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How to Improve User Adoption During Your Project's Execution

Cory Schmitt Cory Schmitt  |  
Sep 19, 2019
 
In Part 1, we talked about some of the factors that can impact adoption before the project even kicks off. In Part 2 here, we’ll talk about the things that you can do to improve adoption during the project’s Execution.
 

Know Your Users

“Know Your Users” is a broad but important statement, and it can mean a lot of things:
 
  • Who are the core users?
  • How do they do their work?
  • Where do they do their work?
  • What is their tolerance for change?
  • Are there processes that can be improved?
  • What can we do to design something that is efficient and self-explanatory?
 
These all seem like “no-brainer” statements, yet time and again you hear comments like:
 
  • It’s the same system with a different wrapper.
  • There are too many fields to fill in/it takes too long to fill out.
  • I wish I could use my mobile phone to fill out that form.
 
Why does this happen?

It happens for many reasons, several of which are preventable. Here are some keys to ensuring better adoption through knowing your users:
 
  • Engage the users when gathering requirements AND designing the new system. This will help understand the users better, AND it will create Champions that will “market” the system to other users.
  • Don’t let non-users dictate end user requirements. These people believe they understand how the users do their jobs; they don’t.
  • Sit with users where they do their work. If you have field sales users who are frequently in hotels, airports and cars, then travel with them and observe.
  • Build the functionality for the core intended users, not the occasional users.
  • If you have more than one user group that uses a piece of functionality but with significant differences, consider creating different interfaces for each user group instead of creating one more complicated interface for all user groups.
  • Keep it simple. Build the functionality to be intuitive. Users don’t like complicated, and they don’t want to have to refer to instructions every time they use something.
  • Engage the right resources on the project. When you don’t have people with the right skills or knowledge on the project, the project and adoption will suffer.
  • Consider bringing in a User Experience (UX) expert to help with the UI design.
 

Determine Adoption Metrics

If adoption is one of the most important goals, you need a definition of what successful adoption means and how to measure it so you know if you’ve been successful. Does adoption for your project mean how many users have logged in? Does that really tell you if people are using the system? What about other indicators like records-added or content accessed?
 
When creating your metrics, you may want to consider using the S.M.A.R.T. method. The metrics that you create should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Some examples you might incorporate are:
 
  • 1 week after launch: 95% of users have logged in at least once.
  • 2 weeks after launch: Orders have returned to pre-launch levels (ecommerce site).
  • 1 month after launch: Each rep has a minimum of X number of open opportunities (CRM implementation project).
 
You’ll likely have multiple metrics that will help you illustrate the total adoption picture for your project.
 
While there may be similarities between projects, each project is unique. You should determine what is important to your project to measure.
 
Lastly, ensure that you have included what you need to measure success into the scope of your project. A common flaw is to spend a lot time determining the metrics you would like to track, only to later find out the logic to capture the data and create the reports was never created.
 

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

This project is a big deal. Now you want to tell everyone about it and generate some excitement! Communicating early and often is the key to generating excitement with the end users.

Before you start shouting at the top of your lungs about the project, take a deep breath and create an adoption communications plan. A typical adoption communication plan should answer 4 simple questions for each communication:
 
  1. When will it be delivered?
  2. What is being communicated?
  3. How will it be delivered?
  4. Who is the target audience?
 
Depending on the project, time and budget, you can get as creative with your communications as you want (i.e. posters and advertisements on intranets), but here is a simple example for an internal project:
 
When will it be delivered? What is being communicated? How will it be delivered? Who is the target audience?
6 weeks prior to launch Note from project sponsor Email All impacted by change
5 weeks prior to launch Pilot users announced Email All users
5 weeks prior to launch Initial pilot welcome instructions Email Pilot users
4 weeks prior to launch Pilot kick-off Mtg/Conf Call Pilot users
2 weeks prior to launch Training Session(s) Mtg - Onsite All users
1 week prior to launch Note from CEO Email All impacted by change
1 day prior to launch Reminders, instructions, etc. Email All users
Day of Launch Training Session(s) Mtg - Onsite All Users
Day of Launch Launch Event Party Mtg - Onsite All users
2 weeks after launch Feedback survey Email All users
 
Again, this is just a simple example. Create a plan that works for your organization, project, and users.
 
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