Software implementation is the process of integrating a software solution into business processes and practices. Adoption refers to the successful transfer from an old system to a new system by ensuring that users can harness the full benefits of the new system.
No matter the software solution, the implementation process and adoption rate are very important indicators of the overall success. Adoption processes can be tricky for many organisations to manage. Not all solutions have been designed with a user-first approach, which often causes a resistance to change. Successful adoption requires communication, unlearning old processes and habits, and change management activities. This article gives 7 tips on how to implement a new software solution successfully and ensure adoption.
The technology adoption lifecycle
Adoption rates vary depending on employee willingness to learn new solutions, align new solutions with their existing processes, and make the most out of new technology. There are several different types of adopters along the technology adoption lifecycle.
Enthusiasts are the ones who are always looking at new solutions and how they can benefit them. They are eager to understand how technology works.
Visionaries want to try new solutions and act as influencers to others in the organisation.
Pragmatists wait for others to try the solution out first before they jump in and think how solution is going to change their lives.
Conservatives will need a bigger push to adopt new solution. They will adapt to a solution only when it becomes business as usual, and they cannot operate without it.
Sceptics resist change and will use old solutions for as long as possible and the switch to new solutions will come as a shock.
For successful adoption of any solution, it is important to recognise the existence of these different types of people in your organisation and recruiting the correct people to your aid in driving the adoption.
How to succeed in technology implementation
The success of implementation begins from the scoping and planning stage to align with user expectations. Implementation at its core is change management. Change takes place because a new solution introduces new processes and ways of working. Old ways of working must be “unlearned”, which can be a serious challenge to implementation.
The implementation process must involve key users from the early process of collecting the needs from key stakeholders. Collecting information from key stakeholders throughout the process and hearing them out makes them feel involved and eventually results in them supporting the choice taken. This is referred to as “buy-in.” Without buy-in, implementation will fail before it has begun. When users have buy-in, their needs are heard, and they recognise that the solution will help them.
One way of successfully implementing change is to assign the role of a “change agent.” A change agent is a person that roots for change, answers user questions, and solves resistance in the functions. They can affect everything from adoption rate, purpose alignment, and accountability. They can come from leadership roles or other positions, but the main consideration is that they are prepared to be the cheerleader of the new ways of working. Change agents are usually Enthusiasts or Visionaries presented in adoption lifecycle model.
Implementation is much more than just “setting up” the software solution. It also includes communicating the launch of the product, mobilising and training users, and monitoring the early stages of use.
Common reasons for resistance in technology adoption
A low adoption rate is one of the biggest concerns of implementation. Failures in adoption can occur for several reasons and across the whole software use span. Here are four ways in which adoption can fail:
The solution isn’t used to its full potential. The most common failure in adoption is not enough users taking advantage of the solution. This may be due to poor communication or onboarding before implementation—in other words, they don’t know the value it provides, or they simply don’t know it exists or how to use it.
The solution is used at first, but users drop off later. The second failure in adoption is a decrease of users after the “honeymoon” phase. User activity can decrease if the tool does not meet the expectations. It could be that the solution doesn’t develop, or the features become dull. Maybe it’s just not that easy to use, or the promised value isn’t realised.
The solution requires more work than the old way. A solution that isn’t easy to use won’t be used. It’s as simple as that. If users feel like their complaints aren’t being heard, they will come up with shortcuts and workarounds. If the shortcuts and workarounds are more cumbersome than the old way of doing things, users will stop using the solution.
There is resistance from the beginning. This is where adoption has failed from the beginning. This is a clear sign of no buy-in. This failure of adoption hints that a change agent was needed. There may have been resistant to the change in systems or change in general.
Implementation and adoption: 7 keys for success
Gartner research showcases elements that have positive impact on user adoption. Building a business case, in other words communicating the business benefits, is the strongest driver. In order for the solution to be adopted, it needs to be functional for the end users. There needs to be sufficient training and support, as there might be some unlearning to be done among the user base. Allowing change agents to try out the beta version of the solution is proven to have a positive impact on their adoption readiness. It also has the added benefit of getting them more excited about the solution and advocating the potential benefits.
Successful implementation and adoption are built upon the foundations of training and expectations management. Without setting expectations of the value, users will overestimate—and eventually abandon. Here is our list of 7 tips for successful implementation and adoption:
Following these 7 keys for success will ensure that your new software solution considers the needs of users, provides value, and is continually used. These tips are based on our experience working in hundreds of implementations across diverse industries and cultures. The most important factor in implementation and adoption is understanding it’s a process, not a result. Paying attention to users before, during, and after implementation is the key to success.
About the Author:
Heta Ruikka is the Vice President of Product Management at Sievo, and she strives to develop Sievo as the best Procurement Analytics solution the world has ever seen. She holds a master’s degree from Aalto University in Industrial Engineering and Management and has delved in the world of Product Management ever since graduating. As a young leader in the space, she aspires to change the world into more open and data-driven one, where leadership is based on empathy and empowerment.
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