multiple passenger balloons launching into a clear sky
PHOTO: ian dooley

After deploying Office 365 or migrating to an upgraded version, you need to let everyone know the platform is open for usage, an essential step for digital adoption success. Some organizations may also choose to do a relaunch when an initial launch doesn't engage enough users or if it simply fails.

Schedule multiple launches of the same application or feature at practical time intervals, especially if your organization is medium or large. A multifunctional application like SharePoint may require separate launches and mini-launches for each major feature. The ultimate purpose of the launch is to invite the workforce to start using the rolled out digital tool.

A launch party should be an event with a "big bang" — the louder it is, the more people will notice. Also, it should be an opportunity to let everyone know what is expected of them in order to kickstart and sustain digital adoption campaigns.

However, some launches are more effective than others. In this article, I share my long years of experience in helping companies to use deployed digital tools to the fullest in a way that leads to intended business objectives.

The aim is to create anticipation, stir up excitement and put everyone on countdown.

Don't Rely on Overused Communication Channels

When communicating a digital adoption launch to employees, companies tend to make two common mistakes: they summarize the content of the message to such an extent that not enough information is conveyed; and, they rely on existing internal communication channels for getting the message out.

The problem with short wedding-invitation-style messages is that most people may not find enough reasons to participate.

In most companies, internal communication is done using the most familiar channels, like email, which is seldom effective in this area. Because just as is the case with other overly-used channels, recipients tend to ignore broadcasted emails. People use email for anything, even for the most trivial messaging, meaning your message will be lost in the shuffle.

There are more effective ways to run a communication campaign for an application launch.

Related Article: Internal Communicators, Please Don't Abandon the Intranet

Better Content, Channels and Strategy

Your communication campaign should be able to do the following.

  • Find a way to communicate all the key points.
  • Include all the elements that make a message actionable.
  • Use multiple, effective communication channels.

Communicate Key Points

What's the point? Why should I care? What's in it for me? Your messaging needs to answer those questions. Use live demos, case studies, use cases and success stories to convey the benefits of the application in question.

In your message, strike a balance between being brief and being informative. The words are informative when they persuade employees to answer the call and complete prescribed digital adoption tasks.

Describe the major benefits in all three areas: personal, team and business.

First, focus on personal benefits. List the gains everyone will make at the personal level. Highlight outcomes that will solve their problems and make their lives easier. For example, a simple mention like "SharePoint can helps you quickly find any document" or "Yammer will help you find the right person for a task" is enough to give your colleagues one more reason to pay attention to your communication campaign.

Second, describe the benefits for teams. Mention the positive outcomes for all teams, big and small, across departments. People who rely heavily on teamwork to get things done will definitely show interest in any initiative that aims to enable seamless collaboration. This should be straightforward when talking about OneDrive for Business, Teams, Office 365 Groups and SharePoint.

Third, mention the intended and the expected business benefits. Don't forget to emphasize that adopting the deployed digital tools will add to the survival and growth of the entire enterprise. To get ideas in this area, browse the Microsoft's productivity library.

Related Article: The 5 Essential Programs for Successful Digital Adoption 

Make Message Content Actionable

Surprisingly, some companies forget to include actionable tenets in their launch messaging. They neglect to include even basic elements such as venue, date and time.

Moreover, you need to add a sense of urgency on all prescribed tasks. For example, on the invitation poster you stick on the cafeteria wall, make the venue, date and time of the event prominent.

Also, add a precise deadline on all user adoption tasks. For example: creating a profile in Yammer, joining a Group in Office 365, accepting an invitation to join a project in Teams, moving all documents from desktop to SharePoint, etc. Determine the day, the hour, even the minute. This helps people put the tasks on their priority lists.

Use Multiple Effective Communication Channels

As mentioned before, an email broadcast will not be enough to make everyone aware of the launch. In addition to using emails, use a few more communication channels. The options you take may largely depend on your corporate culture.

Some of the following channels have been used by other companies very successfully.

  • Start by sending emails that request replies. Email still plays a role. To make the email broadcasting campaign engaging, request the recipient reply to every email they receive and confirm they got the message and intend to take the requested actions. This allows you to quantify and measure the impact of the blast and estimate the work still to be done to get the word out to more people.
  • Host live events. Organize an event during which you'll share all the communications: top executives will issue orders, team leaders will make recommendations, and training experts will describe all there is to know to start and continue using the Office 365 application. If the workforce is too large, consider organizing a separate event for each department. If the organization has more than one office branch, consider running live online events and webinars.
  • Use print media. Print posters and display them in high traffic areas around the workplace, including cafeterias, bathrooms, entrances, foyers, verandas, etc. Print and distribute flyers as well. On the printed items, promote the launch day and briefly list the intended personal, team and business gains. In addition to handing out flyers, place a few anywhere people gather, and invite people to pick one.
  • Broadcast engaging videos. Video is the most effective communication medium. It gives you greater freedom to show demos, use cases and success stories. Use videos to present essential information in an entertaining, engaging way. If the content is extensive, produce multiple videos, ideally no more than 15 minutes each in duration.
  • Overlay contextual messages over commonly used applications windows. Today, every functioning organization uses one or two of the most popular Microsoft applications: Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote and others. You can use a contextual help system to automatically display key messages whenever a user opens an application. For example, every time someone checks their inbox, a message pops up. They have to read the content and then close the window before they are able to continue with reading their emails. It is about strategically placing key messages where people spend the most time. You can add a popup message on all other commonly used applications. With time, being aware about the launch will become simply inevitable. 

Related Article: Stop Focusing on Digital Workplace Adoption

Invest in the First Step: Launch Office 365 in Style

If employees are unaware an application is available to use, chances are they won't start using it. Don't neglect the communication campaigns for the launch — they'll set your digital adoption efforts off on the right foot. Send email blasts, organize live corporate events, distribute print media, broadcast entertaining videos, and add popup messages to your company's most commonly used digital tools.

When everyone becomes aware of the availability of an Office 365 application and knows the tasks they are expected to complete following a precise schedule, early digital adoption is more likely to be very successful.

You can then build on this early success with other essential digital adoption campaigns and employees will use Office 365 to the fullest.