Currently, a local b-school has a bus ad that reads “technology is ubiquitous; management is necessary”. What struck me reading the side of the bus was -- thankfully not the bus, but --- that there was an element missing. Now, granted, it’s a bus ad so there’s limited space but the gaping hole between the two statements is something that hides in plain sight: the constant that affects everything - change.
Change is constant – you have to keep up
Change and the ubiquity of technology are deeply intertwined and the marriage of the two is the reason management is necessary. And getting ever more so.
But if change is the thing that drives both technology and the management thereof, how do people and organizations manage the change so
a) it doesn’t run them over (making them technology roadkill), and
b) they get the desired impact and outcomes?
Technology moves faster than people do
Directing -- and managing – organizational change when implementing technology is especially important in the face of
• the speed with which technological changes can be made these days (cloud, anyone?) and
• all of the moving parts within a change process that only increase exponentially every time another team or business process is added to the mix.
So what are you to do when you’re getting pressure from the top to deliver better results faster, and you’re getting grief from below about all the changes that are being made so quickly?
In an ideal world, you’d have a formal user adoption program and team – beyond the implementation team – to facilitate the transition and sustain it on into the future, ensuring the necessary ROI and achievement of business goals throughout the life of the system. But at some point, the system is live and the consultants and project leads go home. And you still need help.
This is where having an IT adoption plan, focusing on the human side of technology change, is key to success.
Focus your IT adoption efforts on your team, and not on the technology
At a conference earlier this year, we heard a phrase we could really identify with: “it’s not the software that fails, it’s the fleshware.”
Think about it: the time, the energy, the planning, and – quite frankly – the money that go into bringing a new system online is almost exclusively directed at the technology. That is, figuring out which to get, once procuring it getting it customized, up and running and people trained on it. Then, people are set loose and attention is directed elsewhere.
But what about the people? A portion of their daily work life has changed significantly, which changes them, their teams, business processes and the organization but chances are none of those changes have been focused on with the same degree of effort the software was.
With an IT adoption plan in place – ideally from the point when you decided to change technologies – that contains vital elements such as:
• Outlined business goals cascading into department and team goals
• Corresponding metrics against which everyone will be measured
• A relevant and meaningful two-way communication strategy
• Revised and specifically defined roles and responsibilities and
• Individualized action plans for each team member to succeed
Because that bus ad is all too true. Technology is ubiquitous and management is necessary. It’s just that technology changes organizations, their cultures and how/when/why people communicate and interact.
Strategically and purposefully planning for and managing the People Factor is a major undertaking, but the only one that will deliver the benefits and value you need and want from your new IT system.
I often hear people talk about how they have a great system, if they could just “get those darn users to use it”. This usually digresses into a rant about “user resistance” and how “it’s really not that difficult” to use the system.
It is at this point, when I often ask people the simple question:
“Did you ever ask people to use the system?”
Typically, the answer is a perplexed “no”. This is most often then followed by an exhausted vent about how there’d been training, a “communications strategy” and that they told all the users “what’s in it for me (WIIFM)”.
About this time I usually start shaking my head in disbelief that there are still people out there who think that telling (more often, yelling) out the WIIFM message actually works. WIIFM doesn’t work. It simply doesn’t provide the right, measureable motivators and incentives for people to change their behavior.
Truth be told, WIIFM is the easy way out and gets you nowhere. It’s the handing over of responsibility, leaving the deer-in-headlights users to motivate themselves to do something new, that they don’t know a bunch about and probably had no say in in the first place. How motivated would you feel? Not much, I’ll bet.
Most organizations never even ask users to adopt the cloud system
The sad reality is that the majority of organizations suffering with low user adoption of their cloud systems never even asked people to use the system. And nobody realizes it.
Many times when I ask the project team, they truly believe in each of their communications they did actually ask people to use the system. However, when I ask the users, I often hear some version of, “they told me the new system was coming, but they never told me what they want me to do with it.
