my world of work and user experiences

November 30, 2022

Adopting a new intranet

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: — frederique @ 21:10

When I started working for my current employer, back in the day, I was hired in the SharePoint Competence Centre. We built intranets, in SharePoint 2003. We saw that slowly, organisations widened their definition of an intranet. It became more than a portal to publish information: a digital workplace with SharePoint Team Sites for collaboration. Then of course the toolkit opened up, and we got Microsoft 365 and the rest of the cloud.

My involvement in intranet projects as a Change & Adoption consultant

These days, I am again involved in several projects to develop new intranets for organizations. Yes, old school communication intranets that are mostly geared to providing news and important information to the employees, like information about the different parts of the organization and what they do – very useful for new employees. And things like the rules and regulations, HR procedures, and hopefully also an entry point to actually request leave, for example. Very useful for all employees. The good old information intranet. With some modern aspects of course.

And nowadays, I am working as a Change & Adoption Consultant. My colleagues build the actual intranet, in SharePoint Online. What I am looking at is: how can we make sure the intranet becomes a great success, in the sense that the employees embrace the new intranet and get the benefits from it. Apart from building an intranet that looks great and functions brilliantly of course.

When we talk about adoption in the context of an intranet, we are not talking about training the users, even though training tends to be treated as synonymous with adoption efforts. What is an important part, is making not only the intranet structure, but also its content user-centric. For that, we need the content editors to adopt our toolkit and editorial approach. And yes, the editors may need training to learn how it all works.

Sounding board

We like to conduct workshops with a sounding board of representatives of the users: people in different roles, from different parts of the organisation. We don’t want to get only the points of view from the usual suspects in IT, Communications and other staff departments. And between and after the workshops, we keep in touch with them in a Microsoft Team.

We not only get the input and feedback from the sounding board about the functionality they want in the intranet, but also about adoption. For example: What are their preferred ways of receiving news about the intranet and the digital workplace? The people in the head office liked a webinar, plus news articles, whereas the representative of people working on ships (not every organisation has those…) said that posters in the mess hall would work best.

And – very important – what is inhibiting or even blocking them in the old intranet? Some had a terrible internet connection, and colleagues of theirs did not even have a device that would display the internet. And there were a lot of blockers when it came finding relevant content and understanding it…

Content for the end-users

The end-users want to be able to find relevant information quickly and easily. To achieve that, you not only need a great search engine and navigation structure, but also great content:

  • Content that answers the end-users’ questions. So the content providers need to think about what the users want to see, instead of what the owners want to push to the readers. This is quite tricky: in discussions about the intranet, we often see that, for example, staff departments want to promote their stuff, because they consider that to be important. But do the employees want to see it prominently on their home page?
  • Content that is up-to-date. So the content editors need to update the content when something changes, add new content quickly when it is needed, and make sure obsolete content is either invisible or at least not overwhelming the current content. This is something that our sounding boards were very emphatic about… they hate being drowned in irrelevant, obsolete content.
  • Content that is easy to digest. First of all, what is the language used on the intranet? We heard a lot of internationals complain about information published in Dutch, but also Dutch factory workers who were very unhappy with the choice of their multinational company to publish everything in English. Even in the right language, text is not always easy to read. Images may help, but the wrong image will only hinder.

For the owners & content editors

The change to the new way of managing the content on the new intranet is more explicit.

  • Awareness & desire: They need to be aware of what changes and they need to see what’s in it for them.
  • Knowledge: They need to know how to know how create and manage their content in the new way, both from the perspective of the tooling and from the perspective of editorial guidelines. So yes, we created a user manual for them, conducted training and Q&A sessions.
  • Ability: We need to make sure they have the ability to actually get their content in there and manage it in practice. This is not always easy in a project with a compressed timeline and an early Go Live date. At the Go Live date, all important content should be in the new intranet. So the content editors have to start putting content into the new intranet before development is finished. They hit snags that haven’t been smoothed away yet, so the project team absolutely needs to be available to help them out during this crunch time.
    Also, the editors need time to do this job, which means that their managers need to give them that time. By the way, lack of time was a major blocker emphasised by editors in the workshop.
  • Reinforcement: The editors need to keep adding to and updating the content after Go Live. It does not work if the editors are left to their own devices. So we set up an editors’ community and some ground rules. For example, if editors leave, they need to be replaced.  The editors are requested to regularly check their content: is it still up-to-date? For a lot of static content on the intranet, you don’t have to do that very often, but at least once a year. And we want to keep the sounding board, so that we can keep collecting feedback from the organisation.

