Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy: a new way of working

We partnered with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to deliver the change and engagement workstream for its Cirrus programme. Designed to transform the IT workplace experience, the Cirrus programme deployed new laptops, Smartphones, Microsoft Office 365, SharePoint, Jabber and WebEx to 6,000 employees on a radical internet-only architecture.

Our engagement team – made up of nearly 50 change, business relationship, communications and training consultants – worked with key stakeholders across the department. Together, we devised the technology adoption strategy, and identified organisational goals, new ways of working and potential benefits. During the process we also helped stakeholders to understand how disruptive this change would be and that it was much more than a technical refresh.

Mitchell Leimon, Programme Director at BEIS for the Cirrus programme explains: “As natural extroverts, The Inform Team took the time to learn our organisation’s language and culture and build strong relationships with all sorts of stakeholders to bridge the gap between our IT team and the business. They astutely assessed what needed to be done to connect the technology to our people. I backed their way of thinking because I could see they had the skills, drive and credentials.”

The Cirrus programme change and engagement workstream was underpinned by our Excite, Equip, Embed™ approach to technology adoption.


To excite employees, we developed a programme brand and worked with the department to roll out an OASIS communications plan, to prepare employees for a positive experience.  All materials that we produced, from training content, user guides and videos to news bulletins, case studies and visual displays were housed on an easy-to-find intranet hub that we helped to develop.

“When the scale of change involved became clear – and we realised how little buy-in there was – The Inform Team’s communication experts stepped up strongly and creatively. They got the programme back on track and made the key relationships with the corporate centre work well,” commented Leimon.  


To equip employees with the skills to embrace the technology and new ways of working, we mobilised, onboarded and trained a community of 500 Knowledge Information Managers and digital champions to help with end-user adoption. We also ran three-phase ‘look, select, collect…’ device events for employees – in dedicated Cirrus spaces we designed and built – where over 12,000 face-to-face ‘select and collect’ device appointments were managed.

Classroom training sessions were held for all users on the day they received their device, with 12 employees attending per session and 140 users being trained each day. End-users were then supported by technical and Office 365 floor-walkers for 10 days, who also provided 15-minute clubs on ‘how to…’ tips. After 10 days, employees could then sign up to elective classroom sessions. Leimon noted,

“From the start, The Inform Team pushed for a radical and intense training model compared to what we and other departments were used to.  They made the case and the benefit to the Department has been dramatic compared to any other similar programme I have seen.”

BEIS has a diverse workforce with a wide range of skills, ages and challenges.  We ensured each of these communities was successfully nurtured. In particular, we provided a specialised change work-stream for the ‘adaptive technology’ community, so their individual technology needs were supported and BEIS acted as a truly inclusive organisation.

“With the Adaptive Technology community, The Inform Team deployed real subject knowledge experts whose experience and empathy ensured inclusivity was wired into the programme from the start. The BEIS Adaptive Technology community has repeatedly said that no programme has ever engaged with them as well as Cirrus,” said Leimon.


Post deployment, our partnership was extended to embed cultural change across the department. This included working with HR & IT to develop the on-boarding process for new starters; producing e-learning courses and videos; packaging learning content by profession; and, upskilling the change agent community through technical immersion courses.

Our communications team helped to identify and develop the messaging for five key ways of working, so employees could better understand how the new technology aids their work. The team also supported the promotion of key benefits to employees, which are saving time, improving efficiency, increasing security and delivering inclusivity.

Business benefits

The Cirrus programme is delivering massive savings for the department and has provided civil servants with an IT infrastructure, kit and experience second to none. It has put the department at an advantage in the war for talent and employees have received the change positively. How we communicated the Cirrus programme resulted in 86% of users knowing what to expect, when the change was happening and what they needed to do.

It has also provided the platform for continuing business transformation over the coming years and in how the department works. Leimon comments:

“By having an outward facing set of IT tools, it’s enabled us to engage and communicate with British and global businesses to share information and knowledge. The Cirrus programme has been a massive leap forward in how we collaborate and work as a modern department.”   

Benefits of a change and engagement partner

We became a vital delivery partner for BEIS and were able to innovate at pace whenever the programme needed new thinking or skills:

“This was a challenging project where you needed to know you had a change team who were creative ‘outside the box’ thinkers, confident enough to question the way things were done, and come back with a plan of attack of how to do things differently. The Inform Team did this. As a partner they shared our commitment, were able to respond to the unforeseen, and above all, always did the right thing for the project. They were a partner we could learn and laugh with,” said Leimon.

