Best Kept Secrets of Change Management: Define User Groups, AKA Seeing the Forest AND the Trees

By Nick Bathke

You’ve successfully created your Circle of Trust and you’ve navigated the dangerous waters of Executive Sponsorship, so what’s next? Let’s talk User Groups.

You can go into a project with the best communications plan, a great training series, and an effective marketing campaign and still find that some users are hesitant to embrace change or may be openly hostile about the change. What gives?

One thing you may not have considered is User Groups–including how to properly define them, and then tailor the communications, training, and marketing to them. Let’s walk through it together!

Forest, meet trees

Wise people will often say “don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees,” but in this case, we will encourage you to ignore that completely. Instead, we want you to lose sight of the forest and focus in on the trees. What does that mean?

Don’t assume you can lump all users into one group and communicate, train, and market to them as one. Each user group is a tree that we want to identify and define. If you’ve read this far, you’ve likely already started to think about user groups within your organization. If you haven’t, check out the list below to get you started:

  • Executives
  • Executive assistants/admins
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • Marketing
  • Manufacturing
  • HR

Easy enough, right? At this point, you can layer on more variables to further narrow down user groups. Does your organization have multiple locations? Do those locations sit in separate time zones? Are there multiple languages within your locations? You can see that quickly these questions can add up, but their importance cannot be understated!

What did we miss?

Why does it matter if you’ve defined these groups? Let’s run through a simple example to illustrate the importance of user groups.

You are in charge of change management for a new email system at a company with 400 users. Your plan includes a robust communications plan for end users, such as emails and digital signage. You’ve scheduled enough trainings over a large period of time to cover all users, and you worked with marketing to blanket the campus with posters and desk-drops.

But, the Customer Service team uses a special plug-in for their email that no other users need, and it’s imperative to their day-to-day jobs. No communications mention if it will be available in the new email system, and your trainers aren’t aware of how to use or install it. And, even though there are posters throughout the Customer Service area, none of them mention this vital plug-in.

You can probably guess the ramifications of this, right? The Customer Service team is confused (at best) or hostile (at worst) in the lead up to the email change. Even if you react to this quickly, the Customer Service team will still be wary of the change because a core piece of their workflow was ignored.

What’s the lesson? Taking the time up front to identify the user groups will save you headaches and heartaches once the change is underway!

There are many pitfalls in a change project, and you’ve probably encountered a few in your past projects. But we often find that many pitfalls link back to not properly identifying a user group up front. Once you have defined your user groups you can figure out if they have unique needs and avoid the project-stopping plug-in situation from above.

Have you gone through this exercise before? Any big successes or pitfalls you learned from? Let us know in the comments below how you work to define your user groups, we’d love to hear from you!

Best Kept Secrets of Change Management: How to Avoid the Loch Ness Monster of Executive Sponsorship

By Sarah Gasparick

Chances are that you’ve heard it before: you need to get Executive Sponsorship secured with a project early on to help it succeed.

It’s good advice. In theory, it’s so simple. In practice, it is often an uphill battle. Getting the Executive Sponsor (or sponsors) to actually be active and visible can end up being more like sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. There may be rumors and a few witness sightings of the elusive sponsor, but the bulk of users are left alone in the foggy wilderness with no clear footsteps to follow.

It is not uncommon to launch a project and experience a “honeymoon” phase with Executive Sponsorship. You think you have the commitment and buy-in you need from leadership. Everyone shakes hands and smiles. Initial phases of the project get rolling and everything is just rosy.

Then the honeymoon is over and there’s a battle on the home front over who needs to do the dishes – er, I mean – there is a battle over who needs to deal with a difficult project decision. As you look over to the head of the table all you see is an empty chair. Your email requests go unanswered. Even your strongest supporters within the project team start to waver. The fog begins to set in…

Leaving footprints and maps

Where did things go wrong? While there may not be just one right answer here, we invite you to ponder the idea that if you didn’t take time to invest in “marriage counseling” before the wedding – that might be the issue.

In the pre-launch of a project, it is a smart idea to set clear expectations with the Executive Sponsor so that you can clarify that you’re not just looking for a figurehead to invest 15 minutes signing a letter or making quick remarks of support in one meeting. If you are looking for well-rounded sponsorship, you need to spell it out and gain agreement up front.

