on 04-15-201006:56 AM - last edited on 04-15-201008:30 AM by tmergel
Those of us who spend our lives in the software business, spend a lot of time focusing on the features, functionality and competitive advantages that our solutions bring to businesses. The time spend on all of these items is well advised. However, as many of us have been on the receiving side of a new software implementation, if we don’t have a significant focus on the adoption of the users then all the bells and whistles will be for naught.
I liken this to giving a four year old the keys of shiny new Mercedes. The equipment may be spectacular, but the potential user doesn’t have a clue how to make use of such a wonderful machine.
So, how do we insure adoption is optimized? A few key principles may provide a blueprint for success:
Insure key stakeholders are involved in the process. Every implementation needs a champion among the user group. This goes beyond having technical stakeholders, I referring to someone who has influence and a voice with the actual users.
Be “User Friendly”. Often those that work with a particular software solution regularly become so familiar with the solution and tend to use our own abbreviations and assumptions on what the average user should know. We need to learn the talk the language of our users. I’ve seen many potential users gloss over simply due to this “language” barrier.
Provide a hands-on training experience. Often training ends up being a one way presentation from the provider side. Again, this may be from someone who understands the product very well, but if they cannot translate this knowledge to the new users all of that knowledge doesn’t help anyone use the product more effectively. Remember that people learn in a variety of methods. Many people are experiential learners, meaning that they can hear or read material but have difficulty retaining that knowledge unless they actually have hands on practice. I think this is particularly true with software users. So provide hands on exercises that allow new users to actually go into the software, practice keystrokes and mouse clicks and then have a dialogue about the experience.
Follow Up. It’s been said that it takes approximately thirty days of repetition to create a new habit. It is critical that the new users of any implementation are having early and regular usage, and help with using their new application. Following up regularly and often in the first thirty days is critical to insure the long term success of the deployment.
Focus on Stickiness. Once the implementation is up and running, don’t think the battle is over. Replacement solutions and competition will continue to knock at the door of your customers. It is important to continue to add value to their experience in a way that keeps our solution “sticky”. Ensuring the customer stays current and is maximizing connected services with their application, the longer you will have an active, happy and highly adopted customer.