Observation

Accelerating Software User Adoption

Most IT projects focus on the supply of IT delivery – that is, they focus on getting the technology live – and they often ignore the key issue of driving full software user adoption and benefits realization. Further, there is an assumption that the key elements that determine user adoption are inherent to the specific technology tool itself and thus user adoption issues cannot be addressed until the system is up and running. However, the bulk of the factors that drive user adoption are in factor organizational, not technical and thus can – and should – be addressed before the system goes live.

Through many years of research and direct client work we have found that organizations can actually de-couple the organizational change and software user adoption efforts from the technology implementation schedule.

For example:

Organizations can change performance metrics before the new system goes live to shift employee behavior and reward employees for achieving business goals

Executives and managers can shift how the lead and motivate staff to focus on new organizational priorities before the system is live. They can explain specific shifts in employee behavior that are required now and provide a context for understanding how the new system will support further performance improvements once live

Conflicting organizational priorities – such as focusing employees on getting work done “fast” versus spending a little more time to make sure they get it done “right” can be addressed before the new system is live.

New organizational teams can be established to address cross-department performance issues that will affect user adoption of the system can be established today. These teams can address critical issues such as when one department does not enter the data that another department needs to perform their job.

Consider This

You can increase software user adoption and accelerate benefits realization by developing a comprehensive Software Adoption Strategy (not just a “change management” plan) that begins addressing user adoption challenges before the system goes live. By de-coupling organizational changes and employee performance issues from the technology delivery, you can accelerate the rate at which your organization realizes business benefits from their IT projects.

Since many of the factors that affect user adoption are technology agnostic you will face these issues at some point anyway. Addressing these issues before go-live can reduce the feeling of “change overload” and make it easier for people to quickly begin using your new system.

In many instances they can even improve adoption levels of existing technology. Since many IT projects take several years to complete, increased adoption of existing technology can provide substantial benefits to your organization.

Any effort to accelerate user adoption before go-live should be set in the context that these efforts are part of preparing the organization for the new system. This allows people to see the link to the future system and it will further accelerate adoption of the new system once it goes live.

Things to Think About

Have you identified & do you fully understand all of the organizational and “people” issues that affect user adoption? If not, how will you identify these issues?

What user adoption & benefits realization issues can you de-couple from the technology delivery? What can you do to address these issues before and after go-live?

How much additional value (benefits realization) can you add to your organization by addressing key organizational and user performance issues before go live? Since this work is done as part of your system implementation effort, how can you measure and report on this additional value creation to show the early success of your project and further gain executive support for your project?