Nailing workplace tool deployment with Slack, Envoy, Dialpad and Greylock

By Bernhard Mehl
May 3, 2018

Our friends over at IT Kit recently launched an awesome event called “Nailing workplace tools” at the Spoke HQ in San Francisco. We’ve gone ahead and assembled a summary of the great experiences and opinions from their panel including: 

- Manuel Bernal - Director of Technology at Greylock

- Dana Campbell - IT Manager at Slack

- Brian Peterson - Co-Founder at Dialpad

Sarah Russell - Workpace Operations at Envoy.

introduce workplace tool

... and here it is:

Startup Guide to Workplace Deployment Success

Most of us are amazed by the releases of new fancy tools, but successful deployment and onboarding of such tools (like workplace tech tools, or workplace collaboration tools) in our office or workplace is a matter of art and science. 

At its core, the question is: How do you get your internal clients (coworkers) to use it?”. Manuel Bernal, moderator of the panel, points out that this process takes some work. He had personally experienced it when he joined the “dark side” (sorry fans of Star Wars, we just had to) at Greylock Partners - however he still helps startups with their IT.

Let's dive into the companies in detail:

workplace tool

At Slack, it is all about communication and transparency. When every laptop had to be updated to a newer firmware because of the Spectre bug, that needed reasonable heads up as well as some clear communication and reasoning. Dana Campbell explained that they measure success of new deployments in:

  • internal customer satisfaction
  • increase of tickets and
  • uptime of service

Finding your cheerleaders is crucial for having initial adoption - basically a group of “guinea pigs” who are willing to test things for you. Considering cross-country standards and expectations might be very important, e.g. 2FA in Europe might not be very common yet.

workplace IT

At Envoy, it’s all about making it dead simple for the internal users, and taking time to explain it  -- ideally at a session during office hours. Recording the session and putting it on the wiki will also let those who weren’t able to make it catch up on what they missed. 

Creating an additional video about deployment (think internal marketing) around how and why it makes sense from a company perspective helps getting people excited too. 

An always tricky point though, is phasing out tools. Sarah does this through a soft forced transition with deadline to make sure that people make the switch.

remote workplace management

Dialpad revealed a really awesome idea -- Brian sets up vanity URLs as shortcuts to get to the tools. For example, their Jira repository URL might be hard to remember, so he named it something like “”. In this way, it is succinct and hard to forget. In addition, he also provided an internal wiki that tells people where to find the resources -- something that is really helpful.

Brian especially likes built-in tracking of workplace tools to show adoption rate. The problem is that it gets easier to adopt new tech across the company without IT involvement - essentially shadow IT.

All their main 39 different cloud Apps need to have universal log on for provisioning and de-provisioning so they can be controlled by IT. However taking tools away from people where they behave different is very hard - like taking away a Motorola desk phone that people got used to.

When making a switch be prepared for questions and make sure there is a canned response for every ticket. If it gets too hard to transition everyone and resistance is bubbling up and everything else fails Brian likes to see the audit angle and the fact to have strict SSO policies to enforce adoption of their new product.

workforce enablement

Greylock’s internal customers (presumably mostly VC partners and analysts) expect a white glove service when it comes to technology. Manuel’s tactic when introducing new tolls is to have someone of outside of the IT department promoting it, like "Billy from Marketing explains why it is cool for him”.

Before there is negative feedback, he likes to bring in anticipated sources of such feedback to provide their thoughts first. He employs a policy of "Tell us if it sucks and why it does". He always asks their reasons for disliking it, and then explain the need to use this.

The new norm for IT departments is to be close partners with all other departments. Even an internal SLA for IT could be useful to build expectations and create accountability.

A way to discover what people use outside of the IT department’s control is to look at the Meraki (router) logs to see what people use - for example Google Drive instead of Dropbox. To avoid this, it is best to explain to every new hire which are the standard applications we use during onboarding. This is because people generally do not like change and it is better to set it out straight at the start than take these tools away from them after they have gotten used to using them. If all else fails, there is certainly the worst-case scenario of using the "nuke way" where you can just block it in the firewall. Definitely not a pretty situation, but hey at least it solves the problem!

A final comment

We hope you’ve found this interesting -- this topic definitely speaks out to us as we have experienced the laborious process moving from Slack to Discord for our internal communications - although we still are fans of Slack, the Gamers in our organization moved us in a different direction :)

Useful Links:

Introduction to Access Control

Access Control Solutions for Every Type of Organisation

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.

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