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Implementing an Enterprise Social Network – Analysis

This is the first post in a series looking at Implementing an Enterprise Social Network. In this post we are going to look at the importance of Analysis. We have also looked at Migration activities and how to drive Adoption.

One thing all IT projects have in common is ‘requirements’. These are simply the things a system needs to address in order for it to be successful. Sounds simple? Well it can be, but often it isn’t. Many IT projects suffer because they don’t spend adequate time thinking about requirements before jumping into the development, build or deployment phases. Enterprise Social Networks are no different.

We are lucky here at Beezy in that our products are supported by a great team of partners, who understand the value of a good Analysis phase to their projects. In this post we will look at the sorts of best practices our partners regularly employ to ensure Beezy Enterprise Social Networks get off to a great start.

1. Review existing systems

For many companies looking at a Beezy Enterprise Social Network, it is likely they have some kind of old social tool that they have used before. If not then they may have experimented with social features of broader Intranet tools or other enterprise solutions.

The key to this first step is to learn from the past. Before building a new system, look at what worked, and what didn’t, previously. How did users get on with other systems? Are there particular features or functions that really worked? How was the system or function rolled out? What lessons can be learnt?

Implementing a new system is a great time to wipe the slate clean, but this doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what has gone on before. A good Analysis phase will review existing and past systems and learn from them.

2. Talk to users

This sounds so simple, and yet it is so often missed or not done correctly. When implementing a new IT system it is important to talk to users first. When implementing a new Enterprise Social Network it is vital. User adoption and even all round user enthusiasm is so important to the success of your project, and it is key to get users involved from day one.

A good Analysis phase will spend time talking to users and understanding their needs. If you have a large user base then consider distributing surveys or holding large ‘town hall’ meetings (once Beezy is up and running you can do these online in future!). For small teams of people simply sit down and ask them questions. Get a feel for what they want, and what they don’t want. End users aren’t always right, and don’t always have the answers, but consulting them can uncover vital intelligence that will drive your project to success.

3. Research best practice

The world of Enterprise Social Networking is fast pace and constantly moving. Here at Beezy we always have one eye on the future. It is important in a good Analysis phase to consider what is coming down the line, and current best practices out there in the marketplace. This includes a few different areas:

  • What features and functions are out there that you could consider using? Do you they meet your requirements, or suggest functionality you had not thought of?
  • What is happening in your business? Are there are big events coming up, meetings or functions? Anything that would benefit from a social network, or that you could aim the project at in its later stages?
  • Are there any general trends, in adoption or usability, that you could consider and take advantage of?
4. Company objectives

The needs of users are extremely important, but it is also important for a good Analysis phase to consider senior stakeholders and the needs of the wider business. Often senior management will have specific business objectives they wish a new system to fulfil. There might be a specific business problem, such as improving collaboration across different offices, which they are trying to address. These needs should be identified and fleshed out in detail.

Company objectives often chime with user requirements, but occasionally they will appear in conflict. This is where the Analysis phase needs to prioritise the various needs, putting together an overall plan that satisfies the needs of the many in the right way for the good of the company.

A complex phase

Good requirements gathering, as part of a good Analysis phase, isn’t always easy to achieve. A good Business Analyst, with knowledge of both your company and the Enterprise Social Network in question, is vital. So to is cooperation from users and management alike. But getting this work right is really important, and when done well can get your project off to the best possible start.

Keep an eye on the blog for more in this series on ‘Implementing an enterprise social network’. 

Maximo Castagno

Maximo Castagno

Chief Product Officer. I’m a sociologist designing for humans since 1998.