What if you threw a party and nobody came? That’s a nearly universal fear. Some outgrow it, but for others, there’s a workplace equivalent: What if you made a hefty investment in a technology solution and nobody used it?
User adoption is critical to any organization’s technology improvements. There’s no magic formula to making users embrace new solutions, but there are some best practices you can follow to ensure a successful implementation and optimize ROI.
Gartner projects IT spending will have grown to $3.5 trillion in 2017. That spending equals a lot of projects that need to be justified, implemented, and reported on in organizations around the world. They are projects that have anticipated ROI with one important caveat—the technology must be put to good use.
Adoption is a potential roadblock at any organization. Some of the reasons employees resist adoption stem from fear of change, lack of understanding, feelings of frustration about not being consulted, or technology fatigue from being expected to use too many tools or from constantly being expected to learn new ones.
1. Talk to employees before purchasing
Ask future users about the current pains they are experiencing and what they’d like to change. Check out case studies and testimonials to see if the solution you’re considering seems to align with your users’ needs. If you decide to proceed with the purchase, consider that no technology solution is a silver bullet.
It’s important to go into the implementation phase of a technology project with realistic expectations. That way you won’t be tempted to skip vital steps or get frustrated at the first sign of resistance. Some challenges are just a natural part of taking on a major technology project, so it’s best to be ready to address them.
2. Make it easy
Make sure the technology is user-friendly, and also ensure it works with users’ existing tools and workflows in a way that doesn’t cause disruption. Technology should improve work, not hinder it.
Consider using pilot groups to uncover potential snags. You’ll be able to better smooth the way for users who are more likely to struggle.
3. Provide training
This step may sound simple, but not everyone learns the same way. Some absorb information better in a classroom-style training, and some do better with a solo online training course. There are even those who will adopt more readily with personalized, one-on-one training.
You can decide whether to provide multiple trainings or let employees choose. Even if a training method sounds like an added expense, it’s probably less costly than project failure.
4. Create an environment of encouragement
Adoption goes beyond training. Users should be excited to use the technology, and they should feel confident in their efforts.
Nearly one-fourth of one survey’s respondents said they’re not comfortable with video conferencing, and 75 percent reported that they continue to prefer audio calls to video calls. Video conferencing solutions can be a significant expense, and it will be wasted if employees are using the phone for conference calls. They’ll also be missing out on some important capabilities.
Reach out to your organization’s influencers, early adopters, and those who will champion the technology. Sometimes the way they frame the use and benefits of the technology for their peers can have the most positive impact.
5. Stay on the right track
Provide ongoing support and, most importantly, listen. Some employee concerns are more valid than others, but you’ll only know if you sincerely listen to what those concerns are.
If users feel they’ve been left high and dry, they might become discouraged and backslide into old habits. One frustration can grow into a morale killer, so it’s best to have help lined up when users need it.
If you want to see ROI on your technology investments, you have to make sure everyone feels at ease—just like when you throw a big party. You’ll increase the odds that they’ll not only show up, but they’ll stick around and help make your investment a success.