Customer and User Success

Four Reasons Naming Conventions are Key to Successful IT Collaboration

IT Collaboration Needs IT Adoption

So, you’d think working with IT adoption specialists would make IT adoption easier, right?

Wrong. We’re all just more aware of each other’s mistakes.  

Take naming conventions, for example. They are one of the most basic, fundamental steps to take down the road to full IT adoption. 

But everyone comes to their job with their own Naming Logic – which may, or may not, actually be logical as determined by other human beings. 

To take the mystery out of other people’s logic, create order and streamline workflows naming conventions must be created and enforced. Continually. Because not only do old habits die hard, but also because people come and go, which only makes naming conventions even more important than they were when you implemented them.

Why Naming Conventions Are Important

There are a number of reasons why naming conventions are important. But let’s hit the high points:

Naming conventions:

1. Create order.

When all file and folder names are structured in a replicable way – such as ACME_Proposal_v.1_03SEP12.docx – then there is no question as to what it is and everyone can follow along and the “but it made sense to me” quotient is eliminated. 

This is especially important for documents that originate on an individual’s device, as their singular creation. If they do not follow the organization’s naming convention then the second that working document –with its idiosyncratic file name – goes to anyone else, chaos can ensue. (Trust me – I’ve seen it happen all too often, even with my best employees.) It’s just easier to follow the naming conventions in every instance, thereby reducing the likelihood of future confusion.

2. Establish a sustainable structure.

Having a naming convention makes it easy to scale your operation and keep everyone sane. Scaling not only includes exponential growth, but also exponential complexity. When everyone plays (or…names) by the same rules, the order naming conventions create accretes and solidifies.

3. Make work quicker and easier.

The mental shorthand naming conventions provide make it easier for people to do their jobs, which makes work move more quickly. For example, when a document is in development, it could be a “draft” or it could be “in process”. But neither of those terms actually define where that version is in the document’s life cycle, which easily leads to confusion. Naming conventions, like in #1 above – ACME_Proposal_v.1_03SEP12 – eliminates confusion and makes everyone’s lives easier as a result. 


4. Ensure simple sorting and searching

Simply put: grouping and categorizing works. Coders, with their complex and data-rich world, have been grouping for years. Bringing this coder’s Best Practice to everyone else in an organization simplifies whole file and database structures, simplifying and speeding up the tasks of sorting and searching.

A Little Enforcement Goes a Long Way

Helping people adhere to naming conventions is all about creating good habits, which is the basis of all user adoption activities. And ongoing vigilance is needed. 

Team Leaders are usually those tasked with ensuring  employees are made aware of and correct the inevitable times when naming conventions are forgotten, making them a pivotal point of making sure everyone's ducks are in a row.

Appreciate your employees? Get creative in showing you care

Let me know if this one sounds familiar. When at happy hour, do you or your friends typically spend time talking about the latest dumb thing that happened at work, how clueless the boss is, or how demoralized people are with their jobs? Not exactly a “happy” hour, is it?

Thank you for employees I have several friends who work for organizations that have great missions that are very meaningful to my friends. They work hard and regularly put in extra effort because they believe in the mission and they take pride in their work. And yet, they don’t feel that their contribution is acknowledged, valued or appreciated.

Employees want to know that they are valued

It is not enough just to value the work of your teammates and employees. You need to let them know that they make a valuable contribution. You need to align your words and actions so that they internalize the feeling of being appreciated.

Words are great, but actions are better

Many leaders – from the CEO down to front-line supervisors – actually appreciate the contribution of their team. They may even say the words. But they don’t often show it. You need to demonstrate that you value the contribution of others.

Small gestures make a big difference

Demonstrating that you appreciate your employees does not require major time, efforts or expense. Sure, there is a time and place for big awards, cash gifts and bonuses. The problem is that these big ticket appreciation gestures are expense and happen quite infrequently. People appreciate them at the time, but then this feeling of appreciation quickly fades and needs to be renewed.

If you want to keep people motivated, you need to let them know that you are paying attention to the little things they do that make a big difference to the organization.

For example, do your people stay a little bit late to finish something up or stop what they are doing to help a co-worker with a problem they can’t fix on their own? Do they put in just that little bit of extra effort in a meeting or on a deliverable just because they care? Oh, and don’t forget the person who helps protect you from yourself by saying “no” when you are going off-course or taking on too much.

Get creative in showing you care

Show you appreciate your employeesAcknowledging all of these small contributions is a great way to show that you are paying attention and that you value your co-workers, teammates, and direct reports. But what should you do?

