I imagine most folks begin their journey toward Enterprise 2.0 by saying, “I wish we had some of these Web 2.0 tools at my company.”
Actually, I imagine that people are more specific than that. Substitute Wikipedia, Facebook or Twitter for “Web 2.0 tools” and you’d have the starting point for most organizations.
What happens next can determine the success or failure of your Enterprise 2.0 effort.
The Tao Te Ching reminds us that “a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step.” Taking that first step is important.
I’ve read lots of advice regarding that first step. Probably the most common advice is to know why you you need the tool. It’s not enough to want to be “more 2.0.” What objectives do you want to achieve with the new technology?
Many Enterprise 2.0 bloggers are quick to point out that you must be specific. The answer can’t be “to work better together” or to “share information more effectively”. If you can tie the technology to the improvement of a specific work process or output, you’ve got a much better chance of the enterprise 2.0 implementation succeeding.
But I won’t spend any time on that, because frankly, the “Why are we doing this?” question comes up all the time during an implantation. If you have to justify resources for your enterprise 2.0 effort, you’ll get asked this question repeatedly. And if you don’t have a specific answer, the E2.0 effort won’t get underway, period.
The second biggest mistake companies make is picking a specific tool or technology too early.
Software evaluation practices at many organizations are backwards. You evaluate the features and functions of one tool versus another, and then you ask the question, “how do I buy?”
It’s tempting to consider the tool or technology in the abstract, separate from issues of support, maintenance and training. Don’t fall into this trap! Most software works. But whether it will work for you or your team is about much more than its features and benefits.
I think it might be better to consider these question in reverse: “What sort of vendor relationships do I want? What sort of product does that imply?”
For example, do you want your own IT shop to implement the product, or do you want to bring in outside consultants? Is a pay-as-you-go cloud solution feasible, or do you prefer to own the solution outright?
These provider arrangements have almost nothing to do with the technology itself. Frequently, they’re left out of the evaluation process. In the government sector, buying a software product is often a different line item than buying consulting services. Sometimes they fall under different contracts altogether. Trying to force a one-stop-shop vendor into this procurement model can be a disaster in the making.
Before picking a tool, you should know what your team is able to support. Finding a tool or a vendor that matches your procurement process can be more important than the tool itself.
The good news is that companies today have lots of choices when it comes to implementing Enterprise 2.0 solutions. You can construct a deal that works for all of the groups involved. But that often means that you can’t be wedded to a particular tool or technology at the start. You have to know what sort of financial and working arrangements will suit your organization first.