Don’t You Dare Tell them “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM). Do this instead.

You just spent a pile of money on a great new piece of software. It promises to streamline your operations, save money, grow revenues, improve quality or increase customer satisfaction.

But only if you can get your people to use it!

How do you motivate people to use your software?

Many organizations underestimate the critical impact of employee motivation for adopting new technology has on IT system success.  The prevailing attitude is that employees will “have no choice” but to use the system.  

The reality is that users have a wide variety of choices about if, when and how they will use your software.  

The myth of “They will have no choice”

For example, each individual decides:

  • If they are going to follow “business rules” (after all, rules are indeed made to be broken)
  • If they will keep information outside of the system (i.e. using personal Excel or Word files)
  • When they will enter/share data
    • Do your users enter data right away so others can use it?
    • Do they wait for days, weeks or months before they finally put in the system?

Once you realize that each user has an extensive choice in the manner, degree and time in which they use your system you can begin to focus on the more important issue – how do you motivate people to use the system in a way that delivers maximum benefits?

3 Approaches to Motivating User Adoption of Software

Many IT projects suffer from a lack of a clear understanding of how to best motive desired user behavior.  People often use terms like “carrots and sticks”, “ensure compliance”, moving people along the “commitment curve”, and “What’s In It For Me (WIIFM)?” but they typically do not understand the fundamental nature of these terms and their implications for motivating desired behavior.

Let’s take a quick look:

1. “What’s In It For Me?” (WIIFM)  

WIIFM appeals to individuals? self-interests without regard to achieving a larger shared goal.  The underlying principle is, “If you do X you personally will get benefit Y, regardless of what others do.”  

WIIFM motivation:

  • Appeals to the selfish side of individuals
  • Requires you understand the individuals? actual goals, motivations, and priorities.  Unfortunately, these vary from person to person and they change over time
  • Ceases to motivate once the individuals? self-interests are fulfilled or there is no perceived marginal value for providing additional discretionary effort
  • Encourages individuals to focus on their own interests and does not necessarily encourage them to work towards larger, enterprise goals
Camera and Fences

2. “Compliance” and “Sticks”  

In its essence, this is a negative approach focused on maximizing fear and punishment.  The underlying principle is, “if you don’t do what I say, you will suffer.” 

Compliance driven motivation is:

  • Based on consequences/punishment
  • Only effective with rigorous enforcement
  • Only works when people think you are watching
  • Only drives minimum effort required to meet minimum criteria ? there is no incentive to go beyond the bare minimum

3. “Commitment” 

Appealing to individuals’ commitment is a positive approach that taps into their internal drives and desires to achieve a shared goal.  The underlying principle is, “if we all pull together, we can achieve something great.”  

Commitment driven motivation:

  • Is based on a desire to achieve a goal bigger than oneself
  • Is “self-driving”
  • Works without external monitoring
  • Requires trust and shared values
  • Encourages people to give discretionary effort above the bare minimum
  • Taps into individuals’ creativity to overcome obstacles and achieve goals

Software only delivers value when it is used

Modern software is about helping people collaborate and perform their jobs in a way that everyone benefits from the use of the system. However, for it to deliver on its promise, it requires everyone to use it as intended and as designed.

Achieving IT and organizational success requires people to work toward a common, shared goal.  You should focus the majority of your effort on maximizing the commitment of all employees to achieving that goal. 

Drive commitment to using software to achieve a greater goal

Clearly demonstrate the link between the individuals? technology adoption and how their behavior impacts goal achievement.  While in some situations (such as when there specific legal requirements/regulations) you may need to clearly define minimum accepted system use, you should minimize your focus on compliance and WIIFM and instead try to maximize the commitment of your users.  


User Adoption & The 20-Year Renewal

Who wouldn’t like to secure 20 years’ worth of renewals with each of their customers?

Well, it is possible.

If you sell on a subscription basis, this should be your goal from the very beginning.

But how do you get there?

Ask yourself, “How would I need to approach and manage a new client relationship from the very start?

Achieving the 20-year renewal requires a shift in thinking and action. It requires that you change:

You need to create an environment in which a client is delighted to renew year, over year.

Selling for Logos (and Churn)

When we talk with SaaS vendors, we routinely hear some version of a story about how “sales are focused on getting new logos” and will “do anything to land a new customer.”

