Tag Archives: digital workplace

How to develop a mobile strategy

Recently I posted on how to develop an intranet strategy and how to develop a digital workplace strategy.  One of the key factors either strategy must consider is the growing needs of people who use mobile devices to access information needed to help with their work.  I believe it is so important that it justifies its own strategy to help achieve the full benefits.

When developing a strategy for people who are mobile it is important you consider the following factors:

  1. Research with mobile workers what exactly their requirements are.  Don’t guess!  And don’t accept the experience is good enough just because the content or app can be accessed from mobile devices.
  2. Involve mobile workers in testing as you develop your intranet to make sure it will be a good experience for mobile devices before it is launched.  Don’t assume it will just be alright on the day.
  3. Be clear how many different operating systems your organisation can justify supporting.  While wanting to support the different operating systems for mobile devices it is stupid to aim to support every system.  A balance between IT costs and capabilities with mobile users’ needs to be agreed.
  4. Decide on your approach to responsive or device specific designs for mobile users.  Do you want/need to publish the same content in more than one place?  Is the management of one piece of content too heavy for all types of devices that need to access it?

There are some key principles which you can apply to help you create a mobile strategy for your organisation.  Find out more information on how to develop a mobile strategy.

How to develop a strategy for SharePoint

Recently I posted on how to develop an intranet strategy and how to develop a digital workplace strategy.  I now want to cover SharePoint because it is used by so many organisations.  I have covered in earlier post if SharePoint is good or bad and what organisations need to do to help decide if it is.

This post focuses on a strategy for using SharePoint.  Note it is NOT a SharePoint strategy!  This is a mistake organisations have made and it can have serious consequences.  A strategy for SharePoint needs to consider far more than just implementing technology:

  1. Be afraid, very afraid, of implementing SharePoint without a clear set of business requirements.  Make sure SharePoint is the best match for these requirements.
  2. Have clear priorities for what SharePoint needs to help with first.  Without these how will you know what can requirements can be met first or have the biggest impact on your organisation?
  3. Make sure you have a robust governance framework in place before you start using SharePoint.  You will need it!  I find it is the most common reason for causing problems.
  4. Make sure you also have a clear structure, an information architecture, that is logical and predictable for people using SharePoint to find what they need.
  5. Consider the culture and wider behaviour that exists across your organisation before you start using SharePoint.  They need to fit so the features can be used to their full benefit.

There are some key principles which you can apply to help you create a strategy for SharePoint to be good for your organisation.  Find out more information about how to develop a strategy for SharePoint.

How to develop a digital workplace strategy

Recently I posted on how to develop an intranet strategy and about Jane McConnell’s report ‘The Digital Workplace in the connected organisation‘.  So it is perhaps inevitable this post is about how you develop your strategy for a digital workplace.

A digital workplace strategy is different to an intranet strategy for the following reasons:

  1. A digital workplace is much wider than an intranet.  It may well have the intranet at its core but knowledge sharing and completing online processes are also covered by a digital workplace.
  2. A digital workplace will have a higher profile so more senior managers in your organisation will need and/or want to be involved as they can influence its direction.
  3. The impact of the digital workplace as a business tool will have a wider and sometime unforseen impact on the organisation and employees who use it.
  4. There will be more ‘sacred cows’ and ways people behave which they are very protective or defensive about which you will need to prepare good sound reasons for their removal or need to change.
  5. There will be a stronger expectation for you to justify and be able to show the benefits to the organisation for developing a digital workplace that you must include in your strategy.

There are some key principles which you need to include with your approach when creating a digital workplace strategy.  For more information read how to develop a digital workplace strategy.

The Digital Workplace in the connected organisation

I have recently been reading Jane McConnell’s report ‘The Digital Workplace in the Connected Organization‘.  You will have to go a long way and use a lot of effort to find another research report that will be as interesting, insightful and better value for money.  If you haven’t bought a copy then please consider seriously doing so.

What is new this year?

The Digital Workplace Scorecard

The main innovation is the Digital Workplace Scorecard, which is based on the nine dimensions of the digital workplace model described in this report. The Scorecard works from self-assessment: scores are calculated based on several hundred data points from the responses to the online survey questions.

All participants receive (privately) their own scorecard and can compare themselves to others in their industry by looking at the industry-specific scorecards or to the Early Adopters. All industry scorecards are published in the report.