Not sure just what to ask for from your sponsor? Map it out!

Think about the activities that they could participate in that would yield the greatest exposure and inspiration to end users and compel them to adopt the new tools. Consider the timing and time investment required on their end, and do what you can to make your request easy for them to digest and achieve.

Depending on your organization footprint, you may need to get creative and have the sponsor create a short video to incorporate into marketing, versus asking them to attend 10 onsite manager meetings. Asking them to sign off on all of the communications for the project would be unreasonable, but perhaps they can send the company-wide announcement at the launch of the project.

The key is to make sure that there is ample presence from the sponsor so that end users will know with confidence that they are walking on the right path as they invest their time and energy in acclimating to their new resources.

Avoid a “Nessie” project! Get your Executive Sponsor the exposure that the team deserves and you’ll be one step closer to happily ever after.

Best Kept Secrets of Change Management: Build “Circles of Trust”

By Sarah Gasparick

It’s easy to explain the value of some of the classic aspects of change management – like providing timely learning opportunities for end users, or making sure to design a communications campaign. When we dig a bit deeper into change management best practices, pinpointing some of the magic behind the “secret sauce” becomes a bit harder to articulate – but we don’t like to shy away from a challenge so let’s give it a go!

Regardless of your job title, when it comes to assisting with change management efforts for a project one of the best things you can do is to leverage your “Circles of Trust.” What? Yeah, you read that right – “Circles of Trust.” We’re talking about the people in your sphere of influence who you’ve been developing strong relationships with long before this project was conceived.

People in your “Circle of Trust” will instinctively want you (and your initiatives) to succeed. Also, they should be honest with you about barriers they see to your path to success that may not be on your radar (i.e. they are willing to tell you if you have broccoli in your teeth).

Be a friend to make a friend

Ideally, every interaction you have with colleagues can be leveraged as an opportunity to build your “Circle of Trust.” Trust often takes time to grow, so we aim to nurture that trust every chance we get – whether that means holding the elevator, sharing a news article, or volunteering some of your talent to assist someone else with one of their initiatives.

Sounds lovely but maybe you’re frantically busy? Or maybe you’re really introverted and it sounds intimidating to dive deep into relationship-building? Hey, that’s okay! Realistically, we all have constraints on our time and energy for relationship and trust building, so we’ll let you in on our little secret: it is okay to be intentional about who to target for your “Circle of Trust.” Sketch out potential projects that are in the hopper for the next 6-12 months and ask yourself who you need to win over to “your side” for those projects to succeed.

Now that you have a few names (or departments) identified, dig into the real work of trust building by paying it forward. Ask yourself what you can do to help them win in their work in the next few months, then begin to engage them in conversations to see how you might be of assistance.

This doesn’t have to mean devoting hours of your week to your new buddy. Instead, consider some of the small ways you might be able to make a difference. Perhaps you can offer to give them feedback on a rough draft, test a workflow on a few members of your team, or offer to give them a warm introduction to a connection of yours who can help them reach their goal. Model for them what you hope they can do for you in the upcoming months, realizing that your seeds of friendship have just been planted, so we shouldn’t expect to see a favor in return right away.

Bringing your “Circle of Trust” full circle

One of our favorite examples of someone who had clearly made investments in building his “Circle of Trust” came from an IT Systems Analyst we partnered with a couple of years ago when his organization made the move to G Suite. As a member of the project team, this gentleman had been fairly quiet with us as a partner. However, when we met him onsite we were able to see him work his magic. When one particular VIP user was getting rather frustrated with learning the new tools, he quickly intervened to offer her 1:1 support time later on in the day after she had time to review some learning materials on her own.

In a flash, her mood turned around – his offer of support took her from frantic to feeling heard and supported. It was evident that he knew enough about her to know (and not guess) that this would be exactly what she needed, and she trusted his offer because she trusted him. She got to win, and he got to win in this scenario that could have been a real mess.

Whether it is spur-of-the-moment responsiveness, or strategic leveraging of your trusted relationships – the more you lean into your “Circle of Trust,” the more you’ll win when it comes to change management.

