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Effectively defining a governance plan, including a content management strategy, and building and testing your MOSS solution is still only part of what you need to do to ensure the success of your solution. Even with a great governance plan, a complete collection of credible, usable, and relevant content, and a fully tested solution, you can't just "turn on" the new portal and collaboration environment and expect users to come running to embrace the new solution with open arms. Everyone in your organization is already busy listening to the same radio station—WIIFM, "What's In It for Me?" Your rollout plan needs to capture both the hearts and minds of the user community to ensure that the solution will be successful. The following areas should be incorporated in your rollout and launch plan. Note that these areas are not necessarily sequential—in fact, they pretty much all have to happen in parallel, which adds to the challenge of successfully rolling out your MOSS solution!

  • Communications. Use new and existing vehicles such as corporate newsletters, "town hall" meetings, and breakroom posters to communicate to the user community about the MOSS solution. This provides a way to overcome cultural barriers and ensure that users receive the maximum value from the new solution.
  • Training. Ensure that users, managers, and administrators know how to use MOSS effectively.
  • Launch and Content Conversion. Define strategies for converting content for initial solution deployment and launch of the solution.
  • User Support. Ensure that there is an ongoing plan to support all levels of MOSS users.
  • Incentives and Rewards. Ensure that organizationally appropriate incentives are established for MOSS users and that contributing to and using the new solution is incorporated into daily work routines of everyone in the organization. This might include incorporating content management responsibilities into individual performance goals or publicly recognizing key content contributors or MOSS success stories.


The communications strategy should promote the awareness and value of the new MOSS solution. Your Communications Plan may include activities that begin during design, but the majority of activities will begin just before you are ready to launch the solution. Communications activities must also be an active part of maintaining user acceptance throughout the entire life of the solution. Thus, your plan needs to include not just communications when MOSS launches, but also ongoing activities that keep the portal and collaboration tools "top of mind" throughout their lifetimes. The communications strategy should address the following components and considerations:

  • Leverage existing expertise and experts to help develop your Communications Plan. Work with your internal communications or marketing teams to develop both communications messages and materials. Consider what activities and messages have worked in the past, and think creatively about new ways of engaging users and portal contributors.
  • Leverage existing newsletters and "town hall" or business unit meetings to deliver key messages about the portal, collaboration tools, and other productivity initiatives like a new version of Office. You can also demonstrate the solution "live."
  • Draft a memorandum for the CEO or similar high-level executive to send when you are ready to launch MOSS. Active sponsorship by key business executives can go a long way towards getting users over initial reluctance to try the new solution.
  • Tailor messages in communications plans for each target audience. For example, messages may be different for District personnel versus Home Office personnel because the value of the portal and/or collaboration tools and the business reasons for using it may be different. The same user will leverage MOSS for different reasons at different times, and the Communications Plan should address these different scenarios. For example, an attorney in a law firm plays the role of "employee" when she uses the company portal to update the beneficiary of her 401K plan. However, the attorney approaches the same portal as a business stakeholder with the role of attorney when she uses the portal to find last month's billing for her current client. Make sure that both the communications medium and the message are targeted to your audience and the roles they play in the organization, as well as when they use MOSS. In the attorney example, this might mean designing a communications message for all employees that reminds users that the company portal can be used for basic HR self-service. In addition, this could also mean designing a completely separate message targeted to just attorneys. It describes how Attorney Smith used the portal while on the phone with a client who was requesting additional work. The attorney quickly identified that this client was 60 days past due, and this timely information resulted in an immediate collection of the past-due amount. Work with key individuals within each business group to ensure messages and their vehicles will work for their locations and roles.
  • Consider a fun activity—such as an Intranet Scavenger Hunt—to get users excited about the new solution. For example, one organization created a portal treasure hunt that provided participants with a list of 10 questions whose answers could be found by either searching or browsing for content within the MOSS environment. One question asked users to find the author of a specific document published to the portal. This answer was found by searching or browsing for the document and then examining metadata properties to identify the author. Another asked users to find out what would be offered for lunch in the cafeteria on a date two weeks into the future. This answer was found by navigating to or searching for the cafeteria menu, which was published monthly, and looking in the document for the lunch item on that date. A third question asked users to identify whom to call for questions related to medical benefits. This answer could be found in several ways, including searching for the term "medical benefits." This turned up a Frequently Asked Question with the answer to this question, or navigating to the HR page and looking at the Key Contacts Web part for the medical benefits expert, whose name and contact information were prominently featured. Users who turned in correct answers for all 10 questions were entered into a drawing for a dinner for two at a local restaurant of their choice. The activity not only promoted the new portal, but it also walked the user through some valuable information-seeking activities for which the portal could provide quick and accurate results.
  • Encourage influential executives to talk about MOSS. Better yet, use MOSS for information distribution instead of sending email.
  • Eliminate any paper-based or email distribution for regular reports, targeted communications, and so on if they can be found on the MOSS solution. For example, you may want to consider eliminating paper-based newsletters if you can use the portal to create targeted news items or simply post the existing newsletter to the portal and allow users to print it only if they want a paper copy.
  • Promote enthusiasm and eagerness by including high-value content and functionality in the first release. One important activity is to ensure that you have correctly identified a "killer application" and critical content for the first release of MOSS. Be sure that you are implementing at least one type of content or application that users really want and have not been able to get before—this is your "wow" factor or your killer application. For example, your MOSS portal might include a dashboard that integrates information from different applications to provide a comprehensive view of a customer or an account. It might even be as simple as a collection of links to all of the resources a new employee needs to quickly get up to speed in your organization. Identify valuable content or applications that users can only get on the portal to encourage users to try it, and design specific communications to promote their use.
  • Manage user expectations about what MOSS is and isn't, emphasizing that it is a platform that is designed to evolve over time. Communications vehicles should emphasize and reiterate this point. Communications should focus on the objectives of this first release and ask users to provide feedback regarding metadata (Did we get it right?), satisfaction (Are users happy with the end-user experience, and can they find what they are looking for?), and training (Do we need more?). Make sure you have a Contact on each page so users know who is responsible for content.
  • Remember that communications is an ongoing activity—you need to think about messaging beyond the initial launch, after the solution is operational. It will be difficult for your users to learn and appreciate all the features of MOSS in a single newsletter or training class. An ongoing communications effort provides additional opportunities to promote the features and functionality of MOSS as well as your specific implementation.