The digital workplace in the context of the organization

This year’s report represents a major step forward in understanding how the digital workplace impacts and is impacted by organizational processes, structures, leadership, culture and mindset. The survey covered these points in addition to the traditional questions about people capabilities, mobile services, finding expertise, sharing knowledge and so on.

Twenty-three “In Practice” Cases

“The Digital Workplace in the Connected Organization” contains 23 “In Practice” cases that are developed in more detail than in previous years. The organizations selected for these cases stood out during the data analysis process, either because of high scores or because their comments and examples are relevant to challenges many organizations are facing today.

There are so many great insights and highlights that I was spoilt for choice on what to write about.  Three highlights for me are:

Mindset

Jane identifies this as a critical factor defined as ‘the values, expectations and ways of thinking that determine how people and organizations act’.  My experience with intranets successfully transforming into digital workplaces requires senior managers to lead and encourage employees to change their way of working.  Even more important is for senior managers to demonstrate by example how they are using it to help themselves for employees to follow.

just starting

Many organisations have just started to adopt digital workplace ways of working.  Many of my clients are in this position.  Factors like access to real-time information, finding out information from people you don’t know and resilience when bad weather or other problems can affect service.  Adopting the digital workplace can help to remove these major business issues with benefits of improved customer service and productivity savings.

mobile

As Jane says in her report ‘People are increasingly deciding how they want to work and which tools suit them best regardless of corporate policies.’ with organisations recognising this as becoming the new reality with many employees saying they are ‘discouraged but accepted’ when using personal devices for their work.  To me that feels like a major shift from a year ago and one of my 2014 predictions.

Overall this research can be referred to many times as you continue your jouney to a fully integrated digital workplace for your organisation.

My 2014 predictions

I reviewed my predictions for 2013 and believe they are happening more as we move towards 2014.  So what has 2014 got in store for us?  Here are my five predictions:

Cloud

Organisations will more seriously consider what approach will best meet their requirements.  Factors that will need to be considered before a final decision is made are:

  • How much will it save compared with the costs of keeping it within the firewall?
  • Will you have better business resilience?  Will it remove the single point of failure problem?
  • What will be the levels of service?
  • Who do you trust with your data?
  • Will your content be secure?

Mobile

I know a lot has been said about mobile and how it is driving the transformation of intranets towards digital workplaces.  But how many employees still only use their smartphones for emails and texts?  Organisations need to get serious about realising the benefits and consider:

  • Increased productivity by people able to find information, complete tasks, share problems and knowledge when they need to without delay
  • Save accommodation costs and reduced dedicated workspace so people share as and when they need it
  • Support new ways of working with distributed teams and managers enabling and facilitating rather than controlling or limiting activity
  • Fear of the unknown is not a good business reason to stop employees using mobiles for their work
  • Bring your own device is a solvable problem when everyone wants to reach agreement over intellectual property, security and building trust and behaving sensibly

Collaboration

I am starting to see real examples of collaboration which showing through on business’ bottom line and getting the attention of senior manager.  This will bring benefits as it is taking more seriously and investment decisions are easier but the pressure to continue delivering larger savings will also increase.  Examples include:

  • Project teams sharing and creating online documentation without having to meet face to face or email each other
  • Solving problems more quickly using tools to find people with similar skills and experience
  • Sharing knowledge that helps others to solve problem and the organisation’s culture increasingly supporting this way of working

governance

Organisations are realising, especially if they are implementing SharePoint, that all the areas where content is published need to be managed.  The problems of gaps in information managed and risks it can create are being recognised more.  More robust frameworks are being developed and used.  Examples include:

  • Different types of content such as accredited e.g. policies, news articles, and collaborative e.g. comment in discussion group, blog post are being accepted
  • All the different areas for content are being joined up e.g. content management, document management, project spaces, and news.
  • A hierarchy which sets out roles and responsibilities help identify overlaps and gaps in managing information
  • Publishing standards are being applied in smarter ways taking less time and effort with digital workplace teams

Value

As intranets are transforming from their original purpose as communications tools towards digital workplaces that are critical business tools that people in that organisation increasingly need to rely on for their work, so their value is increasing and the need to measure that value.  Examples are:

  • Productivity savings are accepted in principle now even if the amount is not agreed by everyone
  • The impact on property usage and type is becoming more linked to new ways of working
  • The value an organisation places on a person’s digital assets e.g. knowledge in documents is starting to match that of any physical assets e.g. computer
  • Business resilience is critical to organisations and along with plans to use the cloud are plans to benefit from a more distributed workforce that no longer has to be in just one location

This is my last post of 2013.  I hope anyone reading this has had a great 2013, will have a relaxing break over the Christmas period, and be hoping for more success in 2014!