October 31, 2022

Leaders need to pivot in the hybrid world: Microsoft research

Filed under: Adoption,New world of work — Tags: — frederique @ 18:56

Microsoft researched the question how hybrid is working for people and organization. They did a big survey and analysed the usage of Microsoft 365. Their key findings are that leaders need to send productivity paranoia, embrace the fact that people come in for each other and re-recruit their employees. For more details, see their Work Trend Index Special Report Hybrid Work is Just Work. Are we doing it wrong?

Microsoft sells tool to support both people working in an office and people working remotely, so that is not why they are looking into hybrid work. But they want to know what people need, so that they can gear their toolkit towards what would work best for us. After all, they sell licenses, so they want us to keep paying for these licenses and preferably buy more advanced ones…

Because we are working in a more hybrid way these days. I already did before covid, because I worked a lot at client locations and hardly ever visited the office of my own organisation. But since covid, hybrid work and remote work have become mainstream. A decade ago, we were talking about the New World of Work, in which we started to collaborate online. Well, we have ramped up the newness of our world of work!

End the productivity paranoia

Microsoft survey found that 85% of leaders are not sure that their people are productive, now that they are working in a hybrid way! That is a lot… At the same time 87% of the employees say that they are productive. Shouldn’t we believe them? Microsoft cannot measure what these people actually delivered, but they did measure that the number of meetings has soared – so at least these employees were not relaxing at the beach all week…

I have heard that in some organisations, employees need to be at the office most of the week. Not because management has determined that for their jobs that would be the most effective and efficient place to work, but because they want to see their employees work….

As if you can be sure that people are working productively when you see them burrowing into their computers, if that is your only criterium. They may be on Facebook or playing a game. If you don’t trust your people to do their jobs, why would the employees bother to do their creative and proactive best for such bosses? I know I would not keep working for an organisation that only values my presence, rather than my actual contribution…

Fortunately, in my organisation we can determine for ourselves, with our teams, what location makes most sense for which tasks. For example:

  • We prefer to brainstorm face to face, but we only do that at one of our offices, when it is an internal brainstorm. In projects, usually only one or a few of my direct colleagues participate in these brainstorms, with more participants from the client. So it is more efficient to go to their office.
  • When I have multiple meeting on that day, with multiple clients based in multiple locations, it makes more sense for me to work from home: at home I don’t bother anyone with my Teams calls and I get less background noise. We do have some small rooms at the office where you can isolate yourself, but why block that room for most of the day and waste travel time to boot?
  • When I need to write a plan or create materials, for example, or do some other task for which I should just sit down and focus, working from home works best for me. It saves travel time and focus energy.
  • But when we have something to celebrate, like a birthday or success in a project, we meet at the office. Digital cake and drinks don’t work as well ?

What we need, is clarity on what are trying to achieve in our project or department and what are the priorities. Then we, including our managers, can check if we actually do achieve these goals . That is a lot more useful than just being present, because this will give us a sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to tweak our way of working.

Embrace the fact that people come in for each other

I have a great ‘home office’ and going to the office takes quite a bit of time. I don’t have a car, because I do not want to waste time “steering” and I do not want to add to the traffic congestion we already have. I commute by train, so that I can do some work or read the people on the train ride, but recently, the railways have become more unreliable, more infrequent and more busy. So I only commute when it makes sense.

Commuting for face to face conversations and brainstorming does make sense. And that includes commuting to the office to meet with my colleagues, for smoother communication with more than faces on a screen and for serendipitous meetings at the coffee machine. But not when I have to focus on calls with clients or writing a plan, so that I do not have time to chat with anyone anyway…


So the hybrid world does gives us quite a few technical challenges, like how do we facilitate hybrid meetings in which everyone is heard, and what are the best tools to brainstorm remotely.

But a big part of the hybrid challenge is about people: for example, asking teams to determine what hybridisation would fit their needs best. And how can we help leaders and managers adapt to the employees hybrid way of working, instead the other way around, trying to squeeze the employees into an obsolete pattern that worked in the past or at least seemed to work in the past…

September 29, 2022

Ambassador network

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 12:38

We implement new technology and things like a new modern workplace. We try to help employees adopt it, to gain the benefits from it. But if we only address the users from a staff team at headquarters, the adoption will probably fail The new system needs to be embedded in the organization. And for that, we love an ambassador network.

The network may have different names and different nuances, but in essence I am talking about a network of people based in the various parts of the organisation who inspire and help their colleagues to work optimally with the system.

