How three essential principles helped John Cockerill build a truly collaborative digital workplace

Oct 31, 2022
  • finance
  • IT
  • engineering & projects
  • Microsoft

Innovation is in John Cockerill’s DNA. In order to successfully keep growing, they were going to need to fully draw on that resourcefulness – which is why they instructed us to help.

Founded in 1817, the John Cockerill Group has always been driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and thirst for innovation to deliver large-scale technological solutions to the big challenges of the age. Working with businesses, governments and communities, they provide products and services to a wide range of sectors including energy, defence, manufacturing, environmental, transport and infrastructure.

The company had committed to building a robust digital workplace: a modern, efficient and collaborative working environment - without compromising on security. They wanted to give their employees greater flexibility to interact as teams, despite being so widely spread geographically.

John Cockerill chose Microsoft Office365, using Teams as their new teamwork hub - and they brought us in to help them with the deployment.

Three key principles 

John Cockerill were not going to improve communication and collaboration by simply making new technology available and they needed to avoid the risk that the solution will be seen as just another tool to share and store information.

To be truly effective, the new system needed to give users greater flexibility, whilst also providing structure to team interactions. For maximum impact, users had to “own” their new working environment and fully grasp its benefits.

Therefore, to encourage adoption and collaboration, we advised John Cockerill to apply three key principles during deployment:

Adoption is a journey. Communication alone isn’t enough to convince people. It is a process of ongoing improvement that continues after deployment.
Benoit Delvaux

1. Involve the whole business 

From the outset, our project team ensured that there was representation from each business area throughout. At the heart of the project team was their IT function, acting as liaison with the rest of the business. A network of around 100 ambassadors were appointed to encourage colleagues to adopt Office365 and promote usage of the kit.

Feedback from key users across the business was used to compile impact analyses, which in turn helped the company structure their Teams channels to most closely answer the specific needs of individual business units.


“One lesson we learned on this project is that an inclusive approach, involving a wide variety of disciplines, is the first step towards maximising adoption of the platform.”

Benoit Delvaux, Office365 product owner

2. The essential role of automated governance

A collaborative platform like Teams can quickly create chaos if it is deployed without any safeguards. We helped the company find a balance between increased user autonomy and an appropriate level of control over the creation and management of collaborative spaces. John Cockerill achieved this by integrating our Workspaces application with Teams.

“Governance rules are not enough. They need to be automated and fully integrated into the platform.” 

Benoit Delvaux, Office365 product owner 


The Workspaces application makes it possible to prevent chaos, by guiding users through the process of creating a Teams space and ensuring compliance with certain security and data privacy rules. Workspaces also allowed us to pre-configure a collaborative space with regard to a business area’s specific needs.
Vincent Sterken, Delaware project manager

3. The vital role of change management

A digital workplace will only succeed if it is fully and enthusiastically adopted by users. Change management was at the heart of this project, with at least 80 activities in just one year - all focused on user adoption:

  • Awareness-raising content (including video) on the reasons for deployment and the expected benefits;
  • Management coaching and ongoing support for their ambassadors;
  • A helpdesk portal, directing users to training and webinars; and
  • ‘Tea break’ Teams sessions, answering users’ specific questions.

Tim Rowe

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