Seven Things to Consider for a Successful UC Rollout

Unified communication has the power to make us more productive, build better relationships, save money and improve our work/life balance. Convinced of the potential to create business value, organizations of all types have invested in UC technologies, from video conferencing and TelePresence solutions to web conferencing, instant messaging, and enterprise social collaboration tools.

Unfortunately, all too often, after the technology is installed, nothing really changes. Tools sit untouched and underutilized by the vast majority of users. Either people are unaware that the tools exist or they are not sure how – or are even afraid – to use them.

Management is left wondering why they invested in the new technology in the first place.

Make sure your investments don’t gather dust.

To unlock the potential of unified communication in your organization, you need to create a plan for user adoption. Support for user adoption begins well before a potential technology is chosen, and continues well after it is implemented.

Here are seven ways you can drive UC adoption in your organization:
1.‘Begin with the end in mind’

Clearly define the business problem your technology solution is expected to solve. It may be, “we want to reduce travel expense,” or “we want to save time.” Every decision you make from that point forward can be considered against the underlying business problem.

2. Create use cases

Specify how a technology solution will be applied by different types of users in different situations. When choosing a new technology and soliciting bids, your use cases will help define and prioritize requirements and help you be an effective advocate for your users.

You’ll have more success gaining buy-in from users if you can adapt any new technology to their workflow.

  • Consider the different types of users who will be accessing the technology. How do they like to work?
  • What is their level of comfort with new technologies? Look for tools that are intuitive and easy to use.
  • Are there existing tools your users prefer today? Make sure any new addition easily integrates.
  • Plan for a mobile future. Consider how remote workers and business travelers will access and participate.
3. Proactively manage change

Collaboration tools open the door to a new way of working, which may require a cultural shift for your organization. For example, collaboration tools allow users to work in teams vs. independently, jump in and out of conversations without having scheduled meetings, and share ideas more spontaneously – all in full view of a video camera. This is exciting for some and frightening for others.

Even before you have a new collaboration tool in place, you can structure a change management plan to migrate users to a new way of working together. Studies show that people consider a sudden move from one work paradigm to another to be chaotic, but migrating from an old paradigm to a new one in a planned, methodical manner is viewed as strategic.

Consider hiring a professional change management expert (not the same as a Project Manager) to help align all stakeholders and to make this paradigm shift.

4. Generate a functional specification

Too often solution providers or resellers are called in to provide a bid for a technical solution without any of the above steps in place. Without a clear definition of your business objectives or workplace culture, they rely on their own experience (good or bad) in suggesting solutions.

This quickly translates into a conversation about bits, bytes, server size, and bandwidth requirements without ever defining a single use case.

Instead, use your use cases to define specific functional requirements prior to engaging any vendor. You actually make their job easier as you will provide a clear target for their respective bids. And, you will be better able to choose among them because you will have created a level playing field across bidders.

If you do not have this capability internally, consider hiring an independent video systems consultant, not biased toward any vendor’s solution, to provide guidance.

5. Create and use acceptance criteria as an ‘acid test’

After the planning stages, it all comes down to careful execution and honest assessment. The only way to tell if your specifications are being met and your use cases are being considered in the implementation of a new technology solution is by creating and using “acceptance criteria.”

Walk your new solution through the desired paces to prove its utility and compatibility with your workflow and communication paradigm.

Make sure you’ve got a fully-trained project manager, skilled in technology implementations, to help you develop a detailed project plan, test the solution against the acceptance criteria, and manage the project through roll-out and launch.

6. Shout it from the rooftops

Communicate the vision for your solution and create excitement about its potential. Have some fun marketing your investment.

Success breeds success. Highlight the early wins and post success stories where all can see the positive impact of the new solution. You may want to dub one business unit or department a “pilot program” and then share its “before and after” story to demonstrate business value.

The more you can demonstrate return on your investment, the more you can convince your organization that the investment in UC was worth it. When execs see cost savings or faster project completion as a result of using UC tools, they are more likely to support and even require their adoption.

7. Invest in training that sticks

Finally, make sure you plan for UC training for management, solution administrators, and users. A customized training program can help put any new technology in context of your business goals and specific requirements.

By keeping this list in mind you’ll be more likely to drive widespread adoption of your UC technology and support long-term success in your organization.

Our goal is to help you make the most of your technology investment. Let us know how we can help.