The key things we need from this networks:

  • Help their colleagues
  • Gather feedback from the colleagues and

Key responsibilities may be clustered in the same people or caried out by different roles:

  • Key users who have elevated permissions. They can help colleagues who need something set up of configured, for example.
  • Experts, who know the ins and out of the system. They can help colleagues who do not understand how to use the system.
  • Ambassadors, who are enthusiastic about the system and see how it can benefit their team . They can inspire their colleagues, and help them apply the system to their team specific needs optimally.
  • Business sponsors

August 31, 2022

Some notes on Miro boards

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: — frederique @ 21:38

Yes, pun intended: I would like to share some of my notes with you, about Miro whiteboards with digital sticky notes. We recently used a Miro board for brainstorming in a workshop with business representatives at a client. Bottomline is that it worked very nicely, but there were a few gotchas.

Share the board in a way that suits the needs

We shared the board in two different ways, with each their pros and cons and applicability. The following worked well for us.

Invite the workshop participants by their email addresses

When you invite people by name or email address, they enter the board logged in with their account.

  • Pro:
    • They can simply navigate to and see the board that they have been invited. This was very practical for us, as we held a hybrid meeting: we pasted a link in the chat of the Teams meeting for the online participants. The on-site participants simply opened their laptop and navigated to in their browser without needing to find a complex link.
    • Their name can be displayed in the sticky notes they add, so that you can see who said what and ask themfor clarification when needed.
  • Con:
    • The first time they get a Miro invitation, they need to create a Miro account. It is free, but clients may be uncomfortable it. So check with the client if they have policies or strong feelings about internet accounts.
      Of course the entire Miro board lives in a cloud outside of our regular Microsoft cloud, and they may find that scary. But Miro is a Microsoft partner and its whiteboard integrates with Microsoft Teams, so they are not really strangers.
    • You cannot simply forward the board to another colleague whose input may become relevant. That colleague then needs to be invited first.

The people you invite to a specific board can only see the boards to which they have been invited. They cannot see the names of the users in the Miro team that this board is a part of; for that you have to be added to the actual team.

As a member of the Miro team, you see the names and addresses of the people who have been invited to one or more of the boards specifically. Actually: you only see the name when that person has and accepted the invitation and created a Miro account wih their name. Until then, you see only the email address with the label ‘Invited user’ instead of the name.

Share the board with a wider group of interested colleagues via a guest link with a password

When inviting individual people by name is not an option or too much of an administrative hassle, you can share a guest link. Then you do not need to log on. It is possible to use an unprotected guest link, but if the information you gather and share in the board has any kind of sensitivity, please set a password.


  • No need to create an account
  • You can open up the brainstorm: you and the participants of the workshop can just give the link and the password to other colleagues who are not part of the core team.
    Don’t share such an anonymous guest link if the board contains sensitive information, as you have no way of knowing where that link and password end up. Fortunately, you can close it down: change the settings so that anyone with a link has no access, instead of Can view or Can edit.


  • You cannot see who has posted a note: they are labelled as Visitor. So if you want to know who added some idea, you need to ask them to type in their initials or something like that.
  • The link is ugly. No problem whatsoever when you can paste a link in the chat or some other message and people can click on it. But it is more difficult if people need to enter the link themselves

Make sure the board has at least one Co-Owner

In order to set a password on the guest link to a Miro board, you need to have Owner or Co-Owner permissions on that board.

At first, we only had the Owner. I had to disturb my colleague while he was very busy with something else entirely to get an upgrade to Co-Owner, so that I could set up that link. Next time, I will make sure to check there is at least one Co-Owner from the start

Strangely enough, I was able to change the settings to allow anyone with a link to edit the board without a password. That seems a lot more “dangerous” than setting a password for the link…. But this is what we experienced…

Lock the framework

If have structured your board with things like frames, title bars or shapes that should stay in place. Otherwise people will accidentally move them.

But when you have locked it, you cannot change the text in that title bar – for example. You do get a prompt to unlock, but that is not placed right next to your cursor, so you may miss it and wonder why you cannot edit the text.

Use the timer to timebox the brainstorm rounds

You can set a time, such as 15 minutes, by way of the timer icon in the top right toolbar. Then all of the participants can see how much time they have left, as the timer counts down.

When time’s up, Miro sounds a “digital gong”. However, we have switched off the moderators laptop speaker, because we used the sound system in the meeting room. So we did not hear that sound, and the timer just disappeared. It did not show the stopped time. Oh well, now we know that when we don’t see the timer anymore, time’s up.

July 31, 2022

Little things: Employee centric communication

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 19:48

When we introduce a new digital workplace or a new intranet, for example, we determine the approach to help the users adopt the new technology. Yes, the broad strokes. But we should also pay attention to the little things, like how we communicate with the representatives of the user groups.

