Using Enterprise Social for Transparent Change Management and Learning

This is a draft of a post that will appear on

A change in an enterprise software system is more than just a requirement to log into a new program. Over time users and organizations create processes, shortcuts, routines, and methods of coping with a specific software system and its quirks.

When an update or change of system happens, many people are reluctant or resistant to the requirement to change their way of working. Oftentimes, an unsuccessful software implementation is due to poor change management and learning practices, rather than the software itself. Organizations fail to notice and acknowledge the cultural change that the software requires.

A rollout of a new system usually means Learning and Development or (worse) IT deliver formal training, perhaps some eLearning, and copious amounts of documentation. 

I tried a different approach for a new professional services automation system rollout.

While there was formal training offered on a schedule, it was not required. To support the training we created a group in Yammer where anyone could post a question or comment on the new system and get an answer. As community manager, I tagged posts without tags and triaged the initial posts to our team of SMEs.

The response was very impressive. Within two weeks:

  • 75% of the company were members of the support group, about half posting at least once.

  • The SMEs all started replying directly to comments and questions, without prompting.

  • We created 35 Notes of individual curated questions or comments and replies, thereby creating a crowdsourced informal FAQ.

  • People chose to attend subsequent sessions of formal training as a result of questions arising in the Yammer group

  • We were able to provide further individual and group coaching targeting specific problems experienced by people.

The best feedback we received after the roll-out was that the openness and frankness of the Yammer group was crucial in calming negative responses to change.

As group facilitators, we openly acknowledged complaints and problems. This helped prevent large scale negativity by focusing on the reasons for the change and the eventual benefits the company would accrue.

The new system was definitely not bug free; but by acknowledging and supporting our employees openly, we addressed many of the causes of change negativity before they could take hold. We were even able to curate bugs and usability issues to send to the vendor support system.