March 11, 2021
You’ve spent months evaluating which platform is best for your organization to move to, all of the features and functions, security, integrations, technical details, and costs. You and your team have confidence that you have selected the right tool, and have a good plan for implementing it.
But if you build it, will they come?
Whenever we speak to customers about what went wrong in previous community implementations, I usually hear, “It wasn’t rolled out well.” Communicating why and the benefits of the change are essential for a successful launch, but knowing your audience, tailoring the message to each group and timing your communications properly will help you have the best chance of success.
Once your core team has selected a vendor and set a project timeline, it is a good time to begin communicating to executives and leaders across your organization. You will likely need resources from their teams to do some preparatory or housekeeping work outside of their daily responsibilities as you switch platforms, and they may also need to participate in training or champion related activities in the rollout.
Communicating the benefits to the company as well as to their individual strategies will go a long way in getting their buy in on the project. Sharing key date milestones will also help them feel informed and will help them cascade messages down to their teams.
Key talking points:
Having “the boss” believe in the benefits of your new platform and support it with their team is one of the biggest indicators of successful adoption. The earlier you can start communicating these changes to your leadership team the better. Depending on the size of your organization and the length of your implementation project, this could be 3, 6 or 9 months before launch.
Next, you will need to target the members of your community that are responsible for publishing content and/or managing different pages, sites or groups within your community. This group may have some substantial legwork that they need to do prior to launch, as well as be a key lynchpin in successfully launching out to end users, in the form of pre-migration housekeeping and post-migration configuration.
While getting the buy in with this audience and getting them excited about the platform is critical to having them be evangelists, they are going to be more excited or critical about the nitty-gritty technicalities of the new platform. This Power User group are the folks most likely dealing with bugs, annoyances and workarounds.
Communications to this audience should focus on the improvements that the new platform offers, how to achieve some of the same content, communications and collaboration outcomes, key project timelines, and how much time they should expect to spend preparing for launch.
Key talking points:
Staying very connected with this group is probably the most important thing you can do to ensure a successful launch. Having regular communications through a community specifically for migration preparations will help you answer frequently asked questions, share news, updates, and training materials, and build excitement as you get closer to the finish line!
Depending on the size of your organization, you will want to ideally start communicating with them 2-6 months before your launch date, and give them time to have their new spaces configured and completed 1-2 weeks before launch.
You are reaching the finish line, and now it is time to let your largest audience, your employees or end users, in on the changes that are coming! The goal with this group is to help them understand what is changing, how it will impact their daily work, and an understanding of their digital workplace and what tools they will be using to support enterprise collaboration, knowledge management, and news and announcements.
These communications should really focus on when they will see a change, how to access content they need to be productive, and any big changes in how they collaborate the new tool presents, and, aside from briefs from their team leaders about upcoming changes, should mostly happen closer to launch, within 1-2 months of launch.
Key talking points:
Be sure to have a dedicated help and support area within your site to store these materials, actively monitor and triage questions and issues, and keep the feedback loop open for any improvements or integrations that can be added to your digital workplace road map.
Lastly, listen, and thank your team for their input, patience and efforts to make your launch successful. Be sure to celebrate your organization’s successes after your successful launch, and then breathe a sigh of relief - after months of evaluating, careful planning, and communicating, you did it! Congratulations on your success!