Does Your User Adoption Methodology Remove Organizational Barriers?


Many IT implementations suffer from poor user adoption because they did not take into account the barriers to user adoption that lie outside the users’ control. There are many organizational elements that, if not addressed, prevent people from using the system even if they want to do so.

Barriers to adoption may include things like lack of time for learning new processes or attending meetings, competing workload or other items given priority by management, misaligned rewards & recognition metrics that penalize people for adopting the system, inappropriate access rights within the system, undefined or poorly defined processes, or technical deficiencies within the system. Poor data quality may also reduce adoption since “garbage-in, garbage-out” makes the system generate reports meaningless for decision-making purposes.

If we want to maximize user adoption, we need to take a comprehensive approach to identify and removing barriers to adoption.

Unfortunately, most traditional Change Management programs are focused on the initial go-live, and they primarily involve providing training and communications. Traditional change approaches often ignore the critical aspect of removing adoption barriers.

We need to move beyond traditional change management methodologies to take a more expansive approach to evolve the organization and drive user adoption over the long-term.

When examining barriers to adoption, keep in mind:

  • Barriers to adoption may be different in each department or workgroup
  • Some barriers may touch multiple departments in your organization and thus require a coordinated cross-departmental approach to resolve
  • The users within each department are the people who can best identify the barriers they face, and thus you need to actively engage them in your process
  • Perception is reality when it comes to adoption barriers. You may need to address user perceptions as well as tangible barriers
  • New barriers may emerge over time, so you need to periodically review your organization to address any new barriers that may arise


Instead of employing a traditional Change Management methodology, use a more expansive user adoption methodology that identifies and removes barriers to adoption. Your user adoption program should begin long before go-live and continue well past the initial deployment in order to drive initial adoption and sustain it over the life of the system.


  • What barriers to adoption prevent people from using your system? Who has the authority and ability to remove these barriers?
  • Does your change management approach adequately address existing and future barriers to adoption?
  • How can you better engage your users to get their help in identifying and removing barriers to adoption?
  • What are the unique barriers to adoption in each user department/workgroup?
  • How will removing adoption barriers affect the level of benefits realization & ROI from your IT investment?
  • Would your organization benefit from a more effective user and software adoption methodology?

Most software projects fail to deliver the expected business outcomes because of the approach the buyer takes to getting the system live and driving adoption. Most buyer’s organizations don’t have the expertise, tools, and capacity to deliver their own success.  This short video explains many of the methodological and structural problems organizations face when dealing with software.