Vision Modern Workplace

Business User Centric

Introduction

We strongly believe that every Modern Workplace implementation needs to have the Business User in mind every step of the way.

A successful implementation always incorporates:

  • Adoption to truly embed the workplace in your organisation
  • Architecture and Technology based on business requirements and good practices, all documented in a design
  • A Project Approach that focuses on quality, budget, timelines, assumptions and risks

Adoption

Adoption puts the business user at the center. It is important that they experience the benefits of the new technology so they use its fullest potential. Using the right communication, in form, content and frequency, guides the user in the journey towards the Modern Workplace. Training, ranging from Quick Reference Cards and Videos to Lunch and Learn Sessions, ensures the business user has a jumpstart in using capabilities offered by the new modern workplace and that usage will grow even after the implementation. Additionally, we are always looking for the ‘fun factor’ the Modern Workplace offers.

Project Approach

We use an ‘Agilfall’ based project approach. This means a waterfall planning at high level for the major milestones in the project so that expectations of (senior) stakeholders can be properly managed while at execution level Agile, supported by either Microsoft Project for the Web or Azure Boards, is leveraged for flexibility in which the project team can thrive.

In the Projects we do the Project Management approach at minimum focusses on managing expectations, deliverables, planning, budget, risks, assumptions, issues and decisions

Architecture and Technology

When Eden Akers does a Digital Workplace Project, we believe in the “Design with the End in Mind” credo. That is why our Projects always have a Design Phase, where Business Requirements of our Clients meet Microsoft good practices and good practices that we have learned over the years, such as “don’t change a default setting unless there is a business reason for it”. Need help with gathering those Business Requirements? No problem, we have experience.

3 key success factors

Experience has thought us that Modern Workplace Projects are successful when the following 3 success factors are taken into account:

  • Putting Business Users, not technology at the heart of the Digital Workplace. Invest in understanding their requirements and let those drive your Digital Workplace. An extensive Adoption Approach is also imperative
  • Reuse templates, models and methods build and optimized in previous projects
  • Don’t run a Modern Workplace Project as an isolated IT-project for the upgrade of Windows or the introduction of a new Office version. A Moderns Workplace is the foundation of your business ecosystem. Not having a proper modern workplace impair Innovative or even Business initiatives 

Our 6-phase project method

We use a proven 6-phase project model to safeguard a successful project assuring expected quality, budget and timelines. The phases are:

  1. Business Requirements and Solution Outline
  2. Position Technology and make Designs
  3. Governance, Change and Adoption
  4. Project Plan and Schedule
  5. Build and Test
  6. Run, Maintain and Drive Value

Key in this model is that each project phase:

  • Is executed and completed with one or more concrete deliverables or milestones 
  • Offers a Go / No Go stage-gate moment
  • Is FIXED (Time and Budget) if possible

1 Establish Business Requirements and create Solution Outline

In this phase the Business Requirements of the various organizational groups are gathered in the form of Functional and Non-Functional Requirements. These will be used to drive the solution and mirror against the outcome of the build phase. It is also the phase where the architectural principles and definitive technology choices are made. The primary deliverable of this phase is as Solution Outline sketching the products and services that are going to be delivered in an architectural overview that shows the technical building blocks.

2 Address Standards and Policies, establish Technology Positioning ("Which tool for what") and create Designs

Now that it is clear what needs to be delivered and which boundaries drive the delivery it is time to look at applicable organizational standards and policies. Which ones are in place and need to be adhered to and which ones might still be missing and need to be created.

This is also the phase where a potential overlap in services available for the business user is being addressed. Having multiple tools or locations for the same work can be confusing and may lead to difficulties in finding information. Also, as important input for the Adoption efforts a so called “Technology Positioning Paper or Infographic” is created to help support unified ways of working within the organization. To give an ample example; in Microsoft 365 OneDrive, Microsoft 365 Groups, Teams, Yammer and SharePoint all offer users locations to store files…

3 Focus on Governance, Change. Address Adoption and with that Communication and Training

This is the most important phase of the project as this phase addresses something you can’t buy with money; how sustainable are users going to use the outcome of the project. Do they understand why the change is happening and see what benefits the change has for them? Is the project capable of educating users in a way they will grow their usage of the newly introduced capabilities. What ways are there to measure this in an objective way from a consumption perspective, but more importantly from a user satisfaction perspective.

In this phase a Communication Plan and Training Plan is developed alongside with mobilizing Stakeholders, Power Users, Champions, Ambassadors, etc. all with the goal to leave behind a sustainable project result that will be leveraged and add benefits even long after the project itself has finished.

Good Governance, which is simply put making agreements on how to use the services and looking at ways to technically enforce these agreements, precedes great Adoption. From the many projects Eden Akers has done, we learned that it is a (very) good practice to adopt Governance and Governance measures, before bringing services or products live, as it is also a Good Practice to do the same for your Security measures.

4 Create Project Plan including firm budget and project schedule. Setup RAID management.

A pragmatic yet thorough project plan will not only help to stay in control over quality, budget and schedule but is also pivotal in stakeholder management and having an unambiguous view on what needs to be done, why and when for everyone involved. Project Governance and Mandate is addressed and working agreements on dealing with RAID (Risks, Assumptions, Issues and Decisions) is defined. A High-Level Schedule is setup to support Stakeholder Management and a Sprint Approach is defined for the operational teams to work agile on the agreed deliverables and milestones.

This is also the phase to engage with the Run-and-Maintain organization to make agreements on the hand-over of the build products and services to business-as-usual. It is important that these agreements are make in a SMART manner, preferably in the form of a check- or task list that the Project Manager or Scrum Master can use to manage the workload for the Project Team.

5 Build, test and validate with a Proof of Concept. Optimize with a Pilot before doing Production

After a proper design, based on the Functional- and Non-Functional (Business) Requirements, the build phase starts. Parts of the build, in the form of (semi-finished) products can and will be validated in a proof-of-concept. This is for the Adoption teams also a first opportunity to see the changes that are coming to the users in real life.

When the deliverables are finished and the new product or service is ready, acceptance testing can take place. In our experience it is important to mold the acceptance testing approach based on a test plan where usage scenarios are described with their expected outcome and then use the actual acceptance test to validate expected outcomes against real live behavior of the product or service. This will prevent all kinds of arbitrary discussions to become part of the acceptance test phase and introduce negativity at the project team.

As a last step a Pilot can be executed with a part of the organization that can be classified as “friends of the show”. A Pilot is a final Pre-Production test and therefore should mimic the Production Situation in all areas; Solution, Architecture, Technology, Adoption, Communication and also Business as Usual Support. To give an example; a Pilot user should be able to call the ServiceDesk during a Pilot and the ServiceDesk should be fully equipped to help and support the Business User.

6 Run, Maintain and Drive Value

The Project has handed over the built product and / or services to the Run-and-Maintain organization so that the “Business-as-Usual” phase can start.

Opposed to the past, in a modern cloud world this is no longer a static phase where products and services are only patched and / or updated with minor versions. In this phase the organization needs to continue to drive value out of the made investment done earlier. This requires planning through the previous phases plus ongoing operational excellence. We recommend increasing adoption over time by leveraging tips and tricks emails to reinforce skills development, continue conversations on best practices and new features, continuously share success stories showing how people are using the new products and / or services, periodically host additional engagement events and set challenges and run competitions to celebrate how people best use the new functionality.

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