Plan Your User Adoption Strategies Before You Deploy New Technology

The popular saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t always apply to technology solutions. In most cases, you can’t afford to wait until something breaks before you consider upgrading or replacing it with a newer version or an entirely new solution. Keeping up with technology is essential for organizations aspiring long term growth and stability. If your organization falls behind the technology curve, there is a real chance you will miss out on opportunities to connect and interact with your clients, be more productive, and dramatically reduce your cost of doing business.

If You Build it, Will They Come?

However, implementing new technology solutions isn’t cheap. From hardware and software purchases or leases to licensing, subscriptions, maintenance contracts, extended warranties, and implementation services, the cost of migrating to a new solution can be substantial. To get the promised return on your technology investments, you need to ensure your workers are ready to embrace change and adopt new processes and technology. Chances are that even a world-class solution, deployed and configured flawlessly, won’t get adopted if users don’t understand why it is important to them and how to use it to get their work done. Regardless of all the impressive features, benefits, and potential cost savings offered by new technology, slow or low user adoption rates are often cited as one of the main reasons solutions fail to achieve desired business outcomes. The bottom line is, technology solutions that aren’t adopted have no business value.

Change Management

Encouraging users to adopt new technology solutions and integrate them into their daily workflow can be a challenge. Adjusting to new technologies can be frustrating for workers who need to balance learning new tools and processes with getting their job done. Users adopt technology at varying rates depending on how open they are to change, the value they believe it will add to their daily activities, and the amount of pain they envision for learning and transitioning to new tools and processes. To lay the groundwork for successful change management, it is important to understand how your users will perceive the new technology and then adapt your adoption strategies to address their perceptions. Preparing your users to accept and commit to change will reduce their reluctance to use newly deployed technology.

Four Considerations for User Adoption Planning

Before you begin a technology rollout, it is essential to have a comprehensive plan for stimulating adoption of the new solution while minimizing disruptions and productivity losses during the transition. Your User Adoption Plan should cover all phases of the deployment and include concrete steps for ensuring your users can begin maximizing the potential of the new system as soon as it is deployed and tested. The four main areas of consideration for developing a robust adoption plan are establishing adoption goals and metrics for determining success, identifying the key contacts for each affected business area, defining your communication strategies, and selecting appropriate user training and documentation.

1. Establishing Solution Objectives

The first step toward developing an adoption plan is defining how the new technology solution will align with overall organizational goals, why it is important to the organization, and how it will affect the day to day activities of people using it. Users are more likely to buy-in if they understand the objectives and expected benefits of a new technology. With well-defined objectives, you can develop metrics for determining how much the new system is being used, how many people are using it, and their level of satisfaction with the technology.

2. Building an Adoption Team

Successful adoption of new technology generally requires a dedicated team to manage adoption activities holistically, and measure progress toward achieving your adoption objectives. The team should begin these activities at the inception of the project and continue throughout the acquisition and deployment phases. You should build an interdisciplinary team of committed users and stakeholders representing a cross-section of your organization. To be effective, this team needs executive sponsorship and the support of managers across affected areas of your organization. Identifying key influencers and involving them early in the decision-making process will promote acceptance of new technology and allow you to gather actionable feedback from actual users before it is too late to make changes.

3. Developing a Communication Plan

Your communication plan should define effective lines of communication for creating awareness and understanding while driving acceptance of the new solution. A comprehensive communication plan will contain messaging targeted to internal users, supervisors, and system administrators, as well as third party users and external user groups. It should establish the purpose, timing, and format for disseminating information to ensure everyone impacted by the new solution is aware of what to expect and when to expect it.

4. Developing Training Resources

Competency-based training designed to strengthen relevant skills provides the foundation for achieving technology adoption. Competency-based training focuses on the knowledge and skills required to complete job-specific tasks while meeting stated proficiency goals. Users should clearly understand the purpose and expected outcomes for each of the tasks and how they map to their day to day responsibilities. Competency-based training enables users to learn practical skills and immediately apply them on the job to solve real workplace challenges. It helps users build confidence in new technologies and empowers them to perform their job more effectively and efficiently.

Training is not a one-size-fits-all. While generalized training may be the least expensive option, it is often also the least effective option. User roles, responsibilities, and learning preferences are factors you should consider as you develop your training plan. Different users may have different learning styles and prefer digesting information through different methods. There are a variety of approaches for delivering training, from hands-on classroom training to self-paced computer-based training, and the type of information may dictate the best instructional method for distributing content. For example, while your users may prefer watching videos over reading text, some topics may contain information they need to digest slowly and refer to frequently, making text a better option.

Developing learner personas that align with natural groups of users across your user base can help you create more useful and engaging training courses for your users. Rich, detailed user learning personas can help you better understand your user’s needs, experiences, behaviors, and goals. Through user surveys, interviews, and job shadowing, you can determine where there are gaps in knowledge that need to be addressed, individual preferences for learning, and get a feel for the pace at which training will be consumed.

Successful User Adoption

Taking a holistic approach to user adoption is one key to successful technology deployments. Stimulating the adoption of mission-critical technology solutions should start early in the deployment process and continue throughout the entire lifecycle of the solution. It requires clear adoption goals and a dedicated transition team to promote the new technology, manage organizational change, and develop organizational communication strategies to keep users informed of the timing and impact of the change. For users to embrace new technology, they need relevant task-based training resources, targeted to their daily activities and tailored to their unique learning styles.

According to Susan Anderson, Cerium Networks’ Vice President of Technical Sales and a leading authority on user adoption strategies, “As technology solutions have evolved, so has the need for adoption strategies focused on business outcome results. It is important to ensure that adoption occurs as new solutions are deployed. It is equally important that adoption is an ongoing organization strategy. Cerium believes that adoption lives on well after deployment with an ongoing adopt, analyze, and enhance methodology, ensuring that time to value for any solution deployed is obtained and maximized.”

The Cerium Difference

Need help? Cerium Adoption Services ensure a smoother transition and a quicker return on your technology investments. Cerium professionals will partner with your organization to design, develop, and deliver custom user adoption and training programs. With two decades of consulting expertise deploying and supporting technology solutions, Cerium can help you align your adoption strategies with your business objectives.

With relevant training for administrators and supervisors as well as end-users, The Cerium Learning Center offers comprehensive training services to help executives, supervisors, and end users make the most of new technology solutions. Cerium’s certified trainers provide on-site instruction or hands-on training in our local classroom facilities. We can also design on-demand video training, knowledge bases, and custom learning libraries for self-paced learning.

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