When technology projects go beyond the local office, having an organized plan and a solid chain of command help ensure success.
You’ve grown your company and expanded into multiple markets to better reach your customers. Now it’s time to upgrade your IT infrastructure to keep up with the ever-changing nature of technology and keep your employees, wherever they are, productive. Using and distributing technology wisely will help your company continue to grow and thrive. Deployment of nationwide multi-site, multi-service, multi-technology rollouts can be a costly and very complex process even for smaller companies who operate in multiple locations across the country. With this in mind, choosing the right IT vendor to partner with is paramount to the success of the rollout.
Companywide upgrades of Computers, Servers, Laptops, Tablets, Software Applications, Network Cabling, Audio/Video and Communications Equipment can be effectively handled in days instead of weeks with the right vendor partnerships. The faster and more efficient a nation-wide rollout occurs the lower the overall cost of the project, the lesser the impact on employee productivity, the higher your ROI and the better your chance for a competitive edge over your competition.
Regardless of the type of technology your company is planning to rollout and the size of the project, there are some key aspects of planning a national technology rollout that must be addressed to help ensure success.
Your Rollout Implementation Team
The project champions. Who in your company is going to be responsible for the oversite and management this project? It is essential that inside your company an individual or a committee of individuals (depending on the project size) who understand the project goals are fully invested in the project for the full duration. This group will not only work directly with the vendor to coordinate the rollout but will also be responsible for tracking and measuring the rollout metrics, determining deliverables, and documenting and reporting on the success of the project. This individual or committee should have enough understanding of the technology involved and the project goals to be able to make an on the fly decision while the technicians are in the field during the rollout. Having clearly defined roles within the team will create shared ownership and a greater chance of success.
Before approaching potential vendors there should be a clearly defined goal, timeline, and budget for the project. As well as detailed and documented lists of all the locations involved, all the users involved with their important contact information (and their supervisors), and the specific technology being rolled out to the individual offices and users.
Choosing a National Rollout Vendor
Choosing the right vendor to partner with is at the heart of a successful rollout. Your company is investing time and resources in a potentially massive project that involves hardware procurement, configuration, training, asset recovery, and logistics. For example, let’s say your company has 1,700 locations nationwide. It’s time to upgrade PCs and laptops in most of the locations. Could you handle a project like this internally? Probably not. Few companies have the resources readily available, and not previously committed, to handle a major rollout of this type. There are a lot of pieces and parts and places to manage. In a large-scale IT rollout, it is not at all uncommon for there to be as many as 3,000 orders placed to dozens of vendors. With parts totals soaring above 100,000 individual parts. Who is going to place all those orders? Where is it all going to be shipped? Who will be on the ground in each location to install it, test it and document it? This is where partnering with a vendor who specializes in nationwide multi-site, multi-service, multi-technology rollouts becomes your key to success.
You will hear the term Single Point of Contact (SPOC) floated around by vendors. While this sounds like a great thing (and granted for smaller rollouts it is) in a nationwide rollout you want to ensure that your vendor is going to provide a dedicated rollout team. This vendor rollout team will handle the orders, the coordination, the logistics, the documentation, reporting back to your internal team and something that often gets overlooked – providing feedback from endpoint users regarding the success and benefits of the technology rollout. One team, working with your team, dedicated to your project’s success
Your managing IT rollout vendor should understand all of the technology being rolled out, the project goal, the logistics involved, the rollout budget, deliverables and the rollout timeline. A reputable IT vendor will work hand in hand with your team to develop a strategy, explain the process, evaluate the scope of work, assess your current resources against the needs of the project and develop a deployment schedule that will meet your deadlines and expectations.
If additional resources are required, your rollout team should be empowered to recruit technicians with the experience you need in the regions where you need it. With the power to allocate field resources, scale your project as necessary, and create project-specific reports, your rollout team will have been given all the support necessary to manage your project smoothly and address all your concerns.
Nationwide Rollout Project Management
Introducing new technology through a nationwide rollout often brings a sense of optimism within the company. The project may involve centralizing information, making communication easier and more efficient, saving time and money by improving employee productivity, or automating mundane or repetitive tasks.
Effectively communicating the goals of the project are essential to its success and employee adoption. Think about the types of stakeholders you have identified and consider what communication channels will be most effective for each type. Keep in mind what they need to know about the technology rollout and how their existing workflows will change as a result. How and when this rollout plan is communicated to your company as a whole can help expedite and ensure employee adoption. After all, if the technology you have invested in is not put to good and immediate use in the field – why make the investment in the first place?
The simple truth is, no major technology investment is a guaranteed turnkey solution. There will be challenges. There will be unforeseen project needs that may test your budget strength. Planning, communication, and commitment are essential to organization-wide adoption.
Project management for a rollout is more than just tools, metrics and processes. It’s about the people and working closely with them to reach goals that meet or even better, exceed the project’s requirements. This is a big project and if you are the project manager – you’ve got to be detail-oriented and strong with the administrative side of the role, but also be a clear, concise communicator who is comfortable with a variety of interactions, conversations…and personalities. A savvy and experienced Project Manager will have the skills to monitor the details while not losing sight of the big picture and ultimate goal of the technology rollout.
Map Out a Rollout Timeline
OK, your vendor is chosen; your budget is in place and your stakeholders are on board. Now is the time to take the proposed rollout process and key information in hand and begin mapping out communications to specific target dates. It is always helpful to time your communications around key milestones, achievements, and deadlines, such as training sessions, delivery and installation, when data will be migrated, and when a full switch to a new system or process will occur.
In a project of this size, there will be enough going on without adding to internal frustration and confusion. Give your users and their supervisors plenty of advanced notice before the targeted implementation dates. For example, give users advanced notice before training sessions to block off time on their calendars, and allow plenty of time to get organized before installation and data migration. Be patient with the rollout and allow your organization time to the adjust to the technology changes.
Be aware of and make good use of one or more of the channels available to communicate with your users. Email should be included of course, but other means—intranet, internal social networks, paper documents, simple signage, and in-person meetings—would all be a good means of communication during the rollout and help with employee adoption.
Be thoughtful and strategic with messaging. Messages and news regarding the project are better received when they come from your implementation team versus “Joe” at vendor “X”. The implementation team should consider and plan when, how, and from whom communications regarding the project will be relayed.
Frame the technology rollout in relevant easy to understand terms of how it is going solve current IT challenges or prepare the organization for future success. Be sure to communicate the importance of achieving these goals and how the technology being implemented will make it possible.
Don’t expect technology to solve all your problems. The adoption of a nationwide technology rollout has to start and be driven from within your company. It goes without saying that change management can be challenging, but it’s never impossible. It starts with being prepared. With the right team, the right vendors to partners with and a detailed plan in place, you and your team will have the power to transform and upgrade your organization’s technology as a whole.
Ready to give your company the technology edge over your competition? Then it is time to find a national technology rollout specialist who can layout a roadmap to success.