Project Management + Change Management = 1 not 2!

Understandably, project management and change management get treated as two separate teams during a technology transformation programme. Project management is involved from day one, once a problem that needs solving has been identified. It investigates how the current technology is failing the business, proposes workable replacement options, seeks the most viable solution, and once agreed by the executives, the project management team plans how to deliver the technology transformation.

At this point, actual change becomes a part of the equation. A change team is bought on board to address what change will be taking place, how this will impact the organisation and how this should be managed. From our experience, we find that consideration for how the end-user will be affected by this change, and how they’ll adapt to the new way of working because of the technology, is considered towards the end of the process. And, often once the implementation is taking place or has even been completed.

Then there is the conflict between the two teams as the project management team focuses on project cost, timing and quality and the change management team on people. But if people aren’t using the system, cost, timing, and quality becomes irrelevant as the investment has gone to waste. (CMC Partnership).

Not working together is a critical mistake! Project management and change management should never be treated as two different teams – or even functions – but, as one. After all, they have the same end-goal: to ensure the project achieves the results it intended and that everyone evolves to a new way of working. And, to make that end-goal a reality requires user adoption. That’s why a holistic team strategy is necessary and user adoption must be top of the agenda. Here’s why…

Putting the end-user front of mind achieves better business results

Technology transformation projects involve a massive financial and resource investment, so you need to see a return. This won’t be achieved if users don’t use the technology – at all or properly. User adoption means coaching employees on why changing is happening and training them on how to use the technology. With this approach the investment is safeguarded, efficiencies will be attained, business benefits can be measured and quantified, and stakeholders gain credibility.

One team equals one seamless programme

By having an integrated project and change management team from the off, the end-user will be thought of from day one. What technology will best suit their needs, how the change will impact their working day, and how they will adapt to learning and using the technology will be embedded into the discussions with stakeholders. Making user adoption an agenda item for the programme team and steering group committees keeps the purpose of the technology transformation project – to achieve a new way of working – on point.

Timing is everything

In theory, it’s never too late to implement a user adoption programme. This is what we tell clients when they bring us on board once the technology is live, sitting idle, or being minimally used. And, it’s not too late, but think of the financial and business consequences – no efficiencies and therefore no return on investment. Plus, think how it looks to employees if you say, ‘hey, here’s this new technology and it’s live, use it but we’re not going to show you how’. You’re devaluing the importance of the technology and the end-user will feel like they’re an after-thought; especially if you roll out an adoption programme later. Typically, this scenario happens when change management hasn’t been integrated with the project management team.

The other scenario is when project and change management are one team, the end-user is considered, and a user adoption programme has been entwined into project activity and timelines. A well-timed drumbeat of communications is played so users understand the ‘what’s in it for me?’, they know (well in advance) when they’ll be transferring on to the new technology, and they’ll have a training session lined up to learn how to use the technology. Post training, there’s a digital hub with ‘why’ and ‘how’ content to keep the user engaged; and, follow-up success stories detailing how end users have improved their working day with the technology are communicated. This scenario says, ‘hey, this technology change is really important, to us as a business, and to you as it will make your life better. You were at the centre of our thoughts, you matter to our business’. So, timing really is everything, and it takes project and change management playing together to make this happen.

Project Management and Change Management technically equal two different functions, but when it comes to technology transformation projects and end-user adoption, to obtain the best results the functions should be combined as one team. That’s why we take an Excite, Equip, Embed™ approach to technology adoption…find out more.

What did we learn about Microsoft in December?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk!

Our learning inspiration this month is Mother Teresa who said, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples”. How true is this in relation to technology adoption?! It takes more than one person to make change happen, but a few people can create a ripple effect through a cascade model, like a champions’ network.

As Microsoft swots we always have our ears to the ground – or rather the web! – to find out what’s new with Microsoft, so we can cascade our findings to our clients’ employees and you. So, what did we learn about Microsoft in December?