We’d love to hear your upcoming plans to build and maintain your sphere of influence. Share your favorite ideas in the comments section below!

How Scheels Uses Chrome to Help its Sales Associates Better Serve Customers

Note: This post was originally published on Google’s blog, The Keyword. Scheels partnered with Agosto to support their Chrome needs. 

Today’s post is from Becky Torkelson, Computer Support Specialist Leader for Scheels, an employee-owned 27-store chain of sporting goods stores in the Midwest and West. Scheels uses Chrome browser and G Suite to help its 6,000 employees better serve customers and work together efficiently.

Whether customers come to Scheels stores to buy running shoes, fishing rods or camping stoves, they talk to associates who know the products inside and out. We hire people who are experts in what they’re selling and who have a passion for sports and outdoor life. They use Chrome browser and G Suite to check email and search for products from Chromebooks right on the sales floor, so they can spend more time serving customers.

That’s a big improvement over the days when we had a few PCs, equipped with IBM Notes and Microsoft Office, in the back rooms of each store. Associates and service technicians used the PCs to check email, enter their work hours or look up product specs or inventory for customers—but that meant they had to be away from customers and off the sales floor.

Starting in 2015, we bought 100 Chromebooks and 50 Chromeboxes, some of which were used to replace PCs in store departments like service shops. Using Chromebooks, employees in these departments could avoid manual processes that slowed down customer service in the past. With G Suite, Chrome devices and Chrome browser working together, our employees have access to Gmail and inventory records when they work in our back rooms. They can quickly log on and access the applications they need. This means they have more time on the sales floor for face-to-face interaction with customers.

Our corporate buyers, who analyze inventory and keep all of our stores stocked with the products we need, use Google Drive to share and update documents for orders instead of trading emails back and forth. We’re also using Google Sites to store employee forms and policy guides for easy downloading—another way people save time.

We use Chrome to customize home pages for employee groups, such as service technicians. As soon as they log in to Chrome, the technicians see the bookmarks they need—they don’t have to jump through hoops to find technical manuals or service requests. Our corporate buyers also see their own bookmarks at login. Since buyers travel from store to store, finding their bookmarks on any computer with Chrome is a big time-saver.

Our IT help desk team tells me that they hardly get trouble tickets related to Chrome. There was a very short learning curve when we changed to Chrome, an amazing thing when you consider we had to choose tools for a workforce of 6,000 people. The IT team likes Chrome’s built-in security—they know that malware and antivirus programs are running and updating in the background, so Chrome is doing security monitoring for us.

Since Scheels is employee-owned, associates have a stake in our company’s success. They’re excited to talk to customers who want to learn about the best gear for their favorite sports. Chrome and G Suite help those conversations stay focused on customer needs and delivering smart and fast service.

Level Up Your Migration to G Suite with Transformation Labs

When employees are given a platform to innovate and test new ideas, impactful change can happen fast. That’s why here at Agosto, we fully believe in the power of the Transformation Lab to kick start meaningful change and get your company on track for exciting improvements in 2018. Interested in what that could mean for your organization? Read on to find out more!

The Basics: What is a Transformation Lab?

A Transformation Lab inspires users to innovate day-to-day business processes that may not have changed in years. We’ve learned over the last, nearly two decades that deploying G Suite is not just an IT project, but a human-centered project. With that in mind, we’ve found that the migration process needs to inspire people to accept, embrace, and take ownership over their new collaboration tools. The Transformation Lab is one key component to that goal!

Successful transformation requires more than just traditional change management. Users need to be empowered through the promotion of a collaborative culture and redesigned business processes. Agosto focuses on transformation at the intersection of your organization’s Technology (IT), People (users & culture) and Process (business processes and procedures).

Our Transformation Lab is a four-hour, Agosto-led event that allows your hand-selected team members to take ideas 

for improvements and turn them into real-world solutions. Agosto’s Change Manager will start by inspiring your team with real solutions to business process problems leveraging G Suite. Then, we will guide your team to identify opportunities to innovate business processes and workflows they deal with every day. Once your team has explored these ideas, they are directed to prototype actual, tangible solutions for one or two of their favorites. At the close of the lab, teams will walk away with actionable plans for their projects, and you will have a roadmap of potential initiatives for long-term innovation that your employees are invested in completing.

