical when navigating the challenges of remote and hybrid working.

High profile use cases

A range of high-profile use cases rely on good adoption of 365 tools, such as internal communications that reach a high number of staff.

Advancing the digital workplace

When you have good adoption levels across your digital workplace, this increases your workforce’s confidence in using digital tools, in turn providing an excellent base from which evolve your landscape by adding more 365 tools to deliver additional value.

What are the challenges around adoption, and how does change management help?

Challenges can emerge when trying to reach adoption levels and usage patterns that really drive value. Here, change management efforts are essential to achieve the adoption levels your leaders want.

Employees are very busy and suffer from change fatigue

The majority of employees are very busy, and are constantly being bombarded with messages. They may also have developed change fatigue, what with the continual roll-out of initiatives and tools. You need strong messaging with clear benefits to really capture the attention of employees, persuading them to invest the time and cognitive effort required to adopt a new tool.

Employees can be reluctant and resistant to change

Many of us can be both reluctant and resistant to change. Doing things differently requires effort and potential learning curves. Change can even seem threatening, and some employees are particularly resistant to adopting new technology. In fact, in the famous adoption curve popularised by Roger’s Diffusion of Innovations, 16% of users are usually classified as “laggards”.

Efforts wane over time and change lacks reinforcement

Employees often start with good intentions, but adoption can wane over time and employees fall back into old habits. A lack of both reinforcement in messaging and opportunities to use the tools can mean that adoption is not truly embedded and is vulnerable to diminishing.

Employees get the how, but not the why

Employees might be able to use tools and have had the benefits explained to them, but that doesn’t always mean they are convinced to change their behaviours. Sometimes, employees need to have the “why” illustrated for them to understand what’s in it for them.

Usage is not advanced

Tools might have high numbers of active users – Microsoft Team, for example – but how they are being used may not be advanced or even optimal. Often, employees need specific training on how to use Microsoft 365 in more sophisticated or advanced ways, such as using whiteboarding in Microsoft Teams.

Top-down approach when you also need bottom-up

Some employees aren’t swayed by top-down messaging that comes from the centre about using new digital tools. This might be because these central communications are not viewed as relevant to their particular function, location or role, or there might be an inherent mistrust of messaging from the central IT function. Here, a bottom-up approach which involves endorsement from peers and local champions can be essential in driving adoption.

It’s hard to keep up with 365

365 is a very extensive platform, and Microsoft is continually investing in new tools like Microsoft Viva, as well as extending the capabilities of the existing suite. It can be very hard for employees to keep up with new tools and features, as well as smaller changes to the UI.

ACM is not always budgeted for

A practical reason why ACM efforts can sometimes fail is that there is simply not enough budget left over for it. Leaders tend to underestimate the costs needed for large digital projects, or other elements of the project end up eating into the ACM budget.

What are the essential elements needed for adoption and change management?

There are various elements that need to be in place for a successful ACM programme that delivers lasting adoption and embeds change.

Putting employees at the centre, not technology

Change and adoption is about people, not technology. The digital workplace or 365 tool that you are expecting people to use must be people-centred, with a good user experience and no technology-related barriers to use. Any adoption campaign must also put people at the centre and be targeted around their needs.

Understanding employees and their pain points

A thorough understanding of employees and their pain points, conducted through user and stakeholder research, is important to not only shape the tools they use, but also design an impactful ACM campaign. For example, focusing on use cases which resonate with particular groups can illustrate the value of using a particular tool.

Training and support

Usually, there will be some kind of training involved in change management, whether for champions, super-users, site admins, content publishers or even on a “train the trainers” basis. Training is not necessarily required for users, but some ongoing support whereby they can ask questions might be, alongside making self-serve resources available.

Measurement

Measurement is an important part of adoption and change management. You need to apply the right measures and metrics to know whether adoption and usage is reaching required levels, and to subsequently target additional interventions and communications if they are not. Measurement also needs to be sustained as adoption patterns change over time.

Top-down and bottom-up communications

Generally, a good ACM plan will incorporate both top-down communications from senior leaders to show a tool is endorsed and is a company priority, and bottom-up communications from peers and champions that are more likely to resonate with different locations and groups.

 A formal plan

Having a formal ACM plan (and related communications plan) that all stakeholders buy into is critical in order to execute successful 365 adoption and change management. This ensures you can co-ordinate efforts across different stakeholders and communication channels, but also change the focus over time as adoption and behaviours evolve. At Content Formula, we use the ADKAR change model as a basis for our planning, a popular framework with five stages – Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. Microsoft also advocates for the use of ADKAR.

Targeting efforts

It’s important to target your ACM effort to different groups. We advise using key personas to maximise the impact of messaging.

Engaging communications

Successful ACM initiatives rely on good communications. These need to be engaging to stand out and have an impact. Use of video, imaginative assets and relevant, targeted copy can all make a difference.

Announcing Content Formula’s new Adoption and Change Management (ACM) service

We know how important ACM is, and we often work with clients to design successful change management programmes that lead to successful and sustainable launches of Office 365, Teams, Yammer, Viva or a SharePoint intranet.

