Having read Groundswell recently, I cannot agree more with a concept explained in the book about how companies should enter the social media world and how they should approach the implementation of some tools. The concept is an acronym called POST (People, Objectives, Strategy and Technology) and even though the authors apply it to the social tools, I think it also applies perfectly to the more broad collaboration solutions. Let’s see why:
- People: it is the fundamental pillar where the success of a collaboration solution rests upon. Improving the communication between our users by changing the way they can interact to each other means changing how people talk and relate to other people. And this is difficult. I remember an event organized by Steelcase where they invited the directors of building infrastructure and facilities for the biggest companies in my country. I was invited to do a talk there about trends in the collaboration industry and when I asked which one (People, Technology or Process) was the hardest to change, the answer was overwhelming clear: People. Start with how your users will benefit from the solution you plan to implement. Find out their communication habits. Profile them into different user types so you can tackle specific needs. And most important, think about the user experience they will feel when using the new technology. The degree of satisfaction from that user experience will be the degree of success of your project
- Objectives: Why do you want to change how your users behave? What are the benefits you want to obtain from deploying that collaboration solution? And by benefits I’m not just referring to being up to date with technology or replacing your old pbx for the sake of it. You do need to find your own drivers. You need to picture how improving the way people talk to others will help your business. And you need to make it clear to all users. From the previous point, there is going to be an effort from them in learning the new solution, so they better be presented with the benefits they will achieve or else they’ll be reluctant to change. Think of objectives also as those things your company does for running the business that could be enhanced if done differently. This is about changing processes too. An last but not least: think how you will measure the degree of achievement of your objectives
- Strategy: In a nutshell, how are you going to deploy the solution? Are you going to have a pilot first and then a slow deployment group by group? Or are you going full-speed and allowing everyone from day one to enjoy the new system? This is where you define the priorities based on what users are more suitable to start working the new way and help achieving the objectives planned. A big part of the strategy of deploying a new collaboration solution is how the old world will coexist with the new one (since there will be a period where the two are alive at the same time) and how the new system will start shaping out from the old one.
- Technology: finally. And yes, it is the last step. This is where you decide which solution, product or vendor is more suitable for meeting your objectives, enabling your people to better communicate and be deployed optimally.