Pain of change: How Nashua Communications demystified the Digital Transformation Journey using Skype for Business in a large municipality [CASE STUDY]

Posted by Freddie Potgieter on 13 Feb 2019 11:00:00 AM

With an excellent Adoption and Change Management strategy, we helped a local municipality to implement a technology strategy to save them both time and money.  

As part of the 4th Industrial Revolution, our South African ICT landscape has a clear understanding of Digitisation and Business Transformation. As a trusted unified communications expert, Nashua Communications proactively partnered with Microsoft to assist a large local municipality to demystify the Digital Transformation journey.   

The project goal was to prove that Skype for Business can assist in resolving departmental collaboration challenges (outlined in more detail below), save time and money, and increase adoption of an application where the usage measurement didn’t drive a positive return on that investment. 

Nashua Communications’ mission was to provide a unified communication and collaboration solution to both the people and the organisation as a whole. Showcasing the adoption side with the implementation of Microsoft Skype for Business in this large local municipality, also to understand their business objectives, deliver solutions that solve their challenges, and unlock the barriers to success.  

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, our aim was to add real business value by delivering an effective and open communications strategy, leveraging our comprehensive set of solutions and services in Converged Communications Technologies; ultimately driving Return on Investment and Value for our customer’s business. This was an exciting challenge. 

In this case study, we explore how we successfully implemented this project in a wide-spread municipality and worked to overcome internal resistance with our adoption and change management strategy.  

THE CHALLENGE TO THE LOCAL MUNICIPALITY 

The large local municipality we worked with has team members stationed often hours away from one another and yet they needed to meet regularly about projects, collaboration, and work progress.   

Without a sufficient collaboration solution, team members were spending hours and sometimes even entire days travelling for a meeting that might last an hour. This was inefficient both from a time - many unproductive hours were logged - and costs perspective, for example, time it takes to find parking in the city, walking from one building (sometimes 4 blocks away) to another.  

Fortunately, meeting in-person is often not necessary to reach the meeting goals and implementing a collaboration solution that allowed members to meet remotely without leaving their offices became a huge priority. This would allow the municipality to become more efficient, and to start showing greater return on investment for projects and lower costs overall.  

We were approached to improve a local municipality’s collaboration infrastructure and needed to roll out the solution amongst a select group of executives to showcase the strategy. With this in mind, 100 executives were selected to showcase the Skype for Business Proof of Concept. Once Skype for Business was successfully implemented with this group, the project would be rolled out across the entire municipality.  

The objectives of the Skype for Business Proof of Concept: 

  • Enhance the local municipality’s Unified Communications Services and Infrastructure;
  • In a meeting-heavy company culture, with team members often many hours drive away, to drive adoption of Skype for Business to save travel time and costs;
  • Increase productivity from anywhere on any device;
  • Simplify communications but still stay in control;
  • Increase collaboration with internal and external business partners;
  • To show and ensure a continued return on their investment. 

THE CHALLENGE TO NASHUA COMMUNICATIONS  

The challenges to implementing this new communication solution were multi-tiered.  

First of all, the initial requirement was to include 100 executives in the Skype for Business Proof Of Concept (POC) but on closer inspection we found: 

  1. These executives were spread over 19 buildings, which had a huge impact on the infrastructure used and the differing quality of the available networks. 
  2. They were all from different departments and departments collaborate within their own departments
  3. Their secretaries were not part of the POC, and since the personal assistants play a pivotal role in screening communication to the executives, it was challenging to showcase the full capabilities of the solution. 

Secondly, added to this was the fact that implementing change, in any organisation, is met by resistance. Resistance is a natural reaction to change and the question is not if you will encounter resistance to change, BUT how to encourage and support your employees through the change process and manage resistance to minimise the impact on the users and the organisation. 

Thirdly, network quality greatly impacted our service delivery and because of internal company culture, it was very challenging to overcome.  

  1. Certain floors had better network strengths than other floors.
  2. Client Licensing / Certification delay had an influence on strategy planning and needed to be realigned.

Because of these networking challenges, the end date for the POC had to be moved to accommodate further user and adoption experience.  

THE SOLUTION 

The technology: The initial project scope was to enable 100 users for Skype for Business Online, with 20 of the users to use PSTN Cloud PBX calling via the Mediant 800 CCE Appliance and the existing Cisco platform. With the successful a successful awareness campaign conducted and with the local municipality’s support it was decided to increase the amount of Skype for Business users installed. The change control was communicated, collaborated, and approved by the client’s executive management and Microsoft. 