Our new ACM service covers everything you need in order to embed change in the best possible way and drive secure transformation, supporting users and leading them successfully through change.

As noted, our ACM approach is based around the highly regarded ADKAR framework:

  • Awareness: Announce and explain the change, involving employees
  • Desire: Get employees ready for the change, overcome any fears and build momentum
  • Knowledge: Drive confidence through training, demos and champions
  • Ability: Get employees used to using new tools through practice, training, coaching and feedback
  • Reinforcement: Provide recognition and incentives to embed the change, along with ongoing support.

What to expect

Our ACM package includes a number of phases and deliverables:

ACM-led discovery

We will begin by gaining an understanding of employees’ approach to change, communications and training, as well as levels of stakeholder/champion engagement to date. We will do this through a general change workshop, a stakeholder workshop and user interviews, followed by a playback of our discovery findings to the project team.

Strategy and change planning

Based on our findings, we will shape a strategy and roadmap that includes tactics for effective communications, training and support.

Communications

Following on from planning, we will deliver communications which directly address user pain points, along with core desires to build a campaign that is engaging, effective and informative. Assets can include digital posters, GIFs, intranet articles, lock screen graphics and videos.

Training

Our training will be tailored to the audience. We will get to know employees’ wants and needs, and deliver training that addresses these. This can include training support materials and videos, carrying out champion training, content owner support and even a Q&A chatbot.

Post-launch support

The change effort will not stop on launch day. Our ACM includes a pot of days to be used when required for strategic support/coaching, as well as reinforcement activities up to six months post-launch to ensure continued adoption.

 

Need support with 365 adoption? Get in touch!

Adoption and change management is critical. If you need help, want to discuss your ACM strategy and approach or are interested in our new ACM service, then get in touch!

16 ways you can integrate Microsoft 365 functionality into your intranet

Updated for 2021

Many businesses have moved to Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), but still think of their intranet as something separate that sits alongside it. However, the Microsoft 365 apps can be cleverly integrated and embedded into your intranet (and your LiveTiles intranet), giving you the following benefits:

  • Drive adoption of Microsoft 365 apps and the intranet at the same time
  • Improve efficiency and usability
  • Continually add value as Microsoft rolls out new features and changes

So, how specifically can you integrate Microsoft 365s many apps and capabilities in your intranet?

 

1. Use Delve and Microsoft Graph to give employees a list of their recently accessed documents

List of recent documents with Microsoft graph

Microsoft Graph is the technology that tracks everything you do in Microsoft 365. You might find that scary, but its really useful. It enables Delve to highlight relevant content to you, and if you go to portal.office.com you will see a list of the documents that you recently accessed.

Its pretty easy to then add this feed to your intranet homepage, making it more useful and personally relevant to all your employees. Weve added this as an additional feature in LiveTiles.

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

2. Use Yammer for questions and answers (Q&A)

use yammer as a questions and answers feature on your intranet

Yammer is great for conversations around all sorts of topics within a business, but it seems quite separate from SharePoint and the intranet. However, it doesnt have to be this way. Its completely possible to use the powerful Yammer functionality to house discussions within your intranet including asking questions.

When someone posts a question, anyone can answer but the person posing the question or an administrator can then choose the best answer. This means that people looking for the same information in the future can more easily find it.

This is a much better way to answer common questions from your internal customers than a traditional email, because you avoid answering the same question multiple times.

 

3. Add interactive PowerBI dashboards and bring data to life

build power bi dashboards into your sharepoint intranet

PowerBI is a fantastic app that allows you to build dashboards and custom reports which are fed from lots of different data sources financial systems, CRMs, inventory management or Excel spreadsheets. You can build and view the reports within the PowerBI app, but why stop there? There’s a PowerBI webpart for SharePoint Online, allowing you to easily publish reports into your intranet pages. The only catch is that people must have a PowerBI pro licence to view the reports.

 

4. Create a learning & development area using Stream

using microsoft stream as a learning platform

For years and years, video platforms for intranets were really lacking. But, things have changed and I talked about a new hope for intranet video at IntraTeam in Copenhagen.

Its now completely possible to deliver high quality video content to your employees via laptop, tablet or mobile. With Stream (Microsoft 365s video platform) you can do this quickly and easily. The app converts and optimises your videos for you and allows you to arrange them into searchable channels.

But did you know that you can also embed the videos into your intranet pages? Meaning you can embed them within guidelines or policies. You could even create a dedicated training or learning and development site with chaptered video content.

We created an Office 365 learning centre for Johnson Matthey on their intranet all powered by Stream.

Recently Microsoft rolled out new features including the ability to lightly edit videos, and to create videos by recoding your screen. See this page for the latest Stream info including upcoming features.

5. Create a blogging platform using Communication sites

blogging in communication sites in microsoft 365

Unfortunately, Microsoft retired the blogging feature within Delve, but there is still a way to blog in Microsoft 365. You can use a Communication site to build a blog portal where, rather than posting news articles, you use the same features to publish blog posts.

