This is the third in a series of posts on how the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (The Foundation), is implementing emergent collaboration strategies and technologies within its organization. You can read part 1 on Business Drivers and part 2 on organizational and culture shifts.
The Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing pediatric HIV infection and eliminating pediatric AIDS through research, advocacy, and prevention, care, and treatment programs.
The Foundation, currently working in 17 countries, was founded in 1988 and experienced significant growth in the last five years, with its employee base increasing from 200 employees in 2006 to over 1,500 in 2011. This was due in part to increased funding from new global health initiatives, such as the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).
The Foundation is a former client of Chess Media Group. We helped with vendor evaluation, use case development, and definition of business objectives. We spoke with Keith Fleming, IT Manager, and Sara Teitelman, Senior Technical Editor who shared their insights with us.
Before the platform went live, The Foundation wanted to spark curiosity in the platform. They promoted the platform and its benefits through official company announcements and company newsletters, but also relied on word-of-mouth promotion to generate conversation between employees.
The Foundation also understood that key to technology adoption is training and education. They offered several opportunities to learn about the platform:
- Online demos for groups of 10 – 12 employees in country offices
- Regular on-site training
- Weekly E-Newsletter containing news and updates, usage statistics, and individual success stories.
- Video interviews of employees speaking about how they use the new platform in their daily work.
It has been much easier to provide training and education to employees in the U.S. than to employees situated in African countries. Additionally, the biggest obstacle to successful roll-out of the platform in country offices is slow and/or inconsistent internet connectivity. The Foundation installed network optimizers in each country office, which helped speed up application-to-application connectivity (not internet speed). This is where mobile will play a serious role in the future of communications at The Foundation, since many employees use smart phones. It is hoped that developing a mobile strategy and providing the infrastructure will enable employees in African countries to collaborate via their smart phones without interference. The Foundation will begin implementation of a full mobile version of the collaboration platform that will be compatible on many popular devices by mid-2012.
While the platform has only been live for five months, approximately 30% of the employee base has already accessed the site and approximately 25% are using it regularly.
The Foundation’s COO feels very strongly that the collaboration platform should be a required tool for employees to use. Some country offices are considering mandating employee use. Many of the vice-presidents at the Foundation support this. A discussion around incorporating collaboration into employee performance reviews has also begun but nothing formal has been initiated.
Employees are now able to access information they previously were unable to before, such as policies and procedures manuals, which previously existed only in print and were often outdated. Employee profiles, photos, and bios are now accessible to everyone so that employees can build communities of interest, something not possible before. This is helping build trust within the organization.
Information is now being shared more openly without fear of adverse consequences or reprimands. Employees are opening up to each other and are making the organization more social. The senior leadership team has begun to blog, which has increased the employee perception of a more open and transparent organization. Overall, the Foundation has seen a huge improvement in the exchange of ideas between employees horizontally and vertically.