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Suzanne Pekgöz, Head of the HRIS domain at Sodexo, discusses Sodexo’s application deployment strategy with Shortways.

Julien Laforêt, Director of Customer Experience at the management consultancy KaOra Partners, gives us his advice on the subject thanks to his experience in numerous change management projects.

Discover or rediscover the key tips shared during our webinar on the subject: How to rethink user adoption of their business applications? A cross-section of business departments.

On the agenda: 

  • Project context
  • Change management challenges
  • Collaboration between IT and business departments
  • Why Shortways in this strategy ?
  • Content made available
  • Feedback and improvements
  • User feedback
  • Next steps

What was the context for launching your project?

Suzanne Pekgöz :

In 2018, Sodexo made the choice to equip itself with an operational resource planning tool in order to improve operational efficiency in the management of on-site personnel.

The main challenge was to offer a fast, intuitive and easy-to-adopt tool.

7 000 managers are affected by this change. The deployment is being done in waves, and we are starting with 4,500 sites.

We decided to move towards an adoption solution so that the user learns to use the tool as he or she uses it.

This allows us to kill two birds with one stone: a financial gain compared to the traditional method and above all to save time for our operational staff.

This time saving for the operational staff was essential because they have very little time to spend on administrative tasks as they are focused on the field and the service they have to provide to our customers.

Julien Laforêt :

There is something very important, when you launch a project to overhaul your management, HR, finance, purchasing, supply chain and CRM…, it is absolutely essential that it be based on the issues and challenges facing the organisation and that the project sponsors explain them to the employees concerned.

This is where user adoption begins: explaining the meaning of the project, what will be better and different for everyone, and being transparent about the objectives.

The 3 things I still see very often, and which are the cause of very poor user adoption:

  • Explaining to everyone that “it’s just a tool change”, because most of the time, the project is an opportunity to change processes, and sometimes even the organisation.
  • Only talk about the interest of the project “for the head office”: harmonising, spending less time at the head office… It is absolutely necessary from the start to identify what there will be for the employees concerned, to avoid the feeling “yet another project designed by the head office for the head office…”.
  • That the target users discover for themselves during the training sessions that their daily lives will change, even though they were originally invited to a training session on a new tool. If you don’t take care of communication, you run the risk that everyone will think “yet another project designed by the head office for the head office”, “if they don’t talk about it, it’s because there are hidden objectives”…

For example, what you can do to launch the adoption of your project by future users: 

  • Conduct interviews with the management and operational staff concerned, to identify the major points that are expected on the business side, with regard to the organisation’s strategic issues (this will avoid the “what do you want?” list), and agree on a moral contract between the management that is carrying the project and those that will be concerned.
  • Make a video with the sponsors of the project, which transparently presents to all the employees: why this project was launched, what the objectives are, how success will be measured, what will be in it for them and also what will change, the next steps.

And then a little later, we will work together on:

  • Helping ‘key users’ to become ambassadors for the project: making videos with them to highlight the interest of the project and the tool for their colleagues, getting them involved in project communications, setting up challenges, etc. The aim is for the project communication to show that it’s not just ‘the head office’, but that it’s a project carried out with the departments and business users concerned, and to encourage collaboration and feedback.
  • For example, we’ll avoid top-down newsletters like “We’re informing you but we don’t want your opinion”, and we’ll move to an open Teams, where everyone can react/ask questions, and surveys too, to mobilise the community.

What was a particular challenge in terms of change management?

