Implementing enterprise software and achieving user adoption in order to realize its full value is much more a people and change management problem than a technology one. Interestingly, issues in technology constitute only a small portion of the enterprise user adoption challenge, especially for large enterprises who tend to have complex organizational subcultures based on geographies and local leadership.
The Compass team has had the opportunity to experience, handhold and drive product adoption for both large and small teams for our clients. This has brought us into the battleground of system adoption - in the middle of all that makes or breaks implementations. This blog is an attempt to document all these learnings - drawn from both successes and pitfalls - to help you make a system implementation successful.
Here are the steps to approach implementation, especially as for the implementation team, whether in-house or outsourced.
A firm’s organizational culture plays a big role in user adoption, particularly for large scale implementations that stretch across geographies. A reason why a user might or might not adopt a software is embedded in their day-to-day work life. Some system implementations might come with a ‘perceived risk’ or ‘perceived non-utility’ that may hamper the implementation. The following should be the objectives while understanding your audience:
Understanding the key perceptions of the end-users are critical for the implementation team to plan and circumvent them using various adoption strategies. The best method to understand the audience is by studying or conducting in-depth interviews with a statistically significant sample of the target audience. Creating open-ended questionnaires for the interviews and probing users to get insights are key to drawing efficient insights and conclusions.
In most cases, a new system implementation might come with a lot of new learnings and trials that initially hamper a user’s day-to-day schedule. These systems could, temporarily, even add to and increase their workload. These kinds of issues can become major deterrents to the product adoption process and make your communication strategies unyielding. The implementation team needs to thoroughly understand from the business leaders, and other business POCs, the details of how a new software would impact the day-to-day functions of the different groups of employees.
While identifying the prominent regional language to communicate itself is important, understanding the usages that the target audiences use is also significant to building effective adoption communication. Identifying the keywords such as turnover, conversion, NOPs, codes generated, etc, makes the product as well as the messaging more empathetic. These could, again, be sourced from the Business POCs.
Every software needs champions and power users who voluntarily spend time understanding the new system and providing valuable feedback to be truly successful. Identify these “evangelists” with the Business POCs - both official and unofficial. Target specific communications to those with the greatest influence in order to get them on-board early.
In-depth interviews result in identifying a few more perceived benefits for the end users. For example, a Sales Executive might be facing issues with respect to the incentives they are eligible for, while a Sales Manager might want to see how their team is performing. Segmenting the audience and identifying their unique WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) is important for the adoption communication to be effective. The product adoption plan needs to be customized and targeted separately, so that the users are not flooded with irrelevant and unnecessary information.
The medium plays a critical role in the nature and content of the communication. Here are a few media to be considered for an enterprise system implementation:
(Channels through which you can directly reach the end users)
(Channels through the hierarchy and leadership)
The adoption communication needs to be planned and scheduled to coincide with key stages of an enterprise software rollout.
(Users already engaging highly with the organization but not using the system)
(Users engaging moderately with the organization and not using the system)
(Users disengaged with the organization and not using the system)
In essence, implementing and driving an enterprise product adoption process needs to be a highly-planned, tracked, and managed that is open to iterations and learnings through the user journey. The implementation team needs to have a thorough understanding of the various business functions and comprehend how the product solves an existing business problem. Most importantly, the team needs to have a close-to-accurate understanding of the end-user. Though a standard and proven structure can be laid to the plan, molding it to a specific audience is critical to its success. This end-user focus also translates into building top-down and grassroots communication placing the audience at its center.