ESN Horror Series Part II: ‘A Community Wiped Out Overnight’

By October 30, 2014Blog posts

Yesterday we heard about ‘The Headless Horseman of ESNs‘ – this was an enterprise social network launch that included all necessary body parts except the head! This was a leaderless rollout, which meant the project team had no legitimacy in the eyes of employees and staff were too scared to participate in something that wasn’t endorsed by their Director.

What a sorry tale….

Today we move on to hear about the perils that come from teams not working transparently – let alone together – on their technology rollouts.

‘A community wiped out overnight’

Once upon a time, the IT and Comms teams at a global engineering company were hard at work on plans to rollout new technologies and ways of working for the company. This was, however, taking place from their respective castles.

Global IT had recently invested in O365, heralding a new era for the company, where employees could now access information from the cloud at any time and place, from any device. Their focus was to get this new technology rolled out quickly and effectively to all employees and to ensure that any content and communities from legacy platforms were moved to the new toolset.

Global Comms had recently secured budget to manage the launch of the company’s growing Yammer network. This was a perfect opportunity to lead the successful rollout of a platform that Comms could add to its growing list of comms ‘channels’. Their goals were to establish clear ownership of the channel and plan out and deliver an effective promotion campaign and launch event.

IT were unaware that Comms were looking to formally promote this ESN and saw it as just another capability in the O365 suite. Comms was completely unaware of the O365 investment or that IT was planning technical deployment activities that would impact their project plans. Surely this was a recipe for disaster..

What Happened Next?

Following a successful launch of the network, with a number of product and sales teams eagerly pursuing their first phase use cases and sharing their successes, disaster struck only 2 weeks later. Unbeknownst to the Comms team, a separate Yammer network was being used by research teams across South America to avoid duplication of effort, share findings beyond immediate country teams and to improve research methods. They were using a separate network because these teams used a different email domain to the rest of the company. On the Wednesday their network disappeared and they were logged into a different network they did not recognise! Their virtual community and its previously shared conversations and documents had vanished into thin air!

Unfortunately for the South American teams their domain had been merged into the main network by IT without this team or the Comms team knowing. This was a huge disappointment to the research teams as well as a surprise to both IT and Comms. Not only had IT and Comms forgotten one another, but they’d completely overlooked the needs of the business.

Luckily for all involved, it was a huge wake up call that they must all work better together to make this a truly inclusive global rollout. The Comms team worked hard with the research teams to get them properly on-boarded onto the company’s main network and, given how advanced the research teams were in using the network, their arrival boosted overall network engagement levels, added more willing employees to the global champions network and provided an opportunity to showcase some fantastic success stories.

What could they have done instead?

  • The global Comms and IT teams could have reached out to one another early to understand if there were any mutual dependencies in their work
  • IT could have let all potential interested parties know that the company had invested in O365 and a global rollout project was on its way
  • Both IT and Comms should have engaged with lines of business early to understand their needs
  • A representative project team could have been formed and it could have set up a Yammer Group to collaborate with one another and make their activities visible to a wider number of stakeholders
  • They could have used their Yammer network to identify O365 champions across all lines of business and countries to lead in change efforts
  • The project team could have worked together to determine their desired network architecture and to adequately communicate to any to-be merged networks the change that was happening ahead

If you need some assistance in avoiding any of these pitfalls please reach out to us.

Author: Nina Pattinson

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