Suzanne Pekgöz :

There were several challenges, specific to our context, that we had to take into account, both on the business side and the IT side:

  • Challenge 1: The impact of Sodexo’s activity on human resources: the turnover of managers, which implies that we need to be able to train often and quickly.
  • Challenge 2: the number of people and their geographical distribution: 4,500 managers to be trained spread across France. This implies tedious and important logistics for the training and also with a real reflection upstream on the strategy to adopt for communication (emails, intranet, posters if possible because our sites are sometimes on customer sites).
  • Challenge 3: the lack of time of the employees concerned: their availability is very low and they are not all available at the same time. Our current methodology based on webinars, paper documents sent on site, PPTs, mailings, dedicated pages on the intranet is reaching its limits due to this lack of availability.
  • Challenge 4: financial aspect: change management can be costly because it requires a strong commitment from the IT department’s training teams (trainers) and sometimes requires external services to produce the documentation. Of course, in a perfect world, the ideal would be to provide customised training for each new employee via onboarding, but we are not there yet and, above all, we do not have the tools.
  • Challenge 5: reducing the workload of the IT/CSP: with each new tool, and being aware that the operational staff would not follow all the webinars or go and find the documentation on the intranet, we are expecting a very large wave of calls and tickets for assistance…
  • Challenge 6: the health context. We were also in a difficult health context with Covid where on-site training was impossible because the measures to be respected were drastic. Either it was the client who imposed measures on us, or it was Sodexo.

This is why, in our change management approach, we aimed to:

  • Make the transition from existing tools to our new tool easier: operational staff must be up to speed quickly and efficiently to carry out their actions in the new tool,
  • Make life easier and save time on training: be guided instinctively directly on the tool’s screens to enter the right data,
  • For the IT department, it was also important to be able to reduce the number of emails and requests for assistance sent by users.

Julien Laforêt :

Many of the organisations I have worked with face similar challenges:

  • High turnover or sometimes fast-growing organisations that take on new staff, where it is not possible for financial or availability reasons to hold systematic training sessions.
  • Business teams that generally have no time available.
  • IT teams that are asked to reduce the time spent on support and assistance, in order to redirect their budgets towards BUILD rather than RUN.
  • Reducing the adoption curve as much as possible at start-up so that ROI arrives more quickly.

But sometimes the challenges around adoption can go further:

  • Some organisations have had social action or waves of departures when the change involved in the project was not well managed.
  • Strong operational risks if the teams are not well supported in understanding the new processes and tools: on supply chain or highly operational projects, this can lead to disasters if the users no longer know how to do their job. This happens, for example, when there is a major change in practices: going from a paper-based process that has been managed locally for years to a totally dematerialised process with the parallel implementation of a shared service centre.

Also, the change management approach must really take into account the real culture of the organisation.

For example, a classic case: a project led by the head office to set up an IS, one of the objectives of which is to harmonise the tools and practices between several entities that have arrived via acquisitions.

The approach to change management can be radically different depending on the company’s culture:

  • If the head office is “all-powerful” and can impose (this is very rare…), perhaps a little communication and an approach to adopting the tool could be enough,
  • But if, as in most cases, each entity is very autonomous, with the ability to say no or refuse, then it will be necessary to work with each one from the start to find the benefits for each entity and their teams. We will have to “sell” them on the benefits of the project, otherwise we will have very poor user adoption, or even a complete rejection of the tool.

How did the IT department and the business units work together on this project?


Suzanne Pekgöz :

To give some context on how we operate, at Sodexo, IT projects (implementation of new tools) are managed by the IT department.

Our internal processes involve collecting the business needs during the opening of a study, whatever the direction. During the study, in addition to gathering the need, we try to answer all the questions related to security, RGPD, infrastructure, financial aspects, the interfaces that it will require, the interactions with our Sodexo IT ecosystem, and above all the resources needed to complete the project. The aim of the study was to answer all the questions we might have during the project, and to put a precise figure on the cost of the project.

With all these elements, the IT department will be able to recommend a tool at the end of the study. Once we have the approvals of the various internal Sodexo committees, the project can begin.

During the project, we necessarily have an IT project manager who will be in charge of implementing the tool, and a project manager who will be in charge of the entire change management process. These two project managers work hand in hand to ensure the success of the project.

As part of the digital adoption project for the new planning tool, IT ensured that the Shortways Assistant was integrated into the planning tool. The project manager, together with the Shortways project team, wrote the processes to be implemented in Shortways and defined the display of content by user profile.

This is how we worked together.

Even though the tasks were divided, this did not prevent both parties from making recommendations to each other.

