You need a user adoption strategy
We have found that the best way for organizations to “boost” and then “sustain” high software user adoption is to develop and implement a comprehensive user adoption strategy. Most software failures occur when organizations take a Go-Live centric approach (on-time & on-budget delivery of technology) without taking the necessary actions to drive and sustain user adoption over the life of the system.
It is essential to recognize that user adoption is all about changing user behaviors; it is not about technology.
The skills and methods you use to change behavior are very different from those required to build and deliver effective systems. This means that the people who lead and manage your system implementation may not be (and probably are not) the right people to lead the user adoption program.
Critical elements for your user adoption strategy
During your initial few client interactions, you need to spend time learning about the client members with whom you will work. You need to understand who they are, their strengths and weaknesses, their view of their organization, and what constitutes success for them and their organization. It is especially important to focus on the executive sponsor(s) and your primary contact.
You also need to share with them about your background, expertise, and weaknesses. You need to demonstrate how you can help them achieve a level of success they can’t achieve on their own. Be honest and upfront with what you do well, and where you will rely on others to get the expertise they need.
Your goal is to start to learn about each other and figure out how you can work well together. Building these relationships take time and will continue over several interactions and meetings. This is not a single discussion topic on the agenda.
Step 2: Agree on the Process
Here are some (though not all) critical elements of a software user adoption program:
- ASSIGN OWNERSHIP FOR SOFTWARE ADOPTION – Give a senior executive overall accountability, authority, and required resources to drive and sustain user adoption. Make this a meaningful portion of the executive’s performance & bonus criteria to ensure they are appropriately motivated to put in the time and resources required to make the software project a success.
- CONDUCT A USER ADOPTION ANALYSIS – Conduct a comprehensive analysis of your organization to identify all of the key factors that encourage or inhibit software adoption. This includes looking at policies, processes, reward systems, communication activities, job descriptions, leadership, and existing user attitudes and behaviors. Use this information to shape your overall user adoption strategy.
- SHIFT FROM “USER RESISTANCE” TO “REMOVE BARRIERS” – Make clear distinctions between instances of user resistance vs. organizational barriers that prevent adoption. Many people fall in the trap of “blaming the users” for not adopting the software when often there are organizational barriers – that fall outside of the users’ control – that prevent users from utilizing the system.
- FACILITATE ADOPTION – Take specific actions before, during, and after go-live to facilitate full and effective user adoption. Communications and training are necessary, but not even close to sufficient, for driving effective user adoption. (This is an example where you may need a different skill set to drive adoption. If you are not sure what else you need to do to facilitate adoption, this may mean that you do not have the right skills or right methodology for driving user adoption. You may want to consult an outside user adoption expert for help.)
- MEASURE RESULTS & EVOLVE YOUR ADOPTION PLAN – Measure user adoption at regularly scheduled intervals, update user adoption goals, identify specific adoption activities to be completed, and adjust your software adoption program as necessary to ensure your system is meeting current and future ROI goals.