  • Probably the biggest news this month – Microsoft is overhauling its Windows 10 visual icons and they will be known as new-look Office 365 icons. So far, 10 icons have been developed and more are being created in 2019.
  • From January 2019, Microsoft is adding live captions/ subtitles to PowerPoint thanks to a real-time, AI-powered voice translation feature. What a great way to include the Adaptive Technology community.
  • From this month to March 2019, Microsoft will be rolling out a feature where new files posted in Yammer Groups within Office 365 will be stored in SharePoint, in the area associated with that Group. This won’t impact existing files, or files in unconnected groups or private messages.
  • You can now have an organisation-wide team within Microsoft Teams for up to 1,000 users. Up to 1,000 active users will be added as team members automatically. Loving the thought of one organisation collaboration!
  • Many organisations are using both Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business but previously presence wasn’t fully aligned. It now is for small Office 365 tenants, where users have a ‘coexistence’ mode.

And that’s a wrap for December. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our Microsoft updates this year as much as we’ve enjoyed researching all the latest news. It wouldn’t be an ‘end of year’ post though if we didn’t round up our top Microsoft updates of 2018! So, here’s our favourites…

  1. Any feature that has been added to Microsoft Teams has had a thumbs’ up from us. Without a doubt, Teams has been our hero app in 2018. It’s now where we start, spend and finish our working day. Who would have thought that a year ago?!
  2. New features that have made our lives easier and got our jobs done quicker, have been a winner. We can now create emails and presentations through dictation. Documents autosave in OneDrive and SharePoint. And, you can get threaded comments in Excel. Most impressively, Office 365 Usage Analytics tells us how we spend the day, so we can be smarter about how we spend our time.
  3. The mastery of AI-powered features has blown our minds. You have facial detection, speech-to-text transcription and speaker time-code capabilities in Live Events, in Teams and Stream. And now you can add sub-titling to PowerPoint. What next in 2019?

Thank you, Microsoft! In 2018 you’ve given us so many new features to make our working lives easier and we can’t wait to find out what you’re going to do in 2019…

Cheering on the NHS digital nirvana…but are its staff?!

We literally cheered when we heard that the NHS – our nation’s most-loved 70 year old institution – was going to receive a £487million technology investment to improve productivity and patient care. No one is more deserving of having excellent technology to help them do their jobs than our heroic NHS staff.  

We envisage a paperless NHS where the front-line community of doctors, nurses and carers manage patient treatment and the logistics of their healthcare, via apps on a mobile while on the go. This would also enable patients to quickly and easily consult with a doctor online from the comfort of their home. And, these apps would seamlessly integrate into a real-time centralised system for back-office, authorised users to access and manage the administration.  

But, for the NHS to get its staff to cheer on a digital nirvana, its stakeholders will have to overcome some significant cultural challenges: 

  1. Mistrust: this is due to a history of badly managed technology change. Do you remember the disastrous £10bn NHS patient record system project that kicked off in the early 2000s? Also, on-going patient data breaches has resulted in NHS staff being wary of technology that supports administration.  
  2. Disengagement: most front-line staff don’t care for technology unless it can help to treat and cure a patient. As said by one of our NHS clients ‘you don’t go into nursing if you like computers’! Additionally, there is a concern that if you use technology whilst with a patient you’re not giving the patient your full attention.
  3. Sufficing poor technology: NHS staff are masters at problem solving and work-arounds to make patients better; and this is their approach to technology. One client told us how their community nurses hold team meetings – those present in person hold up multiple mobiles with remote colleagues on FaceTime! Genius, but don’t they merit something better?
  4. Fear: we’ve had NHS client experiences where healthcare assistants and nurses have gone sick or wept, as they’ve been fearful of the new technology as they’ve not been shown how to use it.
  5. Hierarchical behaviour: the NHS is known for this, which is good as successful change needs to be led from the top. However, the culture of world-class surgeons and executives is to ‘do as I say, not as I do’. This is a problem as digital sign-off requires them signing off more and delegating less. Also, they’re having to learn new technology, which means they’ll be exposing their lack of skill; and as the knowledge experts this just isn’t acceptable.

So, what initiatives should the NHS consider building into its technology change management programme to address these cultural challenges?  