Typically, the conversations focus on the features and functionality of the software, how easy it is to use, and how fast they can have the system live. The sales rep closes the deal, gets the commission, and turns things over to the implementation and delivery team to make the customer successful.

And then it doesn’t happen.

The Waiting Game

The Waiting Game

Sure, the system gets turned on, and some people get trained on it.

Then, the customer waits for it use it.

They sit and wait for all the anticipated business benefits to come rolling in.

And they wait.

And they wait some more.

And no (or only limited) benefits appear.

Soon after that, the customer complaints arrive, followed by the inevitable, disastrous Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs), a clear sign of the churn that is yet to come. And then that happens too.

Selling and Delivering for the 20-Year Renewal

So, what went wrong?

You won the deal, right?

The problem is that if this is your approach, chances are you may have won the deal but already lost the renewal.

Selling for the 20-year renewal requires you to shift your sales discussion. You need to move from focusing on the features, functionality, and potential benefits of your system to instead focus on how your Customer Success capabilities will ensure customers are successful in adopting the system.

From that flows the clear business value from the use of your software, and based on that, customers will be thrilled to continue renewing for the next 20 years.

Here are three ways to do this:

Set Business Goals

1. Set the Goal of a 20-Year Relationship from the Very Start.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but your initial sales conversations need to move beyond focusing on the immediate, pressing business problem. Instead, address how you will solve the new challenges that will emerge once the current need is met.

Get the customer to think past the immediate need. Help them look at what happens next.

Focus the discussion on the long-term, sustained business value that the customer will need to realize to renew for the next 20 years.

Map the Critical Path to Value Creation and 20 Years of Renewals

2. Map the Critical Path to Value Creation and 20 Years of Renewals.

Most technology project plans focus on the path to go-live and a little bit beyond. When you map out the critical path to ROI and renewals, you quickly see that accelerated and sustained, effective user adoption is what leads to renewals.

So, what actions and deliverables are needed over the long-term to make sure you get the user adoption required to deliver 20 years’ worth of renewable value to your customer?

Not sure?

Chances are, your customers don’t know either. You need to help them figure it out.

When you walk your prospect through a 20-year renewal timeframe, what will become clear is that after the system is live, what becomes most important is having a sustained effort to maximize adoption.

Help your customers discover that over 20 years, there will be changes to their internal structure, staff composition, products/services, operating environment, and overall organizational performance. All of these changes will impact user adoption and ROI.

The key to a 20-year renewal is helping them develop the capability to accelerate and sustain effective internal user adoption over the course of 20 years of ongoing organizational change and uncertainty.

Provide User Adoption Capabilities to Your Customer

3. Provide and Sustain User Adoption & Value Realization Capabilities for Your Customer

Most of your customers will not have a clue about how to put in place a program that drives and sustains adoption for 20 years. You may not, either. But you, and they, need to figure it out.

Helping your customers map out and proactively manage all the organizational complexities affecting user adoption and value realization they will encounter over time is not a core capability of most software vendors ? even those with a great Customer Success team.

Yet, this capability is precisely what your customers require to achieve 20 years of value from your system.

To address this need, you either need to build this capability in-house, partner with software adoption and organizational change companies to provide this expertise, or discover some way for your customers to solve this problem on their own.

Ultimately, unless your customers can sufficiently sustain adoption and ongoing value realization, the 20-year renewal will remain elusive.


Why is User Adoption so Hard?

Most organizations are surprised by how difficult it is to get people to adopt new technology.

The worst mistake people make

The biggest mistake many organizations make is believing that people will have no choice but to adopt a new IT system because it will be mandatory.

Do people assume this in your organization?

You can’t mandate system use

Mandating system use is a common approach that is guaranteed to block the potential value and success of an IT system. The assumption is that if the boss tells them they must do it, then people will do it. Ha!

The truth is that people always have a choice in:

  • How they use a system
  • When they use it
  • How well they use it
  • How frequently they use it
You can't mandate behavior

Technology introduces LOTS of change!

Many organizations that struggle with adoption have failed to recognize that introducing new technology, even simple systems, creates a ripple effect of change throughout an organization.

Implementing IT systems require changes to:

  • Processes and policies
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Daily routines and habits
  • Performance expectations and evaluations

Manage the changes or else

Unless you identify and proactively manage change before, during, and after go-live, you will not see the levels of user adoption and business outcomes you want.

