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9068233832_b7252f4ac6Gold Quill Winner Paula Hurley  – ‘Your Gig’s too Big!’

IABC Gold Quill winner Paula Hurley achieved one of the highest scores awarded to an Australian entry in 2013, for an internal communications campaign at Medibank Private.    Her winning project, “Your Gig’s Too Big!”, supported a major IT change programme that directly impacted the day-to-day work of 2250 employees.

Paula specializes in IT projects and believes a key role of the IT communications professional is to act as a ‘translator’, helping the technical team and the end-users to understand each other’s needs and developing creative approaches that engage both groups and deliver mutually beneficial results.

The challenge

Paula was brought in to manage the communications for a Medibank Private project to migrate 2250 staff from a legacy Lotus Notes system to Microsoft Outlook.  At the point Paula joined, the Notes servers had reached 97% of their capacity and repeated calls from the IT Department for people to voluntarily reduce their levels had had no impact.  The IT department was on the point of a mandatory deletion of 10% of emails from a large number of mailboxes – a move that would, in all likelihood, cause uproar and seriously harm IT’s reputation with impacted employees.

The objectives

The priorities were to urgently reduce the email levels in Lotus Notes to improve system performance, and then prepare the workforce for the process of migrating to Outlook.  The new system introduced mailbox size limits for the first time, so there was a pressing need to educate users about email management as many mailboxes were well over the new limits. Paula set out to achieve both objectives through a staff competition that encouraged the deletion of unwanted mail while introducing the idea of ongoing, proactive mailbox management.

The measureable campaign objectives were to have 40% of staff actively participate in the competition, resulting in a 25% reduction in the amount of data to be migrated from Lotus Notes to Outlook. This was an ambitious target but one that would greatly improve immediate system performance and reduce the cost and complexity of the forthcoming migration. A further goal was to create awareness of the concept of pro-active mailbox management in 75% of staff.

The solution

Paula’s solution was an innovative communications campaign and staff competition called “Your Gig’s too Big!”.  It set out to motivate and reward people to change their email habits, and its tone was humorous and engaging.  Preparation included segmentation analysis of the internal stakeholders, their roles in the business and their attitudes to technology.  Users were contacted about the competition via email, and encouraged to start cleaning out their mailboxes.  They were provided with a personalized reading of their current mailbox size, and a range of simple automated tools to carry out the clean-up task, including buttons that enabled deletions based on criteria like date range and file size. 

The competition ran for five weeks in the lead up to the Outlook migration and users who reduced their emails by a set amount were put into a draw for a $1000 gift card. The email communications were supported with an intranet information page, articles giving tips on how to reduce email levels, and one-to-one meetings with key end-users such Marketing, who dealt with large, graphics-heavy files via email every day.

The results

The campaign was an outstanding success, with a reduction of nearly a terabyte of existing and “avoided growth” data.  This equated to 96% of the objective of reducing the overall data by 25%.  The project manager estimated that this data reduction saved the project $85,000 by reducing the size of the required data migration.

The initial awareness-raising about mailbox management paved the way for further communications activity during the subsequent Outlook project.  The groundwork paid dividends – the email migration took place successfully over 6 weekends in July – August 2011 and by that time only 6 users were over their newly designated mail box limits.

By Amanda Purdie, IABC Victoria