The Four Things You Can’t Overlook In a Collaboration Technology Implementation

In my tenure with SMART, I’ve had the opportunity to witness firsthand what a successful deployment of collaboration technology looks like. I’ve also seen ones that are not so successful.

The reality is, you’re not just buying a TV or a projector where you can simply hang and bang product on a wall and hope people figure it out how to make use of it on their own. To get the most out of your collaboration solution, you want to make sure that you have the right technology for the problem you are trying to solve and a plan to implement the solution successfully.

Four things you can’t overlook in a collaborative technology implementation:

The more extensive the solution, the more pieces of your existing infrastructure will be impacted. Here are some tips to a successful implementation:

1. Ensure both your physical environment and technology ecosystem are ready for deployment.

Often times the focus for technology is around the physical space: walls, room, where is the equipment going to go, but the technology ecosystem beyond the room is just as important. To focus on the ecosystem, there are many options: full blown system-wide readiness checks that you can do yourself or bringing in partners to facilitate with the implementation specific to your solution’s scale and scope. I like to use SMART Room System for Microsoft Lync as an example for considering both environment and ecosystem in the implementation process.

With SMART Room System for Microsoft Lync (SRS), you could potentially have someone look at your complete Lync infrastructure to determine readiness which can be a month-long project requiring a number of internal resources or you could leverage the SMART Network Readiness Check to determine the exact conditions needed for a successful SMART Room System deployment. It takes only a few hours to complete and is tailored to your specific needs. Whether you use your own system analysis process or a tool like the one SMART provides, you will have a greater assurance that your deployment will be successful during the planning phase.

2. Determine if you have successful adoption of your technology.

How do you know if you’re successful with your new solution if you’re not tracking employee adoption? You typically need to support your decision with data and ensure that solution is not being impacted by other variables. We get so consumed by the technology and infrastructure that we often omit the human side of the implementation. Please don’t.

The first step is to determine usage for your solution. Are people using it on a daily basis, and if so, how do you quickly determine the ROI of that usage? Is it solving the problem you had set out to solve? Again you could go through a process of gathering feedback through survey tools or looking at the availability of the solution, but this will not guarantee accuracy and will require manual input from your stakeholders.

You could also take advantage of your internal monitoring tools but they typically give you a more broad view of your ecosystem and again it can be resource intensive to find out if your solution is successful. Ideally you want to identify a solution that can quickly surface key data. Is the solution being used? How often? In what ways? You want to be able to answer those questions in real time. SMART Usage Reporting will look at your SRS Systems that are deployed. It will provide reports on how the systems are being used, what is being used (audio, video and sharing) and the quality of the experience. This makes it easy to link your solution success metrics to usage and true adoption of the solution you implemented.

3. Have a change management system in place.

As you look into adoption and track towards your usage goals (whether you are doing this on your own or leveraging a software service like SMART Usage Reporting), you may see that elements of the plan are not progressing as you anticipated. There could be a number of reasons why that might be. Rolling out a new solution always has its challenges from both a change management perspective and a technology perspective. From a change management perspective, it’s important to plan ahead and identify what success looks like, who your core users are going to be, communicate what is coming and ensure they have both the knowledge and skills to be successful.

One clear step in the plan is to have training available for your identified core customers. You can build a training program with internal resources or you can reach out to your partners to take advantage of their expertise to get your team up to speed more quickly. Once the initial training is complete, a software service like SMART Usage Reporting can be very effective tool in benchmarking the success of your change management training program.

4. Have a system in place to help you monitor your ecosystem to ensure it is running at peak performance.

As stated above, another factor that impacts adoption of your solution is the technology ecosystem. In the case of Microsoft Lync there are number of variables that can impact the performance of your solution and reduce adoption. Everything from your network and conferencing policies to your service provider can complicate adoption. It’s important when deploying your solution to build in a way to monitor peak performance within the ecosystem.

Using broad-based tools designed to monitor the whole ecosystem can help but it can be difficult to parse through the data and tools to find where the solution-specific issues lie. If the solution you purchase is paired up with a service, this can be accomplished more easily. In the case of the SMART Room System, SMART Proactive Monitoring can monitor your individual solutions and provide easy methods to pull reports so stakeholders can see where issues lie, obtain information to quickly build plans receive alerts before your users are aware of the issue. Quick removal of roadblocks by your support team leads to less user downtime and more confidence in the solution – plain and simple.

Like any important deployment, we all want to ensure we are successful and we want to make sure that our decision meets expectations. Leveraging the services that are available to you right from the design phase all the way to managing and monitoring phase of your experience can ensure you not only get the ROI you expected, but achieve greater peace of mind around the decision. Find out more on SMART Room System for Microsoft Lync and the New Managed Services visit http://info.smarttech.com/srs

Adam Corkett
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About Adam Corkett

Adam Corkett is SMART's Manager, Enterprise Global Customer Experience. He is working with SMART for almost 6 years.