In the movie ‘Field of Dreams’, Ray hears a voice that tells him, “If you build it, he will come.” Over the years, this iconic phrase has been referenced in business many times over to inspire action. And while it’s true, you must have an intent in order to drive an outcome, intent alone is not enough to ensure that the outcome is a successful one – there’s a reason the movie uses the word ‘Dream’ in its title.
The reality is: just because you build it, doesn’t guarantee anyone will come. In IT, this outcome is all too familiar. We invest a great deal of energy in building a new IT system, hire consultants to figure out the business requirements and create functional designs, and consume the time of department heads and business leaders to ensure the solution solves real business problems. The end-product delivers on a vision that has been months, sometimes years, in the making. However, once the solution is rolled out to the masses… frustration ensues. Support requests skyrocket, end users express confusion around how to leverage the new system, trust in the IT department diminishes while resistance to this change builds. Eventually, you're left with an outcome that is the opposite of what you intended. The system that was supposed to enhance the lives of users has instead created more confusion and disruption.
So… what went wrong?
User Enablement and Adoption – The Missing Link
Based on our experience, and backed by new data from the Tech Insights Report, a lack of user enablement and adoption is often the missing link. Of course, there is one major problem with this – people inherently don’t like change. Here’s a quick summary of what a user enablement and adoption strategy should look like:
- Marketing: Let users know in advance what changes are coming and why they are necessary. (Side note: I recommend Start with Why, by Simon Sinek to explore the power of “why.”)
- Change Management: As you lead your organization through the transition, build confidence at every stage by letting users know how the change will be good for them.
- Training: Ensure users have what they need to be successful. A single email telling employees how to use a new system is often not enough. Consider assigning hands-on training to meet each individual’s needs.
- Support: Make sure people know who they can go to when questions or issues arise. If you’re working with an internal service desk, make sure they’re prepared with a knowledge-base of support scripts to help them do their job.
- Feedback: Empower everyone to have a voice throughout the transition. How was the new rollout received? What challenges can you avoid the next time around?
Improving the Success Rate of Your IT Project
Today, technology has become deeply integrated into everything we do. Without an immersive user enablement and adoption plan, valuable time, money and even the trust of your employees is at stake. Gone are the days where deploying a solution is the last step to a successful IT project. Ensuring users are adopting the new solution and the business is getting a return on their technology investment is the new measurement of success.
I compare this new reality to helping a friend move. Let’s say you arrive at your friend’s apartment and they aren’t prepared at all: nothing is packed, dresser drawers are full, and the kitchen cabinets are packed to the brim with pantry items. This would most likely annoy you, but if your friend lives in a 600 sq. ft. apartment, it’s possible to brush it off, roll up your sleeves, and get the job done. Now, let’s say years later your friend calls on you to help them move again. This time they’re clearing out a 3,500 sq. ft. house in the same condition with the same size moving truck. This would appear to be an impossible job to tackle in a short timeframe. The overwhelming amount of work that still needs to be done will impact your moral and make you less likely to want to help. This could create a delay that could have substantial financial impacts from hiring professional movers on short notice to legal fees for delaying a closing date. The relationship you’ve built together will also suffer; chances are you won’t be as willing to drop everything you’re doing to help this friend in the future.
User Enablement and Adoption works in a similar way. If you’re a small company of 10 – 15 people, you may be able to get away with an ad-hoc deployment plan. But if you’re a midsize company with a diverse workforce and many integrated systems, you’ll need a strategy for cultivating enthusiasm and preparing your users far in advance. With the right approach, users will feel empowered and confident to leverage the new system on day one. This will ultimately lead to less support tickets down the line and a faster, more seamless adoption of the new technology, which translates to greater ROI for the business.
While technology may be what’s driving rapid innovation, it’s the people that ultimately make it successful. If you’re interested in learning more about our approach to organizational change management and how to influence user enablement and adoption within your organization, contact us to discuss your specific requirements and needs.