Pro Tips to Run Successful Pilot Programs at Your Company

April 29, 2021

Woman thinking

When launching a new enterprise program, you’ve probably considered whether it’s necessary to pilot the program with a small group of users first or just launch the program and address issues as you go. In our experience, pilots are generally a good idea for a number of reasons. They allow us to get a glimpse into what things will be like when the program is rolled out at scale.  Pilots also allow us to mitigate problems on a smaller scale and catch and correct them before they reach a wider audience. Perhaps there are details we haven’t thought of that come up in the pilot, but in being proactive, we can now plan for the unexpected when we launch at scale. But how do we make sure our pilot is successful and serves its purpose?

Determine Who Will Be Involved

We recommend following these best practices when determining how you will pilot your program:

Is your team big enough to serve as the pilot group, or will you need to request the help of a larger, more diverse team? Do you need to test certain functionality that is work group specific? Have you considered all the roles (manager, employee, admin, etc.) that should be included in your pilot group?

Group of diverse people

Pro-tip: We recommend you should pilot with 5-10% of the total user population to get a more accurate feel for you your program will be at scale. Typically, companies may pick people from a few different departments, and there should be a mix of employee and manager roles.

 

  • Determine how you will communicate to this group and let them know that they are part of the pilot. Will you use video content, job aides, or a mixture of both? Will you host live training sessions?

    Pro-tip: We recommend communicating with your pilot group the same way you plan to communicate with users upon launch to test out your method. Examples include creating a custom getting started video, or broadcasting a getting started guide and invitation to sign in.
     
  • Determine how you will provision these users. Will you add user data via spreadsheet import, or manually, using our bulk edit function in the “Users” section of your Admin Portal? Are you going to be using a user sync at launch that you should test?

    Pro-tip: We recommend provisioning your pilot users the same way you plan to provision at scale so that you can mitigate any issues that may come up ahead of launch.

Decide How Long You Should Run Your Pilot

You’ll want to give your team enough time to test the platform and provide feedback, as well as time to make changes to your onboarding approach or Recognition program before launching.

World clocks

Pro-tip: We recommend at least a 1.5 month long pilot if you want to get a full sense of everything the platform offers, including monthly automated engagement emails to managers and admins.

Establish Goals For Your Pilot

What are your goals for engagement after launch and how will engagement during your pilot drive that goal? What kinds of resources will employees need to successfully engage and adopt this tool?

Man presenting

Pro-tip: One example of a goal for piloting might be to ensure all actual outcomes match expected outcomes before launch. We recommend creating a testing document that includes expected outcomes and actual outcomes with a space for notes that pilot users can clearly understand and fill out as they use the tool.

Encourage Feedback and Gather It in an Organized Way

Make sure the people you include in your pilot know how to communicate any feedback they have from using the tool. Do pilot users have an easy way to relay feedback? Are there any opportunities to incorporate feedback that has been addressed into the communication or training strategy for launch?

Two employees discussing work

Pro-tip: If you do decide to go the route of having a testing document, you could include a spot for feedback on that. If you’re not going the route of a testing document, you could consider using a QR code to allow pilot users to quickly submit feedback over email.

Adjust Your Rollout Plan Accordingly

Address any challenges that arise in the pilot or from pilot participant feedback to ensure a smooth launch. Do you need to make changes to a program based on an unexpected outcome? Are the training resources you’ve lined up adequate? Are there any big gotchas?

Employees brainstorming with sticky notes

Pro-tip: We suggest leaving enough time before launch (ideally a week or two) to ensure any changes resulting from feedback can be tested by pilot users as well.

Final Thoughts

Congratulations! You now know what it takes to run a successful pilot. We hope this is helpful as you begin your planning. If you need any assistance, please reach out to your Customer Success Manager or support@recognizeapp.com.

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