The Why Behind Transformation Labs

Opportunity & Impact

Transformation Labs are an opportunity to help your users imagine new and innovative ways to grow your business through Google tools you’ve already made a significant investment in. Successful Agosto G Suite customers are those who’ve embraced more than just Gmail and Google Calendar and sought true transformation by rethinking the way they collaborate and do business from a process level.

Customers that transform their company culture to continue to innovate on processes often see more competitive prices, lower cost, better operational controls, less risk, customer growth, and improved employee satisfaction.

Productivity

Moving to Google and the cloud opens up many opportunities to rethink the way things have been done in the past. Taking the opportunity to look at processes across the organization and re-engineering them to take advantage of your new real-time collaborative cloud capabilities often produces massive productivity gains, freeing up huge numbers of hours each week that can be reapplied back to the business!

User Satisfaction  

Employee satisfaction rises when employees feel like they have the right tools to do their jobs and then feel more productive with their daily tasks.

During the initial deployment of G Suite, users may have been trained on features and functionality.  Transformation Labs take this one step further by helping users actually apply these new tools to the work they do every day. It’s a more proactive approach to G Suite implementation that drives greater adoption for the tools IT has rolled out, and greater satisfaction among users who understand and appreciate the attention paid to optimizing their day-to-day workflows.

Interested in learning more?

This year due to popular demand, Agosto is expanding our Transformation Lab offerings, including a brand-new virtual option, an onsite option, and an onsite option with follow-up hours from our technical resources to help implement the projects your users created.

Not sure which option is right for you? As your G Suite partner, we will work with your team to make sure the Transformation Lab that you choose is the best option for your needs! Reach out to Agosto here to discuss scheduling a Transformation Lab at your organization.

Elastifile: Taming Cloud FOMO and Paving the Way to True Hybrid IT

Don’t have a clear cloud strategy, but recognize that you need one?  Do you have the fear of missing out and being left behind? If yes, you’re going to want to watch the recap of our latest webinar.

If you’re anything like most modern IT departments, the value of public cloud integration is no longer up for debate. It’s not a matter of “if”, but “when”.

Unfortunately, the “when” is often gated by logistical realities and not necessarily aligned with business need.  In particular, when trying to “lift and shift” their existing applications to cloud, enterprises typically face 3 major challenges:

  • Large data sets require POSIX-compliant file systems
  • Hybrid workflows need data mobility between on-premises environments and cloud
  • Traditionally, running file systems in the cloud has been expensive

Elastifile, in partnership with Agosto, is eliminating these roadblocks to true hybrid IT by helping enterprises seamlessly shift and burst existing enterprise applications to Google Cloud Platform…plus it’s cost-effective, delivers the performance and scalability that enterprise workloads require, and eliminates the need for application refactoring.

Getting to the cloud has never been this easy.  Check out the replay of our recent webinar featuring how Agosto and Elastifile work together below to learn more!

 

3 Steps to Prep Your Users for the Google Calendar Update

Exciting updates are coming to Google Calendar (and we’re not just saying that because we’re Google nerds)! Between now and February 28th, Google is rolling out changes to the Google Calendar layout that include some cool features that will make managing your time easier:

  • New and modern UI
  • See event details at a glance
  • See conference room details when booking a room
  • Add rich formatting and hyperlinks to invites
  • See multiple calendars side-by-side in “Day” view
  • Labs incorporated into the default Settings/View
  • Updated RSVP status indicators
  • Manage settings in one place

While all of the standard expected functionality and more are included in the update, getting used to the new layout will be an adjustment that may take time for some of your users. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Our change management team has been rolling this Google Calendar update internally at Agosto as well as working with our clients to smoothly transition ahead of the full release. Below we’ve outlined three simple steps to ensure a successful Google Calendar rollout for your teams.

Decide on timing for your Google Calendar rollout.

Google is offering the option for you to roll out the updates either automatically or manually prior to the forced switch on February 28, 2018.

For the Automatic rollout, which is the default option unless turned off, starting Nov. 14, 2017 Rapid Release domains will gradually transition users to the new UI. On Nov. 28, 2017 Scheduled Release domains will transition gradually to the new UI. The transition time in total takes about 8 weeks and users have the option to opt-in or opt-out to transitioning right away.

