Moving office tools into the cloud is an opportunity to harness hidden talents within your organization. As an awakened organization you gain the ability to flatten bloated communication structures, enrich collaboration practices and increase real-time information sharing across your community. Moving to cloud tools is much more than a tech upgrade and should be driven by the business leadership team not IT. You will probably find your head-office communication approach shifting from centralized one-way data cascades towards interactive in-field shared learning experiences. Its an exciting ride, so hold on tight and get ready for fun and merriment.

Deciding on Google for Work or Office 365 quickly gains leadership focus on the wider choices being presented on how best to evolve business practices and IT management across the enterprise. The goal being to significantly optimize business productivity and minimize workforce frustrations.

Use of cloud tools to meet the office communication need is the defacto way forward. The choice is how well you choose to embrace this fact.

For a turbulent free switch over to online SaaS (Software as a Service) office tools, your teams will need help getting ready, being kept informed, gaining intuitive training, going live and then living beyond. As they progress along this fast moving path, they will adopt new ways of working, abilities to unlearn old file transfer habits and self-encouragement to build new behaviors. The good news is light from this change initiative is worth the business effort needed and your people will feel more engaged in their ability to carry out knowledge-driven roles. Look for “this is a good change” epiphany lights clicking on in people as they start beginning to introduce new innovative opportunities into your business! Its also a great PR project for IT if handled correctly.

What is the key business outcome being sought?

The organization’s Leadership Team (LT) will need to actively consider, in advance of changes happening, how do we make our people ready to use the new online tools? It’s answer will need to contain a desire to 1) improve communication practices and simplify information sharing capability and 2) enable better tool-set updates at pace. Factoring in business value will be the key influence in choosing which vendor product and will be in direct correlation to the LT’s appetite for competitive revenue gains.

A large part of the benefit gain comes in recognizing the opportunity for creating open business integration practices. This leads to a step change in the way communication takes place. In this context, business integration is the ability to create continuous and easily digestible business upgrades, simply by selecting third party add on extensions as needed. The ROI from easier business integration significantly increases the obvious vendor management benefit of IT being better able to control ongoing patch and upgrade cycles.

To ensure sustainable success, the LT will need to factor into their ongoing change manifesto that after transition, things will operate different for their people. Whether that’s good different or just IT change different, will directly depend upon product delivery and the LT’s level of sponsorship and involvement across their teams during depolyment. Switching to SaaS based productivity significantly impacts the way people think, operate and interact. All of a sudden the business stops surviving its IT and start thriving because of its technology.

Migration success depends as much on re-gaining control of distribution lists and shared public folders as the data and technical migration work.

With new tool learning in progress, migration switch-over success will also depend on re-gaining control of the record management relating to distribution lists, email addresses and the multiple ways public shared folders are utilized between different business teams prior to the actual switch-over. LT have a key role to promote people embracing the inevitable shift towards mobile-centric and browser app driven work practices.

As unity in the business community grows in the approach towards switch-over, a wave of business innovation and engagement growth will occur. This innovation wave needs proactive nurturing to ensure sustainable ROI from the revised work practices being adopted. Old work habits die hard, so keeping the excitement and momentum for learning, sharing and winning together will need to be embraced by all.

IT has to adopt and promote its new role in the world of SaaS technologies, that of Enterprise app Integration specialist.

The world of mobile ‘always on’ work practices is here to stay. SaaS tools strenthen this model significantly. Our millennials and most of Generation Z, have always been online. The new norm, is to challenge status quo in the way things get done. From the introduction of the Blackberry 850 in 1999, a basic monochrome email device (yes I had one), to today’s smart data driven phones, organizations have all been progressively moving their work force onto the modern mobile information platform. Reason being is in the drive to help us all become more responsive and collaborative in our shared work efforts. Welcome to the world of SaaS

Setting up for success

Switching to a SaaS office tool set can be made a lot easier if a number of pre-planned actions are taken to help your people enjoy the journey and ease in the transition.

