Habanero has been considered a thought leader in key areas of portal and website development for many years. Since its inception we saw Microsoft SharePoint as a platform with huge potential to change the way people communicate at work. I'd like to think we are world leaders in building portals on SharePoint. Our inclusion in the latest Nielsen Norman Group Intranet Design Annual and our platinum Intranet Innovation Award make me feel more confident in making such a lofty brag.

However, what I've realized is that the most important asset in evolving our delivery practice and solutions is what we learn from our clients. They are the ones who bear the often challenging responsibilities of change management, governance and adoption. We can provide support and advice in these areas but they have to deal with the day-to-day issues that need to be addressed if a portal initiative is to be successful.

Last week we decided to shake things up a bit and try something new. We hosted our first client roundtable entitled "Change Management and User Adoption" which was attended by four of our clients who came together to share their experiences with roll-out, adoption, governance and change management.

The format was simple: they each prepped a short 10 minute discussion about their experiences in change management and adoption. We left about 10 more minutes for their peers to dig in and ask questions. Each client who attended is at a different stage in their portal program: at the beginning of new project, mid-way through a portal initiative, or into the maintenance and adoption of systems that have been in place for over two years.

I was so impressed with the candor and openness and what each client was willing to share. There was an obvious desire to help others achieve their goals, and I think everyone in the room got something out of it (even if some had more treaded paths than others).

The value and outcome can't be summarized in a blog post. Part of the magic of the event was the real time exchange of questions, answers and pontification. The usual suspects came up in conversation: from staffing and governance profiles, to executive buy-in, to training and budget, to building internal excitement. The real gold was in the exchange of questions — and the poking, prodding and business card exchanges.

Every year, during our customer service surveys, our clients tell us they want us to teach, educate and provide thought leadership to them. It's great to see that one of the easiest ways to do this is to facilitate their coming together to share their experiences.

I'm looking forward to the next roundtable. If you'd like to be involved or have topic ideas let me know!

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