Julien Laforêt :

There is often a strong division of roles on these projects, with the business departments in charge of defining the target processes and organisations and managing the change, and the IT department in charge of implementing the tool.

What makes a big difference to user adoption is when each department takes a step towards the other:

  • When the business departments, on issues related to change management, ask the IT department if they know of ways to do better with digital.
  • And conversely, when the IT department creates the content of the tool’s adoption aid, it works with the business departments so that users can make the link between the business processes and the tool.

Some examples of successful collaborations that help with adoption:

  • Making trailers of the new tool together, by population concerned, with the business ambassadors: we talk about the business, the current problems, the challenges… then we show how the solution will help the operational staff.
  • We also recently held a 2-hour seminar, 100% online, to show the progress of the project to the users concerned, with very good feedback.
  • Making tutorial videos on the cases that change the most, which can then be easily exploited in a few minutes.
  • And then, of course, building personalised online help together, to make the link between the organisation’s processes and the chosen tool, but we’ll talk about that later.

Why did you rely on Shortways for this strategy? And now?

Suzanne Pekgöz :

Shortways is a solution that allows the user who connects to an application to be guided step by step through a process, with the possibility of having recommendations on the input of a field according to the rules that Sodexo will have defined: input rules specific to the user’s company for example. It is also possible to link to a tutorial on our intranet or to a video.

Beyond this step-by-step aspect, it offers the possibility of having an FAQ available directly in the receiving application which will allow users to have the first elements of an answer and thus avoid calls to IT support.

It also offers the possibility of searching by keyword for a process. Thus, the user, depending on the need he has for the tool, can directly search for the process that interests him and that he wishes to carry out at a given moment and see the process being triggered.

In addition, we have a real concern to find the right channel to communicate with our users, who are sometimes overexposed to a multitude of notifications or mailings that they no longer necessarily read when there are specific events linked to the applications. The fact that Shortways offers to display customisable messages to users according to the group to which they belong as soon as they connect to the application is a real asset. For example: he is a regional manager and therefore has personalised messages according to this regional management, or “the application will not be available from such and such a date”. Or “you are an employee of this company, don’t forget to validate your schedule”, etc. It was for these reasons that Shortways appealed to us and that we saw it as an answer to our problem of adoption for the deployment of the new tool.

On the administration side of Shortways, we found the admin console easy to use and intuitive. One of the points that caught our attention was the possibility of mass loading process modifications where others did not offer it. Telling an administrator that he will have to manually go back to all the processes to make a modification linked to the receiving application (Example: change of translation of a keyword which generates a process) was unthinkable from the business side.

It is for these reasons that Shortways appealed to us and that we saw it as an answer to our problem of adoption for the deployment of the new tool.

We proposed it to the business, as part of the user adoption process, because it corresponded to what we were looking for:

  • Simple solution: neither complicated for the admins in their management of training content, nor in their use by the employees (not lost)
  • Embedded solution: another vision of how to train employees and deal with the issue of lack of time
  • Customisable solution: depending on the profile, allows us to fill in the gaps in the application, or to make the link with our processes
  • Clear solution: transparency on the Shortways business model, projection
  • Scalable solution: Shortways lives with the tool and the company: continuous solution
  • Measurable solution: we can see what has been consulted, what has been liked or disliked, and develop it according to the data collected.

Julien Laforêt :

At Kaora, we rely on Shortways a lot when we’re working on IS implementation projects involving a large number of people, such as ERP, HR or purchasing IS, and also in organisations experiencing strong growth or high turnover.

For us, it is clearly a major differentiator in helping our clients improve user adoption, and we systematically position it when we are involved in “training / assistance / change management / communication” projects, explaining the value it has in comparison with training sessions or message or email communications which are one-offs (and not available when users need them, i.e. in the application) and operating procedures, which will be little-read and often placed somewhere in the intranet and difficult to access.

