All Jungles Begin with a Single Tree: Releasing SharePoint in Phases

This blog is the latest installment in Content Panda’s new series depicting a company’s journey to adopt Microsoft SharePoint. Catch up by reading last week’s post.   

After John, Christine, and the CIEWG SharePoint champions thanked David for his time, the group of five people sat together to figure out how they should ease the process foremployees to adopt SharePoint.  

“What if we just surprised them one morning and said, ‘Hey everyone, welcome to SharePoint! It will do these three things to make your work lives easier. Here’s a link to the training. Let us know if you have any questions,’” Bryan said. “The best way to get someone to learn to swim is to throw them into the deep end of the pool, right?” 

“No, that won’t work,” Christine replied as she jotted some notes on her legal pad. “People here have been used to working a particular way for years, if not decades. I don’t know how to swim. You couldn’t shove me into a pool and expect me to magically learn how to swim. I have too many years of viewing drownings and people struggling.” 

“So should we start with the departments with the oldest people and work backwards?” Gwendolyn asked. “If younger people will adapt faster, maybe we need to spend our time focusing on the ones who will have a harder time.”  

The group continued to argue about a phased versus big-bang approach for a half hour before John finally brought the group to silence. “Look guys, when we tried to roll out Lotus Notes to everyone at once, it was a giant disaster,” he explained. “It’s not just about expecting people to learn and adapt – think about all the questions we will get from 25,000 people. You all will not have the time or capability to answer those questions, and neither will my IT team. We have to do a phased approach. End of discussion. 

“You know what? I have a new hire starting in two weeks and she’s part of a training class,” Kathy said. “New hires are the most energetic and optimistic to try new things – they’re switching companies after all. Maybe we start with the new hire group. As with anything new, we will be asked questions we didn’t expect, have glitches we didn’t account for, and find opportunities to improve our plan for the more tenured CIEWG employees. If we roll out to this group first and then assess results, we can adapt and iterate before we deploy the next wave a couple of weeks later, so on and so forth.”  

Using the new hire class starting in two weeks as a starting point, the group began to whiteboard how they could phase out over a two month period to every department – allowing time to assess, iterate, and adapt so they would not make the same mistakes over and over again.  

After taking a break for dinner, the group decided to stay through the night until they finished their plan. “What we need now is a structured approach to communicate to everyone. You think we can just send an email at once and then contact individual teams later?” John asked Kathy.  

“We can’t just send a company-wide email announcing the launch of SharePoint and expect it to have a maximum, lasting effect,” Kathy said as she rose to take over the whiteboard. “We need a multi-faceted plan that supports our entire launch.” 

Kathy drew a table on the whiteboard and split it into four sections: Target Audience, Communication Vehicles, Topics, and Cadence/Timeline.  

“First, we need to identify all of our target audiences – executives, department heads, associates, partners, et cetera,” Kathy said. “Then, we match up these audiences to the different ways we’ll communicate to them – email, flyers, videos, lunch-and-learns, posters, and more. We need to blend in-person and virtual communications to have maximum impact. Third, we identify the topics for each of these communications, and lastly we need to have a timeline to ensure we’re not bombarding people with the same messages they’ll begin to ignore.”  

Kathy and the group then brainstormed how to fill in each of the sections of the table. She took a picture of the communications grid on her phone so she could transpose it onto a PowerPoint for John and Christine to pitch to Andrew, the SharePoint executive sponsor, for final sign-off.  

“We need a mascot,” Bryan said as he took a selfie to post on Instagram with the hashtag #grindallnight. “Some visual that encapsulates what we’re trying to accomplish and brings some fun to this. Let’s be honest. This on the surface doesn’t seem like a lot of fun.” 

“How about we use Hope the Panda as the mascot?” Gwendolyn chimed in. “Her example of survival, humor, and consistency could drive the message home to our CIEWG associates that they too can adapt to a new way to live at the company the way Hope has at the zoo.” 

The group agreed and went their separate ways for the night. Kathy went upstairs to her workspace to finish the PowerPoint while John and Christine set up a time the next morning to go over the communication and roll-out plan with Andrew. Now that the project was deemed a strategic driver to CIEWG, they had a direct line to his schedule.  

Tune in next week to find out how John and the team implement SharePoint training that will actually make an impact for CIEWG associates. Can’t wait? Watch our on-demand recording, Leap and the Net Will Appear: Risk and Reward in the World of SharePoint, now.  

*While the story mirrors a typical SharePoint deployment, the people, places, and company names used are all fictitious. No pandas were harmed in the making of this blog series, either.