Put yourself in their place. They are not as involved in the project to introduce the new technology as you are. They don’t know as well as you do what it is about, why it would be relevant for them, what is supposed to happen, how it will work. So if we want them to be engaged, to give us the input and feedback we need, we should not make them guess about these things. We have to be very clear and employee-friendly in our communication.

The representatives need to be volunteers: ask them, don’t send them

We need a sounding board, to get input and feedback from the organization. We need key users or ambassadors, or however we call them, to inspire and help their colleagues with the new technology. But it doesn’t work if management just tells some employees that they have to be ambassadors. It doesn’t work if these people do not want that role. So we need to approach this in an employee-centric way.

  • Ask people if they want to take part. Preferably, the person to ask them is someone they know, but some people may even volunteer if you post a call for ambassadors.
  • Clarify what that role entails, what you expect from them and what they get out of it.
  • Make sure their manager will allow them to play that role and appreciate them for it.

Send clear and timely invitations

When we invite anyone, especially representatives from the organization, to workshops or other sessions, we need to send them participant-centric invitations:

  • Send the invitation plenty of time in advance, at least a few weeks for sessions longer then an hour. People are busy, so you cannot expect them to have time for your meeting when you invite them late.
  • Invite them for a location that is practical for them. If they cannot travel to headquarters for a meeting on-site, consider conducting them session online. The key point is that the session should be optimal for them, to reach the goals that you all are trying to reach.
  • Clarify in your invitation what are the goals of the session, what you expect from them and if they should prepare anything.

Explain cancelations

If you cancel a session, explain why it is cancelled. Is the session no longer needed? Is there a change of plan? Will it be rescheduled? Is it caused by a technicality: someone else will send a replacement invitation?

I have seen quite a bit of unrest among ambassadors, when a meeting was cancelled. It had to be replaced by an invitation sent by a different organiser. However, that replacement was not send immediately afterwards, so the participants had plenty of time to wonder what was going on, if the programme was in trouble. Some of them started to accept other meetings for that timeslot. All of this could have been avoided if the meeting cancelation message had included an explanation.

Keep them informed

We’re in this together, the project team and the representatives from the organization. So don’t ask them to give you information in a workshop and them make them feel like their input disappeared into a black hole.

  • Tell them what came out of it, what you are doing with their input.
  • Keep them informed on important milestones.
  • If the next steps are delayed, tell them. Do not make them think you have forgotten all about them.
  • But do not spam them with more information than they need. For example, put the updates and announcements in a Microsoft Teams environment that you share with them, so that they can read what’s happening when they have time. Only draw their attention to posts when you need them to take action.

All of this is not rocket science. But I do see that the ball gets dropped sometimes, usually because the project team is too busy, when there are other issues taking up their time and energy. But the one thing we should not skip is involving our user groups. Just don’t forget these little things.

June 5, 2022

New technology is fine but what about our way of working?

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 08:34

I am often involved in the roll-out of Microsoft 365, though sometime only at a late stage. The technical implementation usually gets most attention from the project team. But recently I heard from innocent end users at two clients that they were unhappy. Ok, they get new tools. And at some point they learn which buttons to push to operate the tools. But how are they supposed to work, now that the tools are rather different? What is the way of working now?

Things these innocent end-users were wondering about include:

  • I need to share a document with someone outside our organization. How am I supposed to do that now? In the Teams environment they gave us? Or in the OneDrive you just talked about?
    That was a very good question, especially because their Team only allowed for internal users and the organization has blocked external sharing in OneDrive. But it has to be very clear which method of sharing people should use in what situation.
  • I do see the advantage of the chat functionality in Teams. But a lot of the information I need to communicate is confidential. Am I allowed to put that in the Teams chat?
    We can implement technical solutions to protect our sensitive data, but it is key that they users understand what they should and should not do.
  • You say that we will get a Teams environment for our pharmacy. But in our pharmacy team, only the mail pharmacist has a computer and an account. The assistants don’t. So how are we supposed to collaborate with them using Teams?
    It has to be clear if we involve firstline workers and task workers who are not working on their computer or other electronic device most of the day. And if they are not involved, so our scenarios for collaboration and communication using Microsoft 365 make sense for the people who often work with firstline workers?
  • You say that we should use SharePoint for document management, but we still have several fileshares. Can we keep using those, or what are we supposed to do?
    In the transition from the old way of working, using old tools, to the new way of working, the users need to know what the plan is: is it a phased approach and when will what be migrated, should they request their own SharePoint site or Team if their old file location was not part of the original migration?
  • You are setting up this information portal about Microsoft 365, but who will be responsible for keeping it up-to-date? And for that matter, who is responsible for Microsoft 365 in our organization?