Set SMART user adoption goals
A better alternative to the WIIFM message is to actively set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound) user adoption goals for each user to achieve. Progressive goals, defined (weekly) for the first 3-6 months, explicitly stating and outlining what each user needs to accomplish help drive user adoption.
Initial goals should get the users to perform the most basic operations quickly. Subsequent goals should build on preceding goals and slowly introduce users to more complex functionality that they might not use on a regular basis. For this we recommend a tool such as the www.MyUserAdoptionPlan.com portal, which includes progressive adoption goals as part of its core functionality.
Measure who achieves their cloud adoption goals
Measure user adoption each week to see if users are actually achieving their goals.This takes consistent effort on the part of managers, including investigating any instances of missed targets to determine if there are barriers to adoption (that prevent people from using the system) or if this is a case of user resistance. Motivating managers to be pro-active usually requires appropriate incentivization and their own SMART goals.
Hold people accountable for using the system
Finally, no user adoption program works if you don’t actually hold people accountable for their actions. Incentives – and consequences – for hitting user adoption targets must be properly aligned, communicated and enforced.
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IF ONLY IT IMPLEMENTATIONS WERE JUST THIS EASY
In the days of yore, Ron Popeil, infomercial pioneer, made it look easy.
He invented a kitchen gadget to make our lives easier, and the only direction he gave was ‘set it and forget it’. One step to make a “delicious six lb. chicken!” or “not one but two delicious rotisserie chickens!” How much simpler is that than the way our moms and grandmothers cooked chicken?
If only the rest of life were that easy.
Especially new software systems.
In an ideal world, your IT team would come in, install the new software, and it would be such an great experience they’d just magically sit down and start using not only because it’s easy to use but because they want to use it. This scenario is as likely to fool the seasoned implementation manager about as well as Hair in a Can spray dispelled notions of impending baldness.
So what are you to do when – as typically happens – you introduce a new system, everyone’s excited at launch time and then several weeks (years) later you look at the usage statistics and you’re disappointed. What happened? Looks like you set it and forget it.
But people were trained, you say. We worked for months to convince them this change was a good thing, you insist. They were even kind of excited, you protest. On top of that, they’d had no choice but to use this new system and things still aren’t working out as you’d hoped. Now what?
Fundamentally, IT systems and user adoption are not set it and forget it kind of things.
Typically IT implementations follow a simple formula: go-live and go home. But the users don’t go home and they are what makes -- or breaks -- any IT investment.
In today’s world everyone needs to maximize the ROI of any IT investment, and the only way to realize that ROI is by holistically taking care of the people who use it.
It’s not traditional thinking but after go-live, users need constant care and feeding, no matter the system, no matter the type of implementation, no matter the organization.
So what do you do? You need to do something, you know this. But what?
Assess the situation for your user
Develop a plan accordingly
Assign someone responsibility for executing that plan
Create the infrastructure so that person, and the plan – and your users – will succeed
The fact of the matter is, an IT implementation doesn’t end at go-live, but rather it begins there. The world –inside your organization and with your competitors’-- is constantly changing. People will always need new and different information, there will always be turnover, and you will need specific people focused on getting the value you need from this investment. Only when people use the technology will you get the value you want.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR YOU
‘Set it and forget it’ is how implementations used to be delivered. But the world has changed. These days you need to build a flexible, scalable and sustainable user adoption strategy before you implement your system. You need to map out the necessary efforts and actions your organization will take so it can extract the maximum business value from your investment. Comparatively, the technology side is easy; it’s all 1s and 0s and it does what you tell it to do. It’s the human element that complicates matters and requires you to focus more on the people and the organization than on the technology and the tools.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
How do you do implementations? Do you typically take a holistic approach, or do you set it and forget it? What have you experienced?
Whose job is it to make sure this happens? Do they have the skills?
Do you have the organizational capacity and willingness to carry out a sustainable user-focused program?
Does your internal team have the skills and experience to address these issues?
Do you have the infrastructure to achieve this in a fast, flexible and affordable way?
