Effective Methods to Improve Enterprise Product Adoption

This article is a first-hand narrative of how to drive enterprise product adoption. Understand the essential steps while framing your product adoption plan.

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.

Understand your Audience

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:

1. Understanding perceptions

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.

2. Understand possible structural or process barriers

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.

3. Understanding the language they speak

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.

4. Understanding and identifying key influencers

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.

Segment your Audience

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.

Identify your Communications Channels

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)

  1. Intranet - lately intranets are gaining popularity and can be used as an important channel  communication. However, the efficacy of this channel is dependent upon the adoption of the existing intranet.
  2. Email - Emails are still a necessary (rather statutory) and significant channel to run all official organizational communications. The email channel achieves upto 70% open rate and a 10% click through rate for internal audiences but a lower 40% open rate and a 5 % click through rate for agents and freelancers.
  3. Push notifications - Most applications come with desktop or mobile push notifications that nudge end users to access it. The efficacy of this channel is dependent on the installation of the app and the settings the user has.
  4. SMS - Still an effective channel, SMSes come in handy for important notifications and custom nudges. SMSes come with a very high open rate of 90% for both internal as well as external end users, and a click through rate of 15 - 20%.


(Channels through the hierarchy and leadership)

  1. Executive Leadership - Have those key leadership figures, who have played a key role in bringing in the system, communicate the significance and business case of using the system. A webinar or a video recording of such a leader would play a critical role in setting the implementation momentum.
  2. Immediate supervisors - Have line managers explain to their teams how the new systems will benefit them and what processes will be affected.
  3. IT teams – Key members of the project team will need to become communication experts and evangelize the new software / systems.
  4. Brown bag meetings and white board sessions - Initiate informal meetings and sessions to answer frequently asked questions the users have about the system. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question.
  5. Internal newsletters - Profile the deployment status and highlight good news stories in the form of a newsletter to the admin users. The admin users can further disseminate these with either the executive committee or the users. These can work for pilots and staggered rollouts where these stories can generate excitement and interest in the new software.

Communications based on the Rollout stage

The adoption communication needs to be planned and scheduled to coincide with key stages of an enterprise software rollout.

Adoption messaging during rollout:

  • The key benefits of the software that should also help manage user expectations
  • The goals of having the software
  • How the software fits into and is complemented by the existing business processes and systems
  • Time frames for deployment
  • Escalation matrix and available support channels
  • Who and how the software implementation will be managed

Adoption messaging (ongoing):

  • Reiterate rollout communication at regular intervals
  • Help users overcome perceived mental blocks and risks
  • Collect feedback on program structure and other variables that are easily modifiable
  • Collect feedback on system features but by clearly setting expectations
  • Publish success stories
  • Include system training in the company onboarding process
  • Run contests among the hierarchy for increasing logins and engagement
  • Give free perks to users to increase downloads
  • Give the entire communication an exciting theme ( Ex. Marvel Heroes at our company or Ship Crew or Greek Heroes of our company, etc.)

Adoption Messaging based on User Cohorts:

Potential early adopters

(Users already engaging highly with the organization but not using the system)

  • App awareness communication
  • 'What's in it for you' awareness
  • Make users aware of how easy it is to use and get benefits out of the app
  • 'Drive business advantage' awareness

Moderately engaged business users

(Users engaging moderately with the organization and not using the system)

  • Why the company has brought in this system
  • 'What's in it for me' awareness
  • 'Financial advantage/ Work reduction' awareness
  • 'How the system helps user grow in their current role' awareness
  • Step by step information on how to use the system
  • Feature awareness

Disengaged business users

(Users disengaged with the organization and not using the system)

  • Why should they re-engage with the organisation and how the system helps for the same
  • 'What's in it for me' awareness
  • 'Financial advantage/ Work reduction' awareness
  • 'How the system helps user grow in their current role' awareness
  • Step by step information on how to use the system
  • Feature awareness


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.

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