So we need to determine what the new way of working is, with the new tools. Not just for the obvious knowledge workers in the head offices, but also for the different types of users in the organization. Including the firstline workers if they should be involved. Or clarity about their non-involvement…

Some users will figure it out for themselves, but others feel less confident in their own savviness or more afraid they will do something stupid that will harm the organization. Let’s avoid these problems and stress. Of course the people in IT and the external consultants cannot come up by themselves with a way of working for the different types of users everywhere in the organisation. And they don’t have to.

We need to involve key users / ambassadors / champions / whatever you call them from different parts of the organization. These people can help figure out what the best way of working is for their team. And then they can help their colleagues to adopt that new way of working.

May 31, 2022

My ADKAR checklist: helping users to adopt our new solutions

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: — frederique @ 19:50

Implementing a new system or solution will not help anyone, if the users do not adopt it and use it. And they will not do so, if they lack ADKAR for that system or solution: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. It may sound weird and theoretical, but it has often helped me structure my approach to adoption. In this post, you will find my ADKAR-based checklist.

The projects in which I used this checklist were usually related to Microsoft 365, like the introduction of a new digital workplace. But the checklist also applies to other technologies.

“We understand what is changing”
Do we have a communication plan?
Who will communicate what when to whom via which channel.

Are we involving a business sponsors?
Messages from high-level sponsors in the business instead of IT.

Are we repeating the communication enough?
Sending the message once is not sufficient. Different speakers/writers, different channels, different emphasis to reach everyone.
“We want the new solution”
Do we have a clear picture of the benefits?
What are the benefits for the different types of users; not just company benefits (savings) or IT benefits (replacing an old system that is end-of-life).

Are we explaining “what’s in it for me”?
Write/record effective messages; check if they work.

Are we involving the managers?
Line managers, team leads can bring along their team. And if these managers do not believe in the change, they may actively hold their team back.
“We know how to use the new solution”
Do we have a training plan?
Who needs what kind of training when (e.g. classroom deepdives with exercises versus webinar tours).

Do we have help materials?
E.g. information portal, Quick Reference Cards, instruction videos.

Are we sure everyone who needs the knowledge can get it?
Communicate the training and help materials clearly and abundanty; make them easy to find.
“We are able to actually use the new solution in our work”
Can all users access the new system?
With their device, account, license, network? Is there a clear entry point, e.g. it opens automatically on their laptop, a link in the intranet, pinned app.

Can people get adequate support?
E.g. a helpdesk that has been properly trained, an ambassador network.

Is it clear and easy to get that support?
E.g. prominent contact details and request buttons, prominent list of the ambassadors
“We will keep using the new solution ”
Do we monitor adoption?
Usage statistics of the new solution and of the old solution, surveys how the users like the new system.

Do we have a team with continuing ownership?
Like a Competence Center, that is fully up-to-speed. Do we have a network of ambassadors / keyusers / champions / experts within the organisation, that their colleagues can reach out to?

Do we have an ongoing adoption & governance plan ?
A plan that goes beyond the end of the implementation project? Reinforce aspects that are falling behind, improving and updating the help materials, deciding on and helping users adopt new features

For users, ADKAR is sequential: nothing will happen if they are not Aware of the change. Then they won’t do anything if they don’t Desire it, or at least decide to go along with it. Then they won’t know what to do, if they don’t have the Knowledge. Then they can’t do it, of the lack the Ability. And finally, they need Reinforcement.

As a member of the project team trying to help the users adopt the new solution, you should NOT take things as sequentially.

  • Don’t wait until you have finalised your communication plan to boost awareness, before you start thinking of what’s in it for them.
  • Start preparing help and training materials early too, so that they are ready when you need them.
  • Somebody may need to take serious action at an early stage, if there are blocking issues with respect to the users’ ability to adopt the new solution: give them new devices, transform their accounts, buy new licenses, upgrade the network, hire a better helpdesk…
  • In anything that you set up, keep in mind that it is not just one-off. It needs to sustain reinforcement and the continuous adoption of the evolving system after the project is finished. When you set up an information portal, make sure it is easy to manage and keep up-to-date. If you have a Competence Center or another team who will manage the system, involve them right from the start. Start gathering the ambassador network at an early stage and involve them too.

This way, chances are a lot better that the users will actually embrace the new solution and take advantage of it, making the implementation a real success.

