Whether it's an ERP solution, a CRM system or a mobile workforce application, the installation of a new piece of technology involves change. Specifically, change in the way people do things. The problem with change is that it is often not comfortable for people – in fact, it can be downright stressful. What is comfortable is what's familiar, and what's familiar are the old methods for getting things done.
This can present big problems for an organisation. After all, how can you hope to achieve the desired return on your IT investment if only half your people are using the technology? And what if, amongst those who are using it, only two-thirds are using the new system properly?
For any company that is about to install new technology, 100% user adoption should be the goal. How do you achieve that? Here are four tips to help you.
1 – Appoint a new technology champion
With any new management initiative, leadership is important. For any major new technology deployment that impacts employees, you need a senior manager who will be a champion of the cause, who will lead the project with enthusiasm and guide system users through the process of change. In this regard, education is key. Staff need to be told why the project is important, what its goals are and how the company is going to go about achieving them.
Also important is to answer the 'What's in it for me' question that employees will inevitably ask themselves when asked to adopt something new. Communicate to your people why it is that the change is good not only for the company but for them too.
Ideally what you'll end up with is a workforce that embraces, rather than resists, the change that's occurring. This is more likely to happen if the project leader is actively involved in the change process from initiation through to completion while continually demonstrating their commitment to the success of the project.
2. Workshop it
It should go without saying that training is an important component of any successful system deployment, but too often this side of things is not taken seriously enough. Whether through workshop sessions or one-on-one training, instruct your employees on the new system. If the relevant user manuals are too fat and dense for practical use, prepare easy-to-use reference guides that explain what users need to know to become proficient with the new technology.
While doing all this you will need to know where your people are hitting roadblocks, so encourage feedback every step of the way. Let employees know that there's no such thing as a stupid question, and that they can ask as many questions as they need.
That said, it is not enough to simply conduct the training and then let your workers loose with the new system. During training, test employees on what they've been taught. Once the new system goes live, track how your people are using it. If users find the new technology too difficult to use, or are simply lacking the motivation to make the switch, productivity within the organisation will suffer. Keep a sharp eye out for those who are not using the system for its full potential.
3. Make resistance difficult
To help bring about complete user adoption with your new technology you may need to remove barriers that could potentially achieve that objective. This particularly applies to the laggards, ie those who are most resistant to change and least likely to make full use of the new system. Typically this will involve removing software and other technologies that make it easy for workers to continue doing things the old way.
4. Communicate your wins
As your new system gains acceptance it is important not to become complacent. Training should be reinforced, and the attainment of the new technology's business goals should be communicated to stakeholders as they occur. For example, if the new system has improved product order delivery times by 50% within the first month of deployment, let your people know. When team members see the new system producing beneficial results for their company, they'll be more likely to do what management asks of them.
Too many companies make the mistake of thinking that once they install a new system, all the benefits will flow naturally. ‘Build it and they will come' is not the right mindset. By providing effective leadership for your system deployment project, training your people on the new technology, soliciting feedback and checking in to ensure it's being used the right way, employees will be up and running with your new technology quickly and proficiently.