Learning from the Past
Faithful to her new understanding that it takes a process to secure end-user adoption, this time Blais was determined to involve users in the selection process from the start. The theory was that, after the last unfortunate experience, a good mix of end users and IT working together would do a much better job of successfully selecting the new CMS system. That meant contacting the directors of the various areas within the institute and asking them to assign someone to sit in on meetings — an approach that was warmly received.
"Often, in addition to the area staff who would be future users of a new CMS system, the directors themselves wanted some involvement, which was fine," Blais says.
"What we said to them right from the start was: 'This is a product that you will be using. We're going to install it, we're going to manage it, but you're going to use it, because IT does not create content. We will make sure that we have the right infrastructure in place and that we build security to authenticate the members. We will make sure that we back up the Web site and will fine-tune it to ensure it performs from a technical aspect. But as far as the detailed creating, publishing, editing and approval processes go, as users, you own that.'"
With the users drafted, Blais then met with the group to reach a common understanding of the deficiencies with the current CMS, as well as its advantages. She also drew input from IT staff and then reviewed the lists carefully to ensure the requirements were clearly defined and reasonable.
Users quickly made clear they wanted enhanced workflow so that prepared content could be routed to one or more approvers. They wanted enhanced performance to eliminate complaints from members about not being able to get to the content because of the speed of the Web site.
But the institute's first content management system (CMS) was basically an IT-driven project, largely because no one had a clear idea at the time of what was required
Having waited a year for the first CMS to be installed, they wanted it to be up and running in a reasonable time frame. And they wanted to simultaneously see a full redesign of the Web site, with a new look and feel and a bit of "splash" that would encourage members to make more use of the site. Without consultation with the users at this stage, Blais says, some or all of those criteria might again have been missed.
"We had to rebuild the IT reputation a little bit here," Blais says. "But more importantly, we wanted to ensure users had some ownership of both the process and the software that was selected. We felt if we had their input to initially help us develop and work with the product, when we were ready to go live everybody would be ready at the same time."
Blais encouraged users involved in selection to actively research the market for available solutions. Getting users to research and identify potential solutions was, she says, the easiest way to make them aware of the functionality on offer so they could consider its importance and make informed decisions at subsequent meetings. Some of the users chose not to become directly involved, perhaps based on other commitments and lack of time, and trusted that those who did would apply diligence. But others welcomed the opportunity to do some research and came back with some valuable input.
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