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By | Published On: 16 September 2021 |

At a time when constant change has become the ‘new normal’, digital champions programmes add power and impact to change projects, helping people to embed and adopt new technology and new systems.

In this week’s article, we talk to some of our Changing Social colleagues about why they think digital champions programmes are so powerful and why our Digital Champions as a Service product has the winning formula.

We spoke to Head of Sales and Marketing, James Mitcham, Adoption and Change Specialist, Kelly Orford and SharePoint and Power Platform Consultant, Samir Daoudi to catch their perspective on the tried and tested digital champions programme model.

So, why are digital champion programmes such a powerful tool?

James: “I think one of the key elements is that the champions are themselves end users, so they know how their colleagues are feeling. They’re also in the perfect position to help us identify situations where our digital champions programme could be used to show how businesses can use the technology they have to change the way they work and become more productive.

“I also think that peer-to-peer learning is so powerful. Research has shown that people would prefer to learn from their colleagues, and it certainly helps with scale as they can do this in a more informal environment rather than having to get everyone together to train.

“It also helps with the evergreen element. Microsoft is constantly updating or introducing new technologies and having the champions means we can ensure these new changes are embedded successfully.”

Kelly: “For me, it’s all about the people. Obviously, the technological elements have to be there in the first place but in my experience, it’s the people that really make the difference in whether the tech lands successfully.

“You could have spent thousands on the new technology but if it isn’t successfully adopted by the people then you’ll have so much untapped and wasted technology because they don’t know how to use it.

“Champion programmes are so successful as you have real people who understand not only the tech and tools that could really make a difference to their team, but they also know their colleagues and how to support them with introducing these tools.

“People can be quite cynical about ‘another IT project’ but if they see their colleagues using the tools, they’re far more likely to start using them too.”

Samir: “Yes, I’d like to build on that from an IT perspective. I’ve seen many organisations who have a divide between the business and the IT department, often caused by a lack of support with IT issues. So having a champion within your team who is the ‘middleman’ and can help with the IT queries is so powerful. They definitely bridge the gap and make the technology accessible and easy to understand for everyone.”

Why is it so important that organisations adapt the way they work and introduce these new Microsoft technologies now?

Samir: “There’s so much technology available to us and so many different scenarios for how we can use it…It can get quite confusing for organisations and their people.

“It’s a time of real change for a lot of businesses who might not have adopted certain tools or platforms before and with everything that’s happened over the past 15 months, there’s been a real shift in how people work. Now’s the perfect time to utilise their own people to help make these new tools a success.

Kelly: “Technology has grown exponentially and has completely transformed the way we work. We have the opportunity to work smarter and faster, rather than harder.

“Microsoft has spent billions and invested years of hard work refining and perfecting its offering to make sure it really works for organisations. Now’s the time to start making the most out of the investment and the capabilities of the tools and apps.”

Tell me a bit about the Digital Champions programme:

James: “The programme has been built on years of experience developing and working with communities of engaged champions.

“It brings a structured 18-month subscription and is split into six campaigns focussing on various aspects of Microsoft 365 technologies.”

Kelly: “Adopting new technology is so much more than just introducing new systems, it’s the people that make the difference. And that’s what sets our Digital Champions as a Service programme apart. It also incorporates the people skills that champions will need to help colleagues embed the technology and encourage them to adopt new ways of working.”

Samir: “Delivered using Microsoft Teams and Yammer, the programme is packed full of engaging content from self-learning with Microsoft Learning Pathways, webinars, challenges, quizzes, feedback and Ask the Experts. People really enjoy using these platforms and apps to learn and find them engaging and fun. It’s a great way to learn.”

Why should people choose the Changing Social programme?

James: “The programme’s been built up from years of hard work and a lot of in-depth research and experience into why champion programmes fail, what makes them work and how they can be impactful.

“The programme provides all the tools and resources you need to run it and make it successful. It’s structured and takes the champion on a journey so they’re inspired and engaged throughout.

“And with the help of the Community Manager, which we provide as part of our service, we ensure the programme, and the champions, have the time and resources they need. Ultimately, it answers all the reasons why other champion programmes fail.”

“As part of our Digital Champions as a Service app, we also offer the metrics so people can really see the value that the programme is adding. It shows how many are attending training webinars or engaging in the quizzes so you can clearly see how engaged your community is.”

Kelly: “I’ve seen a lot of digital champions programmes that are set up to fail. Management aren’t made aware of how much time will be required of their people, champions don’t realise the time commitment they need to make, people are ‘volun-told’ (told to nominate themselves rather than self-nomination) and there’s not enough resource or time available for the programme.

“Our programme mitigates all of this. It’s completely outsourced to us so we manage it for you. We cover the recruit, communication, the learning structure, the learning content…everything needed for a successful champion programme is provided for you. It’s our job to make it a success.”

Samir: “I think the way we have positioned the programme means that it works for everyone. It’s not just written for people with IT knowledge, it’s written so that anyone can join the programme and understand the tools. I think the mix of technology along with the softer skills really sets it apart. We teach people things like influencing skills to encourage collaboration and how to adapt to the new ways of working.”

What do you enjoy the most about working with the champions?

Kelly: “It’s definitely the light-bulb moment! That split-second when someone really gets it and can see how it will make a difference to the way they, and their team, work.

“I’ve had instances where I’ve shown people how a particular tool works and they’ve instantly seen the benefits of it. One champion had been doing something the same way for 25 years and it took a lot of time. A new tool which we showcased during a webinar meant they could do it much quicker and in an easier way.

“A week later when I caught up with the team, they were all raving about the new tool and how it had made such a difference and saved them so much time.

“I love knowing I’ve made someone’s work life easier.”

What are you excited about with the Digital Champions programme?

James: “I’m really excited to be working with some of our amazing clients. I’m excited about the impact we can make and to really see the difference. It’ll be great to see something we’ve built from the ground up and worked so hard at, really changing the way people work.”

So, what next?

James: “The programme takes our champions and teaches them to crawl, walk, run with the technology so they become experts. Ultimately, our digital champions of today are potentially our citizen developers of tomorrow!

“Automation has to be the next really big thing and seeing how it can help organisations work smarter and more productively, so we’ll definitely be keeping our eye on that.”

Samir: “There’s always room for improvement. We’re always asking for feedback and Microsoft moves so quickly and introduces new things, so we’ll always have to refresh our content and learning material.”

Kelly: “At the moment, a lot of people are still working from home, but the future of the workplace is most definitely moving to a hybrid model. We need to continue to adapt and help people make the most of this new way of working.

“I want to make sure people know how all the Microsoft tools fit together. OneDrive, SharePoint, Yammer, Teams…it’s great to know how these work in their entirety but how do they all work together.

“We’re all about continuous improvement at Changing Social so we’ll always take on feedback and make any improvements where necessary. It’s an exciting time and the future is looking even more amazing.”

Does your business need help to adopt Microsoft 365 and its many tools? Does the Digital Champions as a Service product sound like something that could help your organisation? Contact us via the form below or email us at [email protected] for a chat.


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