April 30, 2022

Organising training is more than delivering the session

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 22:54

I am often involved in training that is part of the roll-out of Microsoft 365. And what I notice, especially when I am not involved from the beginning, is that it often is thought that it is just about delivering some training sessions. But you do need to take into account a bit more to make that training effective. You should prepare a training that fits the participants’ needs and situation, invite the participants early and tell them what to expect, publish the content, arrange for follow-up help, make the follow-up clear, and gather information to keep improving. Let us take a closer look.

Prepare a training that fits the participants’ needs and situation

It is would be easy to just offer some standard training. But that will not help the participants, especially if they are new in this domain and not that savvy. You should teach them things that they need to know, in a format that fits with their experiences:

  • Explain scenarios that make sense to them
  • Only discuss apps and features that are available to them.
    This sounds obvious, but recently it turned out that part of my audience was working in Citrix and did not have any of the desktop apps. And another group had not yet been migrated to Exchange Online, so that not only Outlook but also things like the Teams Calendar and the To Do app were not available to them.
  • Set up a demo environment. If you want to show where they can find real information, you take them on a tour in the real environment. But it you want to show how to make any changes, use a playground, where you can demo without risking anything ‘real’. For example, when you want to demonstrate how they can collaborate smartly in teams, set up a playground Team. Put in some example channels and tabs, and some neutral, non-confidential content: documents, announcements, posts linking to documents etc.
  • Make sure the language settings in your demo align with the language that the participants see on their computers.

Invite the participants early and tell them what to expect

When you organise a live training session, whether it will take place on-site or online, you need to make sure the intended participants can be there, with the right expectations.

  • Make sure the people are allowed to spend time on the training. Are their department heads / team leads / bosses on board and do they stimulate or at the very least tolerate the people to participate in the training? Otherwise they won’t be able to make time for it.
  • Invite the participants plenty of time in advance. If you want people to participate in your training, you need to claim a timeslot in their calendars before these are filled with other commitments.
    Send a ‘save the date’ placeholder, if you don’t have all the details yet. But whatever you do, don’t wait too long with the invitation. How long beforehand you need to invite them depends on how busy the people are and how long your session will be, but as a rule of thumb I take at least two weeks.
  • Give a brief agenda: what topics will the training cover and what type of session will it be. Is it an interactive session or more ‘listen only’ with hopefully still some room for questions?
  • Tell them what they need to prepare or bring. Do they need to have some basic knowledge in order to understand the training? Do you want them to fill in a poll or survey beforehand, to help you tailor your session? Do they need their laptops, with its charger? Make sure it is very clear.
  • Link to additional information. The invitation itself should be concise, but some people may want to know more about the context. So include hyperlinks to information about, for example, the programme that is training series is a part of, the information portal about the topics of the training.
  • Provide clear instructions and offer help if your training is online and the participants are unfamiliar with the tooling.

Publish the content

The first thing participants ask, is if the presentation will be made available. Yes, of course. But rather than emailing the materials as an attachment or some other ‘old school’ distribution method, publish them, for example in a SharePoint site that is accessible to everyone who might be interested in it. It works best if you set this up before the training sessions.

  • Set up an information portal or at least an ‘information corner’ contains the relevant information and is easy to find.
  • Publish the slide desk in that central information portal
  • Publish the recording of the session there too, if you do an online training.
  • Publish additional information and a quick reference summary in that same place.

Arrange for follow-up help

After the training session, the participants are supposed to apply what they learned in their work. And usually, they find that they have additional questions once they try to take action by themselves. So they need to be supported and you need to make sure beforehand that they can get that support.

  • Who will be the first contact point for follow-up questions? Maybe the trainer still available, but is always tricky if the contact person is one person rather than a team, as that person may not be there all the time.
  • Engage the keyusers, if you have keyusers who can help their colleagues. I always invite one or more of the keyusers to attend the training. They may already know everything, but then they also know what the others are learning and they may be able to contribute to the discussion, on how to apply the new tools in .
  • Brief the helpdesk. The helpdesk may be the designated first point of contact, but even if the are not: some people will call the helpdesk by default. Make sure the helpdesk knows what is going on, what the answers to frequently asked questions are and who to contact if it gets more complicated.
  • Make sure you monitor the place(s) where people ask questions, if you set up a specific environment for short-term follow-up, like a mailbox, a feedback list or a Hypercare Team. The advantage of a ‘public’ place for questions & answers like a Hypercare Team, is that others can also see these answers. If the Q&A is organised via email or calls, you will be sure to get the same questions over and over again.

Make the follow-up clear

Once you have set up the help materials and processes, you need to make sure that everyone knows where to find them and how they work.

