Start Simple, Add Later

In one of the previous blog articles (Introducing Lean Communications), I explained how lean communication can improve the way organizations work. This approach must also be applied to the deployment phase by making it as incremental and simple as possible.

The adoption of a new UC system must be supported and required by one or more key users, usually managers of departments inside a company. These key users must support the adoption by understanding the advantages.

The role of key users is very important, and they must be involved in all steps of the platform introduction. Key users, before and after the deployment, must collect important feedback from other users and create requirements for the UC solution.

First Deployment

Small deployments will require less preparation work and tuning, as all users can be easily informed and there will likely be less requirements. Large organizations will require more time in the preparation period.

Since the new UC solution will replace the existing PBX, a first version of the system must be deployed and must support all the main features the users were accustomed to. Any features that will stop working must be identified in advance, and the users must be informed of possible alternative solutions to achieve the results they need.

All other advanced features, that will be available after introducing the new UC solution, must be listed and prepared but not deployed all at once. Instead, these advanced features should be initially offered only to key users for Beta testing.

Before the deployment:

  1. Prepare a full list of features being used by interviewing key users inside the organization.
  2. Prepare a demo of the new UC system to show key users how it works.
  3. Get feedback from #2 and use it to finalize the configuration.
  4. Prepare documentation and train key users inside the organization (team managers for example and/or the internal IT department).

To “start simple” means to start with the smallest possible subset of features that allows users to work. On day 1, after the deployment of the new system, most users will simply need a system working as identical as possible to the old one.

Continue Improving

Consider that, after the initial deployment, a few days will be needed to correct and improve the configuration. It is important to inform users, in advance, that little problems could appear, and to give them ways to provide feedback about possible problems or requests.

After this first part is completed, we can focus our energy on providing the new UC features to key users.

Standard features such as IM, conferencing, and mobility apps are simple to deliver. In any case, key users must be involved to make their introduction effective. For example, key users can identify that:

  • Some groups of users do not need these services
  • Documentation and procedures must be created to provide instructions for using the new tools

In this phase, it is necessary to proceed step by step in applying PDCA (Plan–Do–Check–Act Plan–Do–Check–Adjust) cycles:

  • Plan: with key users, prepare the clear goals they expect to achieve. A plan must not be an activity (such as “add call center wallboard”), but rather a result they want to achieve by implementing a tool. In the case of a call center wallboard, the goal is to reduce the number of calls out of SLA.
  • Do: implement the plan.
  • Check: study the actual results. This will usually require a few days and the collection of statistics to see how the situation has improved. Did everything go as expected? Can any improvements be applied?
  • Act: if we have an improvement, the changes must be applied and the resulting UC system will be the starting point for applying the next cycle. Elements found during the Check phase are important when setting new goals in the next cycle.

Key users should be given the tools to modify the configuration of the UC system and apply changes themselves, when needed.

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(No) Value in Unified Communications
by Dimitri Osler

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