International rollouts: start at the human level

Global rollouts are complex processes that require holistic oversight and forward planning from the outset. Our guide helps you manage the human challenge.

Management Summary:

What is an international rollout?

When considering how to approach international rollouts, it’s crucial to understand exactly what we mean by this widely-applied term. International rollouts refer to the act of bringing a locally developed system or processes to countries in a sequence, in order to make a local system available in a region, or even worldwide. The term ‘international rollout’ refers to an overarching process, which encompasses rollouts in every country you’re bringing that system to. This includes periods of technological implementation, as well as phases in which planning and brainstorming should take place. International rollouts can take multiple forms: from a single implementation in multiple geographies at once, to the use of sequences, phases and steps.

Given the size and complexity of these projects, it’s critical to approach them with informed foresight of the necessary factors, steps and processes. Companies need to think ahead about key topics to consider before putting processes in motion for global rollouts. Therefore, we’ll discuss the crucial areas to consider ahead of an international rollout, in order that businesses can be prepared for all eventualities, ensure maximum efficiency and minimal waste, before embarking on an international rollout.

Though such transformations may appear to be largely about technology, it’s important that companies don’t forget the human element too. In our discussion of how to anticipate international rollouts, we’ll begin with a consideration of the human/team level, to explain how to approach widespread change in a way that empowers and includes teams and individuals involved.

Maintaining clear communication and transparency

When approaching a global rollout, quality of communication among stakeholders, teams and parties involved is crucial. Firstly, the correct stakeholders will need to be identified. In any rollout, this identification process can be challenging due to non-visible hierarchies, structures and protocols which can make it difficult to identify correct relevant people for a particular discussion, involvement or action point. Therefore, it's important to spend time on-site with client counterparts to understand these nuances within teams before commencing communications. Understanding pre-existing context to communications is key. This includes external time pressures, already established relationships and dynamics which may not be immediately visible to external parties and will require sensitive treatment.

In addition, be sure to guarantee a maximum level of transparency and involvement at all times among teams. This means a widely accessible rollout plan, regular updates on statuses, a distributed roadmap for the transformation, training timeline and communication between departments. By maintaining a collective awareness of the process via strengthened communication, the efficiency of the rollout is enhanced since team members are well-informed about the necessity of the change and the outcomes of it too.

Cultural awareness and adaptation

When considering how to structure communications internally and externally during your international rollout, cultural differencesbetween stakeholders are a crucial, and often challenging, factor that will need to be taken into account. Different countries will approach a project in different ways, ideas and language will hold different associations and meanings within different cultural contexts. A lack of awareness of this fact can generate tension given the added pressure during global rollouts. Therefore, in order to incorporate an understanding of cultural nuance, it is beneficial to approach local stakeholders well in advance of implementation in order to gather information and understand their approach better.

Thus a key factor in managing the human level of global rollouts is understanding your audience: whether that’s a client or end user. Developing a nuanced, informed and personal understanding will allow you to factor in additional time in order to communicate in the correct way that’s culturally sensitive and appropriate, thus ensuring the smoothest implementation possible.

The importance of incentivization

A seamless implementation can also be facilitated by carefully managed incentivization. Incentivization refers to a developed pathway system which provides goals or objectives to individuals, based on the specific areas they work on. This can structure their individual assimilation into new systems, as well as providing framework for training. For instance, individuals might win a badge of an ‘AEM specialist’ once they’ve worked with a new system for a particular amount of time, providing them with a signpost to aim for.

Change management teams need to communicate in a way that means people involved see the necessity to upgrade to the new system due to the possibilities it opens, both for themselves and the company as a whole. However, this holistic approach to communication requires forethought. Considering incentivization in advance will not only streamline workflows since team members are motivated to facilitate transformation, but it also, in turn, will ensure quality remains stable and customer experiences aren’t compromised in any way.


Though international rollouts involve complex technological processes and digital transformations, in order to implement new systems efficiently and seamlessly, brands must also take the human challenge seriously. Empower teams by ensuring high standards of communication and transparency, understanding pre-existing conditions for change including nuanced cultural differences among stakeholders, and incentivize individuals using pathways to personal achievements within the wider rollout. This must be seen as a holistic process which requires careful forethought and time management. Join us for Part Two of Anticipating International Rollouts, in which we’ll look ahead to optimizing training processes for a global rollout.