Five steps to workspace transformation

Laurent Marini of Orange Business Services explains how to approach workspace transformation

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Five steps to workspace transformation Marini: Organisations need to plan clearly for workspace transformation.
By  Laurent Marini Published  July 24, 2014

Business and working life is changing. Globalisation, widely- dispersed teams, increased consumerisation of business IT and greater mobility are all converging to transform the working environment.

The traditional office is losing its role as the primary workplace, as increasing numbers of workers work remotely — whether on the move, at a client site or at home. In fact, nearly half of US workers allowed their staff to work remotely last year.

Employees want to work differently, and four million new young workers enter the US workforce every year. These employees have an intimate relationship with technology and want to use their familiar devices and applications at work. They are happy to work anywhere and need access to tools to be able to achieve this.

To be productive outside of the confines of the traditional office, enterprises need what we like to call the ‘new workspace’. It combines cloud computing, unified communications, mobility, ubiquitous networking and security to deliver the tools that employees need at any location.

Making the transformation to a new workspace solution is not an easy task and there are five key stages in this process.

Strategic review

The first step is to conduct a strategic review of your business. You could perform this internally or with a partner. A strategic review should help you understand your current position and the possible avenues you can take.

The focus of the review is on stripping everything back to basics, asking core questions like: What do you want to achieve? What is the business case you need to present to the board to get this passed? What are the desired KPIs? How many devices are you currently supporting? A strategic review is vital before you source a lead contractor.

Assessment of all variables
The second step is best performed by a consultant who can help you bring the strategic vision to life with the simplest roadmap possible. At this stage, you need to identify how much work there is, what equipment needs to be switched off and when to do it. You also need to agree on a speed of migration.

You can then develop a plan of action: Which department should go first? Is hybrid the best choice? What security measures must be enforced? Who are the relevant personnel needed? Are they expecting any holidays? Who will be responsible for protecting business-critical data and assets?

The end result is a detailed project brief to present to senior management and other stakeholders, such as users.

Designing the new workspace solution
The design of the solution is the most critical part of the project. It has to address every workspace need for the whole business. Step three picks up from where everything has been agreed and assurances have been made. Start with a one or two-day introductory workshop to collaboratively blueprint all the variables you need to consider. This includes reviewing legacy structures and determining if they need replacing, as well as understanding what governance processes need to be put into place.

Crucially, the design must work at every level and be suitable for all employees accessing the system with varying access rights. This requires a further kick-off meeting to put ideas into context and identify the necessary escalation contact who will be in charge of each process.

You then identify which third-party tools you need and if a security executive is required to ensure regulations are being met. NDAs are always in use, but you have to meet your own security processes above and beyond these.

Pilot implementation
After everything has been agreed upon and has been signed off with board approval and employee notification, the next step is a pilot implementation.

The most crucial point to consider before beginning implementation is that all the governance processes have been laid out and agreed, and that you are confident that the time is right to make the change. Every stage needs to be verified by you.

The golden rule here is that unless end-user acceptance is met, you cannot move onto the next switch-on phase. Working with your third-party providers, you need to ensure that dummy tests are run internally and that the tests are meeting as many crucial assessment points as possible. As this is a pilot, there is time for lessons to be learned, but the ultimate goal is for employees to have a seamless transition when they log on after the pilot has been successfully completed.

You must ensure that appropriate training and help-desk capabilities are in place for the duration of the pilot. Don’t replace legacy technology, such as desk phones, until the majority of employees are confident using the new workspace solution.

Learn before widening implementation
After the pilot phase is complete, the final step is to pause and allow time to evaluate results and make appropriate revisions. Learn from what’s happened to make the process smoother the next time around. Ensure that the metrics agreed with your partner have been achieved to avoid a potential snowball effect from errors. Until these success metrics have been met, staff from all the parties involved should stay on site to identify any tweaks needed on the IT side of the business.

Each deployment must be run on a case-by- case basis; there is no standardised approach. This might sound simple but is often the biggest mistake people make in deploying the new workspace. They opt for a rip-and-replace process and spend ages afterwards resolving issues, interrupting normal business flow in the process.

You must be involved at every stage of this process, from the introduction stage right down to results and revisions. Most enterprises approach such transformations cautiously to eliminate business repercussions from taking such a leap of faith with new technology. Equally, employees should be allowed to make the transition in their own time, allowing them to adapt to the new workspace at a pace they feel comfortable with.

This consultative partnership approach will help to make the transformation more effective and efficient for everyone involved, enabling you to reap the results immediately.

Laurent Marini is the Country Manager for Saudi Arabia, Orange Business Services, and Managing Director of Orange Business Arabia.

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