This benefits from 365s modern UI for content publishing which is much easier and more satisfying to use than the traditional SharePoint publishing tools. If you want to take things further, you can even create a blog network using multiple communication sites connected to a hub site.

How to set up a communication site as a blog

 

6. Relay important messages to employees using bots in Teams

relay important intranet messages in teams using a bot

With so many employees now using Microsoft Teams as their primary work and collaboration tool, its a great place to reach them with important announcements that they may have previously seen on the intranet.

Its possible to create a bot for Teams that sends people a message with important updates or actions that they need to take e.g. Compulsory training.

You can connect the bot to Power Automate Flows and write rules that ensure the right people get the messages that are most pertinent to them.

 

7. Manage projects using Office 365 Planner

plan projects in microsoft 365 planner

Some companies use SharePoint team-sites for project management and others use Microsoft Project. However, if you are looking for a middle ground something that is better for tracking tasks than SharePoint, but not as heavy duty as Project then Planner is worth a look.

Microsoft 365 Planner allows you to quickly create projects, organise tasks into buckets and assign them to different team members. It can be used across desktop, tablet and mobile.

You can associate a plan with a Microsoft Team and allow people to track and update tasks there, but also add information on tasks in SharePoint too

Heres a great intro to Planner

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

8. Surface your intranet in Teams

surface your intranet in Microsoft Teams

Its been a big year for Teams. The pandemic has meant lots of home working and many companies have gone from experimenting with Teams to fully depending upon it. Employees have also become comfortable with Teams and it has become an app more central to their workday.

All of this means that its a great place to reach people with your intranet content news, policies, how-to guidance etc.

You can do this a few ways: You can add your intranet as a tab within a Team or multiple Teams, you can build a simple app to appear in the left ribbon (or ask us to!), you could buy software like LiveTiles or wait to see what capabilities Microsoft Viva brings in this space.

9. Use chat bots to provide everyone with a personal concierge

integrated chat bot in sharepoint

Chat bots are Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered assistants that you can interact with via a text chat interface. You might ask them to find you a policy, book a meeting room or check the weather forecast.

Chat bots are a hot topic in the intranet world at the moment because they have reached a level of maturity where they can be useful, but also they are much easier to configure. You no longer have to be an AI boffin to train bots and make them more helpful.

Microsofts bot, Luis, can be embedded on your SharePoint intranet via a chat interface. We have rolled out a bot for UK accountancy firm, Haines Watts.

 

10. Work live on intranet information at the same time using Office Online

Office Online integration with SharePoint

Anywhere in Microsoft 365, whenever you click on a Microsoft Office document that document will open in a new browser tab within Office Online. Office Online includes the web app version of Word, PowerPoint and Excel that runs within your web browser.

But, were you aware that you can click the Edit button and make changes to the file directly in the browser? Not only that, but other people can edit the same document at the same time, and you even can see their changes appearing right in front of you.

There are many opportunities to make use of this neat functionality on your intranet. You could use these files to collect information from multiple people at the same time using a shared excel spreadsheet. Or, you could create a knowledge base / wiki which is based on set of word documents. The contents will be indexed by search so people will easily find the content later.

 

11. Create an approval workflow for policies using Power Automate Flows

 

create approval workflows with power automate flow

Building workflows for your SharePoint intranet used to be quite tricky. Power Automate is the Microsoft 365 app that was designed to fix that. Creating workflows – known simply as Flows – in Power Automate is much more straightforward. It offers integrations with other apps outside of SharePoint and even outside of Microsoft 365, like Dropbox for example.

A really common workflow that companies often want to implement is one for approval of content before its published. Check out this video for a step by step tutorial for building an approval workflow in Flow.

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

12. Build an app for field workers using Power Apps

build-sharepoint-integrated-apps-for-field-workers-with-powerapps

Many organisations struggle with how to make their intranet relevant and useful to field workers people not based at a desk. This can be factory workers, delivery agents, sales reps and so on. Most of these workers do not have laptops, but many have tablets or mobile devices.

Power Apps is a tool that allows you to build apps for these staff to use on their mobile devices. The apps could allow them to enter information about a customer they just visited, or log maintenance problems with machinery on the production line. Also, that app can be integrated directly with SharePoint to share this information with other people in your business via the intranet.

We ran a webinar about PowerApps and how it could support your business.

In this step-by-step tutorial video, Microsoft show you how to build an app using Power Apps. Their example scenario is a secret shopper app for clothing retail stores.

See whats new in PowerApps in 2021

 

13. Keep in touch with customers using Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 integration with SharePoint

You may already have a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) suite, but you should really take a look at Dynamics 365.

Dynamics 365 allows you to do all the regular things that youd expect from a CRM: Keep data on customers, integrate with your website etc. However, being based in Microsoft 365 means that it integrates really well with other apps like SharePoint. Dynamics 365 uses SharePoint for storing its documents and can be easily connected to your SharePoint intranet search. This means that your employees wont have to jump between different systems to find the information they need.

Here are 13 reasons why you should use Dynamics 365 as your CRM.

