Melissa Swartz |February 8, 2021
Carving out time to create an end user adoption strategy, and to execute it, will pay big dividends in the end.
It’s been said that people hate change. Others say that people hate change when it’s forced upon them. This is the challenge with getting end users to adopt new technology, since they aren’t the ones selecting it.
When an organization changes out their old phone system, for most users it is a high impact change because they use that tool daily. The change is forced on them and they just have to deal with it. This often hinders acceptance and success of the new solution.
As a consultant, I am involved in a lot of projects that change technology for the organization and its end users. Generally speaking, organizations that follow a purposeful end user adoption strategy have more successful projects.
What are the critical parts of a successful end user adoption strategy?
5 key components of End User Adoption Strategy
1. Gain commitment of upper management to drive the change throughout the organization. This is especially true of newer tools like video. By setting the example of using the new tools, managers can drive the use throughout the business. Users are more likely to make the effort to learn a new way of doing things.
2. Identify key influencers and get them on your side. Where it makes sense, involve them in the process of picking a new solution or planning the change. Ask them about their specific needs and pain points, and address those during the solution selection process. Have influencers attend demonstrations by the finalist vendors, and get their feedback on what they saw. Involving key influencers increases their understanding and makes them much less likely to be critical of the final solution. After all, they were part of the decision-making process.
3. Have a formal communication plan. It’s important to get messages out early and often. It takes repeated communication to get the message across to everyone. Messages to employees should first address the what, when, and why of the change. Users are more likely to embrace a change if they understand the real necessity for it. Additional messages about the benefits of the change for the users (what’s in it for them?) are also helpful. It’s also important to point out what is NOT changing.
4. Provide training. While the new solution should be user friendly and intuitive, training is still necessary. The scope of UC solutions is broad, and users need to be trained on the phone itself (hard phone or soft phone). Even more important, they need training on newer message applications, and conference and collaboration tools. A deliberate, well thought out training approach will go a long way toward heading off user complaints and issues, and will help users more fully utilize the tools for which the organization is paying. (Learn how to ramp up training.)
5. Establish ongoing resources and support. Even with a great training program, users will not be able to absorb all of the information they are given. And there are always going to be new employees or users who change roles and need training on the tools. Providing ongoing access to training materials, videos, and reference guides will help these users down the road.
Sometimes, the solution provider includes a user adoption program as part of the process. Most don’t. The programs I’ve seen focused on training and ongoing communications, with some sample communications templates. But none that I have seen address the first two items above (upper management commitment and involvement of key influencers).
Things get crazy during the implementation process, and it’s easy to let the technical issues absorb all of your attention. Carving out time to create an end user adoption strategy, and to execute it, will pay big dividends in the end.
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