Communications and collaboration are the lingua franca of successful organizations. Inboxes flooded with new documents “for review,” 24×7 chat sessions, or multiple back and forth trails of different document versions are a daily occurrence. In 2020, however, without the ability to walk to a colleague’s desk to collaborate face to face, companies have had to increase their investments in virtual collaboration resources to keep business moving — including through an IT champion program.
It is old news that the uptick in remote work has caused the unified communications (UC) and collaboration market to boom. For many companies, deploying and adopting a new UC or collaboration platform can be a long and complicated process for IT. This year was particularly challenging given the rapid migration forced upon organizations by COVID-19.
As new apps emerge on the enterprise desktop — whether through IT placement or end user independent adoption — IT is faced with a training dilemma. Doing nothing and allowing employees to implement Shadow IT solutions can push workers into worse behavior and create security risks as they start to use tools that companies know are insecure.
However, oftentimes IT doesn’t possess the budget or bandwidth for formal end user training. IT must be realistic and understand that if company provided platforms do not meet end user needs, employees are going to use other apps.
Once the business needs are well understood, IT may still be unable to directly assist employees. The next challenge is finding ways to support and enable the end user as a “substitute” IT admin. The answer is an IT champion program.
By recruiting IT champions, companies can empower efficient use of UC platforms amongst end users. Enabling these champions with key analytics and monitoring insights from software tools will allow IT to create an effective and personalized experience for end users. Additionally, a shift to cloud-based services creates a key opportunity for IT to enlist help from the business teams demanding these tools.
This is the basis for an effective and personalized champion experience for end users.
The Basics of an IT Champion Program for Unified Communications
Whenever IT implements a new UC or collaboration platform, the risk is that end users may not understand or even know about key elements of the platform. This can lead to employees feeling as if the platform is not a good solution for their team, and ultimately, low adoption.
A first step in enabling end users as their own administrators is implementing an IT champion program. This type of program empowers employees to get the most out of their UC platform by leveraging power users within the company to educate and assist other end users within their business team.
Identifying who in your company is a champion user can be difficult. Sometimes this is achieved simply through word of mouth, or by asking team leaders who within their team fits the bill. However, you can use your UC and collaboration platform monitoring software to make this process easier. Look for employees who are frequent users of your UC platform and don’t tend to have many technical issues.
Champions are subject matter leaders within their business team or organization, and act as an extension of the IT department. They have embraced the current UC or collaboration platform and become experts in its usage. Utilizing and enticed by additional insight about their organization’s performance provided by IT, they must be willing to invest their time and skills to help other users achieve certain adoption or productivity goals.
Members of the program bring fresh ideas and troubleshooting solutions to the team without having to reach out to IT for assistance. Champions are also an effective middleman for keeping track of regular app issues, allowing IT to easily identify broad user problems.
It’s reasonable to wonder if a formal end user training program makes more sense. However, training is both expensive and may not change much for a completely new way of working.
The reality is that IT does not necessarily need to be formally teaching employees. Instead, they should be the initiator of a champion program that utilizes internal enthusiasts of the new platform. Champions will, in turn, lead the way and empower other end users as an IT insider.
In this way, IT can effectively support their end users.
Benefits of a Champion Program for Unified Communications
Understanding the benefits of enabling champions within your organization before implementing such a program is paramount.
First, this type of program has cost and efficiency benefits for the entire company. Only a few champions are necessary, and do not require an entirely new department or training system. This is because a champion program can be specifically targeted to vulnerable users to optimize efficiency.
Secondly, a champion program may be received more positively by employees over traditional training alternatives. No one enjoys the experience of IT telling them they’re doing something wrong. By contrast, a champion program employs peer to peer education, so end users can hear from people they work with on a regular basis on how UC and collaboration platforms have improved their workflow.
Finally, when executed in a mature way, a champion program acts as a force multiplier. The program may start as a way to actively engage established end users, but as it matures it can also eventually extend to the on-boarding of new employees. By having champions work with new employees from day one, workers quickly become adept with UC and collaboration platform best practices.
However, there are aspects of this type of program that may need some review. Without any sort of measurement of results, there is not much evidence or incentive for champions to do this work. Therefore, it is a concern that a champion could be just as blind to the struggles of their own team as IT.
Because of this, it is essential that IT equip champions with data to effectively help other end users. To ensure that your champion program is as effective as possible, IT must establish a measurement of success. Depending on the goal of the champion program, there may only be a single KPI (key performance indicator) or many.
Measuring the Impact of Your IT Champion Program on Unified Communications
If your champion program is trying to increase adoption of a new UC platform, you should measure which users are spending the least amount of time on the platform. Alternatively, if you want end users to use the platform in more efficient ways, you can look at KPIs like app integration usage.
This data should be used to guide the work of your champions. Consider creating unique reports and dashboards for your champions, so they can quickly and easily see which users need the most help. If this isn’t feasible, IT needs to invest in the resources to enable measurement of success, or the results of the program are likely to go unnoticed and unappreciated.
Anther valuable element to consider adding to your champion program is a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between IT and internal UC platform end users. This will clearly define who is responsible for what when it comes to monitoring and resolving issues in this area.
An SLA should provide clear guidelines on where the work of all parties involved starts and stops. The duties of the IT team will differ from those of champions, and even the responsibilities of end users should be taken into consideration. Creating an SLA will establish both what the digital experience for end users and the experience for an IT user will look like. Consider reviewing the company’s system and data use policies for hints on how to establish these expectations in advance of establishing a champion program.
IT is in a challenging spot with all the drastic changes in UC and collaboration market within the past year. Instead of putting the responsibility of managing end user success solely on IT, the introduction of a champion program, combined with robust platform monitoring tools, can prove pivotal to the successful adoption by end users. Find ways to leverage champions to both educate end users on new features as well as check that they have not defaulted to old behaviors.
A personalized experience like this is almost impossible to achieve without the right tools. Our PowerSuite software can help your company receive actionable insights to help monitor and manage end users and their usage.