Skype for Business was selected as the appropriate solution because its voice capabilities will help improve users’ productivity by utilising audio and video collaboration virtually from any device in real time.  

This will save the organisation travel cost and time, bring teams together, create communities within organisations, make teams work better together, include all parties required to make decisions and solve problems much quicker.  

However, this return on investment won’t be realised if users don’t embrace this application and include it into their daily habitual routines. 

Adaption (and user behaviour): This was a vital part of this project, and we ensured their Adoption and Change Management team was dedicated to this project.  

Elmarie Turner, the Adoption and Change Management (ACM) Practitioner at Nashua Communications, and the team, worked at implementing the communications strategy and successfully ensuring adoption in the organisation. She says, “An ACM’s role in any project is really to make a connection with the customer during the assessment phase, while delving deep to discover the golden facts, and to plant a seed of awareness which would inspire curiosity and the desire to be involved, to know more, to be a part of what’s coming…”.   

With the information gathered during the assessment phase, Elmarie designed a customisedACM strategy to align with the real people (classified as personas; grouping users based on similar business processes) in the organisation, their business use cases (defined by their different challenges and expectations in the different departments), and their expected outcomes. 

This Municipality adoption strategy included: 

  • Awareness- a communications plan to start the process correctly 
  • Online and Hands-on-Training plan to build knowledge, ability, and determine readiness for onboarding. 
  • A helpdesk plan for support 
  • Monitor and Feedback plan to provide a successful planning progress to determine resistance and areas where more guidance is required, and then to guide and support the stakeholders through the different phases and stages of the SFB implementation.  

The ultimate role of an ACM is to create a winning strategy and provide productive guidance to the stakeholders that will achieve the actual goal of creating awareness, persuasion, a desire, and to convince the users to adopt in such a way which results in habitual adoption where usersrealise the net benefit. Users need to realise what’s in it for them to fit this new way of communication and collaboration into their daily habitual routine without being instructed or forced. 

To implement this, Nashua Communications took a four-tiered approach:   

Phase 1 - Planning and Sponsorship 

Phase 2 - Communication: (Use phase 1’s outcome to strategise phase 2) 

Phase 3 - Training 

Phase 4 – Readiness and Adoption 

Elmarie worked with the stakeholders to customise her awareness presentation campaign by personalising it with real members of the client’s team. This created an ‘already in, part of the local municipality feeling’, encouraging the rest to want to also be a part of this project.  

Although the implementation was challenging, and clients had different experiences because of the different network quality supplied to different buildings and different floors, the customer still understood that this was an internal correction that had to be sorted. 

The support team guided the users with network issues to the Network Department who then sorted it out as and when reported. 

Said Elmarie, “When we first started, this was our first Skype for Business ACM project and we didn’t have much to work with.  Everything would be a first, but we had Microsoft Skype Operations Framework to guide us.  Although this was our first, we were driven and most importantly passionate to get it done.  Nothing was going to stop us from making our mark.” She continues, “We just stuck to what we’ve been known for and that is our attention to detail regarding always having the customer’s best interest at heart.  Keeping them informed of the plan, where we are, where we are going and how we will be getting there with daily, weekly and monthly meetings, measurements, feedback, reports and updates.”  

METRICS  

Not even a week into the project and we had already received positive feedback from Microsoft on behalf of the customer. That was all we needed to give us the confidence to push even harder. 

Says Elmarie, “We stuck to our values, bet everything on our belief in skills and simplicity as a service and against all odds, we followed the Skype Operations Framework of Plan, Deliver, and Operate to successfully apply change management at the right time, in the right way, to ensure user readiness for implementation of the collaboration application to the customer.”  

Risk management reports were used to identify any project blockers and the use of remediation steps and documents were successfully used to control and resolve any project issues. All project goals, objectives and deliverables were met and exceeded.   

Here are some of the results:

User adoption skype for business

User adoption results case study

IN CONCLUSION 

By following a successful Adoption and Change Management strategy, Nashua Communications was able to not only meet, but also exceed, client implementation expectations.  

Want to see the same results for your business? Contact us today and we'll help you choose the right collaboration solution and tool for your unique business needs and help your organisation adopt with ease.

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Topics: Case Study, Adoption and Change Management

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