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How to Drive User Adoption Before, During and After Project Launch

Cory Schmitt Cory Schmitt  |  
Sep 26, 2019
 
In Part 1, we talked about some of the factors that can impact adoption before the project even kicks off. In Part 2, we talked about the things that you can do to improve adoption during the project’s Execution. In this last installment, we’ll talk about actions you can take just prior to, during and after the launch of the system.
 

Take it for a Test Drive

Now that the project is just about ready to go live, take the time to test drive it. Pilot it by putting it in front of a representative group of users. Then watch, listen, learn and adapt.
 
Your pilot group should be a small group of users that represents the users that are part of the go live.  The pilot period should be relatively short to keep people focused. Anything more than a couple of weeks will be difficult to manage. Remember, this is not UAT. Your pilot group is your dry run of the go-live event. You want to see how users use the system under normal conditions.
 
There is the added benefit that some of your pilot group will go on to be Super Users and Champions. Super Users are the users that others will look to when they have questions instead of calling the help desk or training team. Be careful here, though. If the system is not in a releasable state with a lot of bugs, your Champions can turn into adversaries by telling everyone how terrible the system is. Once you start getting bad publicity, it is hard to recover.
 
The pilot group is also a great time to validate your adoption success measurements, as well as to implement your Adoption Success Cycle (more on this in a bit).
 

Training – Keep It Simple

When it comes to training, users don’t like to read instructions. They will refer to the training documents when they get stuck. If you want to train someone properly, here are some techniques that you can use to make it easier:
 
  • Design the system so that it is intuitive (this was mentioned earlier).
  • Use help tips frequently.
  • When you do have to write instructions, use clear pictures with limited verbiage.
  • Use video tutorials and/or recorded trainings and post them in a place that users can access as needed. These are also great for new and other users who could not attend the original training.
  • For major internal projects, get everyone onsite in the same location for training.
  • Use the tools at your disposal. Video conferencing, LMS (Learning Management Systems), and even video tutorials are great tools to utilize for training.
  • Have members of the project team and/or super users have standing open conference calls 3-5 days per week for 2-4 weeks after launch so people can call in with questions.
 

Let’s Party!

It’s time to launch the system! It’s time to party, right? Close, but before we do, here are a few launch-related tips to improve adoption:
 
  • Pick the right launch date. Don’t pick a date that is during heavy vacation season, during the company’s busiest time of the year, or during holidays. Instead, launch around slower times of the year or at an event that includes the user group (i.e. an annual sales meeting for a CRM).
  • If you’re planning onsite training, plan it as part of the launch event.
  • Make it a big deal. Get the executive team involved. Have a party. Plan for food and beverages.
  • Promote it!
 

Re-enforce It!

An application is something that lives well beyond the initial implementation. It requires nurturing to ensure that users are getting the best experience, tools, features, and usability they need to do their job. If they aren’t getting those, they are less likely to use the tool. So, it stands to reason that treating adoption as a one-time event would be detrimental to the longevity of the application. Adoption begins before the project even kicks off and ends when the application’s lifecycle ends.
 
Now that you understand that adoption is continuous, and the application has moved into production, it’s time to see how you did; it’s time to engage your Adoption Success Cycle.
 

What is the Adoption Success Cycle?

The Adoption Success Cycle is the continuous loop of go-live, measure, prioritize, and iterate. It is basically a modified version of a similar process that Salesforce recommends for rolling out the Lightning UI for its Sales Cloud. It is your opportunity to incorporate and adapt what you have learned from previous releases, stakeholders, and users to better meet their needs.
 
adoption success cycle

The foundation for the Adoption Success Cycle is Feedback. The feedback should have four key components:
 
  1. It should be continuous for the life of the application.
  2. Feedback should be able to come from anyone that uses the application.
  3. There should be an intake mechanism for feedback (preferably it will include traceability and approvals).
  4. The feedback process is transparent.  
 
Within the Feedback loop, you have the continuous cycle of Go-Live, Measure, Prioritize and Iterate.
 
  • Go Live. This starts with the Launch Event and includes every go-live for updates after that.
  • Measure how the users are adopting the system using the measurements you defined earlier in the project or for the specific release. You also should be refining your measurements here if necessary. For example, what was defined during the initial implementation may not be useful in Year 2.
  • Prioritize what you’ve learned. What is causing the biggest hurdles to adoption? What will create the most value? Questions like these should be considered when prioritizing. Your primary inputs here are Feedback and what you’ve learned during Measure.
  • Iterate by implementing the highest priority items. Continually improving the system throughout its life shows users that you’re listening to them and that the system is important to the organization.
 

Time to Wrap It Up

Adoption is not something that you can guarantee by just training people once and letting them go. If you truly want to give yourself the best chance at a successful adoption, you need to think about and incorporate adoption into almost every facet of the project AND throughout the entire life of the system. If you don’t, you’re leaving one of the most important goals – to get people to use the system – to chance!
 
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