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There are two basic rules of change:

1. Change is inevitable

2. Everyone resists change.

Implementing an enterprise social software brings a certain level of change to the culture of a company that is likely to be faced by opposition at every stage of execution. This article gives insights into what teams need to be brought together onto a working group to swiftly drive the implementation of enterprise social software.

When implementing Enterprise Social Software, almost inevitably the IT department is tasked with “making things happen”. According to this report by the Social Business Council, 74.5% of businesses delegate primary ownership of a social platform IT. Increasingly we see Corporate Communications HR, and OD being asked to be the “business owner” of this kind of technology.

And this is good, particularly if we consider the reasons why 80% of enterprise software projects will fail! Regarding social platforms as ‘just another software install’, and therefore purely an IT responsibility, is to place the project at great risk.

As I have learnt first hand when I was at Bupa, and as everyone seems to agree, success is as much about leadership, behaviour change and ultimately culture, as it is technology.

So who would you bring together onto a working group to help accelerate this culture change? The precise blend will depend on your existing collaborative landscape and desired organisational outcomes. In my experience, key people to collaborate with will include these:

Corporate / Internal Communications

Often the obvious business owners for these tools, or indeed the ones driving the whole initiative, IC have a big role to play. One of the big challenges facing IC is that this may well feel like yet another thing on their growing plate, for which budget and resource is often very tight. The key thing for IC is to recognise that a new social platform isn’t simply another channel to push messages down. IC’s role has to shift to embrace community management, more the facilitators of discussion than the traditional role of owners of the channel and the message. The key is balancing centrally produced, signed-off, “push” corporate messaging with employee user generated content. Get it right and people will engage with your content in ways they never could with the internal magazine.

In-house IT

As most businesses make IT responsible for social software management, they will also need to oversee its deployment. The opportunity here is that rather than seeing the world in the traditional IT vs the business sense, everyone needs to work together. In my experience the 20% of enterprise social initiatives that succeed all see IT really wearing their business hats, and the business owners getting their techy sleeves at least partially rolled up, working in new ways to deliver new ways of working.

HR / OD

A lot of the blockers to collaborative working (e.g. unaligned pay and reward, performance management, and recognition schemes) of course sit with HR and OD who not only have the power to tweak existing processes to support cross-business collaboration, but are also key stakeholders in that what you are doing is key to important areas such as talent acquisition and retention. You may also find valuable people who are already bringing together communities of practice across the organisation who could use your help, and whose contacts you really need.

The Board / Senior Leaders

An obvious group of course, and not always the most accessible people, but buy-in from the top of any organisation is obviously essential to success. Fortunately, many business leaders appear to have already started to at least consider the potential need for enterprise social software.

“59% of business leaders believe that companies that don’t fully embrace social media will not survive in the future” – Social Business Blueprints.

Better still, many have already begun the necessary planning:

“52% of the CEOs intend to make significant changes to their organisations to improve internal collaboration”IBM 2012 Global CEO Study.

Information Security

These guys will be very concerned about all this change, and rather than trying to do things below the radar, you are much better off bringing in your info security team at the earliest stages (IT will probably insist anyway). You might not like some of what they have to say, but they have the organisation’s best interests at heart. It’s good to have some thinking up your sleeve such as “would we rather our people graffitied the inside of the building, or the outside” or perhaps as Laurie Hibbs, UK HR Director of LexisNexis, put it “I’d rather be punched in the face on Yammer than stabbed in the back on GlassDoor”.

Legal

You should have some representation from the company legal team. Their day to day involvement will probably be light, but during set up their presence is vital. For example terms and conditions for users, understanding impact on existing employee contracts, or indeed other risks such as laws in certain countries which could get you in some trouble post-launch if you’re not careful (usually to do with data).

Depending on what you’re trying to do, there are almost certainly others you need to work with, maybe R&D, or Marketing, Brand or almost certainly Sales. The key point is that if your organisation wants to see more collaboration, you have to start by collaborating with others to figure out what this all means. And then of course you will realise that perhaps ‘use case number one’ was this very thing – use the platform to deliver the platform.

Overcoming the barriers to collaboration will make your business more productive and more successful. To find out why people don’t collaborate at work download the FREE Eguide: Secrets and Lies:Why People Don’t Share at Work

This article was written by Nick Crawford – Director at Betterworking. You can find out more about him here: http://www.betterworking.com/about-us/people/

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