 

14. Run an employee survey using Forms

using microsoft forms for an employee survey

Its often necessary to collect information from your users on your intranet from booking a training course to requesting stationery. You can do this with SharePoint lists, but its a bit difficult to configure and not very easy to use for employees.

Say hello to Forms. Forms allows you to build attractive and usable forms with a simple drag and drop interface.

The forms you create can then be embedded in a range of locations on Microsoft 365, including within your SharePoint intranet pages. You can then use Power Automate Flows to move the captured information through a business process.

Watch this video to get started with Forms.

If Forms is too basic for your needs, then Microsofts upcoming Viva product and its integration with Glint employee survey software will probably be of interest. Using these tools youll be able to get much more detailed insights on your employee experience.

 

15. Craft beautiful sales aids using Sway

creat-beautiful-sales-aids-with-sway-and-sharepoint

Many companies have sales reps out in the field, talking to customers and evangelising products and services. Traditionally they are provided with material to help them explain the products or services to their leads. Sometimes these sales aids are expensive custom apps built for tablet devices, but often they are just a few lacklustre PowerPoint presentations or pamphlets.

Sway is an Microsoft 365 app that allows you to quickly build web app that conveys information using mixed media and a simple interface. Without any need to touch computer code, you can create a set of content that is beautifully structure and presented, but can include written content, images, videos, charts and graphs. With a built in menu system it also allows you to take the customer on a journey through the information that is unique to them, rather than flicking through a generic linear PowerPoint presentation.

You can manage access to all your Sway presentations from your SharePoint intranet.

Get started with Sway using this video tutorial.

 

16. Allow your employees to jump into their Teams from the intranet homepage

Microsoft-Teams-integration-with-SharePoint

Thanks to Microsoft Graph and the Microsoft Teams API – it’s possible to display a list of each employee’s Teams on the SharePoint intranet homepage. This helps to make the intranet more of a personalised and useful daily work tool – presenting the employees with a quick and easy way to access their Teams. This enhancement requires a bit of coding, but it’s something we have added to the capabilities of LiveTiles – as well as a few custom intranets for our customers.

 

Get in touch to discuss your project

 

Webinar: Modernise your intranet with an intelligent people directory

Profile information is critical to the success of your intelligent workplace and vital to team collaboration. Through our recent partnership with LiveTiles, we now offer a next generation AI-powered staff directory and dynamic org charts that are always up to date.

The employee directory solution understands what is missing or incorrect from your directory and profiles, and automatically starts a conversation with your employees (wherever they may be) to collect and validate their information.

Join our webinar with Dan Hawtrey of Content Formula and Alex Lustig of LiveTiles to see a live demo and to have your questions answered.

Dan Hawtrey

Content Formula

Alex Lustig

LiveTiles

Register now

 

Why Intranets need Top-down and Bottom-up Support

How do you launch an intranet and then continue to successfully drive adoption? Its an issue many intranet teams tackle and remains a focus for their efforts. Unfortunately, theres no one simple solution or single ingredient X that delivers good adoption. Instead it requires a range of different tactics and approaches over a sustained period to make an intranet a true success and get everybody using it in ways which drive value.

Part of the effort to drive adoption needs to be change management, often reflected in communications promoting the intranet across different channels. Communicating about the intranet creates awareness but also drives employee buy-in. To drive adoption, employees dont just need to know a new intranet is there, but they also need to understand the why what are the benefits for using it?

Most of our clients have found in that promoting the intranet it is critical to take a top-down approach, highlighting senior management support, but also adopt a bottom-up approach involving endorsement from peers and colleagues. There are many reasons why this dual approach works best, including:

  • The use of social tools and intranets is rarely mandatory, and therefore you need to work on influencing the hearts and minds of employees to get them to use the intranet taking a dual approach maximises your chances of doing this.
  • Organisations are inherently complex and sometimes highly decentralised, and there can be more allegiance to local divisions or departments than the centre, so endorsement needs to come from central and local sources to be convincing.
  • Workforces are very diverse and to make the most sense, communication about the use of the intranet needs to be set in the framework of specific local, functional or team needs.

Lets explore some of these themes in more detail.

 

Why top-down approaches are critical

Involving senior leaders in your intranet launch and ongoing adoption plan is a must. Having them involved will help you increase intranet awareness as more employees will take notice of a message from your CEO rather than somebody less senior.

Top-down communication also gives the intranet a legitimacy and sets the strategic context for its use. Ideally your CEO is painting the bigger picture by explaining that the intranet is important and showing how it fits into wider organisational goals and strategy. This helps users to understand why the intranet is a must-use channel.

More specifically, communication and endorsement from senior management can also influence the actions of other managers who are tasked to deliver central communications to their teams and beyond. There can be a cascade or trickle-down effect with endorsement of the new intranet. This has most impact if senior leaders lead by example and continue to use the intranet in a highly visible way. Other senior managers, then middle managers and then their teams may follow suit in using the intranet and its constituent tools.