The IT system on which you spent valuable time and money will end up:

  • Sitting idle
  • Used in the wrong way
  • Barely used
  • Have bad data entered
  • No data entered
Barrier to user adoption

The hidden barriers to success

Most organizations fail to identify real and perceived organizational obstacles to adopting and using new technology because leaders:

  • Believe user adoption will “just happen” organically and they don’t need to devote time and resources to drive and sustain adoption
  • Don’t know how to identify potential organizational barriers to adoption
  • Think they know all the barriers without realizing they probably don’t
  • Do not motivate and rewarded people for focusing their efforts on anything beyond quickly getting the system live on time and within budget

Get the right approach to success

Most software projects fail to deliver the expected business outcomes because of the method the buyer takes to getting the system live and driving user adoption.

Many organizations lack the expertise, tools, and capacity to deliver their internal success. You need to move past traditional change management approaches and instead put in place a comprehensive effort focused on long-term, sustained user adoption.

You need to:

  • Remove adoption barriers that prevent stakeholders from using IT systems as designed and intended
  • Achieve a dramatic increase in adoption rates for IT systems
  • Experience significantly faster value creation and benefits realization from IT systems
  • Gain a return on your IT system objectives and investments
  • Be the role model and hero in your organization for having the knowledge and skills to drive short-term and long-term success with IT systems

When you have the right approach to user adoption, you will find that it is not that hard to deliver success. If you are not getting the results you need, it is time to develop new skills and approaches to solving the problem. You will be amazed at the results.


Get help

If you are looking to help software buyers create their own internal software success programs, Success Chain can help. Contact us to find out what we can do for you.


The 4+1 Keys to Successful Software Adoption Planning & Execution

For SaaS vendors and SaaS customers…

People are confronted by questions all the time, some as simple as “what came first, the chicken or the egg,” and others are not so simple like, “who owns software adoption?”

All sarcasm aside, these two questions are related as they both apply to the world of customer success and software adoption; what comes first?

In order to drive business value, an organization needs to adopt its new software quickly and use it as designed and intended. Not a lot of argument there. But, what comes before the adoption is critical to adoption happening at all, hence the chicken and the egg question.

Machines don’t adopt software; people do. In order for that to happen, an organization needs an actual written plan that maps objectives, timelines, and goals. It needs to map the changes in behaviors people need to make to adopt the new software and do so efficiently in the time frames desired.

Let’s look at what we at Tri Tuns call “The 4+1 Keys to successful software adoption,” where we point out those critical concepts needed for successful software adoption outcomes and customer success:

Key # 1: Software adoption is all about your people, not IT systems

Let’s take Key #1 as fundamental. For years most firms saddled IT with what was “adoption” but was really “build it, and they will come.” It was a passive and largely inefficient approach to get people to change behaviors and switch how they did their day to day jobs. Most times, it was really not successful.

“Machines don’t adopt software; people do.” IT does not own adoption because it can’t. IT is awesome at getting systems live and keeping them that way, and making sure that things work as intended. It’s more than a full-time job and does not involve identifying and solving human bottlenecks or gaps in an organization that wishes to resist and stay on the old software.

Software adoption is a people issue, it’s that simple, and it’s all about getting people to identify and embrace new behaviors that will increase business value via their new software. So give IT a break; their job is hard enough.

Key #2: Software adoption needs a clear & transparent plan before, during, and after Go-Live

If your organization is planning to launch a new major software purchase, then everyone owes it to themselves, particularly the key stakeholders, to begin the software adoption planning process early.

Very early.

Very early, as in during the software selection process optimally, but most definitely well before go-live. All 4+1 Keys are actively and effectively addressed in the planning processes. No two software implementations are the same. No two adoption plans are the same, and that’s why the 4+1 Keys are so important to the overall process.

Adoption planning is more than application training and communications. Since a software change is expected to increase efficiency and create tangible business value, an adoption plan needs to identify opportunities and obstacles to success. These can exist at many levels, and the work needs to be done to identify and catalog how each opportunity and obstacle should be addressed, and by whom, and in what time frame.

The adoption plan needs to be very transparent so that the entire organization affected by the new software is fully briefed and on board with what the plan is and how it will affect them. They can participate because they know what is expected of them and in what time frames.