This is really very practical for several reasons that are complementary to what Suzanne mentioned:

  • For occasional users: those who don’t use the application every day: they don’t have to be trained, and also the application can evolve (a new procedure, an evolution of the ergonomics…): having the step by step, and popups that inform of changes, is really great.
  • For newcomers, it also avoids relying solely on oral transmission, with all the loss that goes with it, in terms of understanding and mastering the processes and the tool
  • I find that it is a real support for the communication of news by the business department concerned. Let’s imagine that the purchasing department sets up a new catalogue with Office Depot for teleworking. Well, in addition to the email, which will quickly get lost, we could put a popup that will be displayed via Shortways in the application, on the purchase request page for example. Much more effective!
  • What we’re doing is also putting the videos we created at the beginning of the project on the site: the one that explains why the tool with the sponsors, what’s in it for each population with the ambassadors, the tutorial videos… it’s really great because we know that they’ll be watched by newcomers, and not only by those who were there when we shared them.

What content have you made available?

Suzanne Pekgöz :

Our project is still in the deployment phase, but we have tested it on pilot sites.

We have identified the processes we wanted to implement in Shortways, and the relevant functionalities for these use cases. And we improved them with the testers’ feedback.

We insisted to our business that in order to perpetuate the use of Shortways in the organisation, it is necessary to have a dedicated person in the team who regularly updates the aids.

In the context of this planning project, we chose to be supported by Shortways to carry out the processes because it was our first use. But for other projects that are coming up, Sodexo has chosen to carry out the processes itself, because we have found that the Admin console is fairly simple to use, and that the processes are fairly easy to carry out.

The process can be quickly implemented in Shortways when it has been thought out beforehand. The difficulty in this type of project is to identify the main processes that we want to tool, bearing in mind that after the production launch we may add secondary processes. We will set up the main functionalities and then the actions will live on. The Shortways project doesn’t stop with the deployment of the tool that receives Shortways. We continue to follow up afterwards. It’s this upstream work that can take time, not the creation itself.

Julien Laforêt :

You have to see content creation as something iterative: very often we don’t have the time, during the project phase, to create ALL the online help we would like.

What we usually do is identify the major needs related to this user adoption:

  • Understand the business processes
  • Understand what needs to be done in the tool for the most frequent cases that change the most compared to before
  • Step by step for occasional users on a few functionalities (for example: purchase requests, absence or holiday entries, etc.)
  • We also involve the target users in identifying the changes to be made, via Shortways or via the Teams collaborative space dedicated to the application.

It’s a bit like an agile approach, for those who are familiar with it: we start with the MVP: what is the minimum help that brings the most value, and then we create a backlog that we will review at each iteration, according to the needs raised and the feedback.

How do you collect feedback and have you improved the content after the start?

Suzanne Pekgöz :

At the moment we have tooling the major processes and we plan to extend it when the application goes live.

However, we anticipate feedback to IT support for the secondary processes that are not equipped. And according to this feedback we can be reactive and make available immediately, according to the keywords searched by the user, and quickly create a Shortways process.

We are aware that this type of tool requires an internal organisation in order to have a person in charge of the application on the IT side, but also on the business side to update the Shortways content at the same time as the receiving application. The Shortways processes must be updated with the evolutions of the receiving application. This is why Sodexo has appointed a person to be in charge of the Shortways processes for the planning tool.

Monthly meetings are planned with the IT teams to inform them of potential future developments, so that they are aware of potential changes to be made in Shortways.

This is why, in this type of project, IT/Business collaboration is essential.

Julien Laforêt :


  • Reactivity via Shortways features:

On an intranet: no tracking functionality to follow usage: we don’t know if people look at it or not, if they find what they are looking for or not, if it was useful or not…

Tangible feedback via Shortways reporting to measure usage and adoption, and drive deliverables. Leverage data for continuous improvement.

Use digital to ensure pop-ups/communications are read.

Answer recurring questions coming to support directly in the application on the FAQ, not lost somewhere on the intranet.

  • Evolution:

What is important to understand, in the same way that most organisations today make Word or Powerpoint operating procedures or email memos, or update an intranet page, is: who will be in charge of updating the content? Shortways should be treated like a software update.