 

How to deliver top-down communications

Our clients and other organisations have used different tactics to show their leaders support and endorse the new intranet. For example:

  • Featuring senior leaders in a high-profile launch video promoting the intranet
  • Putting a senior leader behind some more traditional messaging, such as all company email or an announcement on the new intranet itself
  • Identifying a member of the C-suite as the owner or the champion of the new intranet
  • Getting senior management to announce a new intranet at a town hall or internal conference
  • Getting senior leaders to continue to use social tools such as blogs, communities or commenting on content, so they have a visible presence
  • Getting the CEO to encourage other senior leaders to also champion the intranet

 

Why bottom-up communication is also critical

Sometimes endorsement from senior management isnt enough to drive adoption, and a tandem bottom-up approach reflected in peer-to-peer recommendations of intranet use and more local promotion is required.

In larger global companies, in organisations built by acquisition or where processes tend to be decentralised and individual parts of the company operate with some autonomy, there can be some mild resistance to and skepticism about centrally-driven messages and initiatives. This does have the ability to negatively impact adoption for intranets.

There can also be some general skepticism about intranets, for example from employees who experienced a poor intranet at a former place they worked. If youve experienced an intranet which was only used for corporate messaging or was riddled with technical problems, then you may have low expectations and be less than excited about what an intranet can do for you.

Having local endorsement of the intranet from peers can override this. It can dispel any notion that the intranet is not a useful work tool. However, perhaps the most important factor is that when a peer recommends the intranet to a colleague they usually describe it in a way which references local roles, priorities and cultural sensitivities. They also may use the primary language of a local office which means messaging can be more direct and impactful.

While central messaging is important, local or peer recommendation helps employees understand whats in it for them and how the intranet can help them in their everyday role. It also potentially drives additional trust in the relevance of the intranet to them.

 

How to support bottom-up communications

Weve seen several ways that organisations help support bottom-up communication for intranets, including:

  • Organising a champions or advocate network to promote the intranet through different divisions, locations and departments
  • Providing resources for local champions to adapt to their own needs to promote the intranet to their peers
  • Running train the trainer programmes to help local champions teach others about the intranet
  • Focusing on local use cases and communities which will make sense to different parts of the organisation and show a relevant example of good use
  • Working together with local management and promoters to co-promote the intranet

 

Taking the dual approach

There are different ways to launch and promote an intranet, as well as keep up the efforts to drive adoption. And some tactics will work better for some organisations than others.

Whatever you try and do, you need both top-down and bottom-up approaches to do this effectively. The combined forces of leadership endorsement and peer recommendation creates awareness and the right context for its successful use. Then the maximum number of people possible can start to benefit from using your intranet.

 

The original article was published here

 

Your Worst Critics could be your Best Intranet Engagements Friends

Help engage intranet users with these 5 tips

User engagement is only extremely rarely won by a sole intranet team. It just takes more to engage an entire organization of users users of different age, gender, job and interests. In this post we give you 5+ tips to get this more by tapping into the energy of your organization and engage your users in engaging themselves and your joint colleagues. And, yes, part of this involves your worst critics.

 

1. Let Users Recognize Themselves in the Intranet

To be truly engaged, users will need to see a bit of themselves in the intranet solution. Offer
intranet tools that make it easy for staff to upload content, add comments, setup personalized content etc. Also, welcome intranet feedback and let employees know how (and when) their feedback will change the intranet.

 

2. Make your Worst Critics Fight for you

Identify colleagues that own a passion for the intranet and are able to spread the good vibes to coworkers. Sometimes these are to find amongst the worst critics of your intranet solution. Use this energy for something positive by making these enthusiastic people responsible for your common intranet success. When you have your task force ready: Train them, give them the resources they need, and publicly reward them when they succeed.

 

3. Cultivate a Debate Culture

Engagement needs to be backed up by a company culture that explicitly welcome staff to take part in the debate and voice their opinion. Offer a space for debate and dialogue on the intranet and make sure someone takes the first step and initiate a dialogue or take part in one. Also, make sure involvement is publicly rewarded ideally by a figure of authority.

 

4. Make your Intranet Mobile

More than 50% access internet home pages from mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). Intranet users dont wish to act any different. Enable staff to access the intranet from the field and on the run. An intranet that is present whenever and wherever users need it is much easier to engage with.

 

5. Develop an Intranet Roadmap

An engaging intranet needs continuous nourishment. Make sure your intranet keeps offering fresh content, relevant functionality and continuous business value. And keep reminding users of this value gamification can be a help here! Have an intranet roadmap in place that involves functionality as well as editorial work and make sure you have sufficient resources to follow the roadmap.

 

+ the Essential Intranet Engagement Fuel

Even the most perfectly designed car needs fuel in order to drive and to be continuously refueled in order to keep driving. We find the fuel of intranet engagement being support from management. Not only does your intranet need resources provided by management to succeed, it also needs management to show intranet engagement by example. Show management that intranet engagement is an investment worth. You can do this by providing numbers proving your case e.g. by measuring intranet engagement.