  1. Set up a VIP programme: provide senior consultants and executives with training on the new technology in a closed-circle environment, so any challenges they have aren’t exposed to a wider audience. Additionally, they should be coached on how change is led from the top and that staff seek permission to change from their line-managers, so they get why they must adapt their behaviour.  
  2. Provide managers’ tool kits: equip line managers with one of these for each new technology work-stream. Tool kits are like an encyclopaedia – they provide a wealth of facts and reference points that inform and guide managers on what they should be saying to their teams and when. They’re a critical part of the management cascade model and can ensure the correct message is communicated. 
  3. Create a champions’ network: identify and recruit front-line and back-office staff who have an interest in technology and are positive about the change. Then equip them with the skills and the message you want them to spread, so they have the knowledge and capability to support their colleagues on the new technology. Recognise that this is a job itself and remove some of their other daily responsibilities, so they’re not overwhelmed and see the role as burden.  
  4. Equip staff with the skillsremove their fear by providing blended learning on the technology. Think classroom, floor walkers, drop-in sessions, online videos and guides. Create customised and flexible training packages to suit the different working patterns of front-line and back-office staff; and most importantly, ensure they’re given the opportunity to learn away from their day job. Beyond IT skills training, show how they can use the technology in their job. For example, front-line staff will be mindful of using the technology in front of patients. So, give examples of how they could achieve a balance.
  5. Engage staff to excite them: understanding ‘what’s in it for me’ is a critical component of technology adoption, so take the time to create NHS staff personas, map the benefits of the change to each persona, and promote how the technology will transform the life of each persona for the better. Time-saving and making life easier benefits always ignite an interest. Also, by understanding how people work you can ensure you set up their IT environment correctly.  
  6. Make policy a focal pointby highlighting the importance of data governance, trust will be built with the staff. Weave policy guidance into the training programme so staff understand the technology rules and best-practice. A lack of knowledge creates a lack of trust, so by giving staff the information they will begin to trust the technology more.  
  7. Showcase real life stories: by speaking with NHS trusts or public-sector organisations who are ahead of the curve, stakeholders can collate positive real-life stories to share with their staff about how working, modern technology can make a change to your day. If staff understand how integral technology can be to getting stuff done quickly and easily, they’ll be less complacent about reporting devices that aren’t working and sufficing technology that doesn’t do the job.   

We all know there is a huge potential for the NHS to transform how they deliver patient care, so they execute more timely interventions with less reliance on paper. But, that involves embracing technology, so we hope the cash boost is spent wisely!

Have you entered the dark side of technology adoption?

Help your employees so they don’t live in Onion Land*… 

Technology adoption is usually hailed as being positive; it means employees have embraced the technology you’ve given them to do their jobs. Yay! But, what if they’ve entered the dark side of technology adoption? Meaning, they’ve adopted technology outside of your work system to mingle and do their jobs… 

‘Whatever…’ you might say, and you may be thinking, good for them for being creative and going outside the box. However, as soon as your employees indulge in a bit of extra technology activity you’ve lost them to Onion Land – a community that is anonymous, uncensored and free. And, to be frank, with all that freedom who’d want to return to a monitored world of work technology?  

So, how do you help your employees to adopt work technology and not join Onion Land? 

Walk a mile in their shoes 

This expression exists for a reason – you can’t judge people’s behaviour until you’ve done their jobs, or really talked to them about why they are behaving in the way that they are. Take the time to chat to employees, to truly understand what Onion Land is offering that you’re not.  

When talking with our clients, and their employees, we find the most commonly adopted technologies outside the work system are WhatsApp and Google Docs. Both are amazing technologies, and there’s nothing dark about either of them, but they’re not always supported within the work IT environment. We also discover that employees shift to these technologies as they offer something their work technology doesn’t – quick and easy collaboration. People want to group chat, and share and work on documents at the same time.  

Employees typically switch to alternative technology with good intentions – to do a great job for their company. But, they are often unaware of the emotional and legal consequences of their behaviour. Also, they don’t get the risk they are inflicting on their organisation, especially reputationally.  

Don’t make them feel the heat, help them see the light 

WhatsApp is great for group chat, but what if that group can’t agree on something, the conversation becomes heated and someone gets bullied? Or people start using the group chat for inappropriate gossip, or to judge and abuse someone? You can’t monitor or track the digital conversation. However, if employees did this in Skype for Business Instant Messenger, their conversation would be recorded in their Outlook Conversation History. Likewise, private chats in Microsoft Teams can be viewed via admin eDiscovery. This deters inappropriate behaviour! 

Take Google Docs, which is renowned for its collaboration functionality. If this tool isn’t part of a company’s suite of technology but employees are using it for work purposes, they’re taking company IP outside of the system. If someone leaves the company, what process is applied to revoke access to these documents? There isn’t one, therefore creating data breaches. In this instance there’s no way to trace, monitor or manage the content.  