MOSS is an intuitive product, but be careful not to underestimate the amount of training users will need. Training strategies help users gain hands-on familiarity with the new solution, which includes the business processes impacted by MOSS as well as the MOSS technology itself. Develop a training program for MOSS that carefully addresses the specific needs of each constituent community based on their roles in the organization and their roles in the context of the portal, collaboration tools, and other MOSS solutions. Training should be tailored toward how each group will now do their job using MOSS as a tool. To maximize the effectiveness of your training plan, you may want to consider training a few employees from each department or business unit in a "train the trainer" scenario and then asking them to train their peers. You may also want to identify some initial candidates to become "power users" of MOSS and consider providing additional, in-depth training for these individuals. Ideally, the "power users" should be distributed across the organization so that they can provide first-level support and ongoing training to members of their local departments, business units, or offices.

Training for MOSS is ideally scheduled immediately prior to the launch. Some users, particularly users who will be responsible for loading the initial portal content, will need to be trained (either formally or informally) prior to the start of content conversion. The majority of users, particularly those with read-only access, should be trained just before (or immediately after) the portal or MOSS solution is launched.

Each organization will have unique roles that may require specialized MOSS training. However, in general, there are three types of user roles for a MOSS solution. These roles are described using MOSS terminology for the permissions that users have on a given page or site. Visitors have "read-only" permissions to the specific page or site. Members generally have both "read" and "contribute" permissions. Owners typically have "design" permissions, which means that they can modify the structure, lists, libraries, and content metadata for the page in addition to being able to add content. The following list describes the basic training requirements for each MOSS role:

  • Visitors. People who primarily read content usually need minimal training to get started. The focus should be on how the site is organized and how to browse and search for content. If your organization allows all users to create My Sites and custom views of portal content, Visitors will probably need additional training to learn how to best leverage these features. However, it is not necessary to train "readers" in all features of MOSS at the same time, especially if it means significant time away from work. You can definitely consider initial and follow-up training as a good strategy for users who primarily have Visitor access to pages and sites.
  • Members. Users with content contribution privileges will need the same training as all Visitors. They also need additional training for the specific areas where they will be posting content so that they understand not just the mechanics of content posting, but also the strategy for metadata. MOSS Members who are not also Site Owners need to focus on loading documents (one and multiple) and applying metadata. They need to understand the importance of applying metadata to ensure site usability and the importance of keeping content current to ensure that the site continues to add value. A page or site must have at least one user with content contribution privileges, but sites may have any number of people with these privileges. In many organizations, all users of private team sites are assigned Member privileges, but only a small number of users are designated as Members for "publishing" pages such as the HR pages or pages owned by Finance and Accounting.
  • Owners. Site Owners need all of the training that Members and Visitors need plus additional "design" training for MOSS. This user group should probably participate in formal MOSS training offered by Microsoft or a certified training partner. They need to understand not just how the site is organized, but also how MOSS works. Site Owners are typically business stakeholders who have overall ownership responsibilities for the content on the pages and sites they "own." Because the business owner of a page may not have the time or interest to learn the MOSS technology, the business owner may delegate the Site Owner responsibility (and user privileges) to a specific individual in his or her organization.