For examples of what to include in a holistic user adoption strategy, go to MyUserAdoptionPlan.com
And if you’re not sure how your project may be affected take the challenge. After all, saying they have no choice but to use it is ultimately counter-productive when you have the choice to be proactively motivating people to use it.
Take the User Adoption Challenge to see what specific user adoption issues you face on your IT project.
Schedule a demo of Tri Tuns' "My User Adoption Plan" portal to see how it can provide a comprehensive infrastructure for ensuring effective stakeholder engagement & communications over the life of your system.
Read "How to Sustain High CRM User Adoption" to learn more about how to have successful CRM (or other systems) implementations.
Read "Does your User Adoption Methodology Remove Organizational Barriers" to learn about the limitations of traditional IT implementation and Organizational Change Management methodologies and how you can overcome these shortfalls.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK
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A recent article by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a research and advisory firm to leading organizations, stated that many companies in the Financial Services (FS) industry are increasing their investments in IT solutions, despite the volatile market conditions. What is shocking is that CEB reports, “only 24% of the controllers we recently asked believe they are realizing positive returns.” CEB is advising organizations, “to get more value out of finance IT by upholding data standards, aligning IT investments with real business needs, and focusing on end-user adoption”.
TRI TUNS VIEW
At Tri Tuns, we have found that many firms do not have effective User Adoption Strategies. Effective user adoption programs focus on driving desired user behavior – such as how and when people use the technology, the actions they take to ensure data quality, the degree to which they follow defined business processes, and the actions they take to ensure compliance. The skills and methods required to drive effective user adoption are very different from those required to implement IT systems. Unfortunately, these are often missing from most IT implementation projects.
The CEB post indicates that only 24% of controllers “believe” that they are realizing positive returns on their investment. Based on this, consider:
- The remaining 76% of organizations do not believe they are getting a positive return on investment. This is a ridiculously high percentage. Even in Vegas you have a better shot of getting a positive return!
- Would you make an investment if you only had a 1 in 4 chance of getting a positive result? (Well, you might if your portfolio includes shares in Solyndra.) Before making major IT investments, you should have a clearly defined strategy for when and how you will measure the ROI on your IT investment. What you will find is that User Adoption is the biggest item on this critical path. What you will probably find is that you are not doing enough to maximize and sustain user adoption over the life of your system, and this is the leading cause for failed IT investments.
Before investing in IT projects, make sure you have a clear User Adoption Strategy that aligns user behavior & adoption of the IT system with your business goals and IT ROI needs. Further, you need to determine how will you implement your user adoption strategy and sustain your User Adoption Program over the life of the system. Be sure to recognize that changes in the levels and effectiveness of user adoption (over time) will change the ROI you receive from your IT investment. Quite simply, whenever you stop measuring and driving effective user adoption your IT investment is at risk.
TRI TUNS CAN HELP
Tri Tuns helps organizations maximize the ROI on their IT investments by developing and implementing User Adoption Strategies that maximize and sustain effective user adoption over the life of the system. We conduct User Adoption Assessments, Develop User Adoption Strategies, and provide hands-on User Adoption Program Implementation services.
Tri Tuns also provides the MyUserAdoptionPlan.com, an online User Adoption Portal that addresses all of your critical User Adoption needs. MyUserAdoptionPlan.com is an all-in-one solution that helps you lower the time and cost to create and maintain user adoption programs, while increasing the effectiveness of your User Adoption Program. MyUserAdoptionPlan.com is based on User Adoption Best Practices and comes preloaded with the core content you need to quickly define and launch your User Adoption Program. Contact us to learn more.
The page above is from MyUserAdoptionPlan.com and shows some of they key User Adoption Program areas that you need to address as part of your User Adoption Program.
- Check out MyUserAdoptionPlan.com – an all-in-one User Adoption Portal
- Read: “Design the right metrics to improve user adoption”
- Read: “Motivating User Adoption: Commitment, Compliance Or WIIFM?”
- Read: "What is IT "Success"?
- Read: “Leadership: Are You Really Committed?”
- Read: “The Myth of User Resistance”