The top five ways to improve user adoption rates before your software is even deployed

When it comes to software deployment, those of us in IT see the same thing over and over again. The business users complain to leaders about existing systems. Leaders gain approval for new systems with better capabilities. Then, as implementation draws near, the business users express their displeasure at having to learn how to use a new system because all of their time is devoted to maintaining the status quo. While this is typical, one can’t help but ask if there’s a better way to work together toward improving the business user experience and raising user adoption rates.

Software systems are deployed to add capabilities and increase productivity and efficiency. These systems are very costly, but companies invest in them to gain a competitive advantage and fix what’s broken. The larger the expenditure, the more important it is to measure Return on Investment (ROI) to ensure the company is getting the expected return. Tracking user adoption rates is about whether the employees are utilizing the new system in ways that create those anticipated gains. (For the people in the back: user adoption is NOT referring to the fact that people are using the software because they have to.) There are almost always some groups who aren’t utilizing the new functionality as expected, and tracking this metric allows us to investigate and respond to those groups and improve the ROI.

Traditionally, IT teams haven’t thought much about the business user adoption rates because this metric was not considered when determining project success. This is rapidly changing. Savvy CIOs and CTOs now anticipate the ROI when proposing costly projects, and track user adoption to demonstrate the value of the project.

There are things that you can do to prepare your organization in advance of your software rollout (or any change initiative rollout) so that the organization and its employees are ready to be successful. This process is straightforward and cost-effective. So, without further ado, here are the top five ways to raise adoption rates before your software is even deployed.

  1. Make the business case. Technology should improve efficiency, and the case needs to be made to the business user that the software will make their lives easier.
  2. Evaluate existing business processes against those that will be needed with the new software system to understand training needs.
  3. Ensure that you have strong executive sponsorship and clear change governance.
  4. Engage stakeholders from the beginning. Have business users participate in developing the business requirements. Identify the key business requirements that will drive adoption and ensure that they’re included in the Minimum Viable Product.
  5. Bring a change expert onto the design and implementation team, working closely with the user experience (UX) team to make sure business user needs are kept front and center and the people side of change carries through the entire design and implementation process.

We assess all of this and more with an Organizational Readiness Assessment. An Organizational Readiness Assessment ascertains how ready an organization is to successfully manage the change at hand. This empirical approach enables you to identify any capability gaps in the culture, organization, processes, or systems that might undermine the project’s success. The change management approach is then geared to close these gaps. Follow-up assessments determine the success of the change management efforts. In this way, we ensure that the employees are set up for success.

Evolve’s Organizational Readiness Assessment
Evolve’s Organizational Readiness Assessment

A successful IT rollout is not just based upon the software that’s developed, but on the organization’s ability to fully benefit from it. Without the Organizational Readiness Assessment, we’re flying blind. The IT industry is entirely driven by data. It only seems fitting to take a data-driven approach to improving something as critical as business user adoption rates.

How do you measure IT success in your organization? What’s you’re experience working in a project where a high user adoption rate was a goal?

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If you have change management questions, my door is always open.

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