Putting UX at the Center of your Operational Planning

Collaboration fails when your planning does not begin and end with the end user experience (UX).

If your end goal is a collaborative digital workplace, your planning must begin with user adoption. You can have the most perfectly architected solution, hitting every major requirement, and with all of the latest-greatest technology — but if your end users do not adopt, your project has failed.

Not only that, a lack of end user adoption has other repercussions. If you do not have an acceptable level of adoption (you need to define what that means), you will not be able to continue to iterate and improve upon your business processes and leverage that great technology, all of which can help drive further engagement.

The lack of user adoption is a major risk factor for change efforts.

According to a 2016 AIIM.org study sponsored by Colligo and Gimmal:

User adoption has been and continues to be something of an issue for 58% of our respondents with indication that poor or inadequate training and lack of management support are still the perceived reasons. This is an indication of human deficiency, rather than technological deficiency. It is not the technology that is failing the organization in as much as it is the organization failing the technology.

AIIM Industry Watch: The Impact of SharePoint – 2016

Collaboration fails when your planning does not begin and end with the UX

How do organizations miss this one? Do they think their end users are “too busy” to help design the system that they are expected to embrace? The purpose of your collaboration platform is to enable end users to work more efficiently and effectively with each other, or individually, and yet most deployments fail to take into account the key end user use cases. Instead, they concentrate on building out a carbon copy (but with all new features) of their old, tired corporate intranet.

The key to getting users to adopt your platform is to lower the barriers to collaboration. The more rules you put in place and the more you stray from the common use cases your end users need to follow every day, the less likely employees are to use the platform. You need to consider compliance and security issues, for sure — but governance, security, and compliance should not be the reason why users cannot get their work done. Because they’ll end up just going around IT to get that work done, and that usually means outside of your secure, managed, well-governed environment.

You should always design your system with the end user in mind, working closely with your “power users” to identify the system must-haves, and to test key end user scenarios. The more you involve your end users, the more likely they are to accept the end result.

Real-world planning for the digital workplace

SharePoint Transformed eBookA key function of the digital workplace hero is to ensure that the technology being deployed meets the needs of the business – and to translate the needs of the business so that the right technology can be identified, configured, and properly deployed to meet those business needs.

One common thread across successful environments is the valuable role of community managers and other influencers as a primary reason why some organizations succeed. These employees are your “Digital Workplace Heroes” who can help make your project successful. Areas where these influencers can help you succeed, and which you should focus your planning:

  • Engage with customers—Build natural, tailored experiences by harnessing data representing a complete view of your customer, then drawing actionable insights that can deliver personalization at scale and achieve a segment of one.
  • Empower employees—Empower people to achieve more by designing a workplace where every working style can thrive—one that harnesses digital intelligence to improve experiences and enables the flexibility of mobility, while keeping your organization, people, and information secure.
  • Optimize operations—Accelerate the responsiveness of your business, improve service levels, and reduce costs with intelligent processes that anticipate the future and coordinate people and assets more efficiently.
  • Reinvent products and business models—Harness data as a strategic asset, shifting from hindsight to foresight, automating manual processes, delivering personalization to customers, and innovating with new business models, services, products, and experiences—all to differentiate and capture emerging revenue opportunities.

Beyond a deployment role, these influencers often provide a necessary layer of triage and arbitration between end users, IT personnel, and the executive team to bring all parties together during these transformational activities. Typically not an assigned role, the Digital Workplace Hero is someone who rises up within the organization, often providing a bridge between business and IT organizations, translating UX requirements between constituencies.

If you’re looking for more guidance on how to identify and leverage the Digital Workplace Heroes within your own organization, check out my recent eBook with Colligo CEO Barry Jinks (@bjinks) — SharePoint Transformed: A Game Plan for Digital Workplace Heroes

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and M365 Apps & Services MVP, and an award-winning product marketer and technology evangelist, based in Silicon Slopes (Lehi), Utah. He is the Director of North American Partner Management for leading ISV Rencore (https://rencore.com/), leads content strategy for TekkiGurus, and is an advisor for both revealit.TV and WellnessWits. He hosts the monthly #CollabTalk TweetJam, the weekly #CollabTalk Podcast, and the Microsoft 365 Ask-Me-Anything (#M365AMA) series.