Implementing an employee app is daunting. For many companies it's the first time they create a digital and real time communication channel that targets all employees, many of which have never been the target group of an internal IT project before. What you plan here has the chance to become the widest reaching channel in your company.
So how to go about it? How did T-System manage to get 70% of their employees signed up after just one year? And how did Viessmann get so successful that they are now contemplating to completely lose their intranet?
To answer these questions we have established this guideline which will help you plan the right use cases for your app at the right times.
Our overview shows different use cases and established which ones you should definitely consider, by marking them with a hearth. These hearts symbolize use cases that attract users aka employees and, hence, drive the number of people who onboard. The list is by no means a list of all cases possible though, but should rather help you set up a plan to find your customized uses and inspire you.
We will go through the three phases that you come across when implementing an app. The pre-launch, the initial launch and the last phase which we like to call growth and value. In each phase we will discuss how many hearths you should have and which use cases best to go with.
And because we all love a little gamification we would like to introduce you to our Super Mario theme. You will jump from level to level collecting hearts just like Super Mario collects mushrooms. The hearts make you and your user numbers grow and help you on your way to saving princess peach (or internal communication for that matter).
First Things First – The Pre-Launch
Your goals in the first phase should be to create a vision, gather supporters and prepare for the launch. Central questions in this phase are: What do I want to use my app for and who will support me during these early stages.
The biggest challenge in this phase, hence, is to define use cases and supporters.
To achieve this consider the following five steps:
- Find your first use case: What would you personally use the app for? You are the catalyst for the project so there must be one thing that really convinced you. Use that as a start. In most cases our customers start with a news channel. This channel has the potential to replace the old polished newsletter and to timely communicate internal news.
- Find others and their use cases: In order for the app to be successful you need supporters, so find out what other people want. Often you will have no idea what the problems in a different section of your company are, so go out and ask. Ideally, you will collect supporters on your way and have one person that is responsible for each use case.
- Visit locations and learn about location specific use cases: Depending on which site your are talking about there might be different use cases according to their location settings and the number of people employed there. Understand the different structures and access communication needs. Ask around and see if there are problems that occur everywhere. Those are the ones to start with.
- Talk to other departments: All the different departments in a company have their own communication habits, the app provides the opportunity to get these different centers under one roof. Depending on what the different departments work on they will need different features more than others. Consider who works at a desk, what different documents people use and how often they stand in direct contact to their co-workers.
- Learn about other companies: In addition, it can be very helpful to read about other companies and the use cases they have rolled out. Have a look at our case studies and learn from the best practices our customers have collected.
While putting together your initial set of use cases remember that we won’t help you fly to the moon. So be realistic. While it is possible to have 30% of your employees in the app in the first week, this is not necessary the rule.
Our experience has shown that a minimalistic launch and starting with a basic set of features works best. This process has the advantage that you are building a product in line with what your users want instead of just developing a product and putting it out there. Changing the app as you go helps you to concentrate on the features that will be used and saves hours of work on a product that users might not like. You are building an app with your users and supporters. This entails that you will possibly have to change use cases later. Using a ready-made app platform like Staffbase supports this mobile solution. Make sure you invest only in what you really need and add on new plugins, languages and target groups later with just one click.
If you got:
😓 (no heart): Aim to generate value for your employees from the start and integrate at least one heart.
😍 (1 heart): Good start! If you have got one heart to start with that’s ok. The aim is not to have all of them right from the beginning. No problem with taking it slow and growing from here.
😍😍(2 hearts): This is exciting! You are on the best way to become a super-communicator. Our most loved features are meal plans and the black board so if you have combined those two you're on a good way.
More than 😍😍(2 hearts): Well done! But don’t go overboard. We are still in the first phase so try to keep it basic and not do to much. Rather stay with the two or three features you have and launch those in style. Quality over quantity.
Let’s Get Started – The Initial Launch
Remember that this is a process. You will not have all your employees in the app within 24 hours. A project this size needs time so try to set realistic expectations. You wouldn’t battle Bowser right away either.
Your goals in this phase should be to get visibility and initial traction. Make the app known and get everybody to understand what you want to use it for. Especially also build trust towards critics and try to see why they are against using the app. As soon as you understand their point of view, you can start changing it. And most importantly, get at least two hearts! 😍😍
Luckily Staffbase is flexible and you can add on plugins whenever you like. Really aim to get those hearths. It’s a process but value for your supporters and customers should rank first.
In order to further your use cases watch the initial set you have created in the pre-launch and watch the reaction and development that is caused by the big five.
These five point help you to either create new valuable use cases or to just make existing ones better.
