I’ve been working in learning and development for a long time now, and I’ve seen again and again the ways in which addressing user adoption makes a positive difference to individuals and to organisational success. I’ve also seen the horrible messes that result when companies don’t think about the human side of transformation: chaotic business processes, plummeting employee commitment, that special kind of pain that comes from trying to forecast using spreadsheets you've had to write yourself because your team don't understand how your new system is supposed to work.... It's no secret that preparing your people properly to follow your processes and use your solutions will help smooth any changes your organisation is making.
On the other hand, it’s also been a long time since I talked to my customers only about ‘training’. My conversations are about management of change, development of a learning culture, using the power of social and collaborative knowledge and about driving user adoption.
User adoption isn’t just about training people to click the right button on your new application. It’s about getting to a point where you have a user community who are fully capable of doing the jobs you need them to do, who are engaged with the way they work, who begin even to take ownership of their roles. Picture your purchasing team saying “we think we could do x, y and z to make this task more efficient”. Or your payroll team arguing successfully for a change to the timesheet function. That’s user adoption in action.
So, why is this important? It’s important because people matter.
We’re quickly moving to a world where even a product that costs thousands of dollars can be produced more quickly and cheaply by the disrupters coming into your market. I can launch as your competitor and undercut your production and your brand. But the people? They’re your irreplaceable asset now–I can’t ever replicate your people and their collected knowledge. Your organisational power and value is built on your people and what they know.
To continue to compete, you’re going to need to be agile, responsive to your customers and driving innovation. Technology and processes will be important– but again, what will make the difference is your people. It’s people and their knowledge and commitment to your organisation that will make it possible for you to drive successful transformation.
Commercial and academic research consistently finds that organisations who commit to user adoption see real business results: lower implementation and support costs, and faster ROI. Whatever your business goals, you’ll get there quicker when you bring your people with you and prepare them for the future. A high level of user adoption isn't a ‘nice to have’, it’s an essential element of your business success.
So how can you get there? By building change management and learning into your transformation plans. An effective change management program, including learning which covers business processes and new ways of working, not just system tasks, will bring you real results. Preparing and engaging your people will mean that your change contributes to your strategic business objectives, rather than disrupting them.
In business, change is inevitable- manage it well and build your organisation value.
Liz Dwyer, Head of Business Solutions