  • Point out where the materials are published at the end of the training. For example, show where they can find the information portal and the materials that belong to this training on it (it is in the navigation menu of the intranet for example?)
  • Tell where they can ask their questions and get help, if they cannot find what they need in those materials: who & how to contact the right people. Is it a channel in a Hypercare Team or a ticket system for the helpdesk where they should enter a form? Show where it is and how it works. Don’t assume that everyone knows this – at least ask if that is the case.
  • Send the hyperlinks and instructions on how to get help after the training. Use a communication channel for this message that reaches the participants. Maybe just send a ‘reply to all’ on the invitation that was sent to them. If you did an online training, you can post this information in the chat at the end of the session. In any case, send these hyperlinks and help contact details the same day or the day after at the latest, so that the training participants have this information at their finger tips as soon as they get started using their new knowledge and hit any snags.
  • Make sure you follow up anything that you promised you would follow up on, like finding out what you did not know during the session

Gather information to keep improving

Especially if you do a series of training sessions you’ll want to know what works well in the training and what you should improve.

  • Take notes of the questions that were asked, things that were hard to understand, what took more time than expected, et cetera. I usually ask a moderator to take these notes.
  • Ask for feedback. Just ask at the end if they have tips or other immediate feedback. Set up a short feedback form (make it anonymous if you fear that they won’t feel free to be honest) and send the hyperlink with the links to the helpmaterials at the end of the session.
  • Check attendance. Even if you don’t need to officially prove how many people you trained, you want to get some sense of the attendance. If only a small fraction of the people invited show up, what is stopping the others? Did you schedule the sessions at the wrong time or too late? Do they not see the relevance of the training? Because they won’t use it anyway or because they already know everything?

So if you plan to organise some serious training, please make sure you prepare and communicate it properly. And that you set up the materials and processes needed to support the training participants, instead of just letting them just fend for themselves afterwards.

March 31, 2022

How will this help us?

Filed under: Adoption,Digital Workplace,Microsoft 365 — frederique @ 20:24

Recently, I got involved in some training programmes, in which the people from a department could learn about Microsoft 365. These people were collaborating with each other, in a field different from my own: pharmacies and construction. What struck me, were their questions and even accusations: “You are from the head office and what head office tells us to do often does NOT work for our jobs in the field. So what does this mean for us, the people who are not sitting in an office all day working with Office applications? ”

My goal is not to sell as many Microsoft 365 licenses as possible, nor is it forcing users to adopt Microsoft 365 at knife point. What I try to do, is help people to do their jobs more effectively, efficiently and pleasantly. And in many cases Microsoft 365 can help with that, but if and only if they adopt it the right way. So:

  • From the one end, IT needs to make sure that the people get the tools that can actually help them. Not a one-size-fits-all toolkit & approach that does not fit their situation or their needs.
  • And from the other end, the people need to adopt the new way of working, with the new tools. For that they need to become aware of that new way of working, desire it, know enough about it, become able to do it in real life and be reinforced when they make the change. See ADKAR. And we can help them make the change, but only if the new way of working really works.

For example, I heard the following:

  • “Did your project actually ask the pharmacies what they needed, before you started pushing this change on us?”
    Fortunately, we had involved representatives from the pharmacies and done a pilot with them, so we could reassure these people. But we had not communicated this properly with the larger group, so they were still stuck in the sentiment of ‘those idiots from headquarters’ at the start of our training. Something to take into account next time.
  • “We don’t have a full computer or laptop, only a Citrix environment, without desktop applications. ”
    Fortunately, many of the Microsoft 365 application have a nice Online version. What we should have done better, is start with the story of the online versions, to fit their needs. I got catapulted into this training as a last minute resourcing fix, so I did not realise that only a few of the participants could use the desktop versions. Next time I will check, because you don’t want to talk about options that they don’t have….
  • “Why are you talking about Microsoft Teams as a ‘digital office’ for collaboration. In our pharmacies, we only have the one pharmacist who has a computer, what do you mean collaboration? ”
    Fortunately, we had also planned Teams for collaboration at the level of clusters, which made a lot more sense to them.
  • “The assistants in the pharmacies do not have individual Microsoft 365 accounts. How are we going to involve them in all this digital sharing? ”
    Good question, are aware of it. But the business still need to decide if they will get individual accounts and if they do: with which license.
  • “You show us how you can open a document in Teams and co-author it. But we are using a lot of files that can only be opened in non-Microsoft applications. We need these tools for manipulating models, schematics, plannings etc. How do we work with those files that seem exotic to you but are run-of-the mill for us.”
    Fortunately, we could show that they can synchronise the relevant libraries to their Windows Explorer and open those files from there. And yes, they were happy with the additional possibilities for opening links to work in Office files directly from Teams, for example. As long as we don’t try to suggest that this is the only type of files that they need to manage.