Key #3: software adoption needs to be clearly owned by someone inside of your organization

This should go without saying, yet on many projects having a designated adoption owner is often missed. In the land of software adoption, however, it is a critical must-have for success. It is also super critical for the SaaS CSM’s to know specifically who actually owns adoption on the customer side. Both sides have to have skin in the game.

As we talked about briefly in Key #1, IT does not own adoption. Adoption is about people and business value. For an adoption plan and project to be successful, there needs to be a clear business owner whose mission is the successful building and execution of the adoption plan and delivery of increased business value to their company. If there is to be accountability, there needs to be a clear owner. Without this key, unlocking business value quickly is going to be harder and slower.

The owner needs to do the hard work of determining what an adoption plan for their organization needs to look like and defines what success will ultimately look like for their project. Once an adoption owner is assigned, the real adoption planning can begin, aided by Key # 4 and Key #5.

For SaaS CSM’s, this is an opportunity to help drive successful adoption with their customer.

Key # 4: software adoption requires visible senior leadership support

Leadership support looks different depending on factors such as the size, scale, complexity, and number of people involved in the software implementation. What is critical is that your leadership demonstrates through words, actions, and resource allocation, their dedication to accelerating, measuring, and sustaining effective adoption of the software.

Your new software was purchased and approved by some individual or group of individuals on the belief that having it would generate business value. Ensuring that the organization will effectively support the implementation and adoption program for your new software is essential to achieving desired business outcomes. Support needs to begin higher up rather than lower down.

It is often easier for the executive level to illustrate how your new software will bring new value to your organization globally. However, it is Key # 5 that will ultimately cement the success of your software adoption efforts.

Key #5: The employees’ direct supervisor is instrumental in software adoption success

This may seem elementary to some readers, but it is often overlooked in its importance. The users’ direct supervisor is crucial to seeing day to day that the needle is moving with their people, and the system is getting used in a way that delivers increased business value.

The immediate supervisor is the pointy end of the spear. Their ability to observe and influence at the micro-level will have a direct effect on how fast their team adopts the new system. Including the “direct supervisor effect” needs to be baked into each adoption plan to take advantage of and leverage this person in their unique position to positively influence adoption metrics and outcomes.

Failing to do so leaves a highly effective lever for accelerating success unused. Bring direct supervisors into the planning fold early on. This will ensure they have visibility and an ownership stake in the definition of success and metrics by which they will be measured is a smart step that everyone should take.


The 4+1 Keys to successful software adoption are the framework that most every organization and SaaS vendor can incorporate to dramatically increase their likelihood of success in launching a new software investment. Software adoption is about people and behaviors, and while there is no one size fits all solution, the 4+1 Keys have been developed from over 20 years of direct successful experience with organizations and SaaS vendors large and small.

Real success for both SaaS vendors and SaaS customers begins with software adoption.


What a 2-Year-Old Can Teach You About User Adoption

We can learn a lot from young kids if we just pay attention.? Here is an example that can help you increase the adoption of your software and performance of your team.


See if you can relate to this one.? This morning we were rushing around trying to get everyone ready and out the door to start another week.? My wife had been playing with the kids (or so she thought) so that I was free to get everything together and out the door. It was great fun to witness the exchange that happened next.

Two-year-old: “Mom, play with me.”

Mom: “OK” and picks up a stuffed animal to start playing.

Two-year-old: “No! Don’t touch it.”

Mom: “Well, it is hard to play with you if you won’t let me touch any of your toys.”

Two-year-old: “Mom, play with me.”

Mom: Slightly frustrated, rolls eyes.

Dad: “What do you want her to do? How should she play with you?”

Two-year-old: “Make a pile with the pillows.”

Mom: “OK, here you go.” Makes a pile of pillows and smiles.

Two-year-old: Smiles and laughs.

Applying the ARC method

In a previous blog article, we cover the Action – Reflection – Change (ARC) method for increasing your software adoption learning curve. Let’s use this approach to analyze this exchange.


Lesson 1: Don’t assume people know what you want.

In this example, the two year old was very clear that he wanted mom to play. However, it was not clear to mom exactly what that meant.? She tried to honor his initial request and started to play in a way that made sense to her at the time. However, it was clearly not what the two-year old wanted.

