Migrating Users to a New Collaboration Environment

People are creatures of habit and it is often difficult to get them to change.  If you have ever tried to introduce an new application into an enterprise IT infrastructure or even a major change to an existing application you know just how hard that can be.

Case in point with collaboration.  Many people we work with already have an existing collaboration tool that they want to upgrade to take advantage of more advanced features or better integration with their infrastructure.  The question then becomes, how do you transition users to a new collaboration tool?

If you control all of the tools in the environment you can integrate the new collaboration capabilities into the user experience and shut down the old system.  Users will automatically move to the new system.  This is the approach that we discussed in our earlier blog Apple Computer’s 25 Billion iTunes Downloads and Your Collaboration Solution.

What if you do not control the entire environment but  want your organization to transition to a new collaboration capability?  Teams are already working in the existing tool and some people may resist moving to the new collaboration space.

One approach is to integrate the collaboration tools together using the one of the standard collaboration protocols such as XMPP or SIMPLE.  Again, this assumes that those controlling the existing collaboration environment are willing to allow your new system to connect with the current system.  If so, then users of your new collaboration software can see and collaborate with users of the current system. Overtime the collaboration capabilities from the new system can be integrated into additional applications and migration from the current system to the new system will begin.

How about if you those controlling the current system are not willing to enable this connectivity?  In that case, you need to select a group of users that can work easily in both collaborative environments or select a group that can work independently on a problem.  Once the group is identified, begin converting them to the new functionality.  They will either need to work completely independent of those in the current tool or they will need to work on both tools to bridge the gap. As this prototype group begins to experience the improved capabilities of the new tool, they can go to the users of the original tool and explain the benefits of switching to the new tool.

Both of these solutions may take more time, but once the transition starts, more users will attract their existing teams and critical mass will eventually bring everyone over to the new tool.

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