Your IT team has spent months researching, selecting and launching a shiny, new technology – such as an enterprise cloud application – and you’ve been told it will revolutionize the way your company does business. The rub is, how can you be certain your employees will a) adopt it, and b) really gravitate to the tool and want to use it, versus resorting to traditional, alternative methods they already know well?
At the end of the day, it’s not about your IT team being comfortable with the technology – after all, they’re your most technical folks – it’s about your employees being able to quickly adopt a new application and put it to use. What’s more, with greater employee adoption you will see greater ROI.
Here are five tactics you can use to get your staff to adopt newly installed technology:
Select intuitive products
Week-long training classes just aren’t cool – or efficient. The most successful consumer products – iPhone, Kindle, Wii, etc. – lack a 100-page user manual and 24/7 IT buddy. Why should an enterprise application designed for employees (also known as consumers) be any different? A new application should require minimal training and instead rely on the user’s intuition. The more intuitive a new solution is, the more it guides the user to a desired action or outcome – and greater use and adoption equals greater ROI for your organization. So don’t underestimate the user experience when evaluating solutions. If your initiative is intended for broad deployment and adoption by occasional users, you will be best served by a solution that differentiates itself through ease of use.
Follow the 80/20 rule
Even intuitive solutions can be packed with exciting features and sexy plug-ins, but these can be dangerously distracting. If no one uses them, what’s the point? Don’t allow yourself to get sidetracked obsessing over fringe scenarios that make the software more complex than necessary. Many technology initiatives go astray by getting lost in features and functionality details that rarely stand to have a big impact on the outcome you are trying to achieve. In order to stay focused, abide by the 80/20 rule – 80 percent of your results will likely be driven by just 20 percent of the features and functionality. If you weigh that 20 percent more heavily during the evaluation, then your vendor can be equally focused on the 80/20 rule that will deliver results during deployment. During the evaluation, take a hard look at the application to make sure that its basic features and functions will be used most, and roll these out first to the entire organization. If you get the broad adoption needed to achieve success, everything else is gravy.
Deploy to “friends” first
It’s critical that your C-suite is onboard with any major new implementation, but even more important is that you establish a quick win early on. Deploy your solution in phases, and start with the people or departments you know are most likely to adopt and succeed with the software. These people should be easy to identify – they may have the greatest need for the solution, their usage scenarios may be the simplest (and least risky), or they may have a particular affinity for technology and reputation as early adopters. Select people who are visible and carry influence inside the organization and, before you go broad, pour all your resources into making these early adopters wildly successful. They will be your references and internal case studies when you move forward to subsequent phases of deployment.
Sell it hard
“Build it and they will come” only works in the movies. Even if you follow every recommendation laid out above, success is not guaranteed. Despite the fact that you and your IT team are vested in the project, it’s likely that other folks within your organization are not. They will have a natural inclination to resist change. Look closer at the most successful initiatives at companies you respect and you will often find a significant change management and communication plan at work. Don’t be bashful: over-communicate. Promote your early successes. Answer the “what’s in it for me?” question for anyone you expect to use the software. Work with your marketing team on a strong internal communications plan. Done right, people will see the value to the company and to themselves and ask to be part of it. And that’s what you want – a situation where resistance gives way to demand.
A lot of companies treat technology initiatives as a “project” with a very specific end-date they work toward. Buck that practice and focus instead on the outcomes you are trying to achieve and you will see that your initiative is a journey, in which a few turns might be necessary to achieve your goals. You will likely have to iterate, make changes and optimize. Keep communicating. Establish baselines against which to measure your progress and milestones, and continue to analyze that data and seek out areas to improve. In today’s cloud-based world, technology advances so quickly that new innovations may introduce new opportunities to achieve greater results even faster than could have been anticipated five years ago. Employees will adopt your solution in droves when they see it grow alongside them over time.
Despite these common sense recommendations, many initiatives start on the wrong foot. The process for buying software is often driven by a fear of failure – hence the 100-page RFPs, exhaustive demos and scope creep. Evaluation teams often attempt to mitigate risk by pitting vendors against one another, comparing breadth and depth of features, when they should be assessing each vendor’s ability to help the company achieve a defined outcome. Approach the project working back from the outcome you are trying to achieve, and following the tips above. The best providers will appreciate your diligence and commit to your success by taking on a portion of the risk directly.