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Archive for July, 2011

Strategy Management, Alignment & Execution through Collaboration (Social Strategy) – What’s the Business Value?

Let me start with the basics…..What is Leadership? What is Management? What’s the difference.

What is Leadership? A leader sets the vision and direction of the company. Where are we going? Why we are going there? What’s the strategy? Explain and communicate this clearly to all. Inspire the team!!

What is Management? Management is how to get there? How how do we get from Point A to Point B? How do we align & execute the Strategy? What initiatives should we undertake? How do we manage this efficiently and communicate well?

How can they align and support each other to meet the Organization’s Vision, Strategy, Goals & Objectives?

There are numerous frameworks and processes to develop and execute the Strategy – Strategy Plan, Balanced Scorecard, Strategy Map, Strategic Alignment etc. There are many tools to manage this as well.

The end result – a big set of documents, colorful charts/spreadsheets, flashy dashboards etc that are displayed in the intranet for all the employees to view. They are updated may be on a quarterly basis.

How effective is this? Did employees at all levels get a chance to provide input to the strategy development & execution? Can they share ideas and address the challenges? Can they suggest initiatives? Can they ask questions on the strategy? Do they know how their work is directly affecting the strategy? Do they know all the stakeholders who are part of a particular initiative? Can they get a top-down or bottom-up view?

Remember the Knowledge Management tools of the past. Why did they fail? It was focusing more on content rather than the combination of content + people + collaboration.

Can the Strategy Development, Alignment & Execution be Collaborated & Crowd Sourced?

A couple of months ago, I visited my son’s kindergarten class to view some creative work developed by the kids.  There was a big jar filled with pencils on the table and a question by the jar – How many pencils are there in the jar? There was also a small jar with 5 pencils to help visualize the size of 5 pencils. Each kid partnered with one more kid – estimated the number of pencils in the big jar based on this, wrote it on a piece of paper and gave it to the teacher. The teacher then collected all the answers. Result: The collective average answer was 70 and there were 75 pencils in the jar. It was a perfect narrow bell-curve…not bad for Kindergartners.

I was truly amazed by this. The teacher explained to all of us (including the parents) that collaboration and teamwork will always help you to find the right solution and be successful. I saw “Collaboration & Crowd Sourcing” in action and couldn’t believe it this was happening in the Kindergarten class.

Crowd sourcing is so powerful and is the framework that powers the stock market, Google’s prediction market and Iowa’s Electronic market as well.

Why can’t this be applied to the Strategy Development, Execution, Alignment & Communication Process? Yes this can be done through Social Strategy- by collaborating, communicating, interacting and sharing in an enterprise collaboration platform. This will make the entire process more efficient/effective, generate new ideas, be creative & innovative and make employees be part of the strategic goals and objectives and also achieve high employee motivation and satisfaction. End Result: Help Leadership & Management reach meet the goals and reach the destination successfully with the help of their teams at every step.

Following is a simple Social Strategy Management framework/structure to use within the Enterprise Collaboration platform. This also helps in the adoption of the Enterprise Collaboration. (see related post).

  • Develop and manage Vision, Mission, Strategy Goals and Objectives (by area)
  • Develop and manage Initiatives to execute and align with the Strategy goals and objectives
  • Develop and manage Projects that aligns with the initiatives
  • Collaborate, communicate, interact and share on all the above

Business Benefits – Value

  • Efficient & Improved Strategic management process – Strategy development, management, alignment and execution
  • Efficient alignment of Strategy to Projects – Employees can quickly find out projects that are linked to strategy, ask questions, collaborate on ideas/challenges, share knowledge,monitor the updates etc
  • Efficient project management and collaboration
    • A project’s success is measured on how well you communicate and collaborate, this framework will help you to achieve that goal.  Project managers can share, communicate and collaborate on all the info related to a project (Summary, business need, business value, strategy alignment, sponsors, team info, stakeholders, status updates via blog posts/tweets, project blogs, RSS feed, work spaces, milestones,  project documents) all in one platform.
    • Reduce project communication/updates via email and file servers.
    • By managing this info in the platform, employees can quickly access and view information on a projects (content), share ideas, see who is part of the project (human element), collaborate on the info (human element + collaboration), subscribe to the project updates via RSS feed, subscribe to the project blog to get the latest updates. The value of managing a project in a collaboration platform is “limitless”.
    • Provide the ability to view the project info from any location, any device etc quickly and easily.
  • Dynamic & automatic strategy mapping – By tagging all the strategies and projects, you can generate a dynamic Strategy map. Employees can visually view the Strategy map, drill-down by business area or projects, see all the projects by tags. This provides a quick and easy way to find all the info. This is the framework that has made Twitter so powerful – “The Hash Tag”.
  • Improve communication, collaboration & interaction – By providing all the info in the platform, management and employees can communicate and collaborate better and will be lead to very transparent environment.
  • Increase in employee awareness of  strategies, goals and projects – This will employees to see quickly how they fit it to the overall strategy? Why their project is so critical for the organization? What value do they create and how does their project create value? Also see how others fit in the strategy as well. This helps improve the awareness across the organization (which is one of the primary goals of an organization as well)
  • Improve employee satisfaction – It provides an opportunity for employees to be part of the strategy development and execution. It also helps them in their career goals and objectives.
  • Find relevant information faster and easier – Finding info on strategy and projects is easy and quick (kind of an internal Google).
  • Share ideas, comments & solutions faster & easily  – All projects will have challenges. By sharing the challenges in the platform, employees can view and share solutions and ideas. A great idea always comes from one more idea.
  • Fosters innovation & creativity to generate new ideas and solutions
  • Drive towards organized communication (rather than in emails and file servers)
  • Eliminate or reduce email communication – strategy, project updates, status reports etc
  • Break-down silos – allows cross-functional collaboration and communication
  • Meet the strategic goals and objectives successfully

At any given point, employees can see the strategy at an organization level or business unit level and drill down to goals, objectives and related projects (top-down). They can also view the projects and see related the goals, objectives and strategies (bottom-up). See who is responsible and all the details at every level. Employees can collaborate, communicate, interact and share on all of this and this helps to meet the overall goals of the organization.

An enterprise collaboration platform is useful and will be adopted fully only if employees can “do” & “get” the work done more efficiently and effectively

Leverage Social Strategy to Collaborate, Interact, Communicate & Share to reach your destination

Appreciate your feedback and comments.

Contact Info

LinkedIn  kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

Cloud Security, Identity Management & SaaS Single Sign-On – What’s the business value?

July 23, 2011 1 comment

Organizations are now implementing Cloud/SaaS based applications (including PaaS, IaaS, MaaS, BaaS etc) at a rapid pace within. It has become mainstream now!!!

According to Forrester and Gartner, enterprise-wide adoption of SaaS is widespread and has reached a tipping point. 62% of enterprises have multiple SaaS apps today, and that number is growing quickly. As enterprises turn to SaaS as a way to reduce IT costs, new security and compliance challenges are created as confidential data moves across the firewall onto 3rd party systems.

You may or will be facing the following questions/challenges soon…(I did)!!

  1. How do you efficiently manage user access (authentication) to SaaS apps based on their roles & responsibilities?
  2. How do you efficiently manage data access (authorization) based on the roles & responsibilities?
  3. How do you manage authentication and authorization differently for Private vs Public Cloud/SaaS apps?
  4. How do you prevent behind the door access or from an unsecured environment?
  5. How do you centrally authenticate users?
  6. How do you provide a simple and efficient Single Sign-On (SSO) to all SaaS apps from any place, any location and more important from any device?
  7. How do you extend your organization’s access/data policies and procedures to the cloud?
  8. How do you monitor, audit, report and log all access activity for all the SaaS apps – to comply with organization policies & procedures, regulations etc?
  9. How do you leverage existing user identity/infrastructure such as Active Directory, LDAP etc to manage identity management for all the SaaS apps?
  10. How do you bring in and implement more SaaS apps into the environment?
  11. How do you build and manage SSO adapters (both SAML and HTTPS) for SaaS apps quickly & easily?
  12. How do you minimize the maintenance, administration & support of all the above – especially for new employees or when they leave?

You are not alone, we faced this when we reached 10 SaaS apps. We addressed all the above challenges by implementing a robust Hybrid Cloud based Identity & SSO Management solution (from Symplified) for both internal and external SaaS apps (see related case study).

Why Hybrid? It bridges the benefits of SaaS and on-premise security – behind the firewall and close proximity to network security, AD, Private Cloud SaaS based apps.

See related post on SaaS Vendor Evaluation and Selection Process – Framework, Reference architectures, SaaS identity Management

We built and integrated an SSO widget within our Enterprise Collaboration Platform dashboard (see related architecture). This provided an easy and quick way for employees to access SaaS apps based using the network (AD) credentials.

Following is the typical “in the flow” process:

  1. Employees access the Enterprise Collaboration platform from their desktop/Citrix/Blackberry and this sends an encrypted identity of their profile via a NTLM (similar to IWA) challenge. (As the Collaboration platform is listed in the employee’s browser as a trusted site)
  2. The Collaboration platform validates the NTML challenge. This then authenticates the employees to access the platform automatically.
  3. By default employees land on the Collaboration’s dashboard page. (The external SaaS SSO widget  is part of the dashboard).
  4. Employees enter their network/AD credentials into the SaaS SSO widget to access SaaS apps.
  5. This request is then processed by the Cloud Identity/Access Management solution and authenticates employee’s credentials (again) against  the AD server. (This ensures  secuity and integrity)
  6. Employees then see all the SaaS applications to which they have been granted access privileges. (This is achieved via AD policy management).
  7. Employees can select any of the SaaS applications and they are automatically logged into them.
  8. All the above steps are logged and audited for future reporting and compliance requirements.

Benefits & Value

  1. Seamless auto single sign-on to Enterprise Collaboration platform (Social Intranet, Social Business platform) from employee’s desktop/Citrix.
  2. Provided employee’s with a one stop “hub” to single sign-on and access internal and external SaaS applications seamlessly, both SAML-supported and non-SAML.
  3. Increased user adoption of the Enterprise Collaboration platform.
  4. Reduced number of password resets/forgotten passwords for SaaS apps.
  5. Leveraged existing network security (AD) for authentication and authorization. So when employees leave, you can just disable their identity in AD and that cuts-off access to SaaS apps.
  6. Ability to extend SSO & Identity Management to new SaaS apps quickly and easily.
  7. Less or no internal maintenance and support for the entire cloud security & identity management infrastructure – “A true Hybrid Cloud Solution”.
  8. Strong foundation architecture ready to enable access to SaaS apps from employee’s new & shiny mobile devices – iPad, iPhone, Droid etc.
  9. Meet audit and regulatory compliance, policies & procedures.
  10. Met the goal of a robust central user identity repository, access and identity management to address current and future requirements.