How often, when implementing software, do you ask people to “use the system” or “put it in the system”? I bet quite a bit. Yet, how often do you explain exactly what that means? Probably not too often. The lesson here is that “use the system” can mean a lot of things to different people in different contexts.

Lesson 2: Ask for the behavior you want.

When I asked our son how he wanted his mother to play, he had a very clear, specific answer. He wanted her to make a pile. Once given this clear guidance, she happily made a pillow pile, and everyone laughed and had fun.

When you are rolling out a new system, how often do you identify and request the specific behaviors that you want people to demonstrate? Do you make it explicit that you want them to do things like, “Enter all of your existing contacts, phone, email, address, and job title into the system by 1:00 pm on this Friday”? Or do you simply say, “Use the system” or “Enter your contacts.”


One of the most powerful shifts you can make is from just deploying a system and expecting people to use it to define very clear, specific measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) behaviors that you expect managers and users to demonstrate.? If you want people to use a specific piece of system functionality, or enter key pieces of data by a certain date, then ask for that specific behavior.

  • If you are an executive or manager, don’t do the equivalent of saying, “play with me” – you will only be frustrated and disappointed in the results.
  • If you are a staff member expected to use the system, ask your manager or executive to clarify the behavior they want you to demonstrate.? Ask your manager, “what specific things do you want me to do in the system, and by when, so that you get the results you want?”

Need help?

Do you want fast results in your company? Contact Success Chain today to learn how we can help you quickly and easily accelerate the adoption of your systems.


The critical ARC of Your Software Learning Curve

While working on a client Software Adoption Rescue project, the client executive shared that they had always known their users would need to navigate up a steep learning curve before they fully adopted the software. Yet, despite this expectation and their best efforts to provide the communications, training, and user support they thought necessary, the users still appeared to be stuck and were not embracing the technology.

Has this ever happened to you? Have people in your organization failed to navigate the learning curve? Did your users miss the curve and get stuck in a ditch?

What can you do to flatten the software adoption learning curve?

One very simple, actionable technique to flatten the learning curve and accelerate effective user adoption of your software is the ARC method.

A = Action

R = Reflection

C = Change

Most people don’t realize that learning happens during reflection, not the action. When learning a new system, users, managers, and executives need to take intentional action to stop and identify the specific actions they took, inside or outside the system. Then reflect on whether or not the actions were effective at achieving their specific goals, and then identify what changes or course corrections are needed in the future (I.e., what different actions are needed).

Using ARC with end-users, managers, and executives

This ARC method can be used with direct end-users of the system to identify which system functionality they are using (“action”) and if they are using it effectively and achieving the desired results (“reflection”). You can then identify other functionality they could use instead or alternatives for how or when they use the system (“change”) going forward.

The ARC method can also be used by managers and executives to identify the actions they are using to drive and sustain effective adoption within their teams. Managers and executives take action to establish the policies, processes, and reward systems that directly impact end-user adoption of the system. What specific Actions are managers taking to accelerate software adoption within their team? What actions are they taking when members of their staff are not using the software as designed and intended?

Managers need to Reflect to see if these actions are effective at driving adoption or if they are enabling and rewarding staff for not adopting the system. Managers can then identify what actions they need to change in order to drive different software adoption behaviors among their teams.

Simple ARC steps for individuals, teams, and large organizations

For Individuals

Individuals can easily apply the ARC method to adjust their own learning and behavior. One very simple technique is to write short journal entries using this method. You can set aside as little as 10 -15 minutes to write the answers to 3 simple questions:

“Describe a particular task, activity, or event and identify the specific action(s) you took to address it.” Pick a specific action, task, event, or incident that occurred that day or week and narrowly focus on it. It could be narrow in scope, like “I tried to use the system to prepare for an important client meeting” or “I had to have a difficult conversation with one of my direct reports because they were not following the new process or using the system.” Write down as many specifics you can think about regarding what you did. You can use short sentences or even just bullets. This is just for you. The goal is to try to isolate the specific actions from any intentions, interpretations, or emotions tied to the event.

“What was the impact or results of these actions?” Identify if the actions you took achieved your goals or if the challenge or problem still remains. For example, did you call the help desk to get support on using the tool? Did you find that you could generate the report you needed in the system, but you didn’t know how to interpret the data to make a better decision? Did you ask your managers or coworker for help analyzing the results? If you are a manager, did you have a clear and direct conversation about employee work performance in a way that would help your staff member improve going forward? What specific “ah ha’s” have you had as a result of separating the actions and reflecting on the impacts of these actions?