Using unsupported technology for work purposes can lead to employees feeling the heat – for breaking the law, violating company policy or causing emotional distress. You can’t stop everyone’s behaviour, but as an organisation you do have a duty to help your employees see the light regarding their technology usage.   

Keep IT policies current, and share and point employees to them frequently. Run a mini governance campaign on the potential consequences of using technology outside the work system. Nominate an executive to be the spokesperson of the campaign; provide line managers with key points and supporting content to help them to relay the message; and, develop an engaging microsite – or dedicated area on your intranet – to house content, which could include overviews, podcasts, videos, and so on.

Create an alternative so Onion Land becomes a dystopia  

Employees enter the dark side of technology adoption when they lack the tools to do their job, so offer a better alternative that makes them want to embrace your way of working. Take the time to investigate how your employees want to work so they can do their job more easily and get time back for them. Remember, there must be something in it for them to want to change!

Talk to peers in your industry or job function community. Learn about the technology their company is using; and, find out if they’ve had similar issues and how they dealt with them. Use the opportunity to review your IT estate, compare it to what’s out there and determine the type of investment you could make to improve your employees’ working lives. Review your current collateral that talks about the technology that employees should be using. Is it engaging, does it talk about the benefits of using the technology to the user? Read Bland versus Brand 

People adopt technology that makes their day easier. And, just like in life, if they believe there’s a better way than what is currently being offered to them, they’ll find it and embrace it instead.  

To prevent employees crossing the dark side to an uncensored community that puts your organisation at risk, have a chat with us to see how we can help!  

*People who want to be anonymous online hide their IP address using an ‘Onion Router’. Onion Land refers to the community of people who do this, so they can operate freely without censorship or being tracked.  

What did we learn about Microsoft in November?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk!

‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn’ – Benjamin Franklin. What wise words? And, words The Inform Team live by! We believe the only way to get people to truly adopt new technology is to train and get them involved. After all, if you don’t use your knowledge you lose it…

We eat our own dog food and always learn about everything that’s going on with Microsoft, so we can help our clients’ employees to work the Microsoft way too. So, what did we learn about Microsoft in November?

  • From 29th November 2018, Microsoft Office 365 subscribers will get helpful product training and tips via email. This feature will be on by default. Microsoft’s aim is to help us to increase our productivity through better utilisation of the functionality available to us. We can’t wait to get swotting!
  • Stream just keeps getting smarter. Moving forwards, we’ll have more AI functionality, such as speaker timelines that use face detection to show where a person appears in a video; and, transcript search and timecode capability so you can quickly search for the content you’re looking for. Our favourite is the new speech-to-text and closed captions feature, which means spoken dialogue will be made readable for greater accessibility.
  • There was the Windows 10 update, which was the first major release since April this year. Watch this video to learn more. Our favourite feature is the Windows 10 Cloud Clipboard, which stores the history of the content you’ve copied.
  • At Ignite, Microsoft announced it was collaborating with Citrix, so you can buy Citrix Workspace cloud solutions using Microsoft Office 365 licences. We now know that together the software providers will be delivering a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS).
  • You can use the @MeekanWorld App for Microsoft Teams to help schedule meetings and sync people’s calendars to work out when everyone is free to meet. Here’s how
  • There’s a growing demand to be able to connect and analyse disparate pieces of data for a holistic view and Microsoft has listened. Power BI is more powerful than ever with its Power BI Custom Connectors now being general available. Meaning, there’s hundreds of connectors to hook up to, making Power BI’s data analysis capability even greater.
  • Microsoft has launched a web version of its Sticky Notes app, which syncs between devices. This means we can make and manage short notes more efficiently, yay!
  • Microsoft Teams Live Events is a brilliant new way to engage employees online at a low-cost, and we’re always excited to hear about further developments with this platform. This recently launched short guide provides best-practice recommendations on how to manage your event from scheduling through to production, streaming and ensuring an excellent employee experience.
  • We’re so on the Teams bandwagon and to get everyone up to speed, Microsoft has created a hub full of guidance documents, videos and tips. We particularly like the ‘Get your team up and running…’ video, because that’s what we’re currently helping lots of our clients to do!

And, that’s a wrap for November. Get in touch if you’d like us to feature specific Microsoft news in our monthly Microsoft blog posts.

Technology adoption – think Morse Code not the telephone game!

