Enterprise Technology Engagement
Ask anyone involved with technology implementation, and they’ll tell you that the most frequent cause of failure is to strategically and consistently address the people issue.
Since the dawn of the office technology era, one of the most overlooked elements in its development and implementation is the need to engage the people who use it. This shouldn’t be surprising, since the people who manage ISO 9001 and 15 other standards did not strategically address the human factor in standards implementation until about 2012. In technology, User Experience designers and engineers work tirelessly to maximize the experience and ease of use, but when it comes to the installation of a major new customer relationship management system, inbound marketing platform, document approval process, enterprise operating system, training or recognition system, developers will admit that failure to address the human issues almost always explains a poor deployment.
Unlike an organization’s customers, its employees (and sometimes distribution partners and vendors) often have to use a company’s technology to do their jobs. They don’t have the choice of going to another website to shop or do business with someone else. The degree to which the organization achieves the intended goals of a technology deployment is based almost entirely on the degree to which employees or other stakeholders engage in its ongoing use.
Here’s how the Enterprise Engagement framework, embodied in the Annex SL and ISO 10018 standards, is utilized to ensure the best possible outcomes for a technology deployment from the human perspective.
1. CULTURE, VALUES AND OBJECTIVES
The best place to start with planning any deployment is to determine specifically how the technology will fit into the organization’s objectives in a way that aligns with its culture and values. The author Simon Sinek calls this “addressing the why.” Whether it’s an accounting, logistics, inbound marketing, or any other platform, a technology is bound to affect the lives of employees and others in a material way. The degree to which the technology helps them not only affects their engagement with it, but also affects the overall view of your brand—nothing shouts incompetence better than flawed technology.
The outcome of this first step is a mission statement for the deployment clearly spelling out the goals and benefits to all stakeholders. If there are negative outcomes for some stakeholders, those should be addressed as well.
The technology deployment likely will fail without the buy-in and engagement of managers at all levels and in all groups. The deployment plan needs to include a strategy, not only to involve leadership at all levels but to ensure they are equipped to support their teams with training or reaffirmation of the intended benefits of the deployment. Support of front-line leaders is critical to achieving the best results.
3. ASSESSMENT AND FEEDBACK
Every deployment should include a process to evaluate the level of knowledge of, and engagement with, the vision of the technology and its intended benefits within the organization. This can include employee surveys at larger companies or face-to-face meetings. An ongoing feedback mechanism should be built into every process so that you can track obstacles to, or opportunities for, engagement.
4. THE AUDIENCES
Before finalizing the engagement plan, it is essential to map all the different audiences touched by the technology—their locations (home versus office), language, training, or other issues, as well as the best methods for training, communications and other ways to build engagement. It’s also beneficial to take into account any audiences that could be indirectly affected by the technology, whether or not they use it, in order to identify any potential unintended consequences.
5. THE ENGAGEMENT PLAN
Each deployment should have a written engagement plan with goals and objectives based on the above considerations. It should include the tactics below needed to address every lever of engagement necessary to connect involvement with outcomes on a sustainable basis. Remember that technology engagement is a never-ending process, so the engagement plan should be updated each year (or sometimes sooner) based on outcomes. When evaluating a technology contractor, it pays to ask them for their suggestions.
This plan will achieve the best results if managed with the help of a committee representing all audiences and skill levels, so that issues are anticipated ahead of development and implementation rather than when it’s too late. A facilitated process known as a “nominal group technique” uses a round-robin approach managed by an expert outsider to make sure that each viewpoint is aired and consensus built around key opportunities and potential barriers to engagement.
Your engagement plan should include clear goals and a return on investment. The goals should be quantitative and qualitative based on organizational priorities. The return on investment can be based on a formula as simple as the estimated economic value of the technology per year divided by the number of users. Or it can be measured in the estimated cost per employee for failure to use the platform as intended or measured in lost hours. If the company has an intended economic benefit to invest in the technology, it usually has an economic justification estimated in terms of dollars. That same formula can be used to adjust upward and downward the economic benefits based on the level of engagement with the technology, by how many people or by who.
Yardsticks generally include an outcome measure—i.e., the degree to which the goal was achieved, and behavior measures, the degree to which people used all the features, training, communications, or other support features. That way you can correlate outcomes with the actions implemented to achieve them.
Finally, make sure the plan includes an ongoing means of tracking progress and detecting obstacles.
6. COMMUNICATIONS AND COMMUNITY
The plan should include specifically how the vision, benefits and features of the technology will be communicated over time, using the appropriate combination of media. Whenever possible, communications should piggyback on whatever platform the organization already uses to share information. Success stories on the company Engagement portal, website or e-newsletters, as well as how-to articles and fun tips, should be part of the organization’s ongoing conversation.
The technology should be promoted in your organization’s news feed or other community in proportion to its importance to your organization’s success and should be an ongoing effort.
