When a business replaces familiar tools and workflows with new technologies, the change requires a culture shift. I’m always surprised when an organization spends millions of dollars on a new tool for their employees but then skips out on adoption services. Sure, an organization may still get basic functionality from its IT with this approach, but it won’t attain the actual goal of rolling out a new solution: to build value for the business.
Here are five steps that every organization should take during a significant IT deployment.
1. Business and IT Alignment
The IT department may be responsible for installing and configuring new technologies, but the business side of the organization will be using these tools day in and day out. When adoption efforts are led solely by the IT team, they typically aren’t very successful, simply because success looks different for IT shops and lines of business.
From an IT perspective, success means that the tool is functioning properly and is consistently available. But for business users, success means that the solution is saving time and money, helping users better serve customers or creating a competitive edge.
2. Internal Marketing
It’s important for organizations to create excitement around new solutions. Too often, new technologies can feel like a mandate that employees have to comply with. But through strategic marketing efforts, organizations can show workers how new tools will benefit not only the business but also employees themselves.
I often lead kickoff parties meant to generate buzz around new solutions, and I also encourage companies to take advantage of any internal marketing channels at their disposal — including table tents, newsletters and digital signage. These efforts will look different in the era of COVID-19, but it’s still important for business leaders to build buy-in around technology deployments from the earliest stages of the process.
Initial emails about new IT efforts should come not from the IT department, but rather from high-level business leaders who will command the attention of employees. These communications should spell out what’s happening, why it’s happening and what the benefits will be to employees and the business.
Subsequent emails should come from a special inbox created specifically for the adoption effort so that workers know where to look for new information. An effective communication effort will also make an attempt to seek out internal champions: employees who volunteer to undergo early training and help their colleagues with any challenges.
This step involves providing users with appropriate resources to help them utilize new tools as effectively as possible. Ideally, organizations will provide a mix of training opportunities, including interactive group sessions led by an instructor (either face-to-face or online), self-service videos and even simple documents that explain how to complete specific tasks. Users learn in different ways. It is important to provide a mix of training opportunities to support users’ preferred learning styles.
Finally, organizations must make a real effort to evaluate the results of their IT implementations. Some tools store usage analytics that can be accessed via administrator portals, making it relatively simple to discover who is using new solutions and how the tools are being used. Surveys can unlock more contextual information about how a tool is helping employees to be more productive and efficient, better serve customers or generate new revenue streams. Companies may even look at the (lower, one hopes) number of help desk tickets they are receiving as a way to demonstrate the value of their adoption efforts.
These measures will uncover gaps in adoption, giving the organization the information needed to provide additional training opportunities and learn what problems users are having. By tracking and analyzing the right metrics, organizations can ensure that their technologies will continue to serve the business well into the future.