  1. From the start, ensure your HR and learning departments are working as a virtual project team with the IT people, to bridge the chasm between the new tool-set and existing work practices.
  2. Make the change project purposely fun, encourage motivation through gaming techniques with reward incentives. Set out to create a strong sense of organizational unity through fun.
  3. Train your IT staff to a recognized level of certification and or find a Business Technology partner who will guide your administration and set-up efforts for the first 6 months. This will allow your people time to familiarize themselves with best-in-class work practices.
  4. Plan for regular communication drop-in  sessions to answer all manner of questions i.e. from initial concerns about how it will be impossible to change, to how do I share this amazing new way I have just found for getting stuff done.
  5. Start preparing your business teams with repeatable hands-on learning workshops. Have sessions ready that introduce the tools one by one and then as complementing and integrated tool-sets. Reward and recognize people’s learning efforts. Remember people like to learn at different paces and in different ways so make it fun.
  6. Establish practices to maintain good data records to ensure a high level of validated quality.
  7. Move the tech team over first to the SaaS platform to give them opportunity to iron out parallel running issues with email between the as-is system and the new to-be tool-sets.
  8. Identify tool-set ambassadors in each business unit who are natural early adopters and self-motivated to help empower and support their co-workers. Its a great people development opportunity
  9. Have ready individual ‘white glove’ learning schedules for your time poor and busy executives. They will need hand holding and their Executive Assistants will need support in setting up areas like email delegation and offline working. If the EA’s are happy the effect will be infectious on the rest of the organization
  10. Set up an online user community to capture ‘how to’s’ and rantings! Encourage people to share how many days clean they are in using only the new tool-set to get their work done and to share their experiences and frustrations along the way. Its therapeutic and friendship forming knowing others also have adoption issues.
  11. Agree the mobile apps and browser extensions available on Day 0 +1 and beyond. Make sure to have an easy to use learning reference site.
  12. Recognize your switch over date as a day for celebration. Prepare people to have additional time to spend learning the new tools through play. Have tool ambassadors on hand and on location to help launch day.
  13. Continue for several weeks after go live with regular communication updates, shared learning and drop in clinics. Encourage people to share best ideas of the week and reward the spirit of innovation.
  14. After the switch-over euphoria has died down, sample staff regularly using the new tools to collect current user feeling and experiences towards tool-set adoption. There is a whole next level of learning experiences that starts to appear after about a month. Make sure to tap into this occurrence.
  15. Ongoing, work to highlight areas needing quick learning focus, keep the spirit of innovative thinking alive and ensure your people don’t suddenly feel abandoned.

Life after go-live

About 2 – 4 months after go-live, subtle yet significant differences will begin to emerge in work practices as teams share their innovation successes. Some of the more common examples are

          • Communication and information sharing between staff and customer will have adapted and evolved rapidly using the new real time, multi user, information focused tools.
          • Depending on tool-set chosen, the product will be providing a seamless and open business gateway to the rich world of App Stores and online business services. Have a way to capture and communicate the third party apps that have the right practical value and the ones that cause more pain than pleasure.
          • New features from the vendor will now be introduced using continous drip feed practices, the days of upgrades patching and major releases will fast become a distant memory.
          • IT has to adopt and promote a new role in the world of SaaS technologies, that of being the Enterprise Integration specialist. Failing to recognize this business need and being ready to help others will force other departments to establish their own shadow IT practices to get things done.
          • Staff will report to feeling empowered with their working environment. The pace for innovative thinking will step up. Communication efforts to choose which new ways of working need to be shared and made available enterprise wide will need to be established
          • Business Users will become passionate about open extendability through rapid third party vendor integration.
          • Through the extended social media tools and interest communites they provide. the leadership team will now have the opportunity to use a more open and instantaneous channel to listen to and respond to questions from all their people i.e. rapid and direct response to questions posted to them

Our last suggestion is to set a review date for a year after switch-over day. Plan the business time to examin how communication and information sharing best-practices have evolved. Have this review exercise lead by the original education and learning team. The results will pleasantly surprise the Leadership Team and re-affirm why the organization went SaaS. Good Luck!

In summary, whether through desire for competitive gain, better business integration or due to a need to update out of date tools, the net result is the same. Afterwards your operational workforce will be demanding faster cross app integration services e.g. single sign on, and greater flexibility to choose new business functional add-ons. Be prepared!

To learn more about Six Factor’s ability to help you move to SaaS office tools, visit www.sixfactor.com or email [email protected] to request a free consultation.