Ways to tell one version of the truth…

Getting the message out to employees about new technology so they adopt it should be a simple process; tell them the reason why they’re getting the new technology and explain where they can go to get more information. But in practice, it’s not that easy. Because, what you tell people isn’t necessarily what they hear.

Remember the ‘telephone’ game as a child? You lined up and the first child whispered a message to the next child, and so on. The child at the end of the line then had to announce the message, which was usually very different to what the message had originally been! In fact, you’d end up with a line of children where most of them would all have a different message.

Yet, during brutal wars and times of emergency, with all odds against them, people have relied on International Morse Code to successfully and accurately relay a message. How? Because the code isn’t open to interpretation; it’s defined through dots and dashes, it’s accurate, and is a universal language.

So, how do you make your technology adoption message more Morse Code, and less ‘telephone’ game? By ensuring your words and actions lead to ‘one version of the truth’.

Here’s how you can convey and manage your technology adoption message so there’s ‘one truth’:

Tell it from the top

To get employees to listen and change the way they’re working they need to hear about the new technology from the top. Select an executive – who is passionate the technology – to be the face and storyteller of your campaign. But, don’t give the executive freedom to go off-piste! Give the executive a tight script to convey a consistent message in town halls, speeches, v-logs, blog posts and any written documentation. One message equals one truth.   Fact: Prominent leadership is the biggest contributor to the success of a change programme (Prosci, 2016).

Tell it from the middle

Fact: Employees like to hear the message from an executive but they seek permission to change from their line manager (Prosci). Line managers play a critical role in the technology adoption process, but they are often far removed from the programme. This is where a managers’ toolkit becomes as valuable as Morse Code to get one version of the truth out, to employees.

A managers’ toolkit is like an encyclopaedia for a specific workstream; providing a point-of-reference and facts in short-form. It provides line managers with a wealth of information, so they have the knowledge to factually update their team about progress on a technology adoption programme. The intent is to support a management cascade model and ensure that all line managers are aligned in what they say, therefore telling one version of the truth. House the managers’ tool kit in a restricted area of your intranet, so it’s accessible and easy for all managers to find.

Think the might of the microsite!

Never underestimate the power of a mighty microsite. What you’re told by an executive or line manager is open to interpretation. However, written and video content presents you with one version of the facts and key messages, so you can read, watch and listen to learn about what is happening in your own way. After all, we all have our own learning style.  That’s why a microsite is so useful as it supports flexible learning.

A microsite that is dedicated to a technology adoption programme not only emphasises its importance, but it also provides one home to house all the different ways that you’re telling one story. In short, it is the home of the truth. That’s why it needs to be super engaging to entice the reader in. Think pop-out graphics, snappy videos and a stand-out message for employees that says…’this is what is in it for you’! Take a read of Bland versus Brand.

Spring clean…and repeat, repeat, repeat

To keep one version of the truth you need to keep your sources clean – executives, line managers and the microsite. This means a continual spring cleaning exercise that takes place more than once a year. At the outset of a technology programme put messaging and content on the team agenda, and implement a process for reviewing and updating it. Make the same person responsible for this agenda item, so it gets actioned. If messaging and content changes, run an audit on all your materials and everything on the microsite. Update it, so it is accurate and there is one truth – on the microsite, in the managers’ toolkit and in the executive briefing pack.

To achieve technology adoption, it’s essential to engage employees and ensure they only have one version of the truth. It’s critical that you take a holistic approach to how you communicate, and that you do so methodically and with the precision of the Morse Code. The Inform Team has its own Morse Code for adoption – Excite, Equip, Embed™. Find out more.

Ways to measure a technology adoption programme

Measure what is measurable, and make measurable what is not so (Galileo Galilei)

Fact: we live in a world of measurement where we use a number to determine – positively or negatively – how we, someone, or something has done. From our first school tests, to hearing about who’s made it to number one in the music chart, to where colleagues have placed in the company incentive scheme. Throughout life, there’s a number that measures performance; and, it’s been ingrained into our DNA from a young age.

Measurement matters. It tells a story of success, failure or being a little bit ‘blah’ in the middle. When it comes to technology adoption, putting a measurement system in place to determine the level of adoption is non-negotiable. Why?

Without any measures, you won’t realise if there’s been any business benefits. You also won’t be able to quantify employee engagement and establish whether employees have adopted the technology or not. This means stakeholders won’t receive credibility for their investment in the technology; and, you won’t know what did and didn’t work, so you can adapt your approach to the ongoing programme, or a future one for greater success.