February 28, 2022

Microsoft 365 adoption: It is not over when it is over

Filed under: Adoption,Microsoft 365 — Tags: — frederique @ 21:36

I have been involved in the implementation of Microsoft 365 a few times. It is a project in which we get everyone into the cloud, migrate all of the information into the cloud too and activate all kinds of spiffy applications. We organise some training and set up and information portal to help our users adopt Microsoft 365. And when we have finished that, we are done. Right? Wrong!

The journey to help our people adopt Microsoft 365 does not end when we have implemented the technology and migrated everyone & everything. It even does not end when we have finished a training programme. Instead, it requires an ongoing programme. There are several reasons why you need to keep paying attention to Microsoft 365 adoption.

All changes need reinforcement

For any change, you cannot stop once people have learned how to work in a new way. You need to reinforce the change, to make sure that the people do not revert back to their old way of working as soon as they get back from their training session to the hectic hustle and bustle of their daily job.

In the ADKAR model that we favour, this is the R. The last stage, but definitely not the least. See also ADKAR: are our users ready to adopt our solutions?

So in the weeks and months after we organised our training sessions and went live with Microsoft 365, we should check if the new tools are being used rather than the old ones and if the people work in the new way instead of being stuck in their old ways of working. We should also make sure that it is very easy to get help, if you are not entirely sure about the new way of working. And that anyone who can set a good example does so: managers, team leads, influential colleagues, HR, Communication, IT,…

Microsoft 365 evolves continuously

Microsoft keeps adding applications and improving existing applications. So the people need to be aware of those changes, know what’s it in it for them and what to adopt them, know how to use the new & improved applications and be actually able to do so. And again get reinforced in the updated way of working.

So we should keep an eye on the Microsoft roadmap and put governance in place to determine how we deal with these updates: activate everything? Wait if it is possible to wait, and activate applications only if they are sufficiently mature and explained properly? Activate only for a specific group of trailblazers in a targeted release? And then arrange to help the people adopt the updates, for example by organising knowledge sessions like webinars on new features, publishing tips in communication channels that suit the audience (such as intranet news and departmental newsletters) and continuously updating your information portal for the details.

Our situation evolves continuously

The organisation may change, the users may change, the users’ insights and needs may change. New questions get asked. New solutions to facilitate work processes get thought out and implemented.

So you need to update the help materials you have, your information portal if you have one. This requires governance: somebody needs to be responsible for it and have a process when to update or add what information. And take it to the users: you don’t have to wait for new features from Microsoft to publish tips and organise knowledge sessions.

You also need a channel to collect feedback from the users on what should be explained or explained better: via the log of the questions that are frequently asked the servicedesk, via a network of ‘champions’, a feedback form, informal chats with users,…

New hires need to be onboarded & adopted

One of the advantages of Microsoft 365 is that many organisations use it. So when you hire new employees, chances are that they have used Microsoft 365 before, or at least parts of it. Nevertheless, these new people are unfamiliar with your specific templates and guidelines for how you use Microsoft 365 in your organisation and in your teams.

So you need to adopt these new colleagues and allow them to adopt your toolkit and your ways of working. I know, a bit of a mixed metaphor: take these new colleagues under your wing, so that they can embrace your tools and ways of working. Make them aware during the onboarding programme and show them the benefits. Offer them training if they need it. Make sure they are able to get started by creating their accounts promptly and giving them the required permissions. And again reinforce everything: managers and close colleagues and coach and guide the new people.

Support should be available continuously

Ok, maybe not continuously as in 24/7, but support cannot stop after Microsoft 365 has been launched and the implementation project is finished. Users should always be able to get proper support when something does not work or if they get lost. See also The importance of support for Office 365 adoption.

So make sure they know who to contact and that the people they contact are able to help them. For example.

  • Arrange for keyusers / champions who can help their colleagues. This approach can work well, because these champions are closer to the innocent end-users than IT. But then the keyusers need to be kept up-to-date on developments and they need direct access to expert support if they don’t know the answers to the users’ questions.
  • Make sure the helpdesk can help people: is there a clear and easy way to contact the helpdesk, does the helpdesk have the knowledge required to help the users?

Bottomline: you need to arrange for ongoing adoption capabilities, especially when you have an evolving toolkit like Microsoft 365. Or the Power Platform. Or any other platform where the users experience continuous change.

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