18 September 2012

Adoption: The forgotten key to Success

A solution is not just technology.  A solution is not just new features and functions.  In fact, a solution has many facets, including adoption.  While adoption is critical to the success of any solution, it is often ignored.

Organizations who are interested in successfully introducing a new technology or solution, need to spend as much time considering and developing an adoption plan as they did building the solution.  Here are a few keys to adoption success:

  • Communicate early and often with the end user community 
    Start well in advance of any change.  Start with letting folks know that a change is coming and why it’s important to them.  Create a clear connection between a challenge you know they have and how the new solution seeks to address it.   Once you reach specific milestones in the solution’s development, send out additional communications with more specific information and dates (like when folks should expect to see the solution). 
  • Introduce the new solution properly
    Spend time developing ways to acquaint your end user community with the new tool or function.  Simply sending an “informative” e-mail is insufficient; try something new.  For example, if you’re introducing a new Intranet, have a “scavenger hunt” to find specific information or content; the “winner” should get some prize for being the first to find the requested item (e.g. a gift card to a local restaurant or simple public recognition).  This helps introduce the new site, gets people to use the tool AND “tests” the new information architecture.  Feedback from the event can also help you avoid questions in the future.
  • Create triggers for using the solution
    Dr. BJ Fogg runs a persuasion lab at Stanford university.  Dr. Fogg’s Behavior Model suggests that while motivation and ease-of-use are important, people still need to be “triggered” to exhibit a specific behavior.  This means that no matter how easy the solution is to use, nor how motivated your end user community happens to be, you’ll still need to “remind” them to use the tool until a habit of use is formed.  Dr. Fogg’s research involved how Facebook uses e-mail notifications to “trigger” people to return to the site.   Think of ways to trigger your end-user community to constantly use the tool (e.g. remind them of what problem the tool solves OR how they can save themselves time by using the tool).
  • Gather feedback liberally
    Whether you’re speaking personally to people or using a more generic survey, always gather feedback.  Your solution might be fantastic, but there will always  be room for improvement.  Demonstrate you’re interested in your end user community by asking for feedback on what works, what doesn’t and how the solution can improve.  Clearly, you’ll get lots of opinions, but what’s important will be the trends you can discern; these trends will represent what’s important to the most number of users and where you should focus your attention.
  • Constantly evolve
    Once you’re done with the initial implementation… you’re not done.  Any solution will need to evolve to stay relevant to the end user community it serves.  Use the feedback you’ve gathered, combined with what’s happening in the broader organization and/or marketplace.  Create a real “road map” for the solution’s improvement.  Once you have that road map in place, start communicating that roadmap to your end user community; this too could be a trigger, as well as building support for the next release.

You will spend a great deal of time developing the right solution for your organization.  You need to spend just as much time making sure everyone uses it and that it adds value to your firm.

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