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Putting A Ring on It: Why Your Organization Needs an Engagement Team

Jennifer Stephenson, Sr. Manager, IT Business Services, Pacific Dental Services
Jennifer Stephenson, Sr. Manager, IT Business Services, Pacific Dental Services

Jennifer Stephenson, Sr. Manager, IT Business Services, Pacific Dental Services

Every CIO talks about digital transformation and disruption but, change is hard, and resistance (though usually futile) is often our knee jerk response to doing things in a new way. That’s why a business can develop the most amazing ideas and solutions, but if users don’t understand how it affects their actual workflow or how it can make their lives easier, they simply won’t utilize it. So, what do you do if you have an idea or a project you need to get adoption on?

Engagement Drives Adoption, Adoption Drives Transformation

IT departments are filled with brilliant technical minds charged with developing, finding, and releasing products to solve the issues or needs of their organizations. But too often, these solutions remain unused because no one knows about them or understands how they’ll actually improve their current workflow. So what’s the magic ingredient that makes for a successful deployment? How does your organization get enthusiastic buy-in for that innovative solution?

Engagement is the magic ingredient you’re looking for, but it can’t be an afterthought you just sprinkle on at the end and hope for the best. Thorough planning, communication, and coordination are required to take a concept or product from simply a nice notion to a solution that users will be happy to plug into their workflow.

According to Pacific Dental Services, CIO David Baker, “ If you want projects to be delivered with a friendly human touch and in a way that I would say more than triples your chances of success, you have to take a modern-day projects delivery approach. I have used the Engagement team model alongside our EPMO methodology successfully for several years now, and it’s one of the best people-based ROI’s I have seen”.

5 Steps to Yes: Getting Buy-in from Your Teams

1. Identify and Develop Change Champions/Power Users within the Company and Share with Them First

Who are the “influencers” in each department? Figure that out, and you’re ahead of the game. Get their feedback, understand their issues, timelines/deadlines, and find out what works for them in their workflow. Don’t assume what works for the tax department will work for accounting or facilities. Each department has different flows and needs. Departments within an organization are unique… treat them as such by focusing on the people and not the idea/tool/technology.

  Engagement is the magic ingredient you’re looking for, but it can’t be an afterthought you just sprinkle on at the end and hope for the best  

2. Start Communication from the Top Down

Once we’re ready to deploy, we develop a strategic communication plan with the project manager. We then focus on which test groups would best reveal any issues or things we may have missed. We ask ourselves, who could really test the product and our training? Who would, in all honesty, potentially break the system? We then reach out to that department’s manager, leader, or executive to sell them on the idea, get their feedback, and make sure they understand the plan. We then deploy to s small Alpha group, then a larger Beta group. At this point, we have nailed down our communication strategy, worked with the training department, and improved and finalized our communication plan to best drive adoption once we fully deploy.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Push Back if Necessary

You have to be the champion for your organization, and you have to know your audience (intended users). First impressions count. If you’re asking team members to employ a new product or system, and their first experience with it is during a hectic day, know that your new product will be seen as the cause of missed appointments and revenue, and you will fail. Team members won’t want to use your product again, and you’ll lose credibility - maybe forever. Work with leadership to be successful. If your audience understands the product and how it will improve their workflow or why it’s necessary, they are more likely to embrace it enthusiastically.

4. Think of your Engagement Team as your Storytellers

Let your engagement team tell the story of your projects, from the “why” (the problem you need to solve), to the “how” (the products/process/tool that will solve it), to the storybook ending (how it worked and resolved the issue and everyone lived happily ever after). We can make you look like rock stars or superheroes, whatever suits you best.

5. Don’t Forget to Follow-up

Checking in with team members after deployment is key because it shows the groups you have worked with that you really do care about their success and value their contribution. Let them know they have ownership, and they’ll be quicker to engage next time.

While an engagement team may seem like an extra luxury that your organization can’t afford, consider the alternative - time and money wasted on solutions that go unimplemented because remember- change is hard.

See Also:

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