Launch - Best Practices

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Great! You purchased an employee community solution for your company. Congratulations, you are way ahead of many others. Now what? Purchasing was the easiest part of the process. Now it’s time to get your sleeves rolled up and launch a world-class social employee community. We made an attempt to document some of the best practices we have observed and experienced ourselves over the years with our customers. Here you go…

1.     Align with Company's goals and initiatives
 
Like any other new project in the company, employee community implementation has to align with the Company’s goals. It’s much easier and always successful when employees see the bigger picture and see the dots connecting to higher-level initiatives. Employees will be more willing to contribute and feel connected to the Company strategy.

2.     Secure Executive Sponsorship and Contribution
 
Find a senior executive willing to be proponent and passionate about leading by example. It’s critical that executives are talking about this in senior staff meetings and asking the rest of the management team to contribute. If you can have the management team start contributing to the content, you have guaranteed the success of your employee community implementation already. When an executive shares something with their team, asks a question or runs a poll, 85% of employees in his/her organization respond and want to be part of the conversation. There you have it…
 
  
3.     Wear your “marketing hat”
 
Launching an employee community for a large audience is very much like launching a new product to your customers. You have to act like a marketer and convince your employees of why this is good for them and the company. Get in front of them and talk about the upcoming employee community project. Print t-shirts, coffee- mugs and get your employees intrigued about the new employee community. Fascinate them with the vision and how things will be different after the launch. The only difference between you and a true marketer would be that you don’t have to lie.
 
4.     Stagger the Roll-out

Plan your rollout in a way that evolves within the organization and becomes viral. Get the innovators in the company to start using it first. They will embrace the change much faster and lead by example. Then target your early adopters followed by the early majority. If it’s not feasible to stagger the launch by user personality, go by departments or groups. Doesn’t matter what the groups are but it’s important to expand the users gradually and virally.
 
5.     Form a Champions group
 
It’s really critical to identify a set of early users that will help you with the rollout. They should be more like your extended project team who will facilitate conversations with the user community, get feedback and answer questions in casual settings. Identify champions from each team who are just like your users but they get special training on features, have all the support collateral and are willing to invest 5%-10% of their time for 3 months. Find ways to reward this champion group. Recognize them publically as well as with something of monetary value.
 
6.     Integrate with business processes
 
Find ways to integrate your employee community with business process so employees start their morning with Employee community. There are systems that are transactional in nature where users have to go to make a business transaction. And there is an employee community where people get access to an aggregated wealth of information from multiple areas in the organization. They don’t “have to” go to the employee community as first thing in the morning unless they are looking for something. Find ways to bring the processes into the employee community to drive higher adoption.
 
Examples of business processes would be:
- PTO Form available under HR site
- Helpdesk access from IT section 
- Applications launch links
- Marketing collateral available under Marketing site
- Sales discount approval notifications under Sales
- Big Sales deal announcements on the home page
 
7.     Plan for content maintenance
 
The social nature of the employee community helps people collaborate and lets them publish information on their own. On the contrary, it’s very natural for the overall employee community to get a little messy and unorganized overtime. Plan for recurring (quarterly) review of content where you should archive old content or anything that doesn’t meet your standards and brand requirements. This is the time where few users might need a polite “nudge” and reminder on standards and content policies. You will have to play “Content Cop” once in a while to make sure the employee community stays valuable with accurate and appropriate information.
 
8.     Other great ideas
 
- Give the project a new and exciting name, or have a naming contest to create excitement. Re-brand Simpplr with that name
- Define content standards (Do’s and Don’ts)
- Employee community training as part of the New Hire induction program
- Make employee community a starting point for New Hire
- Define clear ownership with the project team, roles, and responsibilities
- Don’t force it on users, let them adapt and embrace it at their own pace
- Breathe a ton of Oxygen and go for it!!!

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