A common question that many have raised or may be thinking about – What’s the trade-off between easy access to SaaS apps Vs risk? What are the compelling reasons? The following 5 “value” points should help answer this question.

  1. A single point for access and identity control. Enable (new hire) and disable (termination) access for SaaS apps for employees, temps, consultants etc. quickly and easily.
  2. A single point to log, report and audit all access activities. This helps meet regulatory and compliance requirements easily.
  3. A single point for authentication to all SaaS apps. This helps to leverage the existing AD/LDAP infrastructure.
  4. A single point for authorization to all SaaS apps. This again helps to leverage the existing AD/LDAP authorization policies and extend them to SaaS apps.
  5. Last but not least – be/get ready for the world of “2.0″ platforms coming in to the enterprise – web, collaboration, mobile (BYOT – iPad, iPhone, Droid), identity, social etc.

Appreciate your feedback and comments.

Contact Info

LinkedIn  kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

Top 12 Questions and Requirements for SaaS & Cloud Vendors – Technology, Security, Identity Management, Compliance, Standards**

July 20, 2011 2 comments

Evaluating, selecting and implementing a SaaS or a Cloud based application goes beyond just the application functionality. This is just 50% of the equation or value proposition. Looking into the other technology aspects of the SaaS vendor is very very important such as Security, Compliance, Data, Identity Management, Integration, Standards, Support, Hosting facility, SLAs etc.

Business has a lot of urgency and temptation to select and implement SaaS applications. As IT we need to help them in choosing the right solution that meets both business and technology requirements. This is where IT can partner with the Business to provide additional value in evaluating and selecting the right SaaS vendors that meets both business and technology objectives. By doing this you can avoid the pitfalls of business selecting and implementing SaaS applications outside of IT.

Following are the Top 12 questions & requirements you will need to ask SaaS and Cloud vendors. This is based on my experience in evaluating, selecting and implementing 12+ SaaS applications and 3 cloud environments over the past 4 plus years.

**See related detailed post on SaaS Vendor Evaluation and Selection Process – Framework, Reference architectures, SaaS identity Management)**

**See Cloud ROI framework from Forrester**

1. Hosting Provider & Data Location

  • Who is the hosting provider?
  • Where is the hosting location? Country, State?
  • What type of infrastructure is used? Hardware, software, operating system, technology platform?
  • Ask for the architecture diagrams for all layers? Business, Application, Integration, Data & infrastructure layer diagrams?
  • Where is the primary data being stored? In order to comply with local jurisdiction, privacy and regulation requirements
  • Where is the backup data being stored?
  • What type of virtualization software is used? VM Ware, Hyper-V?
  • What type of network bandwidth is available (min 100 Mbps) ? What options are available for dedicated bandwidth?
  • What type of scalability is provided for additional computing power – CPU, RAM, Storage? Costs? Time to implement?

2. Data Access, Security, Segregation & Encryption

  • Is it a dedicated or a shared environment?
  • If it a shared environment, how is the data segregated from other shared environments?
  • What type of data architecture is implemented? Diagrams?
  • How is security managed in the shared environment? What controls are in place?
  • Who has access to the infrastructure, hardware, software, data? Ask for specific info on the roles & responsibilities of administrators, profiles, hiring practices etc
  • What application & data access audit logs are available? How often can you get this?
  • How is the primary data encrypted? What encryption schemes are used? Who has access to the decryption keys? How often is this tested?
  • How is the backup data stored? Is the data in raw files or encrypted format? What locations are the backup data stored? Who has access to this backup data?
  • What type of investigative support is provided in cases of breach?
  • Is the vendor is acquired, sold or dissolved? What options are available to get the data? Costs? How is the data wiped out of the environment?

3. Regulatory Compliance

Business is responsible for the data security, integrity and privacy even if it is a SaaS app that is management by the vendor.

  • What types of regulations are being followed complied?
  • PCI & HIPPA compliance? What options are available? How is this managed?
  • How often is this audited?
  • How is this enforced?
  • Ask for availability & access to the audit reports on a regular basis

4. Hosting Facility Security & Compliance

  • Is the hosting facility SAS 70 II (Statement of Auditing Standards) compliant? This is an important requirement as this encompasses all security and regulations compliance?
  • How often is this compliance audited?
  • Auditing and compliance is just 50% of the requirement. It is important to find out how the hosting vendor actively enforcing SAS 70 II controls is & requirements in to their work processes. Ask for this info in detail.

5. Business Continuity & Disaster Recovery

  • What type of business continuity & disaster recovery options are available? Is this part of the standard services?
  • Where are the DR (disaster recovery) data centers locations located?
  • What type of infrastructure exists to replicate and synchronize data between the primary and DR data centers? Is this available in real-time, daily?
  • If the primary environment is down?  How quickly can the DR environment be made active either in the primary or the DR data center?

6. Identity Management, Security & Single Sign-On

  • What type of identity management solution is provided? (See related post on Identity management)
  • Is Single Sign-On (SSO) provided? What types of SSO options are available? SAML, HTTP-Fed, Open Auth etc?
  • Can the SaaS app be integrated with an existing Identity Management system?
  • What type of user store is available? Can this user store be integrated with Active Directory or any other user store database?
  • What type of user security, authentication and authorization options are available?

7. Standards, Policies, Procedures & Frameworks

  • What architecture and technology standards, policies and procedures do you follow and comply?
  • What architecture frameworks do you follow? TOGAF?
  • How do you manage the projects internally? Agile, PMP?
  • What type of professional services do you offer to implement and support the SaaS application? What type of PM resources do you have? Skills, experience, certifications etc?

8. Integration, APIs & Reports

  • What type of APIs and web-services are available to pull and push data?
  • Are the APIs secured and encrypted?
  • Is there an option to access the data directly from the database?
  • What type of reports can be generated or created?

9. Support & Maintenance

  • What type of support is provided? Self-service, email, phone?
  • What are the support times? 24×7, 5 days a week?
  • What are the support response times? Critical, Urgent, High & Low issues/requests?
  • Who provides the support desk and where are they located? How many employees is part of the support desk? Dedicated or shared with projects?
  • Is there a premium support model?
  • What type of monitoring and alerting does the vendor provide?
  • What type of migration and integration support does the vendor provide?
  • Is there a dedicated support manager and account rep?
  • How do you support and manage integration with the customer’s existing SaaS apps?
  • How are upgrades, patches and other maintenance performed?
  • What type of change management & risk management procedures do you follow? How often is this communicated to the customers?
  • Does the customer have any control on applying patches, upgrades and changes to the SaaS app? (this is very important to know especially if the SaaS app is integrated with other SaaS apps).

10 Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

  • What SLAs are available – reliability, availability, performance, issues, requests etc? Penalties?
  • What types of credits are available if SLAs are not met?
  • Are the terms & conditions of the contract tied to the SLAs?
  • Is the exit strategy tied to the SLAs?
  • Is there a regular meeting (monthly/quarterly) to review the SLAs, issues, requests?
  • Who will be part of the SLAs meetings?
  • How are the issues escalated if the SLAs are not complied? Who can we escalate to in the management team?

11. Vendor Management, Product Road-map & Viability

  • Who is the management? What is their experience?
  • Is it funded by a VC firm? Who is it?
  • What are their financials? How many customers do they have?
  • What is the organization structure? How many employees? Where are they located?
  • How many employees are there in the product development & support team?
  • What is their product road-map and strategy?
  • How are they managing their product strategy? Competition, Market, Positioning, Customer requirements? How is this communicated and how often?
  • How do they accommodate customer requirements into their product strategy? Is there a customer advisory council?
  • Do you provide a trial or proof of concept for your product including new features?

12. Pricing & Contract

  • After reviewing the above 11 items, the prices may vary from your initial analysis/requirements (this always happened in my case!!). Understanding the true pricing is very important.
  • What is included and excluded in the pricing? Will you charge for new product features?
  • Are you open to contract negotiations that meet the company legal needs & requirements?
  • What is the minimum contract period? Are there any discounts for long-term contract? Is there an option to exit during the contract and what are the terms & conditions, penalties?
  • See sample SaaS legal addendum

By doing the above, IT can play a valuable partner with business to evaluate, select and implement SaaS or Cloud based applications.

Contact Info

LinkedIn  kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

Social Business Adoption Strategies – 10 Key Steps and Best Practices

  This is follow-up post to my article on Social Business  Strategy – 15 Key Strategy Steps for  Successful Implementation.

You have now implemented a Social Business Platform (Enterprise Collaboration, Social Business, Social Intranet, Enterprise 2.0 etc) and rolled it out to the entire organization. You celebrated your go-live, got great initial traffic, momentum, usage and had some success. Great!!!. (If you have not implemented and your are in the initial stage, you can apply the following info to your project).

Now the difficult part kicks in – “Adoption & Use“.  How do you keep up the momentum?

Employees will adopt and use the platform more if they can “do” & “get” the work done more efficiently and effectively.  They will not find the enterprise collaboration platform useful (few examples) -

  • If it is just one more place to find information
  • Not required to get any work done
  • Requires one more login/password
  • Not all the employees are on the platform
  • Cannot discover people/skills due to lack of profile completeness
  • Cannot find important information
  • Has more “white noise” rather than useful information
  • Lack of participation
  • Not used for organization wide communication & updates
  • Lack of communication on the purpose of the platform.

You may face or are already facing the following questions.

  • Are employees using all the great features, tools and capabilities of the platform to the expectations?
  • Is the platform meeting all the business objectives identified in the business case? In terms of  Innovation, Idea generation, Collaboration, Communication, Excellence, Learning & Support, Competitive advantage?
  • Is the platform improving the key business processes that you identified?
  • Is the platform enabling the capture and management of knowledge across the organization? Is it facing the same fate of Knowledge Management system?
  • Is the platform driving more employee engagement, communication, collaboration, interaction and sharing of information across the organization?
  • Is the platform driving process improvement, excellence and innovation across the organization?
  • Do all the employees have an account in the platform? If they have an account, do they have a complete profile? Are they actively using the platform?
  • Finally, is the adoption and usage decreasing?

