User Solution Empowerment (USE) for Unified Communications
User Solution Empowerment (USE) services can help your end-users gain the confidence and knowledge to use your collaboration technology more
User Solution Empowerment for Unified Communications
How to get everyone to use your UC collaboration technology
- What is it?
- Main goal
- Why is it important?
What is User Solution Empowerment?
User Solution Empowerment (USE) helps your employees adopt collaboration technology with greater speed and effectiveness through customized processes, tools, and techniques. With the help of certified change management professionals, you can directly influence and improve:
- User behavior
- Product and technology use
- Organizational adoption
See Figure 1 for more details
Figure 1: Benefits of USE
Unforeseen common scenarios
When collaboration technology is purchased, many organizations assume that increased productivity and employee engagement will follow. Yet, often it doesn’t. What IT organizations fail to realize is that many times, they make several assumptions that influence the new deployment’s success, including:
- Mistaking potential value with actual value at the point of purchase (i.e. customer use cases are much harder to attain than originally anticipated)
- Underestimating the difficulty of enacting enterprise-wide change
- Failing to get executive leadership to use the new technology
The standard IT mentality of “if we build it, they will come” haunts many teams, but it doesn’t have to. In fact, often it’s not the IT department’s fault when the technology doesn’t return its investment immediately. End users are complicated: many don’t like change (even if it’s for their own benefit). They may not want to learn new things and can be hard to convince. But the truth is, you need to make it easy for end users to adopt and use the technology, otherwise you’ll be perplexed over the low adoption rates.
Think about it: when your technology becomes easy to use and people see immediate results, more people use it. When more people use the technology, including senior leadership, the actual value of your investment is realized (i.e. full potential for the technology is achieved) because it’s helping to simplify people’s lives.
The hard part is making it simple for people, which entails properly communicating the technology’s value, demonstrating its effectiveness, and giving people the opportunity to ask questions and learn on their own.
Common challenges faced
When the technology is not easy to use, the following can occur:
- Employee resistance to change
- Inadequate sponsorship
- Lack of project management
- Additional costs and resources
- Poorly defined use cases
- Gaps in team skills
- Lack of a compelling case for change
Almost always, the aforementioned symptoms of poor employee usage result from an ineffective change management program, leading to common results (see Figure 2)
Figure 2: Common results due to lack of proper change management strategies
When should you consider USE?
When should I consider USE?
Investing in a change management solution to supplement your collaboration platform upgrade or purchase isn’t always a natural, primary thought. Instead, most IT organizations focus on how to implement their new solution properly, making sure the technology itself works as planned. Yet by doing so, the people who use the technology are often left behind, causing a disassociation with the new solution. Usually, you can notice this by paying attention to certain qualitative and quantitative aspects of the new technology:
- What users say about it (both verbally and through formal feedback)
- How users interact with it (i.e. how users address specific use cases)
- How quickly users adopt it (and continue using it)
- Time spent per user on it
- Leakage rate (rate of people reverting to the old technology)
- How easy it is to access helpful guides for learning it
It’s easy to fall into a reactive strategy, but you’ll know when it is a good time to invest in a change management program. Signals include:
- When your employees:
- Are still using multiple, competing collaboration technologies
- Don’t understand how to use your collaboration technology
- Are resistant to change
- When you notice:
- Employee usage is low
- Employee productivity hasn’t changed
- Senior leadership isn’t using or supporting the new collaboration technology
At the point of purchase is the best time to implement a change management strategy. Goals should be to:
- Alleviate the possibility of end users shifting their behavior after a poor first introduction
- Sync with the introduction of the product to improve awareness and keep interest high
- Provide immediate answers to employee questions using the technology
- Phases and timeline
Common engagements last between three and 12 months, depending on the type of package you invest in.
Though custom scoping is available, the timeline usually remains within the same range. See Figure 3 for more details.
Figure 3: Scoping options and timeline overview of the USE process
Figure 4: USE process phases
The process itself consists of five stages, each with its own set of activities and deliverables (see Figure 4)
Essential internal stakeholders, such as IT management and business executives, will need to allocate a portion of their time early in the process to clearly define:
- Current technology use cases
- Goals of the new technology
- Gaps of the current technology
- Likely obstacles to prevent success
- Common behaviors of the organization’s end-users
- How to best address end-users
Characteristics of User Solution Empowerment (USE)
- Differences between Adoption services at Cisco
- Cisco's simplified approach
- Common deliverables
Figure 5: Technical adoption services versus user adoption services
Understanding the differences between Adoption services
User Solution Empowerment is considered an Adoption Service at Cisco, but it differs from an adoption service, in that the IT organizations interact with Cisco® experts after their purchase in many ways. (See Figures 5 and 6).
Figure 6: Types of Adoption services roles
Customers are often familiar with a technical adoption service, as they interact with the software support specialists seen in Figure 6 constantly during their onboarding process. Yet, they’re often not aware of the adoption service that focuses on change management (i.e. USE), and how it can improve how users use the technology because it is an additional add-on service that requires extra budget and approval.
Cisco's simplified approach
USE consolidates all the aspects of an effective change management approach seen in (Figure 7).
Figure 7: Cisco change management components
Deliverables of a successful USE engagement include the following in Figure 8.
