An investment in enterprise technology can’t truly be deemed a success unless the organization achieves successful user adoption. While there are key best practices that can steer organizations towards successful adoption, there are also several impediments along the way. Here we’ll explore the impediments and how to overcome them.
The #1 impediment to successful user adoption is having a tech-focused mindset. Oftentimes, a customer will think to themselves: “OK, all the various bits of the tech are working. The project is on time and on budget. Let’s roll this stuff out organization-wide, offer a bit of training, and people should love it and adopt it to solve their problems.”
A mindset that focuses exclusively on tech, without giving equal focus on the problems of both the workforce and the business, will typically result in low adoption. The right mindset focuses on technology as a means of solving problems and generating value. When technologists have the right mindset, they think to themselves: “We’re bringing on this technology to solve specific problems that we’ve identified. Let’s develop a department by department understanding of how the tech best solves these problems and ensure the management team is aligned with our approach.”
In other words, it’s important to understand that rolling out technology isn’t an end in and of itself — it’s a means to an end.
Micro is as important as macro
Project teams and sponsors often focus on macro outcomes that have an organization-wide impact, e.g., implementing a new system of record for critical information. The problem with that approach is that your average user in a department doesn’t care about organization-wide problems — they care about their own problems and the problems that are specific to the department they work in.
Without a fundamental micro understanding of the ways that the different departments and the individuals within them work, adoption will falter. The lesson? It’s absolutely critical to have that granular level of understanding of the way work gets done within the organization and to ensure that whatever new technology is being rolled out will actually improve daily workflows. Ignoring this element is a recipe for disaster.
Executive sponsorship is not a side gig
With many enterprise technology implementations, there’s a reluctance to get senior management involved beyond funding the project. This is a mistake: senior management needs to be actively engaged in the outcomes. They cannot remain on the sidelines just hoping for positive outcomes — they must be willing to use their influence to manage the project to the desired results.
When end users perceive that the manager or the senior executive sponsor is not engaged in the rollout, their natural tendency is to pay a token amount of attention to the tech, wait for the focus to shift to something else, and then abandon it altogether. This pitfall can be avoided when executive sponsors and the entire management team are actively engaged.
Overtraining can be the kiss of death
Imagine an end user who needs to learn how to create pivot tables in Microsoft Excel to perform data analysis. Now imagine that instead of learning that one feature that’s specific to a job to be done, they were subjected to a full day training session on nearly every piece of functionality within Excel. Not a good idea.
The fact is that most enterprise technology comes with a very rich feature set. It’s overkill to try to train the organization in every feature, from A-Z. A better idea is to gain an understanding of how a user works, and then only train on those features that you’re certain will apply to that user’s work. From there, you can point the user to some online tools to learn additional capabilities if necessary. Do not attempt to train someone on every aspect of the product. It’s too much.
Don’t move on too quickly
After going live and getting it to a stage where all the bits are working, the tech is on every desktop, there were no implosions, and people are content with the transition — the natural tendency is to exhale in relief, and then move on to the next challenge.
Not so fast: You should be looking for at least 30 to 45 days of sustained adoption. If there are any issues with the tech that users initially gloss over in the days after go-live — and these issues aren’t addressed — they create an opening for users to walk away from the tech after a week or two and go back to their old habits.
Also, when you move on to the next project too quickly, you almost always leave value on the table, because there are additional features and functionality that you — as the buyer of technology — have paid for, but the organization hasn’t tapped into yet. As the saying goes — this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Maximize your investment
Enterprise tech can be a gamechanger for companies, but only when it’s successfully adopted by end users throughout the organization. When organizations give outcomes-based change management the rigor it deserves, they can get the user adoption they seek — which puts them on the path to fully reaping the benefits of their investment and improving their businesses.
Brian Jones is Senior Director of Customer Adoption, iManage.