If the platform doesn’t meet some/all of the above, you will need to implement some basic, simple, creative and innovative adoption strategies and best practices. This will help to gain more adoption and usage of the platform, provide “real” business value. How do you do this? What are key strategies or action steps you can take to achieve this?

I have detailed the top “Adoption” strategies and best practices that you can implement for the Enterprise Collaboration Platform. This is based on my implementation experience, lessons learned, reading best practices & articles and listening to other experts in this space.

I am a strong proponent of applying Six Sigma (process improvement, quality & excellence), Lean Management (remove waste in processes) and ITIL (find info quick and easily, service Catalog) methodologies & principles to everyday work processes that can create true business value.  “Yes” you can leverage and implement these powerful/high impact methodologies for Enterprise Collaboration platforms as well. I have leveraged these methodologies for some of the adoption strategies that I have listed below.

Adoption Strategies & Best Practices (By Importance)

1:  Provide Single Sign-On to Enterprise Collaboration Platform

2:  Provide Seamless Single Sign-On to key Enterprise Applications – “In the Flow”

3: Provide Easy Access to the Enterprise Collaboration Platform – Any location, Any Device, Any time (Securely)

4:  Make the platform as a “One Stop” Hub for Information – “The Intranet”

5. Provide seamless integration to key Enterprise Applications – “In the Flow”

6: Provide Seamless Integration to Document & Digital Media Management – “In the Flow”

7: Implement Strategy Alignment Framework – “In the Flow”

8: Implement Project Management & Collaboration Framework - “In the Flow”

9: Implement Corporate Services Information Framework - “In the Flow”

10: Implement Innovation & Idea Center Framework - “In the Flow”

1:  Provide Single Sign-On to Enterprise Collaboration Platform

The last thing you want in the enterprise collaboration platform is to have employees remember one more login/password to access it. This is a “killer”. Implement a single sign-on solution for the collaboration platform that allows employees to launch the platform from the desktop/browser/Citrix/VPN and automatically be logged in.

The best approach is to integrate the platform with the active directory (or related user identity store) and integrate Active Directory to the HR system. This helps to keep the data in collaboration platform, Active Directory and HR system in sync. This way you can have/show all the relevant employee information (name, title, contact info, skills, manager, direct reports etc) in the collaboration platform automatically and not do any imports. This also helps to improve security. Only employees who have an active account in the Active Directory will have access to the collaboration platform. By doing this, you will now have the company directory with more info in the collaboration platform.

This approach applies the Lean Management principle. Eliminate the unnecessary steps (“waste”) for employees to access the collaboration platform and administrators to keep the data in sync.

2:  Provide Seamless Single Sign-On to key Enterprise Applications – “In the Flow”

Implement an Identity management that provides seamless single sign-on from the collaboration platform to all the key enterprise applications (especially SaaS based apps ). This is one of the best adoption strategies. This helps employees to access the key applications and makes it as part of their workflow process (“In the flow”). This also helps employees not to remember their user name and password for the increasing number of SaaS apps and especially when each of the SaaS app have their own password and identity management policies.

This approach applies the Six Sigma principle, decrease the number of password resets/forgot password functions  (“defects”) that needs to be performed by the app administrators and improve the process for employees to access the key enterprise applications  quickly/easily and also improve the overall quality of the identity management.

Sample SSO/Identity Management Architecture

3: Provide Easy Access to the Platform – Any location, Any Device, Any time (Securely)

Provide easy access and compatibility to the enterprise collaboration platform from any device, any application, any time, any location in a secure way with single sign-on. By implementing #2 and this step, employees will have a seamless, easy and quick way to access the Collaboration platform and SaaS applications as well.

4:  Make the platform as a “One Stop” Hub for Information – “The Intranet”

Sample Social Business Architecture

This is the “Best” adoption strategy that you can do to drive adoption and usage of the enterprise collaboration platform across the organization.

Typically in organizations, there are many platforms that employees access to get their work done – Intranets (News & Updates, Strategy, HR, Benefits, Finance), Business Applications (CRM, BI, Payroll), Project Portals, Wikis, Email, Audio/Video Conferencing etc. The common problem is employees will have to access these platforms separately to get work done. This is a “killer” and lot of valuable time is lost.

Intranets provide a lot of info (static) mostly around content. Making/integrating this as part of the collaboration platform links the content with people and this helps to get more context and value. Integrating intranet, business applications, project portals, email, audio/video conferencing tools in to the enterprise collaboration platform (“One Stop Hub”) will help attract employees to come to the platform. Thi helps them to get work done (“in the flow”) more easily and quickly, drive more traffic & adoption and result in more “true” collaboration activities.

For example, if there is a news article (intranet) in the collaboration platform , employees can see the content and also connect with the author of the article and collaborate on the article.  Following are some other good examples:

  • Publish intranet content – Strategy, HR/Benefits information, forms, faqs, policies and procedures. Employees can connect and collaborate with the HR team and get more information.
  • Publish corporate services information – IT , Finance, Audit, HR, Payroll, Administration. Employees can search and find info on services quickly and connect with the team to learn additional info.
  • Integrate or sync to email/calendar functions – Employees can manage the emails/calendar within the platform or view the collaboration activities within the email platform.
  • Integrate to audio, video conferencing and IM capabilities – Employees can discover people based on profile/skills and quickly connect with them based on their availability/connection status. This brings the “human” element into the collaboration platform.
  • Integrate to project portals – Publish portfolio, status, news & updates and feed it to the activity stream based on employee subscription/interest. Employees based on their subscription can get a 360 degrees view of the project – strategy alignment, sponsors, team, status updates, action items etc and connect with them to collaborate or find more info about the project.
  • Integrate to IT help desk system – Employees can submit tickets, request status updates and collaborate with the IT team.
  • Integrate to business applications (CRM, BI) – Employees can view or share customer info/leads to the appropriate group and collaborate, they can access BI reports and share them with the groups and collaborate to discover more insights.
  • Integrate to enterprise search – Employees can do enterprise search and get results from intranet and collaboration platform rather than doing separate searches in each platform. This is similar to how Google and Bing displays search results from Twitter within the results.

Employees should get the necessary info based on their interest and subscription in a timely manner for them to take the necessary actions.

It may be daunting to do some or all the above. “Yes” it is. Try your best to implement some of the above. Most of the platforms in the market have very good APIs or web services to do the above integration to push/pull information. If these services are not available, think of different ways how you can bring this information (even at a higher level) into the collaboration platform or feed info back.

5. Provide seamless integration to key Enterprise Applications – “In the Flow”

Provide a seamless integration to key enterprise applications such as CRM, Corporate directory and BI systems. This will provide a lot of value to employees to get work done easily and faster and make it as part of their work processes.

If a sales person is working on an active prospect/lead, this info is usually captured in a CRM system. How about if this info is shared with a group of employees or to a specific group from the CRM system to the collaboration platform? Others in the organization can provide valuable info or collaborate on this lead which may help the sales person to close in on the lead. How about if an employee queries customer info in the CRM system (based on security) right from the collaboration platform? Based on the info the employee gets from the CRM system, the employee can share this info with others or a specific group and discover more info.

This approach applies the Lean Management principle. Eliminate the unnecessary steps (“waste”) for employees to access the CRM info.

A BI report is usually sent via email or by auto distribution to the team and management on a regular basis. The team typically analyzes the report, may be exchange some insights via email, phone or meetings. How about if this BI report is fed into the group’s page or activity stream from BI system automatically? This way the team can collaborate on the report, share ideas, insights etc and others can collaborate or react on the info.  All this info is captured for future references and can be discovered easily by keywords or context instead of going back to the emails or meetings notes that not everyone has easy access.

6: Provide Seamless Integration to Document & Digital Media Management – “In the Flow”

Managing & sharing documents (applies to digital media as well) efficiently and effectively is an “art” than “science”. This is one of the most common tasks that employees performs to do their day-to-day work tasks. Typically employees spend a lot of time managing and searching for documents and they share the documents through emails/file shares. By doing this, documents are all over the place – file servers, document portals, emails, ftp servers etc.

If you have a document management system (Google docs, Box, Dropbox, Sharepoint etc) to manage and store your documents – your life is much easier. How about if you can integrate/embed the documents within the collaboration platform workspaces/pages – groups, strategy, projects, intranets etc and tag them appropriately.

By doing this integration, you can create and store the documents in the document management system and you can collaborate/share within the collaboration platform. Now you have content + people in one place. Employees can see who has created the documents and can collaborate with the author to get more info, share more ideas or update the documents. This also triggers an update to the activity stream that others in the platform can view/share. This results in a “true” collaboration and provide more real feeds that employees can take action rather than the “white noise’. Employees can also search for documents (in the document management system based on tags) within the platform rather than going to the document management system.

This approach applies the Lean Management principle. Eliminate the unnecessary steps (“waste”) for employees to access and share documents.

7: Implement Strategy Alignment Framework – “In the Flow”

Communicating on strategy and vision to employees is very important for any organization. Typically organizations post the strategy info on the intranet for everyone to view.

How about if this strategy info is published within the collaboration platform? And if each strategy drill-downs to strategy steps, activities & projects is published as well? By doing this way, employees can see the strategy info in detail, business alignment, project alignment, related documents, news & updates, search info quickly, ask questions, share ideas, see how their work is contributing to the overall strategy – all within the collaboration platform.

This improves strategy awareness across the organziation, facilitates learning and helps to break-down silos

8: Implement Project Management & Collaboration Framework - “In the Flow”

Sample Strategy/Project Alignment Framework

This is closely aligned with the Strategy framework in #7. The success of any project usually depends on how well you collaborate and communicate with the team and stakeholders. What other platform is more appropriate than the Enterprise Collaboration Platform?

By publishing, managing or integrating all the project info into the collaboration platform, employees can collaborate and share the project info with team or groups, ask questions and share ideas – all of which will feed into the activity stream that others can view/share as well. This leads to less “white noise” and more towards valuable information.

Following are some of the benefits & value.