For the Manual rollout, you can choose to manually control when to move your users to the new UI in the Google Admin console. Although Google worked with the developers of the most popular Calendar Chrome extensions to prepare for the new UI, you might choose this option if you have users who depend on an extension that hasn’t been updated yet. Or you might choose this rollout if you want to check out the new UI in your test domain or organizational unit (OU).

To learn more about choosing your calendar upgrade timing check out this Help article.

Get early access to the right people.

As you prepare to update the calendar for your users, think through who in your organization should get “early access” to get comfortable and help champion the updates to the rest of your users. Make sure you’re including two groups here:

Your IT Team: Reach out to your IT teams and provide them with some advanced time to get familiar with the new design prior to general release to the rest of the organization.

Your “Google Guides”: Consider giving your change champions early access to assist you in supporting end users, so you have users beyond IT who can intermingle some positive reinforcement around the updates when the rest of your organization makes the switch.

Communicate the change to users.

Make sure you set up the rest of your users for success by communicating early, clear instructions that ease any concerns they may have about learning a new interface.

For our Agosto customers, you can contact your account manager to request email communication templates to help get you started!

Still feeling wary about the new Google Calendar update?

We’ve been training on it for a few weeks now here at Agosto and we’d love to help! Contact us to setup some time for training with our team to walk you through the highlights and make sure you’re getting the most out of the new Google Calendar.

Google Docs Phishing: How To Quarantine And Recover

Problem:

On 5/3/2017 a sophisticated, widespread, self-propagating attack was targeted at Gmail and G Suite users. This attack encourages users to click on an “Open In Docs” button, which then uses your existing login session to authenticate the attacker (without requiring the user to enter their credentials).  By clicking the “Open in Docs” button the user is allowing a script to connect to that user’s mailbox.

Example of malicious message:

This is what the whole attack looks like (courtesy of @zachlatta)

Solution/Workaround:

The below workaround is intended as a temporary solution and does not guarantee that future attacks will be prevented.  Please follow ALL of the steps below. These steps are provided by Agosto on an experimental basis. Agosto assumes no responsibility for any actions performed on your G Suite account.

Prevent Messages from Entering Domain

  1. Login to admin.google.com and create an Admin Quarantine following these steps
  2. Navigate to the Advanced Gmail Settings
  3. Scroll down to Content Compliance and create a new rule matching the screenshot shown in the appendix of this document
    1. Match Type (if any match)
      1. The body contains text https://accounts.google.com/o/oauth2/auth?client_id=
      2. Any envelope recipient is hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh@mailinator.com
    2. Action
      1. Quarantine – Using the Admin Quarantine created in step 1

Revoke Access for anyone who has already authorized this token

  1. Download and Install Google Apps Manager (GAM)
  2. Issue the following command to revoke all existing authorizations
    1. gam all users delete token clientid 366668462857-3qkidqn8oseh9v3fhm3085kpb747bgm7.apps.googleusercontent.com
    2. Optionally append the command with >> log.txt to keep a record of all affected users
  3. Information on this command is found here

Recall any trace of the infected message from all users accounts

  1. Download and Install Google Apps Manager (GAM)
  2. Issue the following command to purge all copies of the message
    1. gam all users delete messages query “to:hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh@mailinator.com” maxtomodify 100 doit
    2. Optionally append the command with >> log.txt to keep a record of all affected users
  3. Information on this command is found here

When We Met With Sundar Pichai

It was May, 2015 at Google I/O in San Fransisco.

We flew in from Minneapolis to see the live keynote from Sundar Pichai, who was then the Chief Product Officer (However, Larry Page appointed Pichai as CEO in October of 2015 when Alphabet was officially implemented as the parent company of the Google family).

At the time, Pichai talked a lot about introducing Machine Learning (ML) into Google’s product set. No one knew exactly what that could look like or how it would evolve.

With the recent Google for Work rebrand into Google Cloud, and the heavy focus on ML and Google Cloud Platform across the board, we’re now seeing what Pichai envisioned last year during I/O. One of the larger releases is Quick Access, which shaves 50 percent off the average time it takes to get to the right file by eliminating the need to search for it. It uses machine learning to intelligently predict the files you need before you’ve even typed anything.

