You don’t know what you can do until you try: How pilot projects can give companies the decisive push
#justgiveitatry, is what we always say. Try things out, see what goes well, learn from mistakes, and consistently expand upon things that were successful. If you will, agile work the way we practice it is a sequence of many small pilot projects that naturally fit into the day-to-day workflow. In order to implement changes in large companies that fundamentally change the way hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of employees work, pilot projects are a suitable and effective instrument. They make it possible to test new tools and processes on a manageable scale with little risk and to subsequently assess whether it is worthwhile to introduce them broadly.
This is also the way we handle it in regards to our SaaS: Enterprises that seek to drive their own transformation with the help of our digital Talent Marketplace, can test the software in the course of a pilot project and gain important insights into the required effort, costs, benefits, acceptance by employees, and positive as well as possible unexpected effects on collaboration. But how do you start a pilot project? How do you find the right test group? And how does project management make sure that the pilot will procure the anticipated results? – We have compiled a checklist that allows project management to draw as many conclusions from the pilot as possible, right from the beginning. This lays the foundation for a successful company-wide rollout.
1. Define goals
Initially, you should pinpoint the changes you hope to make within the company with the help of the software. What purpose does the tool serve? Which behavior do you want to promote? Which structures do you want to break down? What new routines do you want to establish? The goals can be quantitative (number of users) or qualitative (experience reports), but most importantly they should be measurable.
2. Define test group
Depending on the tool and the size of the company, a pilot group can comprise ten, a hundred, or even a thousand employees. Our marketplace starts showing a noticeable effect from several hundred employees upward. When selecting the test group, it is worth asking in which department or team the benefits could be felt more quickly, also because there is a greater willingness and openness for change. Due to the comparatively short pilot phase of a few months, it should be ensured that the pilot group has the necessary prerequisites, both in terms of technical equipment and openness to innovations. Then the use of the Tandemploy SaaS is fairly low-threshold from the perspective of the end-users. All employees need to be able to use it is Internet access and a company email address to create their matching profile.
3. Set a realistic timeframe
Not too short and not too long – that’s the rule for pilot projects. Not too short, so employees have enough time to familiarize themselves with the tool, try it out, make new experiences with the help of the software, and naturally integrate it into their workday. Not too long, so that after a successful test phase, the full range of functions can be used as soon as possible and new realms of experiences can unfold for all departments and colleagues. This way, the tool is able to reveal its full potential, the dynamics in the company increase and remain consistently at a high level. Depending on the size of the company, pilot projects with the Tandemploy-SaaS start at three months and should last no longer than twelve months.
Want a Best Practice? – Here you go: Get some inspiring insights on how Lufthansa launched their Talent Marketplace during the crisis.
4. Accompany the pilot project with communication
Experience shows that in the initial phase of a pilot, enthusiasm is usually high and the project team is constantly present on all internal and external communication channels. For the success of the pilot project, it is important to maintain this level throughout the test period and to remain in close exchange with the test group. We have had good experience with a three-pillar approach to communication:
- Set top-down impulses: The successful use of our digital talent marketplace stands and falls with the attitude of the employees. This, in turn, is significantly shaped by the attitude of management. Only if the “top level” signals that the tool is wanted, will the employees use it proactively. It is therefore essential that managers are involved in the communication before and during the project and that they repeatedly encourage the use of the tool.
- Enable bottom-up feedback: Feedback and learnings should be collected continuously during the pilot project phase and ideally in a way that allows employees to communicate transparently and of their own accord. Digital channels on which the test group can easily post questions, criticism, but also ideas for improvement are recommended here as well. This way, the project team and the provider have the chance to eliminate potential problems and improve the user experience during the pilot phase, so that at the end there is an optimized product that can be rolled out throughout the company. Tandemploy’s Customer Success Team supports the project management throughout the entire pilot period.
- Continuous evaluation: In addition to the immediate feedback from the pilot participants and the agile development of the product during the test phase, it is important to keep the overall goal of the pilot in mind and evaluate it regularly: Where do we stand? Are we on the right path to achieve our goal? What, if anything, is preventing us from doing so? Where do adjustments have to be made on an organizational level that do not result directly from the pilot group feedback? Here it may be useful to engage in personal conversations with employees or to obtain anonymous feedback, e.g. through employee surveys. After all, employees will not necessarily share their opinions publicly on open channels. These findings should also not only be documented, but incorporated into the further development of the tool.
5. Link pilot projects
According to a study by Accenture, many companies are launching pilot projects in digitization, but are failing to link them to a holistic digitization strategy. As a result, initial innovative approaches remain reserved for certain areas of the company or simply fizzle out. This risk hardly exists after a pilot project with the Tandemploy SaaS. Because it is designed in a way that triggers bottom-up and cross-departmental transformation processes almost automatically. In other words, after the pilot phase, it automatically unfolds its transformative power by being used by as many employees as possible on their own initiative and across departments. The employees themselves thus become key ambassadors for the implementation. Those who have gained great new experiences in the test group, whether in exchanges with colleagues, by testing out new, flexible working models or by participating in a project that has come about through matching, can and will certainly work to ensure that other colleagues follow suit.
Do you feel inspired to start your own project with our digital Talent Marketplace? Then click here to go to our web demo.