Figure 8: Common deliverables in a USE engagement
Emails, QRGs, training, and any sort of visual aid are the most effective deliverables for multiple reasons:
- Everybody relies on email for communications, so it’s an easy way the USE team can get the message out to all employees
- QRGs always seem to be a priority for self-service reference materials; thus, they’re easily consumable. More importantly, these deliverables are usually easy to find, so people don’t have to research very far to find essential information. Most people are busy and collateral should be supported to accommodate for this challenge
- Training is needed to show user the breadth and depth of what the new technology can do, and to give them an opportunity to see and ask questions
Common deliverables that are usually left out of the beginning of an engagement include:
- Use case workshops
- Onsite support
The reasoning behind this is that companies often assume that the primary deliverables (i.e. emails, QRGs, training) are sufficient enough to influence the majority of people to properly use (and continue using) the new collaboration technology. However, what many business executives find is that end users are much more resistant and need more assistance than expected. And when this realization occurs, these other deliverables are often added to provide the necessary support.
One other thing to consider from a change management perspective (and what many IT organizations doing this on their own fail to recognize) is discovering how people best learn. Ahead of creating any collateral, USE teams always assess an organization’s current way of working and learning.
All the collateral that is created for customers is based on the behavior of the people and not necessarily the technology. Thus, to suit all types of learners (i.e. visual, kinesthetic, and auditory), USE teams often create several types of collateral in different formats so that end users can extract the same opportunities for learning.
How many times have you been through a change management process?
- 1-2 times
- 3-5 times
- 6 or more times
Can't I do this myself?
- When it can be worth it
- When it shouldn't be worth it
When you should and shouldn't do this on your own
When addressing adoption, it is important to remember that the primary focus is helping people adopt the technology, not optimizing the technology itself for people to more easily use. Our success is derived from years of change management expertise, which has helped us implement effective solutions, regardless of our customer’s size, industry, or habits.
Knowing your employees’ current ways of working, thinking, and learning aid us in understanding how they use the current technology, for what specific use cases, and how you could best improve their adoption of collaboration technology, given Cisco best practices. Once accomplished, our USE teams can often map out specific organizational metrics and effective, tailored solutions to drive your employees’ future way of working, as well as define an end-to-end, custom approach to guide you towards success.
Unless your organization has a user experience team that understands the complexity of change and recognizes the transitional effect that can hinder a person’s comfort level during transition, you should appoint a change management expert. Otherwise, you risk further costs and resources that could prevent success.
In fact, according to Gartner research, those who do perform a change management approach on their own end up spending $32.5 million per $1 billion in revenue and average five percent worse performance ratings than the overall average. Further, only 1/3 of organizations have truly realized the full value of their UC&C investment.
On the other hand, a proper change management program in place can help employees be:
- Six times more likely to meet their objectives
- Five times more likely to stay on schedule
- Two times more likely to stay on budget
Technology: Unified Communications
Industry: Financial Services
A large American logistics and courier service provider recently decided to upgrade their Private Branch Exchange (PBX) phone system, both for its headquarters (HQ) location and for its air operations (AOC) locations. Its intention was to arm its executives and their assistants, along with air operators, with the ability to communicate more clearly through improved phone performance, features, and system security.
However, the company knew that with the additional features and functionality, many executives, executive assistants, and air operators could easily get confused and would have questions regarding how to use the new system properly. Recognizing this in advance, the company decided to consult Cisco’s User Solution Empowerment (USE) Adoption services team to help their employees understand the new technology and better use it to their advantage.
The phone cutover occurred within a short timeframe for both internal parties:
- HQ: 4,236 phones deployed and 350 analog lines moved over nine buildings and 28 floors in just under 12 days
- AOC: 815 phones deployed over five buildings in just three days
Cisco’s USE team collaborated with both its own stakeholders (i.e. account manager, system engineer, product support specialist, and business development manager) and internal stakeholders (i.e. executives, high-level managers, and IT) to understand the customer requirements, goals, and current use cases.
After identifying the initial considerations, the USE team quickly accessed the user metrics for the specific phones that were updated and conducted multiple internal interviews with important internal stakeholders. This helped the team deduce how specific users were actually using the phones and more importantly, what gaps were present between current and desired use case cases.
Once accomplished, the USE team was able to bring several tailored solutions that helped bridge current end-user capabilities with those that would help the company better accomplish its goals. These solutions were then delivered through a customized marketing and training campaign built to drive awareness and knowledge about the new phone system, which included customized, customer-branded:
- Posters designed to be hung in the hallways
- End-user training material, such as quick reference guides, how-to videos, and training decks
- Hosted virtual training classes
- On-site white glove support over several weeks to ensure issues and questions were resolved within a short timeframe
Over the proceeding weeks, end-users had enthusiastically praised the USE team for their efforts. Customer satisfaction was high, as indicated both through surveys and through direct feedback. In fact, one executive administrator remarked “It is so great that you are here helping us with this. Last time we received a new device, we were left to figure it out on our own.”
Moreover, an executive noted that with the last install, he experienced “bad VLAN, bad jacks, wrong sized cables, and an incorrect installation” and that this time around, the effort was much improved. Ultimately, the on-site white glove support effort proved to be the most successful, with approximately 20 percent of trouble/help-desk tickets avoided during the few weeks after the phone cutover.
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