Working at a distance is not new to all projects. As Kronites, we emphasize the importance of a physical presence for a project’s kickoff workshop. These gatherings encourage lively discussions and a frank understanding of the process. By observing body language, we can easily detect fears, questions, or excitement. Relationships with users and collaborators in a project need to be strong from the outset.
There are many challenges to consider for a remote workshop, but even more so when trying to implement best practices designed to serve our Kronos customers well.
Let's go back to our initial question: How can we make these workshops a success, even remotely?
We emphasize the importance of a physical presence for a project’s kickoff workshop."
1- Let's take the role of investigator
Know the sector of activity
Whether it's the distribution, energy, manufacturing, gaming, food service, health care or retail sector, it's essential to be familiar with the environment, the language, the ways of doing things. You need to be aware of the day-to-day challenges that each industry may face and its processes.
Learn about the customer
There are several ways to get to know the customer better before the workshop, here are some of them:
- Consult the website
- Consult collective agreements
- Discuss with the salesperson or consultant who has worked on the sales process and who has had prior contact with the customer
- Consult with internal people who have worked with the client on previous projects
Preparing an appropriate questionnaire
Preparing a comprehensive list of questions is essential. The main topics will include the process, the systems in place, the expectations of each individual, the challenges, and the technical information needed for configuration.
In-person, we usually opt for long workshops lasting up to several days to gather as much information as possible. At a distance, it's beneficial to change this formula and plan several small workshops dealing with specific topics. There are several reasons why it is a good idea to opt for this approach:
- It is easier to get the right people around the table.
- Keeping people's attention behind a computer can be a challenge. Short-term workshops can therefore help to keep both parties focused.
- It is easier to adjust and answer questions more quickly by taking the time to do research between workshops.
It's easier to get the right people around the table for workshops that are short and sweet."
2- Communicate and collaborate first and foremost
Preparation should be done on both sides. It's necessary to be transparent and to collaborate with the client by following certain steps before the workshops begin:
Determine in advance the number of meetings, what topics they will cover and when they will take place.
Create a clear agenda so that you know not only what will be discussed, but also who will be around the table.
Indicate the documents required from the client for the workshop, such as reports, working papers, schedules, organizational structure, cost centre, etc.
Advise the client if they need to make a demo of their existing process.
Opt for a sharing or communication tool that the customer is comfortable with. Doing connection tests beforehand and having a plan B is always practical if the tool doesn't work on d-day.
3- The human side on D-Day
Create a connection
At the very beginning, take care to introduce yourself and give participants the chance to do the same. Just turning on the camera helps to better remember each person and their role. To create a better connection, be attentive and make sure to consult each participant during the question period. Some people will feel less comfortable talking to a computer screen, but it is crucial to the success of the project to gather everyone's knowledge and expectations. The discussion should be encouraged.
Each individual may face many daily challenges during their work. Some will be anxious to implement a new tool, but others will be reluctant. It is important to welcome everyone's emotions and understand their perspectives in order to work together towards a common goal.
4- Listening is key
Workshops allow you to focus on what the customer has to say. It is necessary to understand his existing process, expectations, challenges and gather the information needed for the configuration. Several methods can help us better gather this information.
Recording the workshop
Recording the workshop allows for a more fluid discussion. This practice gives both parties a chance to minimize note-taking and to focus on the ongoing discussion. Forgetting, misunderstandings and repetition can also be avoided through recording.
Working in pairs
Having several consultants on the call can also simplify note-taking and allow for alternating questions. In addition, certain topics can be covered in more detail depending on each consultant's experience.
Give the client a chance to present
The idea is to give the floor, but also screen sharing to key users. We want to understand how they work on a daily basis and how we can help them.
To make or not to make a demo of Kronos tools or modules during a discovery workshop? The answer is simple: avoid them whenever possible. A demo is generally a good idea during the sales process, the idea is to devote these precious hours to the customer's needs and what he has to say.
On the other hand, showing generic Kronos functionalities without it being the right configuration for the business can create fear or misunderstanding. Often, the interlocutor may think that the system's possibilities are limited to what is shown in the demo. On the opposite, the functionalities of the system are often more complex than what can be seen in a short demo and it is not uncommon for our Kronos consultants to come up with out of the box solutions.
Once the workshops are over, it is important to describe our understanding of the information gathered and to propose a suitable solution with which the client will feel comfortable. Throughout the project, workshops and discussions can take place to adjust the solution or clarify certain information.
If you are interested in a Kronos product, do not hesitate to contact our Kronos team.
We will be pleased to organize an exploratory workshop to fully understand your needs and suggest the best solution.