  • Efficient alignment of strategy to projects
  • Dynamic strategic mapping
  • Improved communication, collaboration & interaction among management & employees
  • Efficient project management collaboration
  • Increased employee awareness of  strategies, goals & projects
  • Find relevant information faster and easier
  • Share ideas, comments & solutions faster & easily
  • Fosters innovation & creativity to problems
  • Drive towards organized communication
  • Eliminate email communication

This approach applies the Six Sigma & Lean Management principle. Improve the quality of project management process & collaboration (“communication defects”) and eliminate the unnecessary steps (“waste”) for employees to access and share project information.

9: Implement Corporate Services Framework - “In the Flow”

Sample Corporate Services Framework

For employees to do their work tasks efficiently and effectively, it’s important for them to be aware of all the corporate services (HR, Benefits, Payroll, Finance, IT, Administration, Printing etc) that are available to them. They need to know how to access relevant info,  services, request new services, report issues/requests and know who are the contacts? The last obstacle you don’t want to have is for employees unable to find the necessary information in time.

This info is typically published  on the intranet. How about if this info is published and managed in the Collaboration Platform via work spaces, groups, wikis etc? This way employees can search and find information easily and quickly, ask questions, share and collaborate ideas, suggest improvements and ask for new services – all of which will feed into the activity stream that others can view/share as well. This leads to less “white noise” and more towards valuable information.

Following are some of the benefits & value.

  • Direct communication between corporate services & employees
  • Improved communication & collaboration
  • Increased employee awareness of corporate services & support available – this is especially helpful for new employees.
  • Find relevant information & updates faster
  • Self-Service, FAQs, self-help resources
  • Improved customer service & satisfaction
  • Drive towards organized communication
  • Eliminated email communication

This approach applies the ITIL principle, share and manage the all the services that are available for employees.

10: Implement Innovation & Idea Center Framework - “In the Flow”

Implement a simple framework for employees to share ideas and suggestions to complex and simple problems provides a great value to the organization. An “idea” usually comes or becomes fruition from a different “idea”. Ideas turn into concepts in turn leads to valuable initiatives that helps the organization. Provide the ability for all ranks of employees to suggest ideas/solutions in the enterprise collaboration platform in a “transparent” way. This will lead to creativity and innovation, boost employee satisfaction and morale across the organization.

Efficient Communication+Collaboration+Interaction+Sharing Knowledge & Ideas “Naturally” leads to Process Improvement, Process Excellence, Break Down of Silos, Creativity & Innovation across the Organization

The above adoption strategies & steps results in break-down of silos, facilitate learning, capture knowledge in an efficient way, discover people, skills, expertise and information quickly & easily, manage & collaborate on projects efficiently.

You will need to do the following adoption strategies on a continuous basis to complement the above strategies

  • Do road-shows, conduct hands-on training/workshops, 101 sessions.
  • Recruit passionate evangelists & champions to be the ambassadors and demonstrate the value of the platform and be community managers.
  • Communicate on success stories & business use cases, key metrics, achievements.
  • Introduce new features & capabilities regularly.
  • Recognize top contributors, collaborators & success stories.

Appreciate your feedback and comments. I would like to learn what type of adoption strategies you have implemented at your organization.

Contact Info

LinkedIn  kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

Social Business Strategy – 15 Key Steps for Successful Implementation

July 20, 2011 3 comments

    Key Strategy Steps & Activities for a successful implementation of “Social Business”  platform. These are based on my implementation experience (including lessons learned), reading best practices & articles and listening to other implementers/peers/experts in this space.

Implementing an Enterprise Collaboration platform is different from other projects. This is more of a business project (not a technology project) as it touches all aspects of the business and processes. I recently did a presentation on my “Enterprise Collaboration & Innovation platform” journey at Enterprise 2.0 and CIO: IT Leadership Conferences(Enterprise 2.0 Presentation Link, IT Leadership Strategies Presentation Link)

Well before I list the steps….we need to standardize on the name for this platform (I will leave this to the industry veterans and experts). These are the names I have come across so far – Enterprise 2.0, Enterprise Collaboration, Enterprise Social Collaboration, Social Intranet, Social Enterprise, Social Business, Social Networking for Business.

For this blog, I will use the term “Enterprise Collaboration”. (Under the assumption that you can Collaborate if you are Social). By the way, I am very passionate about this area so some of the steps will be in detail).

Thanks to all who have provided feedback and comments on the steps/activities. I have taken all your input and updated this post. This is one more example of “real-time collaborating” that provides value to me and to all who are interested in this subject. We can/could get the same benefits and value within the enterprise – Share, learn, connect and network (:-

KEY STRATEGY STEPS & ACTIVITIES

STEP 1: Assessment – Understand the Current Environment/Readiness

  • Assess the leadership support and paradigm. What type of support exists from the leadership team to have an open and transparent collaboration platform in the organization?
  • Conduct surveys, interviews and focus group sessions with stakeholders to understand the challenges and issues they are currently facing, communication and collaboration issues, work flow issues, project delays etc.
  • Assess awareness of social media environment – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.
  • Assess readiness of enterprise collaboration in the organization.
  • How is the job getting done? Projects, day-to-day tasks, communication etc.
  • How is the content created, updated, managed and shared? How is the content consumed?
  • What type of relationships exists?
  • Is there an overload or lack of communication? How is communication consumed and shared?
  • What are the current tools and modes of communication & collaboration? How is it used? Is it productive? Does it overlap?
  • What are other peer industries doing in this space? What’s the collaboration benchmark? This assessment will be helpful to know your current state and measure the progress over time.

STEP 2: Develop a compelling Strategy

  • What’s the vision? Where do we want to go? Why do we want to go there?
  • How does it align with the organization’s strategy, goals, objectives & values?

STEP 3: Develop a strong Business Case

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Key Objectives? In terms of Innovation, Idea generation, Collaboration, Communication, Excellence, Learning & Support, Competitive advantage etc
  • How does it align to the strategy?
  • What are the key drivers?
  • Why now? How does having an enterprise collaboration platform help being a “True” & “Efficient” Social Enterprise and compliment traditional/offline collaboration methods?
  • How is this different from Knowledge management tools?
  • Who will benefit? Key stakeholders? Internal (employees), External (customers, partners, vendors)?
  • What are the benefits & “VALUE” in business terms? Productivity, Satisfaction, Process Improvement etc
  • How will engagement and morale improve?
  • What challenges, issues or pain points does this address? If not addressed, what’s the impact?
  • How does it impact other business processes?
  • Key sponsors (Management buy-in is very important on a continuous basis)
  • Investment required? Cost, time and effort?
  • ROI? How about ROE (Return on Engagement)? In this case, ROE should emphasize more on business outcomes, engagement rather than $$$$, Measure the progress.
  • Identify the key metrics – adoption, use, impact, value etc
  • Last but not the least – What are the risks?

STEP 4: Develop a Road map/Implementation Plan

  • Develop a project plan (Agile project methodology is highly recommended)
  • Form a steering committee (advisory council or governance committee)
  • Define requirements & design
  • Evaluate vendors & select the right platform/solution
  • Develop an adoption strategy & plan
  • Develop communication, marketing, change management & training plans
  • Implement solution & adoption strategies (See related post on 10 Key Adoption Strategies)
  • Do communication & marketing
  • Conduct training
  • Listen, monitor and analyze usage
  • Do continuous improvements and changes
  • Partner & collaborate with the vendor

STEP 5: Form a Steering Committee (Advisory council or Governance Committee)

  • Define the goals and objectives of the steering committee/council. One of the main goals of this team should be to listen/communicate with the senior leadership and management team and also communicate to the organization as a whole for buy-in and adoption.
  • What are the roles and responsibilities?
  • What will be
  • What decisions will they take?
  • What type of information will they publish and communicate? One of the main deliverables should be ‘Leadership Playbook’ which details out the game plan, communication guidelines. This will help the leadership & senior management team to have an “Unified” message.
  • Identify members – It is recommended to have different members for different stages of the project. This will provide good support & buy-in throughout the project including after go-live. Initial stage – senior management, Design & implementation stage – mid-level management, Roll-out/Post go-live – mix of senior management, mid level management & employees.
  • Meet and communicate regularly with the committee.

STEP 6: Define Requirements & Design

  • Identify & document functional requirements. Map each requirement to the business value, benefits and collaboration patterns. Categorize it by importance and weight.
  • Identify & document technology requirements. Map each requirement to the functional requirements. Categorize it by importance and weight.
  • Draft a high-level business design & architecture diagram (see sample architecture, cloud security and single sign-on architecture) – in terms of people, process and technology.

Sample Enterprise Collaboration Architecture

Sample Cloud / SaaS Identity Management & SSO Architecture

STEP 7: Evaluate Vendors & Select the right Platform/Solution

  • Document technology vendor selection requirements & criteria (SaaS, Hybrid SaaS etc) linked to the above requirements. Following are some of the requirements to look for in the platform.
  • Click here for sample Enterprise Collaboration platform vendor selection criteria & framework (SaaS) under the ‘Vendor Evaluation & Selection’ section.
  • Evaluate the vendor solution across 4 main categories – Information sharing, communications, social networking and an integrated user experience.
  • Does it meet the SLATES requirement? Search, Links, Authoring, Tags, Extension & Links
  • What collaboration features & tools are available?
  • What’s the vendor product strategy, road map? Who is the management?
  • Does the vendor keep in the pace with the market especially the growing collaboration market?
  • What type of solution does the vendor provide? SaaS, Hybrid SaaS?
  • How is the product’s architecture and other features tie to the current infrastructure and architecture?
  • What type of APIs or web services are there?
  • What type of security and SSO is provided?
  • What are the licensing terms?
  • What type of support and maintenance provided? What’s the effort for internal IT team?
  • What is the total cost of ownership (TCO)?
  • What type of support will they provide for other integration vendors/partners?
  • Can the information be aggregated from multiple sources & formats?
  • What type of user dashboards/reports and management dashboards/analytical reports are available?
  • Assess how the vendor solution align with these categories and the requirements identified in Step 6?
  • Rank and select the vendor that meet your requirements & objectives.

