Last week I said I'd go into more detail about UC user adoption. In keeping with that, I thought I'd write out an adoption plan from some of our OCS/Exchange deployments.

As you probably know by now, user adoption is the other half of a successful server installation. It”s one thing to get new systems up & running. And another thing entirely to convince/persuade/poke people into using them.

One way to push user adoption is, as I mentioned last time, to take away the users' existing option. I discuss this in Step 6 below. But if you do that, you have to give them something else. (It's kind of required.) That's what the rest of this plan is for.

Note: Technical specifications on implementing UC components (Exchange 2010, OCS 2007) will not be included here due to their length. Full implementation processes can be found in the following Microsoft resources.
Deploying Exchange Exchange Server 2010:
Deploying Office Communications Server 2007 R2:

Step 1 – Sketch out implementation plan.

Essentially, “plan out Steps 2-6 ahead of time.” Also, consider file transfer times. Factor out any offline time needed to build the new UC servers. Check on the Web for any possible hardware issues before and during implementation.

Step 2 – Determine a Switchover Point. Announce it.

Send 2 emails and make an internal communications post (forum, intranet, whatever you use). Announce a point at which the company will switch to Unified Communications. Make this unavoidable. (Someone WILL claim they didn't hear about it when it's too late.) Provide a brief how-to and benefits statement, so they know they're getting something good out of it.

Step 3 – Implement UC technology at server-level.

Self-explanatory. Refer to the above URLs for documentation.

Step 4 – Invite a group of users to test it.

Deploy all UC tools to a select group of people who are technically savvy. Preferably people from multiple departments and/or branch offices. Having them test for system errors accomplishes two things.
One,it tests the UC technology in real-time from different physical locations.
Two,testing creates a small group of advocates within the organization. (Make sure to tell the group ahead of time that people may ask them for assistance during adoption. And get their OK.)

Step 5 – Furnish all users with a training kit.

Instruct them to familiarize themselves with the new UC interface. Here's an OCS 2007 R2 Adoption and Training Kit from Microsoft. You'll probably want to add information about your organization's specific setup to this too.

Step 6 – Evaluate alternatives.

I refer to two things here when I say “alternatives.” One is your existing communication options. Which of these options should you phase out? When should you do it?

The following can usually be phased out following Unified Communications implementation:

  • Non-OCS desktop phones
  • Third-party IM clients
  • Fax machines
  • Voicemail systems
  • Third-party conferencing solutions

Two is Communicator Web Access (CWA). Will you need to implement CWA? I would say yes, as it makes a good backup when someone can't access their own system or is having trouble connecting with Office Communicator. CWA should be in place at switchover.

Step 7 – Remind users of Switchover Point.

Email all users again. Make it a short interval – 7 days, for example. Mention your advocates as people to ask if someone has a quick question. (This way people don't all hound one person–namely you.)

Step 8 – Switch Over to UC!

On the appointed day…
–Deploy the Unified Communications technology for all users.
–Deactivate the communication options being phased out. See previous post.

And prepare for the inevitable grumbling that comes with change.

Have you used a user adoption plan like this? Planning to use this one in future UC upgrades? Please let a comment and let us know. Same if there's something you think should be added here. I have an Edit button and everything.

A Basic Plan for Unified Communications User Adoption

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