For example, there is nothing more frustrating than having help in Shortways that does not reflect the latest developments in the processes implemented in the tool… just as for an operating procedure or an intranet page, it must live at the same time as the developments you implement in your IS!

How was the project received internally? And what has been the feedback from users?

Suzanne Pekgöz :

The training of the testers plus the tests carried out by them on the planning tool with Shortways contextual help was very well received. Indeed, our testers quickly got to grips with the planning tool and were able to carry out the actions requested in the test booklet thanks to the help of Shortways.

Some of them even applauded the fact that we had finally used this type of solution.

In fact, it is this feedback from our users that has led us to launch two other Shortways deployment projects.

It’s important to know that at Sodexo the business units communicate a great deal about their feedback on the tools and become prescribers.

The IT department no longer needs to sell the Shortways solution, it’s the job that comes and asks for it.

Julien Laforêt :

Internal buzz is the number one sign of success. It’s true that it often creates a bit of jealousy (and that’s good!) between departments: “Oh, do you have that for your HR application? And how come I don’t have anything for my supply chain?

For me, this is also something important to communicate during the project: to show that we have taken into account the users’ needs for assistance, the challenges they have such as a lack of time or that they don’t have the time to go and check each time if the operating mode has changed somewhere on the network…

I like to include it in the communication plan, a few weeks before the start, to tell the target users how they will be guided and assisted, that we have thought about them more than usual … it shows a helping hand, and it is often very well received, in organisations where human support is at the heart of the culture, in the public sector for example, but also in companies that have experienced a lot of changes impacting employees.

Suzanne Pekgöz :

The next steps for Sodexo are to put the planning tool into production, where all the main processes have been equipped in Shortways.

At the same time, we are in the process of studying two other tools to be equipped with Shortways, which are not necessarily HR tools.

One of the first projects to implement Shortways on the tool is a tool already in place and used by the operational staff. We considered using Shortways on this tool because on-site training is increasingly difficult, managers are new and have not necessarily been trained on the tool, and they require a lot of assistance from the business to carry out the tasks in the tool that they do not know how to do. The implementation of Shortways will make it easier for the user to get to grips with the existing tool, and will also enable current users to be aware of the tool’s new functions.

The second is a new tool being deployed which will require a major change for our on-site users, hence the need for them to get to grips with it quickly.

We have also adopted the reflex on the HRIS side to suggest to the other domain managers on the IT side that, for any new tool implementation which requires strong change management, to include a tool like Shortways directly in their reflection with their business.

Julien Laforêt :

I think that today, in our personal lives, we use apps, websites, where we are well guided. Often, some apps offer popups to help you get started, so you can understand step by step what you need to do… And honestly, it’s really frustrating not to find this in your business software! Especially since the big difference is that – and this is normal – business software is much more complete and complex than everyday applications.

For me this is essential. I also understand organisations that are looking to make maximum savings during their deployment project, except that in reality they pay a hundredfold during the start-up phase, with a big loss of efficiency for the teams and a very long learning curve, huge support costs, and also huge worries for organisations that are growing fast or with turnover.

In short, my advice is really to :

  • Start user adoption from the very beginning, by communicating transparently and directly, via the sponsors on the objectives of the project, what it will bring and change for the users, open a collaborative space and share the life of the project, make them react then via the business ambassadors, with trailers, tutorials … as the project progresses.

Think of your project as a video game or an album: it’s not when it’s released that you need to promote it, what you want is pre-orders, communities that talk about it and are committed 😊

  • Involve IT and business together on these change management topics throughout the project: the business knows what is important in terms of change, but IT can help to digitise and get out of the traditional training sessions and newsletters. With collaborative spaces, videos, tutorials, etc.
  • Anticipate stabilisation, after start-up: if there are major changes (moving from Excel or paper to a tool, or organisations/processes that change a lot and will be reflected in the tool), you will really need Shortways to accelerate the adoption of new business practices and tools by users.

Thanks Suzanne and Julien for their precious tips