STEP 8: Develop an Adoption Strategy & Plan (See related post on 10 Key Adoption Strategies)

  • What is the adoption goal, objectives, timeline, metrics?
  • What adoption strategies can be done to achieve maximum business benefit, value & immediate impact?
  • Identify the champions and ambassadors who will market and use the platform initially?
  • What are some of the current communication modes & channels that can be replaced to get maximum adoption?
  • Who will benefit the most? Does it align with the requirement that are ranked high on importance, business benefit & value?
  • What policies & procedures need to be set to get maximum adoption?
  • Identify & document functional adoption use cases – Intranet, RSS, external social media integration, organization wide calendar, resource library, corporate services (legal, IT, finance, HR, audit, administration, travel etc)
  • Identify & document technology adoption use cases – Single Sign-on to other apps, outlook integration, IM integration, document and video integration, audio/video conferencing integration, active directory integration (helps sync the profile data automatically)
  • Identify & document Application adoption use cases – Integration to CRM, HR/Payroll, help desk, BI applications to manage work tasks seamlessly via activity streams within the platform.
  • Identify & document Process adoption use cases – In terms of “In the flow” process, does it improve the process? – Project management & collaboration, communication, strategy alignment to projects, project status reports etc

STEP 9: Develop Communication, Marketing, Change management & Training plans

  • Clearly define and document the communication, marketing, change management & training plan. This is the most important step in the entire project.
  • Communication plan – What needs to be communicated? Leadership Playbook, Guidelines, Policies etc. More emphasis should be on business benefits & value, “What’s in it for me? rather than features and tools. How is this valuable than the email? Who needs to be communicated? What’s the frequency of the communication? How will it be communicated? Where will it be communicated – places, signage etc? How will the new features be introduced without overwhelming the users? Communication needs to occur throughout the project.
  • Marketing plan – How will this be marketed? Newsletters, video, management meetings, social meetings/games, incentives for users who have contributed to the most, social currency, buzz, trivia, innovative ways etc. This will help boost user’s morale and motivation to collaborate and share more info. This will also help them to raise their profile in the organization. Come up with a logo, tag line and maybe an avatar for the platform.
  • Change management plan- “This is the most important of all” – Clearly identify and define what existing processes, activities & tasks will be changed/impacted by this platform. Communicate these to key stakeholders and users earlier on and get buy-in. This plan will help the overall adoption.
  • Training plan – Identify the training requirements in detail – user awareness of social media and tools (see sample video from the guru himself), what training materials needs to be developed, what type of demos and training sessions need to be conducted, what will be the training format – classroom, hands-on, webinars, video tutorials? who will do the training (champions), how often will the training be conducted?

STEP 10: Implement Solution & Adoption Strategies

  • Review and refine the tasks based on requirements & adoption strategies by phase and priority to meet the overall. It is recommended to launch the platform in phases and introduce features gradually. Start with introducing basic features. This will help with adoption, training and usage of the platform and not overwhelm the users.
  • Get approval from management and steering committee.
  • Design, develop, test and implement the solution in a test mode.
  • Communicate on the release & training.
  • Release the solution in a beta/pilot mode, to a few business units.
  • Release the solution to the entire organization.
  • Implement & manage the adoption strategies (community managers, champions, evangelists) to help users to adopt to the new platform, create profiles, create communities, create & share content, use collaboration tools in conjunction with traditional methods, social games/prizes, implement & show the value of the collaboration platform related to the adoption use cases identified in Step 8.

STEP 11: D0 Communication & Marketing

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – “This says it all”.
  • Communicate on the training.
  • Communicate and market on the business outcomes, benefits, value, use cases, customer testimonials (video recommended), process excellence.

STEP 12: Conduct Training

  • Conduct training sessions – demos, road shows, hands-on, classroom, webinars and video tutorials, Social media 101 sessions.
  • For the hands-on and classroom, conduct it more like a 2 part workshop rather than a presentation/demo. Pair the users (social + non-social media experts+champions), have the users create a page, join a group, send a message, create a project etc, give a group assignment that has many collaboration tasks using the platform, have them present their assignment in the next workshop – I guess you got the idea here.

Step 13: Listen, Monitor and Analyze Usage

  • Continuously listen and monitor the platform usage (metrics).
  • How are we measuring against the metrics?
  • Have a good support/help desk process & system for users to report issues, requests, suggestions & feedback.
  • Do data mining and analysis of the usage and change the implementation and adoption strategies.

Step 14: Do Continuous Improvements and Changes

  • Release changes, new features and improvements in a periodic basis and not all at the same time.
  • Communicate on the new features, success stories, testimonials regularly.
  • Conduct training sessions in many formats continuously.
  • Meet with users on a continuous basis to get their feedback and suggestions, show the new features and tools.
  • Meet with the steering committee/advisory council on a continuous basis (and change the membership regularly).

Step 15: Partner & Collaborate with the Vendor

  • Have a strong partnership with the vendor rather than a just a vendor-client relationship. You will need their support on a continuous basis. This will need to be “Win-Win” relationship.
  • Be part of the customer council/committee to hear about the new features, product road map and strategy, suggest features & enhancements.
  • Do presentations and webinars at the industry conference & vendor’s events. This is the best opportunity to showcase your solution, network with other customers/peers and provide a good opportunity to share & learn.

CLOSING THOUGHTS & COMMENTS

  • Effective Communication + Collaboration + Interaction + Sharing Knowledge & Ideas “Naturally Leads To” Process Improvement, Process Excellence, Break Down Silos, Creativity & Innovation across the Organization
  • In order to be a “True” Social Enterprise to efficiently & effectively collaborate & interact with customer & partners, it is very important for employees to collaborate and interact internally with the Enterprise Collaboration platform. This will also be useful and come in handy when software vendors (ERP, CRM, User Computing) start adding more of social collaboration tools to their products (many of the vendors have already started doing this).
  • The increasing number of young generation employees (Gen X & Gen Y) and the integrated global business networks are driving the need for new & better collaboration tools necessary. To meet tomorrow’s organization’s needs, we cannot work on yesterday’s tools? It is time to move and look beyond emails, file shares and static intranet (< or = Web 1.0) as the business communication & collaboration tools.
  • Enterprise Collaboration platforms should bridge the gap between Gen X/Y and Gen E, align with Gen E’s work processes, culture and gradually make them comfortable on using the new tools.
  • Encourage “Culture” of sharing & collaboration across the organization.
  • Last but not the least – Communicate on the value created by using the Enterprise Collaboration platform regularly.

Contact Info

LinkedIn  kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

Enterprise Collaboration Strategy Presentation – CIO: IT Leadership Strategies Conference

July 14, 2011 1 comment

CIO: IT Leadership Strategies Conference, Chicago – July 14th 2011

Presentation Link

Agenda:

The Challenge
Strategy &Approach
Adoption Strategies
Requirements & Selection Process
Demo
Architecture
Features & Business Value
Results – Business Use Cases

Enterprise Collaboration Adoption Strategies – 10 Key Steps and Best Practices

July 12, 2011 9 comments

  This is follow-up post to my article on Enterprise Collaboration Strategy – 15 Key Strategy Steps for  Successful Implementation.

You have now implemented Enterprise Collaboration Platform (Social Enterprise, Social Business, Social Intranet, Enterprise 2.0 etc) and rolled it out to the entire organization. You celebrated your go-live, got great initial traffic, momentum, usage and had some success. Great! (If you have not implemented and you are in the initial stage, you can still apply the following info to your project).

Now the difficult part kicks in – “Adoption & Use“.  How do you keep up the momentum?

Employees will adopt and use the platform more if they can “do” & “get” the work done more efficiently and effectively.  They will not find the enterprise collaboration platform useful (few examples) -

  • If it is just one more place to find information
  • Not required to get any work done
  • Requires one more login/password
  • Not all the employees are on the platform
  • Cannot discover people/skills due to lack of profile completeness
  • Cannot find important information
  • Has more “white noise” rather than useful information
  • Lack of participation
  • Not used for organization wide communication & updates
  • Lack of communication on the purpose of the platform.

You may face or are already facing the following questions.

  • Are employees using all the great features, tools and capabilities of the platform to the expectations?
  • Is the platform meeting all the business objectives identified in the business case? In terms of  Innovation, Idea generation, Collaboration, Communication, Excellence, Learning & Support, Competitive advantage?
  • Is the platform improving the key business processes that you identified?
  • Is the platform enabling the capture and management of knowledge across the organization? Is it facing the same fate of Knowledge Management system?
  • Is the platform driving more employee engagement, communication, collaboration, interaction and sharing of information across the organization?
  • Is the platform driving process improvement, excellence and innovation across the organization?
  • Do all the employees have an account in the platform? If they have an account, do they have a complete profile? Are they actively using the platform?
  • Finally, is the adoption and usage decreasing?

If the platform doesn’t meet some/all of the above, you will need to implement some basic, simple, creative and innovative adoption strategies and best practices. This will help to gain more adoption and usage of the platform, provide “real” business value. How do you do this? What are key strategies or action steps you can take to achieve this?

I have detailed the top “Adoption” strategies and best practices that you can implement for the Enterprise Collaboration Platform. This is based on my implementation experience, lessons learned, reading best practices & articles and listening to other experts in this space.

I am a strong proponent of applying Six Sigma (process improvement, quality & excellence), Lean Management (remove waste in processes) and ITIL (find info quick and easily, service Catalog) methodologies & principles to everyday work processes that can create true business value.  “Yes” you can leverage and implement these powerful/high impact methodologies for Enterprise Collaboration platforms as well. I have leveraged these methodologies for some of the adoption strategies that I have listed below.

Adoption Strategies & Best Practices (By Importance)

1:  Provide Single Sign-On to Enterprise Collaboration Platform

2:  Provide Seamless Single Sign-On to key Enterprise Applications – “In the Flow”

3: Provide Easy Access to the Enterprise Collaboration Platform – Any location, Any Device, Any time (Securely)

4:  Make the platform as a “One Stop” Hub for Information – “The Intranet”

5. Provide seamless integration to key Enterprise Applications – “In the Flow”

6: Provide Seamless Integration to Document & Digital Media Management – “In the Flow”

7: Implement Strategy Alignment Framework – “In the Flow”

8: Implement Project Management & Collaboration Framework - “In the Flow”

9: Implement Corporate Services Information Framework - “In the Flow”

10: Implement Innovation & Idea Center Framework - “In the Flow”

1:  Provide Single Sign-On to Enterprise Collaboration Platform

The last thing you want in the enterprise collaboration platform is to have employees remember one more login/password to access it. This is a “killer”. Implement a single sign-on solution for the collaboration platform that allows employees to launch the platform from the desktop/browser/Citrix/VPN and automatically be logged in.

