Getting ready to introduce a new software application can be a stressful process, no matter how many times you’ve done it before. Expectations from your user community are high, and the pressure’s on.
It goes almost without saying that rollout is the most important phase of your Web conferencing experience. Many departments within your organization share in the effort to bring as many users online as quickly as possible. Usage is critical to a successful cost-reduction and ROI program. The best applications in the world have little value if they are unused.
Preparing for Rollout
Naturally, the first step in your rollout process is the installation or setup of iLinc, depending on whether you purchased the installed version or you’re using our hosted subscription service. To ensure a successful start, you’ll want to assemble your iLinc team (project manager, IT support, iLinc administrator, and leaders). You may have more or less people on your project team, depending on the size of your company; but these are the basic functions you’ll want covered.
We believe it’s never too early to define your objectives for implementing iLinc’s Web conferencing software. For most organizations objectives can be created through three steps. First, create a means of tracking ROI through travel cost savings, increased productivity through better training, or other benefits of online business meetings. Second, clearly define the factors comprising total cost of ownership (TCO), so you may track those costs on an ongoing basis. Finally, list the problems your company intends to solve with iLinc, and create a set of metrics to measure each of the anticipated benefits. If you need assistance with setting these objectives you can always engage your iLinc implementation team for help.
Once your team is in place and your objectives are set you can plan your iLinc environment. This should include hardware, software, and human considerations. Then, develop a schedule for your rollout which will include time for ordering, installing, and testing of all the components. To keep your schedule on track, your plan should create a thorough checklist that contains all the project’s critical managers, milestones and deadlines.
With your software installed or your hosted site set up, you may decide to add your logo, and change the look and feel of the Communication Center to conform to your brand’s colors and design guidelines. This helps iLinc become more a part of your own environment, an important step in easing adoption of the new solutions.
Your plan’s in place, metrics to measure success have been drawn up, and your team has installed or set up iLinc to run smoothly across your enterprise. Now it’s time to identify and add your users. But before you add users, you’ll need to determine who will be administering the system. You’ll give your administrator(s) full rights to manage users, sessions, communications, and the user interface with regard to look and feel.
You and your administrators will also determine who’ll be leading meetings, classes, conferences, and support rooms; these leaders will need administration rights within the system. Finally, if you’re coming from another Web conferencing solution, export your user list and batch upload to iLinc.
Introducing Web Conferencing
Now that you know who’ll be initially using Web conferencing within your company, let them know why it’s critical to the business and how it directly benefits them by promoting Web conferencing at every opportunity.
The majority of our customers plan a kickoff meeting or event that actually gets people on the iLinc system and shows them how easy it is to participate in an online meeting, presentation, or training session. During this meeting, you’ll let new users know why you’re adopting Web conferencing with discussions of lower travel costs, increased effectiveness of communications, and greater flexibility to the way in which they communicate with their customers or key audiences. You’ll also show and tell them how easy it is to use iLinc.
We recommend that you touch users at least three times with these messages (through introduction emails, username/password emails, and get-trained emails), in addition to pointing them to resources that will help them get trained and feel comfortable. During your introduction, its a good idea to create a few scenarios that show iLinc in action, improving the level of communication inside and outside of your company.
To encourage usage of your new iLinc applications, look for ways to get your top management involved in Web conferencing and collaboration. Seeing the company leaders using the new technology will go a long way toward motivating other users. You can also have managers for each business unit encourage usage within their teams, and move weekly staff meetings online if you have remote attendees. These are just a few of the “top-down” ideas you can easily put into action in your company that will begin the process of changing habits and adopting new ways of communicating.
In working from the other direction to encourage usage — bottom-up – make sure users are trained as quickly as possible. We’ve created fast-paced, 45-minute QuickStart sessions to start your employees using iLinc immediately. In addition to our QuickStarts, you can look for ways to integrate use of iLinc into daily tasks and reward heavy users with company-wide recognition. And it’s a good idea to develop evangelists within work groups and departments to bring people onto the iLinc system and help overcome objections to use.
Expanding and Growing
Once you have your core users using iLinc with confidence, it’s time to expand to other parts of the organization to take full advantage of cost savings. This is also a good point in the rollout process to revisit your business objectives for Web conferencing that were set in your planning phase to make sure you’re mapping your adoption cycle to the objectives.
To expand usage and help keep online business meetings top of mind with your employee community, consider publicizing internally the successes people are experiencing with iLinc. In a competitive business environment, the best way to promote success and exploration of advanced features is to show how peers have adopted the system. You can also create a regular series of e-mails that focus on new features and functionalities that are released on a quarterly basis. Your e-mails or internal newsletters can include detailed how-to articles that take the mystery out of using advanced features.
Rollout is the key step in making iLinc a total success in your organization. It’s easy to see how with thoughtful planning and a commitment to succeed, you can have a very successful rollout of iLinc across your enterprise. First, build a solid team that represents the many Web conferencing stakeholders in your company: management, IT, and users. Then create a well thought out plan that maps to company business objectives and has the support of top executives. Finally, keep in mind that change is usually met with a bit of apprehension in most companies. Our collective job is to assure the user community that iLinc will help them communicate and collaborate more effectively and that they have the support they need to be successful with the software.