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7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment
Sherpa Software | Page 2 of 6
Under the copyright laws, neither the docu...
7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment
Sherpa Software | Page 3 of 6
Introduction
Companies spend a lot of time...
7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment
Sherpa Software | Page 4 of 6
The 7 Guidelines
1. Get management buy-in
...
7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment
Sherpa Software | Page 5 of 6
or a group that is following a certain typ...
7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment
Sherpa Software | Page 6 of 6
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7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment

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Companies spend a lot of time evaluating different platforms when selecting their enterprise social software, but few take the time to worry about how to effectively put it into production. We'll take a look at best practices for successfully rolling IBM Connections out to users within organizations. I’m not referring to the technical specifications required for setting up and installing the system, I’m referring to the end-user experience. Getting your users to implement and love the new technology, as well as make it part of their daily routine, is the goal.

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7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment

  1. 1. 456 Washington Avenue, Suite 2 ● Bridgeville, PA 15017 p (412) 206-0005 ● f (412) 206-0018 information@sherpasoftware.com●www.sherpasoftware.com 7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment By Denny Russell
  2. 2. 7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment Sherpa Software | Page 2 of 6 Under the copyright laws, neither the documentation nor the software can be copied, photocopied, reproduced, translated, or reduced to any electronic medium of machine-readable form, in whole or in part, without the written consent of Sherpa Software Partners, except in the manner described in the software agreement. © Copyright 2013 Sherpa Software, L.P., d.b.a. Sherpa Software Partners, L.P. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States. Microsoft, Exchange and Outlook are either trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Domino, Notes and Lotus Notes are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Lotus Development Corporation. Additional portions are copyright dtSearch®.
  3. 3. 7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment Sherpa Software | Page 3 of 6 Introduction Companies spend a lot of time evaluating different platforms when selecting their enterprise social software, but few take the time to worry about how to effectively put it into production. We'll take a look at best practices for successfully rolling IBM Connections out to users within organizations. I’m not referring to the technical specifications required for setting up and installing the system, I’m referring to the end- user experience. Getting your users to implement and love the new technology, as well as make it part of their daily routine, is the goal. Often times, companies will embrace a new technology; the group in charge is fully onboard and excited about the new product they are rolling out. They spend countless hours setting it up, securing it and making it just perfect for the users. Shortly after this, however, user adoption is slow and management doesn’t buy in. Soon, it fades into another project with questionable outcomes, and everyone takes away a negative experience from the hard work and efforts put into the project. So what can and should be done? Careful planning of this project needs to happen. Tons of effort will be placed on the setup and configuration of the project, but spending the same amount of time, if not more, on planning the rollout to the workforce is very important. The biggest complaint I hear from my customers when their company takes on a project like this is the lack of training: no one understands what, how or even why they are given this new resource to use. How are users supposed to take full advantage of their new resource if they don’t understand what it is, how to use it and most importantly, why to use it? If they don’t see their managers, the manager of their own manager, and their colleagues using it, why should they? So let’s break this down to help you understand a little better how to successfully roll out a new technology such as IBM Connections. The 7 guidelines for deploying a successful IBM Connections environment: 1. Get management buy-in 2. Build focus group(s) 3. Provide training 4. Encourage the adoption 5. Reward use 6. Follow-up training 7. Prepare for the bumps in the road
  4. 4. 7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment Sherpa Software | Page 4 of 6 The 7 Guidelines 1. Get management buy-in Yes, they approved the budget and thought it was a great idea to roll it out to the users – but are they really buying into the concept of a ‘social’ workforce? If the managers and C-suite aren’t participants themselves, showing the employees their acceptance and approval of this new technology, the usage will be on a much smaller scale as employees won’t see it for the valuable resource that it is. One company using IBM Connections has adopted a ‘no internal email’ policy for anything that is job/project related; if they do send an email, a return message telling them to “place this message in the appropriate Community within Connections” is sent back. Now, if the CIO decided to keep sending emails and not post to the appropriate place in Connections, how long do you think it would take before users started doing the same and that Community within Connections would fade away? 2. Focus group Create a small group of forward-thinking employees (or multiple groups). You know who they are: these are the folks with the latest gadgets and the desire to try new things. They are always talking about their lives on social media or something they saw on their news feeds (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). These are the people to focus on, because they like to provide feedback and interact with others in an online setting. That’s one key to a really good focus group: if the participants of the focus group do not want to participate, by providing content and using the technology, find out why. Is it the technology? Or not understanding the goals of the group? Train the focus group on what the new platform is and how you need them to be part of the initial rollout. Let them know you will ask for feedback and their active participation. Set some general expectations so they know what being part of the program entails (filling out profiles, using xx number of features, participating in others’ blogs or forums, providing feedback, etc.). Make sure they understand that bugs are part of this and they need to report anything they find, and always give them a way to opt out before the pilot program starts. Once the pilot is complete, reward them for their time and effort. 