 

The original article was published here

 

SharePoint Modern vs Classic infographic

Recently, more and more of our customers are facing the SharePoint Modern dilemma: Should they adopt SharePoint Online’s new modern user interface and sacrifice control over the branding? Is Modern a mature enough product to roll out to thousands of employees across the globe? To help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of each approach, we created this infographic.

SharePoint Modern vs Classic infographic
SharePoint Modern vs Classic infographic

If you would like more info, read the eight things we love about SharePoint Modern pages.

 

SharePoint page editing – Improving the experience for content publishers

SharePoint 2013 does not provide a great experience for content publishers out-of-the-box.

This is something that we need to address in nearly every intranet project we deliver.

There are two main approaches that can be taken:

  1. Add some custom editing elements that simplify the experience, but are hyper-focused on a few key editing tasks.
  2. Use a third party add-in to provide a better user experience across a broader set of features and content types.

 

Custom editing elements


Content publishers can click an onscreen element like this one.


The editor can then add information to the page by filling in a simple form.
This avoids any of the out-of-the-box SharePoint interfaces which can be confusing and overwhelming.

We have provided a demo video that shows an example page content editing task. See video below:

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Drastically improves the experience for content publishers
  • Reduces or completely removes the need for training
  • No on-going licence fees
  • Restricted to a small number of important areas (otherwise costs can quickly add up)
  • Requires additional budget to maintain and enhance these features over time

 

Third party add-ins

builder

There are many options when it comes to third party add ins for SharePoint.

Some are aimed at enhancing every aspect of SharePoint like Wizdom intranet-in-a-box.

Others are aimed at enhancing things like page editing and design. A good example of this type of product is ShortPoint.

Products like these still require some training for content editors, but offer an improved experience and greater flexibility when maintaining intranet content.

Advantages Disadvantages
  • Improves the experience for content publishers
  • Reduces the need for training
  • Has a wide ranging set of features (depending on the product)
  • On-going licence fees (often fairly significant ones)
  • You may be paying for features you dont need
  • Requires support from the product vendor or consultancy

 

Summary

Improving SharePoints content editing interfaces is not easy and comes at a cost regardless if you take the custom or prebuilt route.

Therefore, it is important to identify and prioritise the areas where you want to give a lot of control to content editors. Typically more options for ways and styles of publishing = greater cost.

By limiting the control given to content owners and making things as template driven as possible, you can keep costs more reasonable.

A positive side effect of a template driven approach is often a cleaner, more simplified experience for your intranets end users.

More recently, a significant way to improve the user and editor experience for SharePoint is to move to SharePoint Online as part of Office 365. SharePoint Online has a completely refreshed interface which makes things a lot easier for editors.

Thirteen ways to drive the adoption of Microsoft Teams

The use of Microsoft Teams is growing very rapidly , with over 300,000 organisations already using the tool, but like any part of the digital workplace or any collaboration platform, you still need to work hard to drive adoption. This is particularly the case as the use of Teams in most organisations will be largely voluntary few employees are forced to use it and therefore there must be an effort to promote and support Teams. There are also many other tools which teams can use to communicate and collaborate effectively; from Slack to other tools within the Office 365 suite to the use of email.  So, adoption efforts also need to work in reference to the other options available.

What is Microsoft Teams?

Teams is a messaging and collaboration tool designed to allow teams to communicate with each other, share documents, add discussions and carry out tasks. Its an important tool within the Office 365 suite and is where Microsoft is investing much of its efforts by integrating communication capability such as Skype. Initially it was launched as a rival to Slack, but it has started to assume a greater role.

There is never one single approach which successfully drives adoption of digital workplace tools; a range of approaches works best. Here are thirteen ideas which weve seen our clients try in helping to drive the adoption of Microsoft Teams.

1. Work out what adoption means to you

Before you can drive adoption of Microsoft Teams you need to work out what successful adoption looks like for you. Working out what you want to achieve for your business, and then defining the kind of adoption and usage patterns that will help you achieve those goals, will help you to focus on the right adoption tactics for Teams.

For example, you may wish to specifically drive better project management in your organisation, and therefore successful adoption might be a greater number of project teams working with Teams. Or you may have a more general goal to make communication more efficient across functions spread across different locations, and therefore your aim may just to drive the number of users in this group.  Having the right focus for adoption and knowing what success looks like will help you achieve your aims.

2. Use targeted communications

Traditional change management efforts are very likely to be part of your drive for adoption. As with any efforts, the more targeted the messages to different groups, the better. For example, communications should be framed in the perspective of the needs of specific groups.  Your messaging may also need to explore the bigger picture; communications need to explain the what and the how, but also why employees should use Teams, to win hearts and minds.

3. Give support resources

While communications help to drive awareness and buy-in, and usually give some advice on how to get started, support resources need to help users once they start using Teams. A dedicated area on your intranet, with some self-service resources such as FAQs, short instructional videos and even a support community where questions can be asked to super-users, provides an excellent backbone for driving sustainable adoption.