In general, it is recommended that you don't try to train all users in all features at one time. Consider introducing more advanced MOSS functionality over time (for example, the ability to target content via audiences, the ability to set up document and meeting workspaces, and the ability to set up and personalize a My Site) so as not to overwhelm users with too much information. Consider targeted groups, however, for more advanced functionality. One organization ran MOSS "lunch and learn" sessions on a weekly basis for the first several months after its MOSS solution was launched. Each week, the solution developers planned to discuss a different topic, but they left the last part of the session open for topics raised by participants. The meetings were conducted over Live Meeting so that remote users could participate.

Launch and Content Conversion

The rollout strategy for your MOSS solution needs to define an approach for converting existing content and launching the new solution. The approach for content conversion will be directly tied to your launch strategy (for example, you will only need to convert content for areas of the portal that you are launching), so we discuss these two strategies together.

Launch Options

You will hopefully have several options to consider when launching your MOSS solution. To minimize risk, many organizations consider "segmenting" both users and content for the first "wave" of launch.

In general, the optimal build and launch strategy for MOSS deployments involves a rapid development approach with multiple releases. Essentially, the approach recommends leveraging as much "out of the box" functionality as possible in the first release or launch and focusing the deployment effort on getting meaningful content in front of users as quickly as possible so that you can use MOSS itself to "design the future." This strategy assumes multiple releases based on business priorities for functionality.

You may want to consider additional variations for launching MOSS to facilitate content migration and user adoption. For example, you may want to contemplate launching the home page, an executive dashboard, and one "collection" of content, such as Human Resources content, for the entire organization in the first release or pilot. Or you may also want to consider launching the entire MOSS solution in a pilot but only for one region or office so that you can work the bugs out of business processes for content management before launching it to the entire organization. This makes sense if your geographies operate relatively independently and if there is content that is unique to a particular geography. For example, one global financial institution chose to launch its intranet portal in the United States first, followed by launches in Canada and Europe. This strategy significantly simplified the content conversion, training, and launch processes, because the development team could focus on one region at a time. Since the existing intranets from which they were converting were completely independent, the strategy made even more sense, because there were no issues related to maintaining parallel intranet environments.

Carefully consider issues such as whether it is possible to maintain both your current and new solutions at the same time, how long users will be willing to maintain two systems, and whether there is a firm fixed deadline for migrating from your current solution as you plan your launch strategy.

Content Conversion Options

Encourage users to begin the process of evaluating the value of existing intranet content as soon as you begin your design. Use the rollout of your new solution as an opportunity to "clean up" existing content. It's a lot of work, but users typically have a much lower learning curve to overcome for the new solution if the content is clearly "better than what we had," which typically implies content cleanup before content migration. If you have an existing intranet or extranet that will be incorporated into your MOSS solution, part of your design will need to include a determination of whether content will be left "in place" or migrated to the new portal. Business owners of content on the existing platform should be assigned the responsibility to clean up (and often migrate) their existing content. (The process of manually converting content to the new portal is an excellent way to ensure that users learn how to use MOSS.) As an example, one global organization planning a conversion of its existing intranet to MOSS 2007 identified that the average age of content on the current site is 2.5 years old, and a great deal of the existing content is no longer valid. This is not unusual, because many organizations did not consider content management part of the design of their intranets when they were developed, leading to stale content and frustrated users. You can use the launch of the new solution as a good opportunity to "force" content owners to invest the time to review their existing intranet content to consider whether it should be archived or deleted prior to the launch of the new solution. Many portal development teams adopt a "no automated content migration" strategy. If all content has to be uploaded manually to the new solution, users have a strong incentive to migrate only content that is still valid and useful.

There are several alternative content migration strategies that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Use the following list (which is not exhaustive) to think about content conversion alternatives that best meet the needs of your organization.

  • Option 1. Clean up all existing content, and migrate all of it to the new solution. This strategy is most appropriate when the majority of existing content is current and relevant or where the existing platform will no longer be supported.
  • Option 2. Migrate none of the existing content into the new solution. Use MOSS to index existing file shares, but close the file shares for new content. In other words, all new content will be managed by MOSS, but searching "old" content will leverage only the full text search capability within MOSS. This strategy is most relevant when the majority of existing content is used for reference purposes only.
  • Option 3. Clean and migrate recent content only. For example, migrate content accessed within the past 6 months only. Leave the remaining content in the existing file shares or intranet, and close the file shares or existing intranet for write access, as in Option 2. This strategy is most relevant where there is a mix of both relevant and old content in the existing file repositories and where it will be possible to maintain the old intranet essentially as a reference database when the new solution launches.