3. Training Once you have your focus group completed, training for the entire company is in order. I’m not talking about just an overview of what Connections is and how to input data; while that is important and must be covered, the user also has to see the value behind it. They have to understand the WHY of using Connections. How is this going to help them do their job? Make them understand that collaborating in a one-to-many communication, one that’s shared and searchable by anyone in the community, is much better than email or instant messages, or even water cooler talk. While those all have their place, the communication is very closed off to only those directly involved. Have your pilot group talk about their experience or use examples from other companies that have deployed IBM Connections. 4. Encourage the Adoption Be careful on the restrictions you set for your users. For someone to truly understand how to use a technology for their business, they often need to grasp it on a personal level. Don’t restrict them to only allowing them to use it for business reasons. Have communities where they can share information and build relationships on a personal level. Maybe you’ve got a group of employees who coach youth sports
  5. 5. 7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment Sherpa Software | Page 5 of 6 or a group that is following a certain type of diet. Let them talk about it and share their experiences. If they learn how to do this on a personal level, doing so with their project teams becomes more natural. I’m not saying there should be no guidelines – set rules for what is ‘non-business’ appropriate. Vulgar language and offensive materials should never be allowed. Also, set the expectations of what the consequences would be if they fail to comply. 5. Reward Use While the word seems to be highly overused, gamification may be the best approach. Place the employees in cross department teams with people they may not normally engage. Provide a reward system for using Connections and contributing and collaborating. By placing users on teams, it will do a couple of things; 1. It will give all employees a chance to win as their teammates may help the employee who is a little shy or unsure about participating. 2. As they see others on the team contributing, they will want to participate as well so they don’t disappoint their teammates. Ask for ideas for rewards, and don’t assume you always know what motivates your employees. Use this as a way to listen to what they want and what motivates everyone. Use the Ideation tool within the platform to gain feedback and ideas for rewards. 6. Follow-Up Training Once the initial training is complete and the employees are using Connections, provide follow-up sessions where users can provide feedback and ask questions. During the initial training, it will be all new so they won’t know what questions to ask. These follow-up sessions will allow them to better understand and encourage them to keep using the resources they are given. Another option is to provide a community for them to ask questions, provide feedback and learn more. Why not use the technology you have at your disposal to teach the end users? 7. Prepare for the Bumps in the Road There are going to be some road bumps along the way. You may have numerous technical problems; even the best implementations have issues from time to time. You need to keep your technical teams on top of it, working hard to fix problems as efficiently as possible. If Connections is not working or has developed problems in certain areas, the momentum will fade, as will the trust and enthusiasm for the product amongst employees – which is a hard fix. This is where an active focus group should help iron out these small issues before the final rollout. You will have users who don’t ‘get it’ or don’t see the value behind it. These employees will push back and have no desire to participate, which requires you to find ways to encourage them and gain their trust. This is where management buy-in should help. When they see the people all around them benefitting from using the technology, they too should start to come around.
  6. 6. 7 Keys to a Successful IBM Connections Deployment Sherpa Software | Page 6 of 6 You may also want to have one (or multiple people, depending on department size) expert in each department who is the go-to person to answer questions, provide further training and be the advocate for IBM Connections within the group. Having someone that employees know and work with on a daily basis will make them feel comfortable when to asking questions and seeking help. Learn More Following these steps will help facilitate an environment that encourages users to participate and collaborate for a better social experience at work. If you'd like to learn more, please contact a Sherpa representative at information@sherpasoftware.com or use the information below. Sherpa Software Group 456 Washington Avenue - Suite 2 Bridgeville, PA 15017 Toll-free: 800.255.5155 Direct: 412.206.0005 Fax: 412.206.0018 Email: information@sherpasoftware.com About the Author Denny Russell, Product Manager – Social Business Solutions @DennyRussell As the product manager of social business solutions at Sherpa Software, Denny guides the future direction of the products from an enterprise social networking point of view. You’ll find him contributing to the company’s blog as a writer and thought leader; his topics of interest include and just about anything to do with social business and the latest collaboration tools.

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