Windows 10: Four ways to make your rollout a success

'Don't scrimp on change management', says CIO who is rolling out Windows 10 at law firm Linklaters.
Written by Mark Samuels, Contributor

"Windows 10 is much easier to use straight out of the box. But it isn't perfect -- you still need some bright people to help your business make the most out of the system."

Image: ZDNet

Law firm Linklaters CIO Matt Peers is rolling out Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system to staff, embarking on a programme to give all fee-earning staff members the choice of either a Windows 10-based laptop or tablet.

The firm is now well down the path with Windows 10, yet Peers also recognises other CIOs will face a number of challenges. "You have to show people how to use this operating system in order to help them get the most out of it," he says.

So how should businesses get the most out of Windows 10?

"Embrace it -- but don't scrimp on change management, especially if you're operating in an environment where people are not used to the modern Windows interface," he says.

1. Talk the talk, and walk the walk

Peers said the latest iteration of the Start menu creates a sense of familiarity for many users. Some people, however, can still struggle to get accustomed to the user interface in Windows 10, particularly when it comes to the display of applications as tiles.

Matt Peers

CIO Matt Peers: "I would love to get to a situation where there's an update once a week that takes five minutes. My belief is people will accept that."

Image: Matt Peers

"We're managing change for those who are struggling," he says. "The challenges you see typically arise during the first couple of days. The issues are often related to standard things, such as the setting up of a printer in the office or at home."

Peers and his IT team go to great lengths to ensure the move to a new operating is as painless as possible. "We tell users the change is coming, we talk about what the change is going to mean and then, at the point the system goes live, we give people a day-one guide," he says.

This guide includes a series of 20 best practice steps for users looking to make the most of Windows 10. The firm also has specialists who walk around the office and check in with employees who are using Windows 10 for the first time.

"They have a tick list to show they've visited each user -- and they will visit each individual twice during their first day, once at the start of the day and later in the afternoon," says Peers.

2. Think about long-term integration

User assistance does not stop at the end of the launch day. Peers recently turned an unused catering office in the firm's London office into an IT shop. Users can now visit the shop and chat with IT about their technology challenges.

"People can go to the shop to receive training, get new kit, or talk about the problems they might be having with a piece of software," he says. "The shop doesn't replace the traditional service desk but it is a very useful way to help people interact with the technology team."

A long-term programme of user surveys and online guides complements the rollout of Windows 10. The firm's corporate-supplied Windows 10 devices, for example, include a specially created ebook that provides help and advice around key operating system features.

The rollout has been well received, yet Peers says further polish would help. He says Microsoft has only recently made it possible for businesses to pre-populate each version of Windows 10 with bespoke tiles. The aim here is give users immediate access to their most important and relevant applications.

"Even now, it's difficult to create links to web-based services through those tiles -- you have to do everything manually," he says. "Windows 10 is much easier to use straight out of the box. But it isn't perfect -- you still need some bright people to help your business make the most out of the system."

3. Find a coping strategy for software updates

Updates provide another key challenge. Peers implemented Windows 10 on the promise that the operating system would help promote simple, incremental updates. However, updates remain a time-intensive process. Peers points in particular to the recent Anniversary Update.

"These updates are very invasive to the working day," he says. "A lawyer that has to finish a document, but is delayed by an update, is going to become intensely frustrated. Some updates can take 45 minutes and that's going to make people scream and shout."

Peers says the firm is able to push most updates to the background. A countdown clock tells people when the update will begin. However, many users -- either knowingly or unknowingly -- ignore the countdown clock.

"They're busy people," he says. "Even if the last big update was six months ago, people remember it and feel like it was sooner. I would love to get to a situation where there's an update once a week that takes five minutes. My belief is people will accept that."

4. Get everyone to embrace the new features

The good news, says Peers, is that the IT team is keen on many of the elements within Windows 10. "We like the fact that there's improved tools for controlling and maintaining the devices, and for getting visibility about which devices have received patches," he says. "Those features give us a dimension that we've struggled to get in the past."

From a user perspective, Peers also points to a number of positives. "People like the support for touchscreen," he says. "We're now deploying a lot more touchscreen devices and services than we were in the past."

The firm is promoting the use of OneNote as a means for collaboration. People from different departments across the business are benefitting from being able to take meeting notes and share them with colleagues securely.

"In the past, notes would have been written in a book that was stored on a shelf and discovery became a time-intensive activity," he says. "Now, people can use a stylus, convert the note to text and create information that is readily searchable. Windows 10 and its associated applications are helping to boost connectivity."

Peers recognises that some departments in the firm have not been as keen to embrace these new services. The aim, he says, is to take best practice evidence and use that information to sell the benefits to other areas of the organisation. "The key to success is to get people to try new things," says Peers.

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