4. Get the right team behind Teams

Driving adoption for any tool is usually a sustained effort and you need the right team behind it. Factors to consider are whether people have the right skills and know-how to drive adoption, whether they have time and whether they have the right commitment. Its also worth thinking about who owns Teams and which departments are involved. For example, its not uncommon for IT functions to drive the usage of collaboration tools, but in our experience, they are not always the best equipped to lead what is a business change rather than a technological one.

5. Use peer-to -peer recommendation

Using peer recommendation through a formal network of local champions is often a successful tactic used by intranet and digital workplace teams to help drive the adoption of different tools. Like other parts of the digital workplace, local champions recommending the use of Teams can really help support usage.

Usually recommendations from peers may be taken more seriously from users, and come framed in the specific needs and of  local teams, as well as potentially in their native language. To support a successful champions network, however, you need to get the right people on board, and engage your champions through recognition and engagement efforts.

6. Use Teams for specific use cases

People get Teams far more easily when they can see specific uses for it. If you can use Teams for tangible use cases with obvious successful outcomes, then adoption becomes a much easier sell. Work out the use cases which are going to resonate with your organisation such as using Teams to:

  • co-ordinate activities within a department
  • help those working on a project
  • streamline activities for those working on a client account
  • drive communications which are too local to place on the intranet.

If you have very specific ways of working, its also possible to customise Teams see point number 10.

7. Get managers to experiences using it

Getting buy-in from managers is essential to encourage their team members to use Teams. A great way to achieve this is try and get managers to experience Teams early on. If there are use cases where your managers collaborate with each other, consider setting up Teams spaces for them so they are part of the set of early adopters and can get to know its possibilities and potential uses within their own functions.

8. Make it available and remove barriers

A key adoption approach for any part of the digital workplace is to remove any associated barriers for usage. Users wont use something which is too difficult to use or reach. With Teams, there are some baseline approaches that really help drive adoption, including:

  • Using Single Sign-On so users dont have to authenticate once on the network
  • Ensuring performance and load times are fast enough
  • Allowing access from mobile devices by encouraging use of the Teams app
  • Using the desktop app, if relevant for your organisation
  • Ensuring its easy to find Team spaces, for example via the intranet or via Office 365 (see below).

9. Integrate Teams into your intranet

Increasingly intranets are evolving into digital workplaces; acting as the front door to the wider portfolio of applications used across the enterprise as well as integrating with other applications. If you have a SharePoint Online intranet product like Wizdom you can integrate Teams into your intranet so that employees can find the spaces they need and keep on top of updates, all in their daily flow of work.

For example, to help drive adoption, we integrated Teams into Mulberrys intranet so that employees can reach the spaces they are assigned to via a landing page.   There may also be opportunities to add updates from Teams as web parts on different pages.

10. Configure or customise Teams to your way of working

Because Teams is part of the wider Office 365 suite and because there are also a range of apps which you can integrate into the tool its possible to configure and even customise Teams so it delivers more value. For example, if you have very specific use cases and ways of doing things, some customisation can be enormously powerful. For example, we have worked with clients to build workflows, create templates and even introduced knowledge management features and processes to make Teams even more business-relevant, helping to drive adoption. We recently ran a webinar about customising Team to your way of working.

11. Make sure there are notifications

Notifications for users are an essential way to help drive adoption of Teams. Were all for reducing the amount of email in the world, but the truth is that many employees still rely on email for their updates. If this is the case, enabling email notifications for Teams may prove to be important for driving usage.

12. Put some process and governance around it

Generally, Teams doesnt necessarily have to have significant governance around how it is used, but putting in just the right amount of process and rules can really help to support adoption efforts. For example, some form of site provisioning process can help ensure that each Teams space has a dedicated owner and manager who will help to drive adoption.  (Site provisioning for Teams is possible using the Wizdom intranet product, and separately weve worked with clients to even create provisioning for different templated Teams spaces.) It can also help to keep the number of sites down, aiding findability.

13. Give it time

Getting users to adopt new tools doesnt happen overnight. People are busy and there are always going to be laggards and sceptics who are highly unlikely to use it. However, the majority of users will come around and use Teams if you are realistic and give your adoption efforts sufficient time to really embed use of the tool within your organisation.

We love Teams!

At Content Formula we love teams and were confident your users will too. Use some of the approaches and ideas in this post to help drive adoption and get everybody communicating and collaborating. And if you need any advice on how your organisation can use Teams effectively, then get in touch.

Seven essential elements of a global intranet project

One of the most valuable aspects of a great intranet is that it allows employees to come together in a single place to communicate and collaborate. This has particular value in global organisations, where employees work in scattered locations across multiple time zones. A global intranet brings employees together and feel more like one company.

Projects to establish a single intranet in large, global organisations can be challenging. The logistics of dealing with a large group of distributed employees, the sheer amount of content on the intranet and potentially merging existing local intranets into one global platform is not always straightforward. And while using a product like Wizdom is much quicker than building a custom platform, projects can still take a long time once you factor in planning, research, testing, content migration and more.