The more training that can be applied when employees need it, or the more fun you can make it for employees to train in advance, the better the outcomes. Training works best when offered precisely when the skills will be required so that the skills are reinforced, although that’s not always possible. Having self-guided and preferably gamified learning platforms to help employees train themselves is a powerful way to encourage people to prepare themselves in off hours. At the same time, the more technology can be deployed to deliver training when needed, the better the results.
8. INNOVATION AND INVOLVEMENT
The involvement process doesn’t stop at the planning phase, but should be baked into the deployment and ongoing organizational engagement efforts. All stakeholders should be regularly encouraged to provide feedback and suggestions throughout the deployment and beyond based on setting realistic expectations of what can and cannot be accomplished, and anyone who submits ideas should receive timely feedback and appropriate recognition and rewards based on the value of the contribution. If an organization already has an ongoing innovation and involvement platform, the technology should naturally be part of that process as well.
9. REWARDS AND RECOGNITION
When selected and presented as experiences distinct from compensation, and in programs that inspire everyone to up their game, rewards and recognition are a proven means to provide the support and fun essential to sustaining long-term engagement. Based on the results of multiple research studies, rewards and recognition should be integrated with the overall engagement process so that the focus is on the process and not the reward, which should be as personal and heartfelt as possible and in a form that will be long remembered and enjoyed by loved ones or colleagues. Rewards should be selected in such a manner as to highlight the actions or outcomes envisaged with the technology deployment, and so that the news gets communicated throughout the organization via word of mouth to reinforce the message and not get confused with compensation.
Rewards and recognition can be offered to those who actively help their colleagues, make meaningful suggestions; submit success stories or how-to tips for the company newsletter or website.
If every step of the Engagement Business Plan is followed, the immediate measures will come from tracking outcomes against the specific goals, actions and return on investment envisaged. The evaluation can include both quantitative and qualitative data, such as:
• Percent of people using the technology actively.
• Percent of intended features actively used.
• Number. of people and time spent using voluntary self-training.
• User survey results.
• Number of suggestions, complaints, comments posted, articles submitted.
• User satisfaction.
• Achievement of intended goals.
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Live Education: The Brand Engagement Conference
, June 18-20, 2019, Chicago, in conjunction with the Selling Power Sales 3.0 Conference. Learn a breakthrough, practical approach to enhance performance and stakeholder experiences at Selling Power's Sales 3.0 Conference, "Frictionless Selling," June 18-19, and "Enterprise Engagement in Action," June 20, at the Drake Hotel. Register now
In Print: Enterprise Engagement: The Roadmap 5th Edition.
The first and most comprehensive book on Enterprise Engagement and the new ISO 9001 and ISO 10018 quality people management standards.
Online: The Enterprise Engagement Academy at EEA.tmlu.org
, providing the only formal training on Enterprise Engagement and the new ISO 9001 and ISO 10018 quality people management standards. Provides preparation for professionals to support organizations seeking ISO 10018 employer or solution provider certification, as well as elective courses on Trade Show Engagement, Rewards and Recognition, Government, and other topics.
10-minute short course: click here
for a 10-minute introduction to Enterprise Engagement and ISO standards on Coggno.com
Services: The International Center for Enterprise Engagement at TheICEE.org
, offering: ISO 10018 certification for employers, solution providers, and Enterprise Engagement technology platforms; Human Resources and Human Capital audits for organizations seeking to benchmark their practices and related Advisory services for the hospitality field.
The Engagement Agency at EngagementAgency.net
, offering: complete support services for employers, solution providers, and technology firms seeking to profit from formal engagement practices for themselves or their clients, including Brand and Capability audits for solution providers to make sure their products and services are up to date.
C-Suite Advisory Service
—Education of boards, investors, and C-suite executives on the economics, framework, and implementation processes of Enterprise Engagement.
—Select the right speaker on any aspect of engagement for your next event.
Mergers and Acquisitions.
The Engagement Agency’s Mergers and Acquisition group is aware of multiple companies seeking to purchase firms in the engagement field. Contact Michael Mazer in confidence if your company is potentially for sale at 303-320-3777.
Enterprise Engagement Benchmark Tools:
The Enterprise Engagement Alliance offers three tools to help organizations profit from Engagement. Click here
to access the tools.
• ROI of Engagement Calculator. Use this tool to determine the potential return-on-investment of an engagement strategy.
• EE Benchmark Indicator. Confidentially benchmark your organization’s Enterprise Engagement practices against organizations and best practices.
• Compare Your Company’s Level of Engagement. Quickly compare your organization’s level of engagement to those of others based on the same criteria as the EEA’s Engaged Company Stock Index.
• Gauge Your Personal Level of Engagement. This survey, donated by Horsepower, enables individuals to gauge their own personal levels of engagement.
For more information, contact Bruce Bolger at Bolger@TheEEA.org, 914-591-7600, ext. 230.