The best approach is to integrate the platform with the active directory (or related user identity store) and integrate Active Directory to the HR system. This helps to keep the data in collaboration platform, Active Directory and HR system in sync. This way you can have/show all the relevant employee information (name, title, contact info, skills, manager, direct reports etc) in the collaboration platform automatically and not do any imports. This also helps to improve security. Only employees who have an active account in the Active Directory will have access to the collaboration platform. By doing this, you will now have the company directory with more info in the collaboration platform.

This approach applies the Lean Management principle. Eliminate the unnecessary steps (“waste”) for employees to access the collaboration platform and administrators to keep the data in sync.

See related post on Cloud Security, Identity Management & SaaS Single Sign-On – What’s the business value?

2:  Provide Seamless Single Sign-On to key Enterprise Applications – “In the Flow”

Implement an Identity management that provides seamless single sign-on from the collaboration platform to all the key enterprise applications (especially SaaS based apps ). This is one of the best adoption strategies. This helps employees to access the key applications and makes it as part of their workflow process (“In the flow”). This also helps employees not to remember their user name and password for the increasing number of SaaS apps and especially when each of the SaaS app have their own password and identity management policies.

This approach applies the Six Sigma principle, decrease the number of password resets/forgot password functions  (“defects”) that needs to be performed by the app administrators and improve the process for employees to access the key enterprise applications  quickly/easily and also improve the overall quality of the identity management.

See related post on Cloud Security, Identity Management & SaaS Single Sign-On – What’s the business value?

Sample SSO/Identity Management Architecture

3: Provide Easy Access to the Platform – Any location, Any Device, Any time (Securely)

Provide easy access and compatibility to the enterprise collaboration platform from any device, any application, any time, any location in a secure way with single sign-on. By implementing #2 and this step, employees will have a seamless, easy and quick way to access the Collaboration platform and SaaS applications as well.

4:  Make the platform as a “One Stop” Hub for Information – “The Intranet”

Sample Enterprise Collaboration Architecture

This is the “Best” adoption strategy that you can do to drive adoption and usage of the enterprise collaboration platform across the organization.

Typically in organizations, there are many platforms that employees access to get their work done – Intranets (News & Updates, Strategy, HR, Benefits, Finance), Business Applications (CRM, BI, Payroll), Project Portals, Wikis, Email, Audio/Video Conferencing etc. The common problem is employees will have to access these platforms separately to get work done. This is a “killer” and lot of valuable time is lost.

Intranets provide a lot of info (static) mostly around content. Making/integrating this as part of the collaboration platform links the content with people and this helps to get more context and value. Integrating intranet, business applications, project portals, email, audio/video conferencing tools in to the enterprise collaboration platform (“One Stop Hub”) will help attract employees to come to the platform. Thi helps them to get work done (“in the flow”) more easily and quickly, drive more traffic & adoption and result in more “true” collaboration activities.

For example, if there is a news article (intranet) in the collaboration platform , employees can see the content and also connect with the author of the article and collaborate on the article.  Following are some other good examples:

  • Publish intranet content – Strategy, HR/Benefits information, forms, faqs, policies and procedures. Employees can connect and collaborate with the HR team and get more information.
  • Publish corporate services information – IT , Finance, Audit, HR, Payroll, Administration. Employees can search and find info on services quickly and connect with the team to learn additional info.
  • Integrate or sync to email/calendar functions – Employees can manage the emails/calendar within the platform or view the collaboration activities within the email platform.
  • Integrate to audio, video conferencing and IM capabilities – Employees can discover people based on profile/skills and quickly connect with them based on their availability/connection status. This brings the “human” element into the collaboration platform.
  • Integrate to project portals – Publish portfolio, status, news & updates and feed it to the activity stream based on employee subscription/interest. Employees based on their subscription can get a 360 degrees view of the project – strategy alignment, sponsors, team, status updates, action items etc and connect with them to collaborate or find more info about the project.
  • Integrate to IT help desk system – Employees can submit tickets, request status updates and collaborate with the IT team.
  • Integrate to business applications (CRM, BI) – Employees can view or share customer info/leads to the appropriate group and collaborate, they can access BI reports and share them with the groups and collaborate to discover more insights.
  • Integrate to enterprise search – Employees can do enterprise search and get results from intranet and collaboration platform rather than doing separate searches in each platform. This is similar to how Google and Bing displays search results from Twitter within the results.

Employees should get the necessary info based on their interest and subscription in a timely manner for them to take the necessary actions.

It may be daunting to do some or all the above. “Yes” it is. Try your best to implement some of the above. Most of the platforms in the market have very good APIs or web services to do the above integration to push/pull information. If these services are not available, think of different ways how you can bring this information (even at a higher level) into the collaboration platform or feed info back.

5. Provide seamless integration to key Enterprise Applications – “In the Flow”

Provide a seamless integration to key enterprise applications such as CRM, Corporate directory and BI systems. This will provide a lot of value to employees to get work done easily and faster and make it as part of their work processes.

If a sales person is working on an active prospect/lead, this info is usually captured in a CRM system. How about if this info is shared with a group of employees or to a specific group from the CRM system to the collaboration platform? Others in the organization can provide valuable info or collaborate on this lead which may help the sales person to close in on the lead. How about if an employee queries customer info in the CRM system (based on security) right from the collaboration platform? Based on the info the employee gets from the CRM system, the employee can share this info with others or a specific group and discover more info.

This approach applies the Lean Management principle. Eliminate the unnecessary steps (“waste”) for employees to access the CRM info.

A BI report is usually sent via email or by auto distribution to the team and management on a regular basis. The team typically analyzes the report, may be exchange some insights via email, phone or meetings. How about if this BI report is fed into the group’s page or activity stream from BI system automatically? This way the team can collaborate on the report, share ideas, insights etc and others can collaborate or react on the info.  All this info is captured for future references and can be discovered easily by keywords or context instead of going back to the emails or meetings notes that not everyone has easy access.

6: Provide Seamless Integration to Document & Digital Media Management – “In the Flow”

Managing & sharing documents (applies to digital media as well) efficiently and effectively is an “art” than “science”. This is one of the most common tasks that employees performs to do their day-to-day work tasks. Typically employees spend a lot of time managing and searching for documents and they share the documents through emails/file shares. By doing this, documents are all over the place – file servers, document portals, emails, ftp servers etc.

If you have a document management system (Google docs, Box, Dropbox, Sharepoint etc) to manage and store your documents – your life is much easier. How about if you can integrate/embed the documents within the collaboration platform workspaces/pages – groups, strategy, projects, intranets etc and tag them appropriately.

By doing this integration, you can create and store the documents in the document management system and you can collaborate/share within the collaboration platform. Now you have content + people in one place. Employees can see who has created the documents and can collaborate with the author to get more info, share more ideas or update the documents. This also triggers an update to the activity stream that others in the platform can view/share. This results in a “true” collaboration and provide more real feeds that employees can take action rather than the “white noise’. Employees can also search for documents (in the document management system based on tags) within the platform rather than going to the document management system.

This approach applies the Lean Management principle. Eliminate the unnecessary steps (“waste”) for employees to access and share documents.

7: Implement Strategy Alignment Framework – “In the Flow”

Communicating on strategy and vision to employees is very important for any organization. Typically organizations post the strategy info on the intranet for everyone to view.

How about if this strategy info is published within the collaboration platform? And if each strategy drill-downs to strategy steps, activities & projects is published as well? By doing this way, employees can see the strategy info in detail, business alignment, project alignment, related documents, news & updates, search info quickly, ask questions, share ideas, see how their work is contributing to the overall strategy – all within the collaboration platform.

This improves strategy awareness across the organziation, facilitates learning and helps to break-down silos

8: Implement Project Management & Collaboration Framework - “In the Flow”

Sample Strategy/Project Alignment Framework

This is closely aligned with the Strategy framework in #7. The success of any project usually depends on how well you collaborate and communicate with the team and stakeholders. What other platform is more appropriate than the Enterprise Collaboration Platform?

By publishing, managing or integrating all the project info into the collaboration platform, employees can collaborate and share the project info with team or groups, ask questions and share ideas – all of which will feed into the activity stream that others can view/share as well. This leads to less “white noise” and more towards valuable information.

Following are some of the benefits & value.

  • Efficient alignment of strategy to projects
  • Dynamic strategic mapping
  • Improved communication, collaboration & interaction among management & employees
  • Efficient project management collaboration
  • Increased employee awareness of  strategies, goals & projects
  • Find relevant information faster and easier
  • Share ideas, comments & solutions faster & easily
  • Fosters innovation & creativity to problems
  • Drive towards organized communication
  • Eliminate email communication

This approach applies the Six Sigma & Lean Management principle. Improve the quality of project management process & collaboration (“communication defects”) and eliminate the unnecessary steps (“waste”) for employees to access and share project information.

9: Implement Corporate Services Framework - “In the Flow”

Sample Corporate Services Framework

For employees to do their work tasks efficiently and effectively, it’s important for them to be aware of all the corporate services (HR, Benefits, Payroll, Finance, IT, Administration, Printing etc) that are available to them. They need to know how to access relevant info,  services, request new services, report issues/requests and know who are the contacts? The last obstacle you don’t want to have is for employees unable to find the necessary information in time.

This info is typically published  on the intranet. How about if this info is published and managed in the Collaboration Platform via work spaces, groups, wikis etc? This way employees can search and find information easily and quickly, ask questions, share and collaborate ideas, suggest improvements and ask for new services – all of which will feed into the activity stream that others can view/share as well. This leads to less “white noise” and more towards valuable information.

Following are some of the benefits & value.

  • Direct communication between corporate services & employees
  • Improved communication & collaboration
  • Increased employee awareness of corporate services & support available – this is especially helpful for new employees.
  • Find relevant information & updates faster
  • Self-Service, FAQs, self-help resources
  • Improved customer service & satisfaction
  • Drive towards organized communication
  • Eliminated email communication

This approach applies the ITIL principle, share and manage the all the services that are available for employees.

