200px-Field_of_Dreams Build it they will come…. well, maybe.

So many of my clients have failed deployments. They focused on infrastructure and not information (content) and usability. But thats usually because IT doesnt staff Content Strategists and Information Architects. I usually get involved after the failure and companies (IT) want to do it right to recover their reputation.

What does user adoption focus on? Asset utilization, plain and simple. Specifically, make sure the user population adopts the new investment (solution) so the organization gets their monies worth and/or achieves their compliance objectives. Traditionally, organizations view user adoption as a marketing campaign, change management or a mix of both.Many clients have tried this approach and it didn’t work out for them as they expected. Why? There are many factors such as:

  • The perception of the solution – What is it? What does it do? Is it a time saver or distraction?
  • Solutions value – weak value proposition – content and functions dont map well to the organization or a job task?
  • Cultural – Organization ability to adapt to change?
  • Governance – Will the organizations senior management endorse and foster adoption? Or will they view it as a distraction or nice to have?
  • Support and mentoring – will users be supported, trained and mentored so they are encouraged to use it?
  • Technolgy – is it usable? performs consistently?

The user adoption framework I developed for my company is comprised of 10 subject areas that must be addressed in order to have a truly successful program. The framework address sponsorship, business requirements, user metrics, training and mentoring, communications to name a few. In the new SharePoint Best Practices book written by Bill English, he mentions the diversion theory. The diffusion theory is as follows:

  • The new idea is:
    • perceived to have more value than the current system
    • compatible with existing values, past experiences, and current needs
    • not overly complex
    • testable before its production implementation
  • The new idea results in visible, measurable positive outcomes

Core to user adoption is a grass roots approach at the business unit level. Though possibly slower in driving adoption, it’s more likely to result in the desired outcome – change! Remember that change is a two step process; 1) realizing change will help and 2) making the change. Why would someone change? There must be value in it for the users. The best way to find out is do some homework and then ask them about their jobs and look for efficiency gains and pain relief. When thinking of User Adoption, it becomes clear that it’s an organizational thing.  Though difficult for organizations to swallow, this means there are no magic-bullets only commitment to the solution, determination and time.

Though a good start it’s only part of the solution. A few years back I developed a framework for user adoption that covers all the necessary areas to be addressed in order to create and execute a successful user adoption program. Executive sponsorship down to monitoring – no magic tricks, silver bullet or tools (beware of experts – sales people in disguise – pushing products). Perhaps the subject of a future blog.