How should you measure a technology adoption programme?

Set your measures before kick-off

Gather executives and programme stakeholders to determine the measures from the start. Do this for two reasons: 1) you need to know where you began to measure against how far you have progressed. The end-goal is an upward curve of adoption and the trend is usually a slow start. This is because you need to wait for your technology champions to start having an impact on the networks they’re tasked with influencing. 2) It will keep you focused. Knowing what you need to achieve will help you to determine what you need to do, to get there.

Align your measures to your organisation’s objectives

This approach ensures you grab the attention of stakeholders at all levels – executives, management and employees – and helps them to recognise and understand the importance of the initiative. If what you are doing is aiding your organisation to meet its objectives, employees are more likely to get on-board and be committed to a new way of working.

Prove your measures by going small before you go large

To prove that your intended programme will drive adoption and you have the correct measures in place, it’s best to test your approach and predictions in a controlled group environment. For example, with one client – Mott MacDonald – we ran a technology adoption proof of concept involving two controlled groups made up of 15 users in each group. One group experienced training, testing and received support content, and the other didn’t. Following an evaluation, 62% of users who had participated in the ‘technology adoption’ experience were quicker at completing activities using Skype for Business, and 42% said they had increased their confidence in using Skype for Business.

A small controlled environment gives you the opportunity to test your proposed measures, and based on the outcome, adapt your tactics before rolling out the programme to a wider audience.

Reach out to employees so you know their real sentiment

To know whether your employees have really adopted the technology you must find out what they think about it. Include questions in employee engagement surveys to gauge their thoughts and experiences; and run poll-votes and short on-line surveys – with open and closed answers – for quick pulse checks. Your employees’ thoughts and sentiment on the subject are what really counts as they’re driving the new way of working.

What types of things should you measure?

Think about employee, business and technology measures! Beyond asking employees, check your communication channels for further evidence – what content has been liked, read and shared. Are employees able to get more business activities done as the technology helps to save time completing simple tasks? Have you reduced business travel costs and associated overheads? Technology-wise, don’t just think about cost reduction, but usage levels and the positive impact this has on employees.

The Inform Team has helped global brands and government departments to successfully adopt technology, and we’ve armed them with the numbers to prove it! Find out more about how we do it.

How do you achieve technology adoption, not technology forgotten?

When training it’s all in the when and how… 

Achieving technology adoption is no easy feat, and unfortunately, many organisations fall victim to technology forgotten. This can be for many reasons – be it poor communication, engagement, leadership or training. And sadly, new technology can get deployed without any of this stuff, so it’s no wonder the technology is forgotten as it was never known!  

Drilling down into one of the contributing factors to technology adoption – which is training – there are a few tips to remember, to ensure success. And, it’s all in the when and how.   

Tip 1: That which is used develops. That which is not used wastes away (Hippocrates) 

How many times have you gone back to work after your holiday – or even the weekend(!) – and momentarily forgotten your password, or a process for something that you’ve done repetitively, umpteen times before? With volumes of information readily available to us, it’s too easy to temporarily forget something that’s been lodged in our long-term memory for many years. So, it’s no surprise that newly learned information is easily forgotten… 

That’s why when you’re rolling out new technology it’s best not to train employees on it far in advance, or they’ll have forgotten what they’ve been taught by the time the technology is ready for use. This is something we had to advise a client on who was planning on training users prior to a three-week break over the Christmas period.

The adage ‘use it or lose it’ doesn’t exist for no reason; we have a limited knowledge retention curve. Did you know after 24 hours of learning something you’ll have forgotten 70-80% of it? It’s known as the Ebbinghaus Effect – named after Hermann Ebbinghaus, a psychologist whose research discovered this fact. Top tip: Don’t peak too soon! Train users on the technology as it becomes available to them, so they can go away, and immediately use and adopt it.

Tip 2: The silicon chip inside our head gets switched to overload… (Boomtown Rats) 

We’re not saying don’t train on a Monday because no-one likes Mondays! Rather, avoid training when everyone is in ‘overload’ mode – that means on the busiest day of your organisation’s or a team’s week, when it’s end of year or your busy time. People won’t have the time or the headspace for training. Plus, new technology slows people down for a short period whilst they get up to speed, so they’re not going to thank you if you actively slow them down during a busy time. And, they’ll associate all this negativity with the technology and they’ll not want to adopt it.  