- The different departments: What would HR use the app for? Why does in comparison the head of production need the app? Do your caretakers or sales people need specific documents integrated? If you haven't done this already try to get people on board from every department and find out what their specific needs are. In addition, be prepared for your app's success and for different departments coming to you with requirements and wishes.
- IT: Get the IT to see the app as a platform that they can use to fulfill requirements from various departments with. This means they can stop putting new apps out for every new use case but can use a multi-purpose employee app like Staffbase to consolidate many small mobile applications. Also, communicate that they can build their own features on top of our set of APIs.
- Location driven use cases. After you have rolled out with one location try to access the need of other locations. If they are set up the same way your site is, they might have the same need, if they aren’t, try to find out what is different and adjust the use cases to their specific requirements. Once you have several locations on board create different groups to target your content and upload maps for the different sites in order to make navigation easier for you employees.
- User driven use cases. Meaning peer to peer use cases. Because these cases only work with a certain amount of users on the platform it is hard to start with them. They are also what makes the app interactive and appealing though. So after the initial launch try to integrate at least one user driven use case. Well working examples here are an interactive black board, asking questions to all other employees (maybe FAQ’s) or fun features such as best picture contests or safety quizzes.
- Scaling: Use cases might grow, get better over time, or turn out to not work. Our customer Viessmann for example used to publish one or two news posts per week but with a well working employee app they now publish three to four a day. If channels start to work, more people see the value and contribute. The aim is to be prepared for a large amount of users onboarding within a short time as well as no users onboarding. Scale your use cases according to initial reactions and constantly work on updating them.
In this phase if you got:
😍 (1 heart): Make it a top priority to have one hearth during the initial launch. Include at least a second one in the process as soon as the app is rolled out.
😍😍 (2 hearts): While in the pre-launch phase one hearth is a good start, in the initial-launch two hearts are a good start. You are not overdoing it but are still ensuring value.
😍😍😍 (3 hearts): You are really creating value for your employees!
More than 😍😍😍 (3 hearts): You mean well but keep in mind again that you don’t have to do it all at once. If you are doing the initial launch with more than three hearts in addition to things you will probably see as basic such as news and pages, that’s a lot! Remember that you have time to take it slow and rather work on perfecting a set of 4 features than implementing six half-finished ones.
The Best of Both Levels – Growth and Value
After you have completed the first two phases (congratulations mate!) the next step is to make growth and value happen at the same time. The goal during this phase should be to acquire more bottom-up, side-to-side and top-down use cases. Some ideas might have been too vague while others might have been to concrete. Try to fine tune the scale according to the development the app is undergoing and with time, collect all the hearts you can!
Measure, learn and push those cases that have proven themselves to be well adapted and, hence, successful. In the same way you might have to get rid of use cases that have not adopted well. The app should slowly take over from the traditional channels and you should collect hearts like Super Mario mushrooms.
Hearts that should definitely be added are events and employee benefits.
In this phase (it’s a long phase so don’t be scared) if you get:
😍😍 (2 hearts): You should at least have two hearts and be aiming to get more.
😍😍😍 (3 hearts): The same procedure as last time. If you have three hearths after the first year that’s pretty good! But don’t stop here, keep growing and accessing your employees needs!
😍😍😍😍 (4 hearts): Very good! In this phase there are no limits because the phase has an unlimited time frame. In order for your app to grow keep adding new value.
More than our 😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍😍 (10 hearts): The growth phase is your chance to think outside our box! Talk to your users and find out what their hearts yearn for that we haven't thought of. Depending on your industry you might want a specific feature. Develop your own on plugin on top of our set of APIs or ask us for help! Maybe you want to do caresharing or a marketplace or establish a company sports team.
Be aware that the duration of this phase is practically unlimited in time. In order for your app to be, and stay, a success you should constantly work on it. Access needs, keep asking your employees, add-on new features, there are endless possibilities for your mobile internal communications app to grow from here! In general success can not be measures until one year after the launch. Be patient young Super Mario.
“Follow your heart” is a popular saying used when you have to make life-altering decisions but it’s not less true for your employee app.
While our app will be ready for your usage within a few days, the roll out and implementation are a process. It takes time to access and remodel your use cases and to find the perfect fit. But with this guideline you should be able to plan the use cases you really need. And it’s fun, too! Like collecting Super Mario mushrooms.
In order to learn more about the different messages for each phase, your target audiences and real life examples read our whitepaper on the topic and become a Super Mario hero!
If you would like more information on how to digitalize your employee communication contact us, or read more here:
- An Internal Communications App- All You Need to Get Started
- 7 Reasons Why Internal Communication Is More Important Than Ever in 2017
- 5 Ways to Be a Better Employer for Millennials and Generation Z