“What will you do going forward?” Now that you have reflected on the actions, what things need to change going forward? What do you need to stop doing that wasn’t effective at achieving your goals? What things were more effective than you expected that you need to make sure you do more often in the future? When will you next stop and reflect on the effectiveness of these changes?

You can keep your journal private or share parts of it with other members of your team to get their suggestions or help them flatten their own learning curve.

For teams & large organizations

When working with large teams, it is often helpful to bring in a 3rd party to facilitate learning reviews with a small or large group. The 3rd party can be a member of your organization that is in a different department or an external consultant. The 3rd party essentially needs to facilitate the team in working through the ARC method to accelerate team learning and identify specific changes and actions the team will take going forward. For best results, use SMART actions (Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Achievable, Time-Bound) and require group commitment to achieving them by the defined dates.

Accelerating adoption & embracing best practices doesn’t happen organically

Most organizations do not set aside specific time and resources to make sure that users and organizations navigate the learning curve as quickly as possible. The ARC method is a very simple technique that does not require a lot of time and effort but is extremely powerful for helping teams change their ways of working. It is also very powerful for helping to identify specific behaviors and best practices that may emerge from select individuals or teams that could deliver tremendous benefits if they were adopted across the organization. Committing to ARC learning sessions at predefined intervals can accelerate adoption and deliver clear, fast benefits to the organization.

Don’t wait!? Schedule your ARC session today!

Don’t just read this article and say, “interesting” or “good idea.” Go, right now, before you click on the next article, and schedule a time for you or your team to conduct an ARC learning session. Block off 30 minutes on your calendar for tomorrow to sit in a quiet place and write a journal. Schedule a meeting with your team for next week to sit down and identify one specific task or activity that you want them to improve by the end of the month. Keep it tight and focused – don’t allow the conversation to expand. If necessary, get someone outside your team to come and do quick facilitation to keep everyone on track. Document the results and follow-up within two weeks of the meeting to review the results. You will be glad you did!

Need help?

Do you want help conducting your ARC review session or want more ideas of how you can improve software adoption? Contact Success Chain today to learn more.


4 Myths About Customer Success (and How to Bust Them)

If You Build It, You May End Up Wasting a lot of Time and Money!

After a decade of experience in developing and implementing customer success and user adoption strategies for clients, we have seen several pervasive myths that prevent companies from getting value from their IT investments. Because they believe these things, people may skimp on planning and strategy for adoption or “sell” people on what they will get for using the system as individuals, as opposed to putting time and effort into a customer success strategy and plan.

The following are 4 myths that get our clients into trouble:

  1.  “If you build it, they will come.” History has proven this is rarely true.  Instead, organizations need to develop a focused effort to drive and sustain effective use of the system.
  2. “They will use it because they have no choice.” People always have a choice. Even where a process cannot be completed without using the system, there are always degrees of freedom regarding how, when, where, and with what level of accuracy systems are used. These critical issues can make or break the success of a system implementation.  Instead, flip this assumption on its head. What would you need to do differently if you assumed people always had a choice about whether or not to use the system? How would it change your adoption plan and approach?”
  3. The timeline for change management ends at go-live.” Instead, customer success managers need to focus on both accelerating initial system use, and then more importantly, sustaining high-levels of effective use year over year. Their approach to sustaining adoption over the long term needs to recognize that their organization will constantly evolve, and they need to periodically adjust their adoption effort to meet new and emerging needs. Managers need to ask themselves, “What is the long term plan for sustainable adoption? How will we bring on new hires? What is the plan for upgrades to the system, and how will they be adopted?”
  4. “It all comes down to user resistance.” Often people assume that the success or failure of adoption efforts comes down to the discretion of the end-users. We have found that in many instances, even when people want to use the system, there are organizational barriers that prevent it.  An effective adoption methodology needs to identify the organizational barriers that prevent adoption and then needs to authorize or empower someone to take action to remove these barriers.

One reason these myths survive is that, based on our experience working with both software vendors and software buyers, there is a very large deficit in the skills and expertise needed for organizations to effectively drive adoption.  When an organization is considering purchasing (or renewing) an IT system, they should not only consider the system functionality but also examine the customer success services the vendor provides them for driving adoption.

