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During the course of her five years with Jive Professional Services, Carrie Gilbert has guided dozens of Jive customers through the process of defining and implementing their community strategies, drawing on her extensive professional and academic background in interaction design, technical communication, and usability. In this piece, Carrie shares her insight on how and when to make a splash with your rollout strategy. Carrie also invites you to drop by and say hello to her and her team at the New Customer Experience booth at JiveWorld 12!




When we last spoke poolside, we discussed the situations in which a company- or organization-wide rollout strategy can be beneficial. Today we'll pick up where we left off, looking at some of the considerations of implementing a department-by-department approach, and then discussing some of the ways in which the two models can be effectively blended to achieve your launch communication goals.


The Departmental Rollout


A common strategy with successful Jive customers is the staggered rollout: deploying the community to smaller subsets of the organization in defined "waves" based on specific departmental or team needs. This approach is effective in supporting "vertical" usage models—that is, situations where you may be using Jive to support deeper forms of collaboration around a discrete organizational unit, discipline, program or event.


Some common examples include:

  • RFP response process
  • Frontline support team knowledge sharing
  • Sales enablement efforts and sales tool creation
  • Collaboration in support of an event or project being handled by an outside agency


Benefits of Easing In

Unlike with an organization-wide rollout, a more staggered approach lends itself to iterative improvements: you can see what's most effective with each wave and incrementally evolve the rollout process (and the community itself) with each subsequent phase. Because of its smaller, more focused scope, it also allows you and your team to dedicate all your energy to proving value to a specified audience within a defined context. Plus, the smaller, tight-knit audience typically inherent in a vertical usage pattern is generally more likely to actively participate in online collaboration.


Things to Consider Before Dipping Those Toes

Despite the obvious benefits of the piece-by-piece approach, there are a few potential limitations to keep in mind, the biggest being the constrained visibility—and the constrained buy-in that it often accompanies. By definition, from a sponsorship perspective, a successful departmental rollout requires nothing more than a motivated team committed to better collaboration. As soon as that team begins spreading the word to other colleagues, however, the efficacy of that word-of-mouth will vary according to the degree to which each department or division's leadership supports the initiative. So, while your primary focus should be the current department's needs, be sure to keep others peripherally engaged and informed as well.


Decisions, Decisions...

So, aside from two tidy lists of pros and cons for each approach, where does all this leave you as you plan your rollout? Well, there's good news and bad news on that: Good news is you don't have to choose one! Bad news is you should do both, which can require a bit more planning and energy. However, by leveraging a hybrid strategy, you get the best of both worlds, while cancelling out the downsides of each. Make the big splash that's only possible with an organization-wide launch, while reaping the benefits of staying (mostly) dry as you ease into the water. Facilitate the "sticky" engagement (like users posting comments and replies) that is typically more common with a vertical model, while maximizing the visibility of your social business initiative that often goes hand in hand with a horizontal model.


Here are some tips on simultaneously balancing both approaches:

  1. For your first wave of departmental rollouts, target the teams that are closely tied to your selected company-wide usage model(s). For example, if you're announcing Jive as your new employee communication platform, work closely with your corporate communications team to show them how they can do all their internal team collaboration in Jive, too. If you're promoting Jive as a company-wide onboarding tool for new-hires, make sure human resources is on your departmental shortlist.
  2. Keep the messaging focused. When you're addressing multiple usage models of varying scales all at once, it can be easy to lead with a pitch that tries to promise all things to all people. Avoid that temptation and always come back to the primary value proposition for each of your selected usage models.
  3. Remember that this is phase one of an evolving program. You have to deliver enough value to participants that they are motivated to return, but that doesn't mean you have to deliver a perfect solution on day one. Keep an open mind, learn from your experiences, and listen to participants' feedback to inform future improvements.


How do you plan to rollout your community? For those of you who have already been there, done that, which approach(es) worked best for you?

Creative Commons image credits: "Day 51: Summer in the pool" by eyesofgreen