From left to right: Paul Lundberg (Agosto CTO), Aric Bandy (Agosto President), Sundar Pichai (now Google CEO), Irfan Khan (Agosto CEO).

We had the privilege of briefly meeting with Pichai during I/O and discussing the product roadmap with him and his vision for ML. With their recent enterprise rebrand, it got us thinking about that conversation with him last year.

Excited to see what’s to come.

Google Cloud and G Suite: Keeping Track of the Rebrand

Google announced big news today: Google for Work is now called Google Cloud, and Google Apps for Work is now called G Suite.

But wait! It’s more than a name change…

G Suite not only speaks to the ecosystem of apps they’ve built and are continuing to improve upon, but they’ve announced the deeper integration with machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve your team’s efficiency and decrease the amount of time you jump between emails, meetings, and video calls so that you can focus on the important things at work.

The branding can be a little confusing and is always difficult to adapt to, but this guide should clear it up for you.

Updates Google Announced:

Quick Access: This removes your need to search for documents. Through machine learning, Google tracks ongoing meetings, emails, and chats to determine what documents you need to access next, drastically reducing the amount of time you spend searching for that one thing Pam shared with you three months ago.

Find a Time: Google Calendar saves you time when you need to coordinate schedules for multiple attendees. This functionality has been in Google Calendar for some time now, but the recent updates allow for smarter room booking. It rolled out to iOS today and by the end of the year it will be on Chrome as well.

Explore: This function was released last year in Sheets, incorporating machine learning to help you create complex graphs and functions easily. Today, Explore was released in Docs, Sheets, and Slides. It’s like having a researcher, analyst and designer by your side.

Team Drive: This is what we’re most excited about. In order to keep pace, a new capability called Team Drives redefines the model, shifting from a focus on the individual user to a focus on the team. Content ownership and sharing are managed at the team level, and new roles give more granular control over team content. Team Drives help streamline teamwork from end-to-end, from onboarding a new team member (add her to the team and she instantly has access to all of the work in one place) to offboarding a departing team member (remove him from the team and all of his work stays right in place), and everything in-between. We’ve been previewing Team Drives with a small set of customers, and we’re excited to begin to extend this capability to more customers through an Early Adopter Program.

Still Has the Same Apps

G Suite is still a collection of applications for enterprises to collaborate and communicate. Here are the staple applications in the suite:

Gmail: Gmail works on any computer or mobile device with a data connection and offline support lets you keep working even when you’re disconnected. Wherever you work, your email is there.

Hangouts: Hangouts enable online video meetings right from your laptop, mobile phone or tablet. With Google Apps, this included video conferencing connects you with up to 15 colleagues or clients anywhere in the world with just a click.

Calendar: Organize your day with Calendar and get event reminders on your phone or in your inbox. Attach files or docs to your event so you have the right materials when your meeting starts.

Google+: Google+ is a social media platform for your business. A place for sharing ideas, news, and stories. A place to connect with coworkers, family, and friends. Choose who can see your posts by sharing with a group of people, or your entire organization.

Drive: Keep all your files in one place and always have the most up-to-date version wherever you are. Automatically sync files from your desktop and have access across your devices.

Docs: Create and edit text documents from any smart device. Multiple people can work in the same document at the same time, and changes are saved automatically.

Sheets: Create and edit spreadsheets from any smart device. Handle everything from simple task lists to data analysis with charts, filters and pivot tables.

Forms: Create custom forms for online surveys and questionnaires. Gather responses in a spreadsheet and analyze the data right in Google Sheets.

Slides: Create, edit and present polished presentations from any smart device. Multiple people can work on the deck at the same time and everyone always has the latest version.

Sites: Launch a mobile-friendly destination site for your team or project, or a portal for your customers using simple drag-and-drop tools.

Admin: Administration shouldn’t need a manual. Easily add users, manage devices, and configure security and settings so your data stays safe.

Vault: Manage, retain, search and export your organization’s email and on-the-record chats. Vault is included exclusively with our $10/user/month plan.

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