10: Implement Innovation & Idea Center Framework - “In the Flow”

Implement a simple framework for employees to share ideas and suggestions to complex and simple problems provides a great value to the organization. An “idea” usually comes or becomes fruition from a different “idea”. Ideas turn into concepts in turn leads to valuable initiatives that helps the organization. Provide the ability for all ranks of employees to suggest ideas/solutions in the enterprise collaboration platform in a “transparent” way. This will lead to creativity and innovation, boost employee satisfaction and morale across the organization.

Efficient Communication+Collaboration+Interaction+Sharing Knowledge & Ideas “Naturally” leads to Process Improvement, Process Excellence, Break Down of Silos, Creativity & Innovation across the Organization

The above adoption strategies & steps results in break-down of silos, facilitate learning, capture knowledge in an efficient way, discover people, skills, expertise and information quickly & easily, manage & collaborate on projects efficiently.

You will need to do the following adoption strategies on a continuous basis to complement the above strategies

  • Do road-shows, conduct hands-on training/workshops, 101 sessions.
  • Recruit passionate evangelists & champions to be the ambassadors and demonstrate the value of the platform and be community managers.
  • Communicate on success stories & business use cases, key metrics, achievements.
  • Introduce new features & capabilities regularly.
  • Recognize top contributors, collaborators & success stories.

Appreciate your feedback and comments. I would like to learn what type of adoption strategies you have implemented at your organization.

Contact Info

LinkedIn  kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

SaaS Vendor Evaluation and Selection Process – Framework, Reference architectures, SaaS identity Management

July 6, 2011 2 comments

Evaluating and selecting a SaaS vendor is more of an “Art” than “Science”. Each SaaS vendor has an unique identity and offers different products and services for different industries.

I am an early adopter of SaaS….back in early 2006 when the SaaS concept was taking shape and new terms such as IaaS, PaaS were popping up. I was truly amazed with the whole concept as it was “truly” different than its predecessor “ASP” model and a “true” pay as you go model.

For every business/IT initiative, I see whether we can go the SaaS way. So far I have evaluated, selected and implemented 12+ SaaS applications across various business functions and processes – Enterprise Collaboration (Socialtext), Social Media(Higher Logic), Document Management (Box.Net), Video Collaboration(Delve Networks), Electronic Fax (Protus MyFax), CRM (Avectra), HR/Payroll(Ultipro), IT Service Desk, Operations & Management ITIL V3 (Numara Footprints), Mobile Applications (QuickMobile), Digital Publications/eBooks (Texterity) etc.

We also ended up going for a Hybrid Cloud based on-premise SaaS solution to address the Single Sign-On & Identity management (Symplified) for SaaS applications. This one was the “Mother” of all SaaS apps. This is a common challenge that many organizations are facing or will face soon as the number/usage of SaaS apps increases. See a related article on Federation 2.0: An Identity ecosystem. I have shared some comments/ideas.

We have also taken SaaS adoption and use to the next level by integrating 4 SaaS apps to provide an unique product and value to the business. For example, we integrated Document Management (Box.Net), Video Management (Delve Networks) and IT Service Desk (Numara Footprints) to our Enterprise Collaboration Platform (Socialtext). Click here to see this architecture.

As business units are free to scan the market, evaluate and select the SaaS applications without IT’s involvement (the frustration and blockers comes in when the SaaS app needs to integrate with other SaaS apps, AD or enterprise applications, it’s too late at that time), we found a way on how to manage this as well. We made IT as a “true” partner for the business and showed/demonstrated how IT can provide value to this process. We have also developed expertise in legal review of contracts (very interesting to review contracts for a change).

Related Posts

Top 12 Questions and Requirements for SaaS & Cloud Vendors – Technology, Security, Identity Management, Compliance, Standards

Cloud Security, Identity Management & SaaS Single Sign-On – What’s the business value?

We implemented a simple SaaS vendor evaluation and selection framework to meet our goals, objectives and needs. Please use this as a sample or for reference purposes.

Vendor Evaluation & Selection

This section covers 7 categories and primarily focuses on the vendor. I use the baseline framework and then customize the items in each category based on the business needs, requirements and product area.

  1. General – management team, financials, strategy, road map, support etc
  2. SaaS/Cloud Computing – service limits, hosted infrastructure, security, privacy, contract, SaS 70 II compliance etc
  3. Legal – Payment Terms – Costs based on milestones, travel expenses etc
  4. Legal – Specifications/Service Level Guarantees etc – Performance standards, SLAs etc
  5. Legal – Warranty, Indemnification – Compliance with laws, industry standards, contract terms etc
  6. Legal -Security – PIC, HIPAA etc
  7. Legal – Miscellaneous – Termination conditions, breach, extensions, options etc.

Click here to see the complete list (powered by Box.Net, our popular SaaS app for document management & collaboration). Assign the weights
based on importance, rank them and total up.

Product Features Evaluation

This section covers 4 categories. Again I use the baseline framework and then customize the items in each category based on the business needs, requirements and product area.

  1. Features – List of all the features that link to the business requirements.
  2. Architecture, Security & Support – Hosted, On-premise, Architecture, Performance, Scalability, Support reqs etc
  3. Integration – SAML or HTTP fed for SSO, Web services, API, database access etc
  4. User Experience – Ease of use, self-services, navigation etc

Click here to see the complete list. This is the sample framework that was created for Enterprise Collaboration Platform project.

With regard to SSO capability, we give a lot of importance to SaaS apps that are SAML capable (Security Assertion Markup Language). This makes integrating the SaaS apps to our internal network/identity management much easier and helps users not to remember one more login/password. (Users hate when they have to remember multiple logins/passwords for different SaaS apps as each has different password policies, I hate that as well!!!). Luckily we don’t have that challenge anymore as we have implemented Hybrid Cloud SaaS based SSO/Identity management application powered by Symplified. We are also looking into Symplified for mobile based access to SaaS apps to meet the growing use of mobile devices by users.

SaaS Reference Model

With many different options available today – Private, public, hybrid cloud based SaaS apps, it is important to understand the benefits, value, pros and cons of each model. Over the past 1 year, a new model “Hybrid Cloud” (part of category 1) is becoming popular as it provides the benefits of both SaaS and on-premise (appliance or VM). Benefits & value – behind the firewall security, better integration to the network system/AD for SSO, close proximity to internal enterprise applications etc. I have implemented 2 SaaS apps (one of them is the Enterprise Collaboration platform) on this model and it’s working out great.

  1. Off the Shelf Application
  2. Custom built application
  3. Hosted application
  4. Custom built, co-located
  5. SaaS
  6. Custom built, Cloud hosted

Click here to see the reference model.

SaaS Legal Addendum

Based on many SaaS implementations, we documented a standard SaaS legal addendum (with legal’s help) that we give it to the shortlisted vendors early on. This saves both the vendor and us a lot of time and helps us to focus more on the product, features, SLAs etc.

Click here to the see the sample addendum.

By demonstrating and showing the above vendor evaluation and selection process to the business, we became a “true” partner to them as we do due diligence on more items (architecture, integration, SSO, SLAs etc). As all the SaaS contracts have to go thru legal, we partnered with the legal team. So if any SaaS contract comes the legal way and IT was not part of it, we get notified and we meet with the business unit and show the above process. This framework is working out successfully and helping the organization as a whole.

Appreciate your feedback and comments.

Contact Info

LinkedIn  kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

My article mentions of my recent accomplishments

Enterprise Collaboration Strategy – 15 Key Steps for Successful Implementation

July 2, 2011 9 comments

    Key Strategy Steps & Activities for a successful implementation of “Enterprise Collaboration”  platform. These are based on my implementation experience (including lessons learned), reading best practices & articles and listening to other implementers/peers/experts in this space.

Implementing an Enterprise Collaboration platform is different from other projects. This is more of a business project (not a technology project) as it touches all aspects of the business and processes. I recently did a presentation on my “Enterprise Collaboration & Innovation platform” journey at Enterprise 2.0 and CIO: IT Leadership Conferences(Enterprise 2.0 Presentation Link, IT Leadership Strategies Presentation Link)

Well before I list the steps….we need to standardize on the name for this platform (I will leave this to the industry veterans and experts). These are the names I have come across so far – Enterprise 2.0, Enterprise Collaboration, Enterprise Social Collaboration, Social Intranet, Social Enterprise, Social Business, Social Networking for Business.

For this blog, I will use the term “Enterprise Collaboration”. (Under the assumption that you can Collaborate if you are Social). By the way, I am very passionate about this area so some of the steps will be in detail).

Thanks to all who have provided feedback and comments on the steps/activities. I have taken all your input and updated this post. This is one more example of “real-time collaborating” that provides value to me and to all who are interested in this subject. We can/could get the same benefits and value within the enterprise – Share, learn, connect and network (:-

KEY STRATEGY STEPS & ACTIVITIES

STEP 1: Assessment – Understand the Current Environment/Readiness

  • Assess the leadership support and paradigm. What type of support exists from the leadership team to have an open and transparent collaboration platform in the organization?
  • Conduct surveys, interviews and focus group sessions with stakeholders to understand the challenges and issues they are currently facing, communication and collaboration issues, work flow issues, project delays etc.
  • Assess awareness of social media environment – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc.
  • Assess readiness of enterprise collaboration in the organization.
  • How is the job getting done? Projects, day-to-day tasks, communication etc.
  • How is the content created, updated, managed and shared? How is the content consumed?
  • What type of relationships exists?
  • Is there an overload or lack of communication? How is communication consumed and shared?
  • What are the current tools and modes of communication & collaboration? How is it used? Is it productive? Does it overlap?
  • What are other peer industries doing in this space? What’s the collaboration benchmark? This assessment will be helpful to know your current state and measure the progress over time.

STEP 2: Develop a compelling Strategy

  • What’s the vision? Where do we want to go? Why do we want to go there?
  • How does it align with the organization’s strategy, goals, objectives & values?

STEP 3: Develop a strong Business Case

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Key Objectives? In terms of Innovation, Idea generation, Collaboration, Communication, Excellence, Learning & Support, Competitive advantage etc
  • How does it align to the strategy?
  • What are the key drivers?
  • Why now? How does having an enterprise collaboration platform help being a “True” & “Efficient” Social Enterprise and compliment traditional/offline collaboration methods?
  • How is this different from Knowledge management tools?
  • Who will benefit? Key stakeholders? Internal (employees), External (customers, partners, vendors)?
  • What are the benefits & “VALUE” in business terms? Productivity, Satisfaction, Process Improvement etc
  • How will engagement and morale improve?
  • What challenges, issues or pain points does this address? If not addressed, what’s the impact?
  • How does it impact other business processes?
  • Key sponsors (Management buy-in is very important on a continuous basis)
  • Investment required? Cost, time and effort?
  • ROI? How about ROE (Return on Engagement)? In this case, ROE should emphasize more on business outcomes, engagement rather than $$$$, Measure the progress.
  • Identify the key metrics – adoption, use, impact, value etc
  • Last but not the least – What are the risks?