SaaS vendors, in turn, are realizing that if their customers are not adopting the system, then the customer is not renewing or dramatically cutting back the number of licenses they renew.  The vendors are scrambling to figure out how it is they can help their customers increase adoption and achieve measurable business results from the use of their system.  And while many software vendors are great at providing excellent software, they have yet to really develop expertise, tools, and methods for effectively helping their clients rapidly adopt the software.

You should expect maximum value from all your IT investments, but you also need to prepare for it. With Success Chain, we lead you through a step by step process to prepare. Driving adoption of your software is as easy as following a tried and true, fail-proof recipe – just follow the steps to get the answers you need, when you need them, at your own pace, and in your own space.


Investing In IT With No Software Adoption Strategy Is A High Stakes Gamble


An article by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a research and advisory firm to leading organizations, stated that many companies in the Financial Services (FS) industry are increasing their investments in IT solutions, despite the volatile market conditions.  What is shocking is that CEB reports,

“only 24% of the controllers we recently asked believe they are realizing positive returns.”  CEB is advising organizations to get more value out of finance IT by upholding data standards, aligning IT investments with real business needs, and focusing on end-user adoption.”

Our View

At Success Chain, we have found that many firms do not have effective software adoption strategies.  Effective Software Adoption programs focus on driving desired user behavior – such as how and when people use the technology, the actions they take to ensure data quality, the degree to which they follow defined business processes, and the actions they take to ensure compliance. The skills and methods required to drive effective Software Adoption are very different from those required to implement IT systems.  Unfortunately, these are often missing from most IT implementation projects.

The CEB post indicates that only 24% of controllers believe that they realize positive returns on their investment.  Based on this, consider:

The remaining 76% of organizations do not believe they are getting a positive return on investment.  This is a ridiculously high percentage.  Even in Vegas, you have a better shot of getting a positive return!

Would you make an investment if you only had a 1 in 4 chance of getting a positive result?  Before making major IT investments, you should have a clearly defined strategy for when and how you will measure the ROI on your IT investment.  What you will find is that Software Adoption is the biggest item on this critical path.  What you will probably find is that you are not doing enough to maximize and sustain Software Adoption over the life of your system, and this is the leading cause of failed IT investments.


Before investing in IT projects, make sure you have a clear Software Adoption Strategy that aligns user behavior and adoption of the IT system with your business goals and IT ROI needs.  Further, you need to determine how you will implement your user adoption strategy and sustain your Software Adoption Program over the life of the system.  Be sure to recognize that changes in the levels and effectiveness of user adoption (over time) will change the ROI you receive from your IT investment.   Quite simply, whenever you stop measuring and driving effective user adoption, your IT investment is at risk.

Success Chain Can Help

Success Chain helps organizations maximize the ROI on their IT investments by developing and implementing software adoption strategies that maximize and sustain effective adoption over the life of the system.  We conduct software adoption assessments, develop software adoption strategies, and provide hands-on software adoption program implementation services.  Our Software Adoption Consulting and Training packages are designed to be fast and effective to enable our clients to achieve maximum software adoption results in record time with minimal effort.

If you’re a software buyer in need of in-depth help or just a quick review of your software adoption strategy and plans, then we have the right package for you. Contact us to learn more.


Six Reasons Why Every SaaS Vendor Needs a Customer Success Management Strategy

Just the other day, while talking to a SaaS cloud software vendor, we started talking about customer satisfaction and retention. They shared with me their examples of what is becoming a story that I hear all too often from SaaS vendors – that is, they have a great product and get lots of initial sales, but they lose a ton of customers at renewal. And, it’s really hurting their bottom line.

The more I talk to SaaS cloud vendors, the more I notice a growing awareness among them that the subscription business model has unexpectedly (and, arguably, unintentionally) shifted what it takes for the vendor to be successful. Cloud vendors now realize that if the customer is not successful – that is, getting measurable business value from their SaaS purchase – they will not renew.

Unfortunately, many vendors are not prepared to deal with this new reality.
SaaS vendors now realize that they cannot afford to just sell software, rely on the user interface (UI) design and overall user experience (UX), and hope the customer uses it. Retaining customers – and preserving revenues – means needing a comprehensive, actionable strategy to drive and sustain customer success.

Here are six reasons why this is true.