SharePoint: what does good look like?

A little while ago I asked ‘Is SharePoint ‘good’ or ‘bad?‘.  I believe it is how an organisation implements SharePoint that helps you feel if it is good or bad.

Building on this theme I will be presented the keynote address at IntraTeam’s event in Gothenburg on 4 December ‘SharePoint: What does good look like for?’.

I will cover how your approach is critical to achieving a good SharePoint experience – for you as well as for people using it – with the need for a strategy that sets the right direction and a governance framework to help you keep moving in that direction every day.

I will also be showing examples of what I believe good looks like with SharePoint.  I can’t share all of these publicly with you I’m afraid – you will have to be at the event to see all the examples – but I can share some here.  I hope you find them useful along with my steps to a good SharePoint experience.

If you need any further information or help with SharePoint please get in touch.

Digital Workplace or digital working?

In my last two posts about the digital workplace I have covered an example of how field-based people use the digital workplace.  I then covered how people’s perception of the digital workplace should be more than just considering it is for office-based people only.

But is the digital workplace the best term to describe the new ways of working that people are adopting?  Is a term like ‘digital working’ a better description than ‘digital workplace’?

Firstly I don’t get too bothered about terms.  As long as there is a common understanding between me and the people I am communicating and working with then that is fine with me.  But it does help if that understanding can be easily achieved using a term that is meaningful.

Digital workplace

I describe this simply as ‘Work is something you do, not a place you go to’.  In a digital workplace you can:

  • Work from any location or while mobile
  • Have the same or similar online experience
  • Collaborate, search, and complete tasks online
  • Choose what tools you can use to do this
  • Feel comfortable whenever you are using it
  • Be confident you can use it when you need to
  • Have a better work/life balance

There are other, more detailed, definitions that describe the digital workplace.

digital working

But isn’t that explained as well by the term ‘digital working’?  It removes any ambiguity about it only referring to office-based rather than field-based or mobile people’s ways of working.

Is it better and maybe more meaningful to use the active term ‘working’ rather than something passive like ‘workplace’?  Does the increasing use and influence of mobile working also mean we should consider using ‘digital working’ now?

Summary

What are your views on these terms?  What best suits how your people in your organisation now work?  Is it ‘digital workplace’ or ‘digital working’ that we should be using?  I would love to hear from you.

Selling the idea of mobile

I have the great privilege of delivering the keynote address on 13 November at the IntraTeam Event in Stockholm.  I will be showing delegates how to sell the idea of mobile to senior executives with examples of how a good experience along with a great plan can convince decision makers in your organisation.

This builds on previous posts on mobile which you may have missed before over the past year.  I have shared my presentation here for you to find out more mobile.

I am looking forward to meeting some old friends as well as make new friends during this conference.  If you can’t make the conference then you can follow on Twitter #IES13 to find out what is happening.

If you can’t make the conference but would like to meet up with me please contact me as I have some limited free time on 12 – 14 November while I am in Stockholm.

 

The digital workplace is for everyone (not just office-based workers)

In my last post ‘BT field-based workers use the digital workplace‘ I  talked about the benefits and drawbacks of people who work remotely adjusting to huge changes in the way they work.

It made me think of when I have discussed with clients or people at workshops or after presentations who had the view the digital workplace only affected people in offices or more specifically ‘knowledge workers’.  They were surprised this wasn’t the case.

So, let me say now very clearly (big drum roll please) the digital workplace is for all employees.  In fact it can extend to their customers, suppliers, and other third parties who they share a working relationship with.

A digital workplace’s prime aim is to help and support employees whether office, mobile or home-based, to be more effective.  That will mean being more productive – no delays finding what you need, completing tasks when you need, sharing knowledge online with other people – and effective so your organisation benefits too.

Examples of how other employees, not office workers, can benefit from using a digital workplace are:

  1. Retail staff using tablets to stock-take on products and order more.
  2. Retail staff at check-outs having latest news shown on equipment they also use for payment of products.
  3. Mining of minerals using vehicles and tools operated from remote locations away from the mining area.
  4. Meter readings for customers’ use of utilities e.g. gas, electricity, and water uploaded in real-time for bills to be created and issued while the person is still continuing to visit other customers.
  5. Parcel deliveries tracked using GPS by customer service to monitor and send updates to the delivery person’s mobile device.
  6. Field engineers able to use mobile devices to receive customer information before visiting and update with the outcome before moving on to their next customer.

