A BI portal can be a powerful tool for improving cross-team collaboration and knowledge management within an organization. With a BI portal, assets are accessible across teams, creating broader impact and fostering an analytics-driven and innovative work culture.
Designing an engaging, functional and valuable BI portal is an important factor for ensuring enthusiastic adoption and use of the portal, but a second and equally important component to a seamless adoption is something that may not have been considered – developing a change management plan that drives the smooth implementation and adoption of a new BI portal. Forethought about how to manage the change of the new BI portal should be thorough and deliberate and consider each step of the process - researching, designing, building, launching, maintaining and managing improvements of the BI portal.
Change is hard. Inevitably, technological change within an organization can either result in cheers, suspicious side-glances, or even heel-digging, arm-crossing “nos”. Managing a change in culture is the most challenging aspect of introducing technological improvements, such as BI portals. For successful change management, a plan should consider and focus on both the practical and emotional benefits of the change. In the case of a BI portal, the practical advantages to tout are increased ROI on data, accessibility and knowledge exchange. The emotional benefits may include improved job satisfaction (through visibility of individual and team efforts across the organization), feelings of inclusion (through better communication and collaboration between teams), and less frustration (due to easy access to resources and information).
Change management at all phases of the BI portal development
For the widest adoption of a new BI portal and smoothest transition, focus on a few change management principles: be inclusive, transparent and informative. These principles can be built into the entire lifecycle of the BI portal from research and training to launch. Before the start of the project, identify several timepoints throughout development where users can participate and information and project status can be shared across the organization.
• Discovery and research
The act of interviewing leadership, stakeholders and users during the discovery phase is not only essential for gathering information about current processes, user needs, pain points and behaviors, but it starts to plant the seeds for smooth adoption down the road. These initial conversations introduce the idea of the upcoming change and also elevate stake and interest in the project. This is also a good point to start thinking about and planning for the introduction of the BI portal to the rest of the organization. Work with leadership to define key messaging, identify the right communication channels, document an action plan and detect potential roadblocks.
• Design, develop and test
The goal of creating a great user experience should drive the design and development of the BI portal. The BI portal should be valuable, actionable, engaging and accessible. The folks who will be using the portal every day are the best source for feedback as to whether the designs are hitting those marks. Testing of the system is another milestone for including stakeholders and users. Make sure design, development and testing are not happening in a vacuum. By including stakeholders and users in these steps of the process, the change is also being carefully managed. When people are aware of the progress of the project and are feeling included in the process, the anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the upcoming change drops.
• Training and pilot
A complete and thorough training program is essential to ensure the adoption and use of a new BI portal. If users are confused on how to use the portal, they will avoid it. Building a successful training program is an art that often requires a specialized team either internally or externally that can analyze training needs, develop a curriculum and deliver instructor-led and/or web training sessions.
Train users in advance of the launch, so they are prepared on launch day. Make all of the training materials easy to access. Once the BI portal is up and running, highlight important training content on the homepage, and make all training resources easily accessible. Consider training an ongoing process instead of a one-time event. When you properly train your users, you are informing them. Informed users will embrace a new BI portal faster than confused users.
A pilot phase is a great opportunity to observe a group of select super-users using the BI portal and gather feedback. Pilot users become fully invested, and can help spread word about the benefits of the BI portal to others. A pilot phase can also act as a soft-launch phase of a transition plan, so that the official portal launch does not feel as much of an abrupt change across the organization.
• Launch and constantly improve
One the BI portal has launched, continue to gather user feedback in order to make improvements on future iterations. This continuous improvement loop helps to elevate user experience, but also gives all users a sense of ownership in the project. Because the BI portal is system that will evolve and improve over time, that makes having a solid change management plan in place all that more important.
Advocate at all levels
Successful change should be led from both the top-down and the bottom-up. Get the support of leadership from the start, engage with stakeholders throughout and then identify “change agents” from all levels of the organization to support and advocate for the new BI portal. These key players will not only provide essential input during the BI portal development process but will also promote the BI portal to their teams. Getting buy-in from folks at all levels ensures that the upcoming BI portal will start to become part of the conversation at team meetings and included in strategy and planning efforts. There will also be a shift in culture, with the comfort level surrounding the new BI portal improving.
Inform and build excitement
Well ahead of the launch, start promoting the benefits of the upcoming BI portal and announce events such as calls for focus group participants, approaching training dates and, of course, the big launch date. Exposure is key. Leverage the expertise of your marketing team to get the word out through company-wide emails, talking points at team meetings, announcements on internal websites or existing portals, and the oldie-but-goodie - flyers posted in common areas. Informing through advertising will ease any anxieties that may exist about the new BI portal. It is no longer an unknown or unexpected event, but rather a welcome and anticipated event.
So, before diving into the development of a new BI portal, consider from the start how this portal will impact existing systems, processes and users and how that change will be carefully managed along the whole journey. Deliberate steps should be taken to ensure that the organization is being inclusive, transparent and informative about the new BI portal across the entire organization. Eliminate the element of surprise and ease anxieties. Find ways to cultivate support and excitement. The change management plan can be executed all along the way and in sync with the development of the BI portal. Once the launch date arrives for the new BI portal, users will welcome the new addition and the efficiencies it brings. If there is any straggler in your organization left asking “what BI portal?” it will only be because they are just returning from their remote, off-the-grid, months-long sabbatical. Point them to the training materials, asap!
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