10 Effective Ways to Prevent Adoption Delays for New Technologies
Posted by Mark Baars
Replacing end-of-life applications in your organization can increase productivity and facilitate smarter decision making. But just because you see a need for technology changes does not mean that employees will adopt them.
According to a study by Smart Insights, slow user adoption is the number one reason for failed CRM implementations. The hoped-for benefits of a new system can evaporate if employees resist it or fail to understand how it will make their lives better.
So what can you do to increase end-user adoption? Here are some ideas.
1. Choose User-Friendly Technology
Functionality is important, but you must select the most intuitive, user-friendly systems if you are to achieve swift adoption within the organization. Technologies that come with a hefty user manual are sure to please the cynics whose knee-jerk reaction is to resist changes.
Employees are more likely to embrace new technology if they were involved in the selection process. It's a good idea to have them pilot test a few options so employees can be confident that you have chosen the best tools.
2. Share the "Why"
Leaders have to persuade all types of people about the benefits of the new technology, from strong advocates to Luddites and naysayers. The ones that succeed in this endeavor are able to share a compelling vision of what the technology is and how it will make people's lives better, according to MIT Sloan Management Review. People need to know why the change is occurring and most importantly, "what's in it for me?"
3. Appoint Champions
Getting influencers on board early in the process can ease the transition since these ambassadors can coach others and get them comfortable with the new technology. But don't rely on the tech squad to trumpet the new tools. People who aren't naturally tech-savvy are more likely to listen to "ordinary" colleagues who, like them, may not automatically understand new technologies. Have these everyday champions give out positive vibes and practical support, to show that everyone's in it together.
4. Personalize the Training Program
Since your employees will span the range from technophobes to super-users, your training program should also reflect those differences. Include blended training — a mix of live demonstrations, job aids, Web-based training sessions and personal coaching sessions for those that need greater hand-holding and support.
5. Institutionalize the New Tools
People like routines because they make life more predictable — and predictability gives your employees stability and reduces stress. Managers can help keep levels of predictability high by building the new technology into the workday routine as soon as possible.
For example, if you've recently introduced a new accounting system, start asking for daily status reports — something the system can churn out in seconds. Of course, employees could still rely on the old method to provide the information, but it would be inconvenient and time-consuming. The goal is to get people so familiar with the system it becomes second nature to them.
6. Publicize the Quick Wins
As the new technology starts to make a difference, draw attention to the positive impact it's having on the organization. Point to personal success stories where possible: For example, say, "look at Sue, she's hit her monthly sales quota in just three weeks!" Disseminating "feel good" messages can help your team feel in control of the new tools and better about the change experience.
7. Use Rewards Liberally and Penalties Sparingly
Compensation and perks can encourage people to use the new technology and also create a buzz around the new systems. For example, you might offer points or status levels for using the system and reward users with the greatest engagement.
If rewards don't encourage the laggards, at some point you'll have to consider instituting penalties for non-adoption. Say, for example, that your sales reps are resisting the new technology. You could tell them that only sales entered through the system will count toward their target. This approach is tricky since it may breed resentment toward the new technology, but it's worth it if the non-use starts impacting the bottom line.
8. Listen to Feedback
Soon after the launch, establish a forum where employees can discuss their successes, concerns and experiences with the new technology. When everyone feels part of the process, the adoption rate will be better.
Anonymous feedback is preferable, since it protects employees against the fear of being ridiculed or judged. Options include sending out an anonymous online survey and appointing a trusted group representative to communicate feedback about the new technology.
9. Measure and Optimize
The process of adoption does not stop after the go-live. Continually check the organization's pulse to make sure that your people are getting the most out of the systems, both in terms of ROI and other meaningful metrics such as user impact and post-rollout support. Notify users that managers, the IT department, HR and the marketing team are all working together to make solutions even more intuitive and better for the company. This should smooth the path for changes and further innovation down the line.
10. Be Patient
As great as it would be to have everyone on board from the get-go, this expectation is unrealistic. The process of learning new technology can be slow, so build time into your schedules and adjust your project timelines as needed.
Helping employees transition to using new technology is key to improving adoption. It can be difficult to convince employees that the early disruption will be short-lived. But having clear strategies in place can ease the pain so that everyone can start capturing the value of the new system.