Managing End Users

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Posted 2009-06-09 Print this article Print

Managing user expectations was as big a challenge as any in an email migration.

The real challenge with migrations, however, is less about managing the work involved and more about managing the expectations from end users, Palumbo says. The reason why so many migrations are a headache is because they are instituting a change, and when it comes down to it, most users hate change.

“One of the last things I wanted to deal with, and which I feel all IT departments hate, is backlash,” Palumbo says. “I didn’t want to have one end user who just got migrated going to the user who is scheduled next week to say, ‘Exchange sucks. The new system sucks.’”

In order to nip the negativity in the bud, Palumbo decided that his push also needed to include a healthy dose of internal PR to get users excited about Exchange.

“We did a whole lot of explaining about what was great about Exchange and what was to come in the next few months,” Palumbo said. “We wanted that conversation to be more like, ‘You’re not on Exchange yet? Wait to you get on it. We can share calendars, we can share folders, we can share contacts.’”

Part of the PR effort also entailed selling the seamlessness of the system change. Palumbo reassured users that their e-mail addresses would stay the same, that they’d still have access to their saved e-mail and everything else they needed to get their jobs done.

In addition to pumping users up about the benefits of Exchange, Palumbo also worked to take the covers off the process for users so that they had a high degree of transparency into the who, what, and when of the migration. Users were regularly updated about who was lined up next for migration, what kind of downtime they would experience during the process, and when they could expect full functionality from the system.

Palumbo’s team was also very explicit about hiccups that would occur in new functions during the six-month migration, as certain upgraded offices would still not be able to share information with other offices still working with the old system.

And finally, Palumbo was sure to remember to train the users once migrations were complete. Part of the migration process was taking five to 10 minutes with each user, either in person or using GoToMeeting, to explain the system, show them how to use new features and functions and to answer any questions they had.

“It was these little details that were crucial,” he said. “You want to make sure once the hand-off is complete that they’re comfortable using the system.”

All in all, the extra PR efforts seemed to work. Not only was there minimal backlash to the new system, but Palumbo and his team actually received compliments from the users. More importantly, Blue Man’s IT was running an e-mail service that drastically reduced help desk calls and allowed Palumbo to concentrate on more strategic work. 


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