Choose to deploy the technology and run training on it during a quiet period for optimal outcomes. Users will be more relaxed, accommodating and willing to learn, and will have extra room in their memory bank to let in new information. They’ll have the availability to attend training and you’ll have more of their attention, as they won’t be distracted by the work they should be doing.  Top tip: Deploy new technology and train users out of peak season, so they’re not distracted by their daily work-life.

Tip 3: Good game, good game…didn’t they do well? (Bruce Forsyth) 

Remember Kim’s Game from your childhood, or watching the infamous ‘conveyor belt’ game at the end of The Generation Game on a Saturday night? Both these games were a fun way to learn, remember and test your memory! In both instances you observe and remember stuff in bite size chunks; and, in Kim’s Game you write down what you learn, and in the Generation Game you explain what you’ve seen. Making learning a game adds the fun factor and you will retain knowledge when it’s presented to you in an interesting and engaging way. Top tip: Shake up your training programme by feeding users small chunks of information, make them write not type to improve their brain’s muscle memory, and hold memorable quizzes so they don’t forget what they’ve been taught.

Tip 4: Listen very carefully, I shall say this only once… (Michelle Dubois, ‘Allo ‘Allo). 

This is something you should never say when training people on new technology! The most effective way to get people to learn and remember is to train in short bursts, mix it up and most importantly, repeat, repeat, repeat. It’s called spaced learning 

We also find blended-learning is incredibly effective when training users on new technology. This means taking the 10%-20%-70% approach: do 10% through face-to-face, virtual delivery, broadcast and workshops; 20% through guides, surgeries, coaching and desk-side support; and 70% through change champions, team working and in-application help. Read: Tips to help your employees learn. 

Also have a single point of reference – an area on the intranet where users can go and find more information, so they can keep reading and learning, and reading and learning… Top tip: ‘If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times…’ This is a good saying as you want users to learn and adopt new technology. Keep telling them the same thing and the message will eventually stick.

Finally, why is every tip a famous quote or line from a song? Because we want each tip to be memorable! Give your technology adoption programme a catchy name or slogan, so you don’t fall victim to the ‘blah’ and get forgotten. Read Bland versus Brand 

What did we learn about Microsoft in October?

We don’t talk the talk…we walk the walk!

The talented musician and actor John Legend was our learning inspiration this month. We really like his motivational quote: ‘Keep learning, listening, growing and experimenting’. We did just that by swotting up on everything that is new about Microsoft, which is a company that doesn’t shy away from experimenting.

Microsoft has launched some seriously hot stuff recently, which really takes collaboration and the virtual world to the next level. Here’s what we learned about Microsoft this month:

  • If you have Microsoft Office 365 and store your documents on OneDrive and SharePoint, they will now AutoSave. Meaning your documents will be automatically saved every few seconds. Good-bye Ctrl + S!
  • Microsoft Office 365 and LinkedIn is beginning to integrate. So, in an Outlook Calendar Meeting Invite you can learn more about an attendee as some of their LinkedIn profile will show in the invite. What a conversation ice-breaker! Did you know if you’re using Microsoft Office 365 and are on LinkedIn you can co-author Office 365 documents with your LinkedIn connections? Taking collaboration to a whole new level! Find out more.
  • You can now record your meetings in Microsoft Teams, so people who miss out can playback the recorded content anytime. To save time you can pull up the transcript and search keywords according to what you want to hear about.
  • If you’re on a video call in Microsoft Teams you can now blur your background. Click on the fourth icon along called ‘my options’ with the three dots (…) then click on ‘Blur my background’. Simple!
  • You now have greater control over who attends your meetings in your Microsoft Office 365 Outlook Calendar. If you’re organising the meeting you can choose whether to allow attendees to forward the meeting invite to other people.
  • The main news coming out of Microsoft Ignite was that users are being shifted from Skype for Business online to Teams, confirming Microsoft’s commitment to Teams as the collaboration platform. If you want to hear the round-up of the news at Ignite listen to this podcast.
  • Are you an Excel and Word feature geek? Then you’ll enjoy reading these reviews by TechRadar on the latest versions of Excel and Word.

And, that’s a wrap for October. Get in touch if you’d like us to feature specific Microsoft news in our monthly Microsoft blog posts.