The biggest effort in content conversion and migration is usually "meta-tagging" existing content. There are two components to the effort: identifying the value for the metadata (which requires knowledge of the content) and entering/attaching the tagged data values to each document. Some third-party automated tools can help with this process when there are large numbers of files to migrate. However, since knowledge of the content is so critical, it may also be appropriate to have a "divide and conquer" approach—dividing metadata tagging responsibility among knowledgeable content owners. Some organizations use temporary help or offshore resources to assign metadata in MOSS if knowledgeable content owners can identify the metadata in advance.

User Support

There are several key elements of your ongoing strategies for providing users with the support that they need to ensure that the portal continuously delivers business value:

  • Make sure there is a contact person identified for every page and site and that users can easily find out who that is. You can use the "out of the box" Contact Details Web part to display the name (and link to the profile) of the Contact for the page or site. The page Contact should be the person who can provide support to users about the specific content on the page.
  • Consider getting Site Owners together on a weekly basis for the first few weeks (or months) after MOSS is launched so that they can compare feedback and support each other. Better yet, create a collaborative team site for all Site Owners to share and exchange ideas on an ongoing basis. Even though many of the pages are independent, a good idea from one user group may also be relevant for another. In addition, any major changes to taxonomy or page layout can be reviewed and discussed by the whole group before they are brought to the Governance Board for final approval.
  • Make sure that your existing IT Help Desk is prepared to support MOSS. Help Desk personnel may be assigned special permissions for MOSS—permissions that cross the "out of the box" roles of Visitor, Member, and Owner. Help desk personnel have unique needs. They will likely provide the first tier of support for MOSS users, but they may also be the least familiar with the MOSS content due to their systems-focused role in the organization. If Help Desk personnel are expected to support Site Owners, they need to have the same type of MOSS design training that Site Owners need so that they can support users with design privileges. In addition, they need custom training about your specific MOSS implementation to become thoroughly familiar with the end-user experience for users with Visitor and Member permissions. Help Desk personnel should understand how the site is organized and where content can be found, and be given a list of common tasks that developers think users will execute on MOSS. It is useful to have the development team "back up" the Help Desk on site for the first couple weeks after the initial MOSS launch.
  • Finally, be sure to provide mechanisms and processes for incorporating end-user feedback so that you can provide ongoing support for end users by improving the design of your MOSS environment and its content and functionality. You will want to learn about portal, search, and team site usage; content value; content relevance; content organization; new components; and new integration needed. Consider conducting periodic end-user surveys to specifically solicit end-user feedback, but also engage in a continuous dialog with Page Contacts to gather feedback from the users they support.

Incentives and Rewards

Incentives and rewards are effective tools for getting people to try MOSS and apply it to their day-to-day work. The concepts and decentralization of content management responsibility with a MOSS solution are likely to be different from your organization's current intranet implementation. Moreover, users may need to be encouraged to use the MOSS rollout as an opportunity to clean up their existing content.

Create appropriate incentives and rewards to encourage collaboration and use of MOSS and other productivity tools. Consider team-based rather than individual rewards to encourage sharing. Also consider recognizing users for both knowledge creation and reuse. It is important to reward not only the inventor of an idea or the contributor of a document but also the "reuser."

Champion knowledge-sharing behavior as well as MOSS usage to facilitate culture change. Create specific programs and communications messages to focus on "how we work, how we share, and how we integrate." Consider incentives for using MOSS in ways that add value for other users—for example, think about incentives for posting a best practice or lessons learned. Encourage office and department managers to ask their staff to check the company portal or group's team site when they need information.

Recognition often lies in being perceived as an expert by peers and management. Ensure that the author's name is attached to documents, guidelines, best practices, and presentations he or she creates. This can be exploited with presence recognition technology—I find an asset and see that the author is online, so I can either IM him or initiate a phone call.

Using MOSS has to be self-rewarding. Users have to get something out of it—understand the "What's in it for me?" question—or they will not engage. Rewards and recognition may be healthy in the early stages of building enthusiasm, but in the long run, people need to find the work itself rewarding. Initially, it may work to develop a "fun" incentive to get people to try your collaborative toolset.

Create recognition for transferring and using best practices. You can do this by celebrating best-practice success stories in existing corporate communications vehicles. Recognize both parties and units involved in the transfer of knowledge. At any given time, someone is both contributing and receiving knowledge. If both sides of the transaction are not rewarded, you will run out of content quickly. Formal rewards may not work in your culture; be careful about using specific rewards for people motivated primarily by a sense of involvement and contribution. Reach out to your Human Resources department to help develop and document incentives and rewards that are appropriate for your organization and culture. Use the new solution as an opportunity to be creative; try not to get hung up on what has worked in the past. This is new technology with an enormous amount of personalization capability. Take advantage of the inherent value of the MOSS technology to look for new and exciting ways to encourage and reward use.

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