Get creative! For most people, the act of acknowledge their contribution is more important than what they may actually receive.  If you have just a couple dollars or a few hundred, you do a lot to demonstrate you care.

Technology can make all of this quick and easy. For example, using the free app Treater, you can instantly send friends a cup of coffee, free drinks, or a night out. And since you can do it right from your smart phone, you can do it while sitting at the airport, while waiting for your next meeting to start, or when waiting at the bar for your friends to arrive. It takes so little effort for you, but makes a big difference to your employee.

Want to go the extra mile? If you can find something that fits with their personal interests it not only shows that you appreciate their contribution, it also shows that you have taken the time to get to know them as a person. Does the person always comment that their kids make a mess? Why not go to Living Social and send them a free house cleaner? Are they a Civil War history buff? Why not get them a carriage ride on the Gettysburg Battlefield?

The point is, taking a few minutes to thank people on a regular basis and show them you care is quick, painless, and goes a long way to helping make them happy and productive. Oh, and it feels pretty good to put a smile on someone else’s face. Try it, you won’t be disappointed!

Things to think about

  • What are all the ways you make small acts of appreciation for the little things your employees do every day?

  • How could you use small gestures to acknowledge the little things that people do to help adopt to changes (new systems or processes) in your organization?
  • How can you get other leaders in your organization to routinely acknowledge the little contributions of their team members?

Would enterprise collaboration software fix Congress?

Have you ever noticed how many organizations jump to deploy software in hopes it will fix large organizational performance issues? They hope that providing tools - like SharePoint, CRM, ERP, and myriad social sharing systems - that enable collaboration will actually result in improved collaboration.

But spending a lot of time and money on a technical solution alone will not fix an organizational and people problem.

Don’t be silly. Nothing will fix Congress.

Regardless of your political views, the US Congress is a shining example of an organization which does not embrace collaboration. 

There are deep differences in values, complex rules and processes that prevent collaboration, a complete lack of accountability, and misaligned incentives. (Let's be honest, most elected officials’ primary concern is their own personal career and desire to win re-election.) This means there is never a shortage of poor performance and finger-pointing.

In short, there are complex levels of organizational dysfunction that no amount of technology alone will fix.

Deploying enterprise collaboration software doesn’t mean your enterprise will collaborate

Enterprise collaboration technology does have the potential to add great value to your organization, and, in many organizations, it does just that. However, it is important to recognize that in order for people to actually change their attitudes and work behaviors to embrace collaboration requires that you look at the people and organizational realities - the actual social (non-technical) systems operating within your organization. If you don’t address these social (non-technical) elements no amount of technology will improve your organization.

Before your invest in collaboration software, ask yourself how your organization is like Congress

Before you even begin to define requirements and evaluate software tools, make sure you ask yourself, “How is my organization like Congress”? Identify all of the people, organizational, process, policy, and operational elements that will drive or prevent actual collaboration. Make sure you have mapped out a strategy – with resources – to address these elements. If you don’t know how to do it, be sure to get help from qualified experts.

Sounds like a lot of hard work? It is. And not many people have the knowledge, understanding and experience in addressing the non-technical aspects of collaboration. But if you don’t correctly handle these elements, your collaboration technology effort will fail before it even begins.

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IT User Adoption – a Question of Motivation

This famous clip from the movie Office Space is a quick reminder of one of the most commonly overlooked issues when implementing IT systems – motivating people to work. And sure, Initech is a fictional company, but it actually resembles a lot of organizations with which I have worked over the years. 

In this scene, the employee Peter Gibbons tells the efficiency consultants how his organization approaches motivation and the impact it has on his work efforts. Does this sound like your organization?

Watch video here.

How do you motivate people to use your IT system?

Whenever you implement an IT system, look at all things affecting employee motivation. Sometimes there are issues with compensation and incentives. Other times the management may actually be demotivating employees. 

As Peter says, “I have 8 different bosses right now…so that means when I make a mistake I have 8 different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only motivation – not to be hassled.”

Would WIIFM motivate this employee?

Convention wisdom (which is high on convention, and low on wisdom) often says that when implementing an IT system you should try to “sell people on what’s in it for me”. 

Do you think trying to sell Peter on WIIFM would work in this case? Of course not. There are bigger issues that need to be fixed here. And unless these other items are fixed, WIIFM will not work.

So, what will you do to make sure you have motivated people to use your system? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LInkedIn.

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