At the recent Wizdom Conference in Copenhagen we had some strong case studies of global intranet projects from companies such as Ørsted, Ramboll and GEA. Here are some of our thoughts on the essential elements of a successful global intranet project.

1. Do your research

Global intranet projects will involve a large number of users and stakeholders, not only from different business divisions but also from locations around the world. Those involved must reflect the diversity of a global workforce with different types of employees in various roles, including those working in offices, production plants and frontline roles.

A successful intranet is designed around a thorough understanding of employees and their needs. Because of the diversity of the workforce who will be using your intranet, it is critical to spend time finding out about different working patterns, needs, pain points and perspectives. This can only be achieved through an extensive discovery and user research period that covers all your different groups of users.

There are multiple techniques to carry out effective research including interviews, workshops, surveys, observation, usability testing, developing personas and more, but it is always worth spending the time and effort. User research also creates buy-in from employees who feel they are being listened to and see that their needs are being considered for the new intranet.

2. Create a vision that everyone can buy into

With so many different stakeholders, inevitably there will be many differing ideas and opinions on what the new intranet should do and deliver. Having a strong vision for the new intranet that everybody can buy into allows all involved to work towards the same end goal. It also helps gets users and stakeholders excited about the project.

At the Wizdom Conference, we heard how Ramboll developed a new vision for the global intranet to be an integrated digital environment, Digital Workspace, that allows employees to communicate, collaborate and deliver excellence whenever and where they may be working. Communicating the vision helped the wider team to deliver a consistent message to users and stakeholders, as well as establish clarity and focus.

3. Work on getting the governance right upfront

Governance is a wide topic covering the various structures, polices, roles, rules and processes to make sure the intranet delivers value and runs efficiently on a day-to-day basis. Establishing governance up-front (and making sure everyone buys into it) will allow your intranet to develop in a more sustainable and successful way, and ensure you have high quality content. The need for robust governance is particularly acute in global intranet projects so it can stop local teams going off and doing their own thing and undermining the high quality of your intranet.

For example, at GEA the team established various different roles with associated responsibilities to provide clarity over intranet, news and content ownership. These included portal owners, task or content owners, local news creators, global news editors, intranet owners and IT.

4. Use personalization to balance global and local content

One of the key capabilities of a modern intranet is to deliver personalized content which is targeted to the individual employees based on their profile. A global intranet should know some details about the person who is viewing the content and then deliver news and pages based on attributes such as the location that person is based, the division or function they work in, the language they speak or their level of seniority. This local content should appear seamlessly together with global content to ensure the intranet is relevant and useful to every employee.

Getting the balance between global and local content is not always easy and requires ensuring all profile data (usually sourced from your HR system and synchronised with Active Directory data) is correct. Teams must also work with local content owners to ensure they produce relevant content, and also deal with the logistics of multi-language content.

5. Focus on content and its findability

An intranet is only as good as its content, and a new intranet project provides the opportunity to make sure content is useful, relevant, well-written, accurate and up-to-date. And of course, getting the content right also means making sure it is easily findable. In global intranet projects two important practices help with these elements.

It is important not to just migrate your existing content. Instead spend time to identify the content that is valuable and rewrite if it necessary. For example, Ørsted used analytics and standard criteria to identify which content should be migrated, reviewed or deleted. If youre migrating content from multiple existing local intranets, its a must to review it carefully.

The second key practice is to develop a global information architecture (navigation) which is based around the way employees think and work rather than organisational structures. The only reliable way to achieve this is to work with users and carry out extensive testing, a practice that both Ørsted and GEA followed to produce intuitive, task-based information architectures that a global workforce understands.

6. Establish a realistic roadmap for launch that also involves change management

Its essential to have a realistic roadmap for the launch of your global intranet. Global intranet launches are often done across multiple phases, either because the central team is too small to fully support a single big bang global roll-out, or because different features and capabilities are being introduced more gradually. At Ramboll the team released several core components of the digital workspace before the full intranet launch and continue to release new features.

Intranets also need ongoing change management efforts to help content owners and users get the best out of the platform. For global intranets it is often best to physically visit some of your key locations to help with launch. For example, at GEA the team carried out a post-launch engagement roadshow covering editor training, feedback sessions, promotional activity and more.

7. Perseverance is key

Because of the complexity and length of a global intranet project, there are going to be times when things dont run so smoothly or take much longer than expected. Project teams running global intranet projects need perseverance and patience.

At the conference we heard first-hand accounts of some of the challenges including one company who had to work at the same time as a major corporate transformation exercise which the new intranet would help support. But the project team had to keep the transformation plans secret, which was very difficult when you are working with hundreds of users to shape the new intranet!

Of course, once you get to the launch of your global intranet and get great feedback from users, it always feels worth all the efforts that youve made!

Global intranets are always worth the effort

Global intranet projects take time but theyre always worth the effort. They provide a fantastic channel to help keep employees informed, support them in their working day and connect with colleagues from all over the world. As well as driving engagement and efficiency, they also provide a springboard to develop global digital workplaces. Using many of the elements above will help teams to deliver highly successful global intranets.

The original article was published here

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