1. SaaS software transfers IT adoption risk from the customer to the vendor

In the old days of traditional, on-premise software, customers made big up-front software purchases. The software vendor made their profits based on license sales, regardless of usage. With subscription software, customers will only pay for (rent) licenses that are actually being used. Lower usage (IT adoption) = lower license revenues.

2. SaaS profits require long-term customer renewals and retention

The low cost, pay-as-you-go pricing means that customers need less up-front cash to purchase the software. However, the lower up-front fees mean that vendors need to retain customers longer to get the same amount of revenue. Suddenly, customer retention is critical to vendor profitability.

3. If customers are not successfully adopting your software, they are not renewing

OK, this is a no-brainer. Savvy customers – and even the not-so-savvy customers – will not keep paying for things they are not using. If customers are not adopting your software, they will not keep paying for it. Now, this doesn’t mean they will drop all licenses (though many will). It may just mean that they dramatically cut the number of paid licenses to eliminate those that are not being effectively used.

4. No matter how intuitive, fluid, or beautiful the system, it’s still a change for the users

Software vendors love to talk about how “usable” their product is, and many (most?) claim almost prescient intuition on the part of the UI. So suggesting that people might not actually use the software is virtual heresy. But really, it’s not about the software. It’s about the fact that the software is a change in users’ daily work lives. Some will love it; some will hate it. But left on their own, not all will use it to its fullest, business-value-creating extent.

5. Customers will not buy more until they use what you have already sold them

Software vendors love to add new features to their products. It’s how they keep the product fresh and competitive. It is also how they can charge you more per user.  The problem is customers won’t pay additional fees for new features if they are not using what they have already been sold. So, if you are a software vendor, before you go paying developers to create lots of new features for your software, you better make sure that people are using what they already have. And this should start with your existing customers.

6. Customers don’t know how to maximize and sustain successful IT adoption

This is, by far, my favorite. For years, customers and vendors alike assumed that if they deployed a system and trained people to use it, that everyone would. The reality is that very few systems are fully adopted. In fact, one report shows that up to 24% of the value of an IT system is lost due to poor IT adoption. Many IT implementation efforts focus on getting the system live but do nothing to ensure it is effectively used and delivering measurable business value to the customer organization. The methods used to develop and deploy a system are very different from those used to help organizations manage change and maximize IT adoption. Unfortunately, many organizations do not know how to effectively manage and sustain IT adoption programs.

SaaS vendors need to invest in Customer Success Management Strategy

SaaS vendors are quickly learning that having a great product alone is not enough. They now need to have a strategy in place to help customers quickly adopt it and make sure it is delivering business value. We are already starting to see SaaS vendors create new positions – such as Customer Success Managers ? to help clients get the most from their software. This is just the first step. In the future, customers will demand – and vendors will need to provide comprehensive customer success management programs.

Want to learn more? Success Chain helps SaaS vendors to develop and implement customer success programs. Contact us today to see how we can help.


Design the Right Metrics to Improve Software Adoption

Observation – Software User Adoption

Have you noticed that you spend a large amount of time documenting process flows but fail to measure their IT implementation? How do you know if the end-users are enacting the system as designed and contributing to the business goals?

We know that process documentation is necessary to ultimately guide system end-users once implementation is complete. However, many fail to realize that metrics need to be prepared to adequately determine if the new process flows are followed by system end-users. User Adoption metrics is the link between the new process design and the organizational change effort.

Software User Adoption – Consider This

.Important user adoption metrics determine how much deviation there is between end-user behavior and the intended new process. Knowing these levels of deviation will help you determine how to influence and guide end-users toward the new process. The right metrics don’t necessarily need to be complex or sophisticated to provide accurate insight into the impact of current business processes (e.g., how long it takes to perform a particular process).

Things to Think About

Brainstorm both intended and unintended behaviors and outcomes during implementation in order to create the proper software user adoption metrics. Here are some examples of insightful metrics:

  • How many resources touch a process from beginning to end?
  • List which resources touch that process.
  • What is the scope of the process activities performed by each resource?
  • Are there fewer or more resources (or handoffs) required due to automation?

Remember, when planning user software user adoption metrics, determine what is valuable to know about a particular process. Metrics must be designed to ensure that the behavior of the new processes delivers the intended results. With proper metrics and planning, you will have the insight needed to reinforce desired behavior.