STEP 4: Develop a Road map/Implementation Plan

  • Develop a project plan (Agile project methodology is highly recommended)
  • Form a steering committee (advisory council or governance committee)
  • Define requirements & design
  • Evaluate vendors & select the right platform/solution
  • Develop an adoption strategy & plan
  • Develop communication, marketing, change management & training plans
  • Implement solution & adoption strategies (See related post on 10 Key Adoption Strategies)
  • Do communication & marketing
  • Conduct training
  • Listen, monitor and analyze usage
  • Do continuous improvements and changes
  • Partner & collaborate with the vendor

STEP 5: Form a Steering Committee (Advisory council or Governance Committee)

  • Define the goals and objectives of the steering committee/council. One of the main goals of this team should be to listen/communicate with the senior leadership and management team and also communicate to the organization as a whole for buy-in and adoption.
  • What are the roles and responsibilities?
  • What will be
  • What decisions will they take?
  • What type of information will they publish and communicate? One of the main deliverables should be ‘Leadership Playbook’ which details out the game plan, communication guidelines. This will help the leadership & senior management team to have an “Unified” message.
  • Identify members – It is recommended to have different members for different stages of the project. This will provide good support & buy-in throughout the project including after go-live. Initial stage – senior management, Design & implementation stage – mid-level management, Roll-out/Post go-live – mix of senior management, mid level management & employees.
  • Meet and communicate regularly with the committee.

STEP 6: Define Requirements & Design

  • Identify & document functional requirements. Map each requirement to the business value, benefits and collaboration patterns. Categorize it by importance and weight.
  • Identify & document technology requirements. Map each requirement to the functional requirements. Categorize it by importance and weight.
  • Draft a high-level business design & architecture diagram (see sample architecture, cloud security and single sign-on architecture) – in terms of people, process and technology.

Sample Enterprise Collaboration Architecture

Sample Cloud / SaaS Identity Management & SSO Architecture

STEP 7: Evaluate Vendors & Select the right Platform/Solution

  • Document technology vendor selection requirements & criteria (SaaS, Hybrid SaaS etc) linked to the above requirements. Following are some of the requirements to look for in the platform.
  • Click here for sample Enterprise Collaboration platform vendor selection criteria & framework (SaaS) under the ‘Vendor Evaluation & Selection’ section.
  • Evaluate the vendor solution across 4 main categories – Information sharing, communications, social networking and an integrated user experience.
  • Does it meet the SLATES requirement? Search, Links, Authoring, Tags, Extension & Links
  • What collaboration features & tools are available?
  • What’s the vendor product strategy, road map? Who is the management?
  • Does the vendor keep in the pace with the market especially the growing collaboration market?
  • What type of solution does the vendor provide? SaaS, Hybrid SaaS?
  • How is the product’s architecture and other features tie to the current infrastructure and architecture?
  • What type of APIs or web services are there?
  • What type of security and SSO is provided?
  • What are the licensing terms?
  • What type of support and maintenance provided? What’s the effort for internal IT team?
  • What is the total cost of ownership (TCO)?
  • What type of support will they provide for other integration vendors/partners?
  • Can the information be aggregated from multiple sources & formats?
  • What type of user dashboards/reports and management dashboards/analytical reports are available?
  • Assess how the vendor solution align with these categories and the requirements identified in Step 6?
  • Rank and select the vendor that meet your requirements & objectives.

STEP 8: Develop an Adoption Strategy & Plan (See related post on 10 Key Adoption Strategies)

  • What is the adoption goal, objectives, timeline, metrics?
  • What adoption strategies can be done to achieve maximum business benefit, value & immediate impact?
  • Identify the champions and ambassadors who will market and use the platform initially?
  • What are some of the current communication modes & channels that can be replaced to get maximum adoption?
  • Who will benefit the most? Does it align with the requirement that are ranked high on importance, business benefit & value?
  • What policies & procedures need to be set to get maximum adoption?
  • Identify & document functional adoption use cases – Intranet, RSS, external social media integration, organization wide calendar, resource library, corporate services (legal, IT, finance, HR, audit, administration, travel etc)
  • Identify & document technology adoption use cases – Single Sign-on to other apps, outlook integration, IM integration, document and video integration, audio/video conferencing integration, active directory integration (helps sync the profile data automatically)
  • Identify & document Application adoption use cases – Integration to CRM, HR/Payroll, help desk, BI applications to manage work tasks seamlessly via activity streams within the platform.
  • Identify & document Process adoption use cases – In terms of “In the flow” process, does it improve the process? – Project management & collaboration, communication, strategy alignment to projects, project status reports etc

STEP 9: Develop Communication, Marketing, Change management & Training plans

  • Clearly define and document the communication, marketing, change management & training plan. This is the most important step in the entire project.
  • Communication plan – What needs to be communicated? Leadership Playbook, Guidelines, Policies etc. More emphasis should be on business benefits & value, “What’s in it for me? rather than features and tools. How is this valuable than the email? Who needs to be communicated? What’s the frequency of the communication? How will it be communicated? Where will it be communicated – places, signage etc? How will the new features be introduced without overwhelming the users? Communication needs to occur throughout the project.
  • Marketing plan – How will this be marketed? Newsletters, video, management meetings, social meetings/games, incentives for users who have contributed to the most, social currency, buzz, trivia, innovative ways etc. This will help boost user’s morale and motivation to collaborate and share more info. This will also help them to raise their profile in the organization. Come up with a logo, tag line and maybe an avatar for the platform.
  • Change management plan- “This is the most important of all” – Clearly identify and define what existing processes, activities & tasks will be changed/impacted by this platform. Communicate these to key stakeholders and users earlier on and get buy-in. This plan will help the overall adoption.
  • Training plan – Identify the training requirements in detail – user awareness of social media and tools (see sample video from the guru himself), what training materials needs to be developed, what type of demos and training sessions need to be conducted, what will be the training format – classroom, hands-on, webinars, video tutorials? who will do the training (champions), how often will the training be conducted?

STEP 10: Implement Solution & Adoption Strategies

  • Review and refine the tasks based on requirements & adoption strategies by phase and priority to meet the overall. It is recommended to launch the platform in phases and introduce features gradually. Start with introducing basic features. This will help with adoption, training and usage of the platform and not overwhelm the users.
  • Get approval from management and steering committee.
  • Design, develop, test and implement the solution in a test mode.
  • Communicate on the release & training.
  • Release the solution in a beta/pilot mode, to a few business units.
  • Release the solution to the entire organization.
  • Implement & manage the adoption strategies (community managers, champions, evangelists) to help users to adopt to the new platform, create profiles, create communities, create & share content, use collaboration tools in conjunction with traditional methods, social games/prizes, implement & show the value of the collaboration platform related to the adoption use cases identified in Step 8.

STEP 11: D0 Communication & Marketing

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate – “This says it all”.
  • Communicate on the training.
  • Communicate and market on the business outcomes, benefits, value, use cases, customer testimonials (video recommended), process excellence.

STEP 12: Conduct Training

  • Conduct training sessions – demos, road shows, hands-on, classroom, webinars and video tutorials, Social media 101 sessions.
  • For the hands-on and classroom, conduct it more like a 2 part workshop rather than a presentation/demo. Pair the users (social + non-social media experts+champions), have the users create a page, join a group, send a message, create a project etc, give a group assignment that has many collaboration tasks using the platform, have them present their assignment in the next workshop – I guess you got the idea here.

Step 13: Listen, Monitor and Analyze Usage

  • Continuously listen and monitor the platform usage (metrics).
  • How are we measuring against the metrics?
  • Have a good support/help desk process & system for users to report issues, requests, suggestions & feedback.
  • Do data mining and analysis of the usage and change the implementation and adoption strategies.

Step 14: Do Continuous Improvements and Changes

  • Release changes, new features and improvements in a periodic basis and not all at the same time.
  • Communicate on the new features, success stories, testimonials regularly.
  • Conduct training sessions in many formats continuously.
  • Meet with users on a continuous basis to get their feedback and suggestions, show the new features and tools.
  • Meet with the steering committee/advisory council on a continuous basis (and change the membership regularly).

Step 15: Partner & Collaborate with the Vendor

  • Have a strong partnership with the vendor rather than a just a vendor-client relationship. You will need their support on a continuous basis. This will need to be “Win-Win” relationship.
  • Be part of the customer council/committee to hear about the new features, product road map and strategy, suggest features & enhancements.
  • Do presentations and webinars at the industry conference & vendor’s events. This is the best opportunity to showcase your solution, network with other customers/peers and provide a good opportunity to share & learn.

CLOSING THOUGHTS & COMMENTS

  • Effective Communication + Collaboration + Interaction + Sharing Knowledge & Ideas “Naturally Leads To” Process Improvement, Process Excellence, Break Down Silos, Creativity & Innovation across the Organization
  • In order to be a “True” Social Enterprise to efficiently & effectively collaborate & interact with customer & partners, it is very important for employees to collaborate and interact internally with the Enterprise Collaboration platform. This will also be useful and come in handy when software vendors (ERP, CRM, User Computing) start adding more of social collaboration tools to their products (many of the vendors have already started doing this).
  • The increasing number of young generation employees (Gen X & Gen Y) and the integrated global business networks are driving the need for new & better collaboration tools necessary. To meet tomorrow’s organization’s needs, we cannot work on yesterday’s tools? It is time to move and look beyond emails, file shares and static intranet (< or = Web 1.0) as the business communication & collaboration tools.
  • Enterprise Collaboration platforms should bridge the gap between Gen X/Y and Gen E, align with Gen E’s work processes, culture and gradually make them comfortable on using the new tools.
  • Encourage “Culture” of sharing & collaboration across the organization.
  • Last but not the least – Communicate on the value created by using the Enterprise Collaboration platform regularly.

Contact Info

LinkedIn  kchakkarapani@yahoo.com

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