Tips for creating project awareness
We often hear about IT departments who have done a technology rollout without the proper planning, communications or awareness campaigns. They have “finished” the project – they have delivered. And now the new technology is available to everyone, but then they wonder why people aren’t using it. Or why the benefits aren’t being realised. This is because the focus has been on the technology and not on the people.
To run a successful technology project, we have to consider the people. And when we consider people, we are not talking about sending an email to let them know the go-live date. True awareness is about engagement. Getting people excited about the new technology and more importantly about its potential, and how it is going to change or impact the way they work.
Greater awareness planning will allow users to get onboard prior to go live and make the project ultimately more successful. Click To Tweet
Creating awareness is also not just about the project manager sending a 3-page email letting people know what is happening. Research suggests that people have to hear something seven times to be prepared for the change and the person delivering the message makes a difference. We recommend that an effective Executive Sponsor be one of the first communication pieces that are delivered. This is the message from the top. Letting people know what is happening, and more importantly, why it is happening, and even more importantly what will happen if the change doesn’t happen. This allows users to see the company direction and the reasons for it.
Now this message could be delivered via email, video, a town hall or via a social networking tool like Yammer or all the above. The awareness campaign needs to support all members of the organisation. Those who read email, and those who don’t. Those who use the social networking tools and those who don’t. Those who are auditory and those who are visual. We also know that the most effective communications come from those we trust. So, while a message from the Executive Sponsor is critical, the message from my direct manager will provide a much closer insight into how it will affect my team. The manager may deliver this message again via email, but should also discuss the changes and updates during team meetings, providing the opportunity for the team to ask questions, or raise concerns.
And to make communications really effective, we need to focus on what matters to the individual. We need to provide compelling and real reasons why they should change. We must answer the “What’s in it for me” question early and often. We need to focus on what the individuals care about and value. How is it going to affect them? What will it mean to their role? How will it change the way they work? How will they be consulted? How will they be part of the process to change? How will the new technology be rolled out and how do they get on board?
And these discussions or communications can’t be a one-off thing. During the planning stages, the project team needs to keep the communication coming. It could be posters or info-graphics that start water cooler conversations. Regular posts on intranet sites or Yammer. It could be attendance at team meetings to get input. People like to have a voice that is heard. The chances of a successful project will rise when the end user believes they have been part of the process.
Setting up a place where two-way communication can happen also aids awareness. Not everyone will want to post something, but you may be surprised at who is reading it and the impact that has in embedding the awareness across the organisation. The project team need to be responsive to questions and alleviate concerns. Ultimately the end users will make or break the project success. Even the negative comments allow the project team to potentially see things from a different perspective. Win them over before the go-live and the adoption uptake will be that much easier.
As you get closer to launch, a great way for people to see the changes prior to go live is to set up a demo booth or provide a lunch and learn style demonstration. These should not be designed as training sessions. They are part of the awareness campaign. Consider discussing and showing some of the new ways of working opportunities. Provide people with devices that they can get a hands-on view of the new technology. This pre-awareness will assist users If training is being provided at a later stage, as it will not be the first time they have seen the technology.