These are just a few examples to illustrate the point I am making here.  The digital workplace affects all employees.  The level of impact will be different depending on the work but it is hard to think of work that is NOT influenced in some way by a digital workplace with news, collaboration, online tasks and processes.

What examples can you think of?

BT field-based workers use the digital workplace

I read Jane McConnell’s latest blog post ‘Floor-field workforce: the forgotten people?‘ with great interest.  I agree with Jane that office workers are currently the main focus for digital workplace transformations.  But there are some enterprises who lead the game for field-based workers.

It reminded me of when I was the BT intranet manager.  BT had employees who worked mainly from offices or while mobile or remotely from home or local hubs. I was involved in a project to give everyone, including field-based workers, access to BT’s intranet and developing digital workplace.  The project was seen as key to BT’s overall transformation as a business and was closely linked to wider strategic business priorities that included, higher customer service, improved employee productivity, and reduced office and travel costs.

The hardest part of this transformation was equipping all the field-based engineers who visited customers at their homes or places of work.  At the time BT had around 30,000 field engineers spread across the whole of the UK.  Some places were very remote and customers in difficult places to get to.  But this was not just a change of technology project.  It would bring about a huge change in how engineers worked and behaved with other team members, manager, everyone in BT and most importantly their customers.

Equipping every engineer with a laptop or smartphone with access to the digital workplace to upload and download customer progress reports and next job was expensive and technically complex.  The time needed to plan, test and implement for so many people didn’t encourage senior managers to commit easily to this project when quick results counted.  Because of these factors – cost, complexity, time to roll out – BT’s field engineers were the last group to be connected to the digital workplace.

To answer Jane’s point, the field-based engineers were not forgotten in BT but prioritised with everyone else because it wasn’t easy, quick, or cheap to achieve or for business benefits to be realised.

Before the transformation engineers would meet at the start of each day at one location to be given their work by their manager and to plan their routes from there to the each customer’s home or place of work.  They shared knowledge with their team members over a cup of tea before they started on traffic problems, technical tips, new products coming soon, etc.  Any news was given by their manager before they left for their first visit either individually or if appropriate together in an informal meeting.

After the transformation field-based engineers downloaded their first job (not their day’s work schedule) at home using their laptop and free broadband  connection to the online work tool in the digital workplace.  Travel was straight from their home to their first customer saving time and costs – there was no visit to their usual location at the start of each day.  When each customer’s visit was successfully completed the engineer uploaded this outcome to the online tool and be informed of the next customer to visit and what the work involved.  At the end of each day the engineers go home.  They were able to use the digital workplace to read the latest information about BT the same as everyone else.

As I said earlier it wasn’t just a technology project but more about changes to working practices which had been the same for decades.  It was very difficult for everything and everyone to benefit when this amount of change is made.  There have been many benefits but some drawbacks.

The biggest benefits were increased productivity with engineers able to go to their first customer visit straight from home.  The digital workplace was resilient and always available so the online tool could be trusted 24/7 to accept and provide work updates.  Customer service also improved with more flexibility in times for customer visits and quicker changes to work schedules.  Less buildings were needed with home starts with huge savings in costs.

Culturally for the first time in a long while field-based engineers felt part of the same BT team again.  Access to information and news on the digital workplace helped to remove a perception that they were missing out on important information affecting them.

But there were some drawbacks.  Engineers didn’t like the isolation.  It meant they did not see their team members for days sometimes and their manager less frequently.  Many found it hard to adjust to the new approach and considered leaving risking a huge loss of knowledge from BT.

BT has tried with limited success to replace the face-to-face sharing of knowledge with technology.  The limited time and lack of contact did not encourage a huge takeup with its impact on unsolved problems.  In my view tools like Yammer and Jive can supplement some face-to-face contact but they can’t completely replace the absence of it.

The inability to decide how to schedule their work brought a sense of disengagement and lack of empowerment that affected their job satisfaction if it did increase productivity.  A slow burning issue that needs to be resolved.

To again answer Jane’s point, the field-based engineers were connected with the digital workplace but it is not technology changes which are the biggest challenge but the human changes that need most attention.