At the heart of a digital transformation, the pilot phase plays a key role in the success of a project. It is advised to experiment scenarios on a limited perimeter once the specifications have been defined and solutions have been chosen. Most of our customers observe that the most efficient and profitable platforms are those that were first developed during a pilot phase.
The company can not choose a tool solely on the basis of a simple demonstration of its functionality or cost. It must take into consideration the needs of its employees in order to design and develop the processes to facilitate the understanding of the chosen technology, its uses and its benefits by the end-users. This is where the pilot comes in.
Unlike a model that consists of an initial analysis of strategic objectives and operational needs to create a visual customization of what the future platform might look like, the pilot is the opportunity to reinforce or challenge the vision and customer’s preconceptions.
A test platform is available to the company to address the uses originally imagined (or even new uses), to understand the functionalities and applications of the solution, to measure the logic and the adoption potential. This personalized environment often leads to an immediate and transparent transition towards production.
Implementing the tool rapidly has the advantage for the company to validate the strategic alignment, to discover in depth its functionalities and to verify that the platform is a good fit with regards to the objectives of the project before committing to a longer-term collaboration with the provider.
On average, one to three months are enough for the entreprise to confirm the suitability of the technology. During this period, the ergonomics of the platform will be measured along with its ability to respond effectively to the objectives of the organization. By evaluating its potential to carry out satisfactorily the actions for which it is dedicated will make it possible to resize the project according to the user needs expressed later on.
The provider works closely with the company through monthly meetings where the way the company operates in terms of knowledge management is challenged. Information flows are analysed, facilitated and even optimised to arrive at a simple operating scheme for structuring of information adopted by all. These flows are transcribed into the platform. These structuring sessions are very quickly followed by an administrative training so that the project team is quickly autonomous and has the operational management regarding the implementation of the tool.
Even if the pilot is a way to better prepare the larger scale deployment, to evaluate the human effort needed and to identify upstream the main difficulties, its main objective is the appropriation of the tool by all employees.
To this end, it is advised to set up a pilot group, composed of people with diverse and varied profiles and experiences. This group should not be predominantly made up of early adopters, but rather represent all populations in a realistic way. It sometimes happens that the project team discovers profiles within the company that seemed to be more resistant to the new technology. They can prove to be true ambassadors of the tool during the deployment phase as they validated the concepts and realized that it brings real added value to their daily work.
This profiles diversity within the group is also an opportunity to detect possible obstacles to the use of the platform as well as dysfunctions, making it easier to anticipate them and promote adoption.
The project team’s role is to collect the remarks, comments and recommendations from the first users in order to adjust the tool to maximize usage for the collaborators. Organizing feedback sessions, setting up meetings, surveys and even informal encounters at the coffee break are ways to capitalize on these first communities. Moreover, the tool itself can contribute! For example, an area dedicated to collecting feedback was created during the pilot phase at a client’s site to encourage the pilot team to share their experiences with the platform.
The project team will be able to adjust the use scenarios, the deployment strategy and the architecture according to the feedback and behaviours that confirmed or invalidated the launch hypotheses. The pilot motivates the reflection to revise the communication plan and consolidate the animation plan in order to support the project in a pragmatic way during deployment.
Few pilot phases fail. On the contrary, the project and the steering committee are reinforced, users are reassured because their involvement is valued. They have a tool that is truly adapted to their needs, which has already been proven to work on a restricted perimeter.