3 Reasons for User Adoption Death Gaps (Part 2)

In our previous Part 1 version of this blog, I introduced the 3 reasons why there is a gap between the total number of software solutions and tools and the number of those that have been well adopted (used daily). 3 reasons for the adoption death gap:

1) Users didn't understand the benefits.

2) Users didn't receive awesome (and continuous) training.

3) Users gave up since it was too hard to use.

Today, I will share some ideas on how to improve user adoption based on these three failure reasons.

How to reduce the death gap and improve adoption?

1) Show the users how the solution can indeed bring new value to their own work and performance. Take the time and invest not only in your value messages, but also ensure you receive clear understanding and acceptance from the users, especially your power performers and key influencers. Share existing successes if the solution is already being used by some people or plan to capture succes for new initiatives. If the solution is not yet purchased, involve the future users during the vendor selection process and ask for their input regarding personal value.

Here are some detailed steps:

  • Learn what is most important to them personally (in general). For example, is it to get work done faster so there's not as much pressure? Is it to receive higher performance marks to get a raise and buy a new car?
  • Align how to fit the vendor tool value points with their personal value needs and come up with a message.
  • Test the message with a few end users and update it as needed.
  • Create a campaign on how to get that message out. The best way to start is to include it with your solution's training sessions. Make sure that the message is not only delivered, but well received. Saying you shared the value points is not the end game. The end game is for the user to say, "Yes, that's right. This is going to be cool."
  • Then capture a few success stories and share it with everyone as you expand.
  • Finally, continue to review, refine, and re-deliver the personal value message. It must continue non-stop until the solution is part of everyday business life.

2)Invest heavily in training. Build a dedicated group of trainers who will be great at training others. Ensure these trainers will also be heavy users of the solution. They should be people friendly, patient, and natural with the solution's navigation, features, and benefits. Give these trainers the best train-the-trainer services you can get from the software vendor or from the vendor's partner. Time the training so the users will be applying what they learn immediately, not weeks later. People forget. Add enough budget and time for ongoing training to help people get better and better. Be patient and persistent with education. Knowledge is power!

Here are some detailed steps:

  • Assuming upper management is sold on the vendor solution, now you need to sell them on making sure the investment kicks off and then sticks for a long time. Depending on your organization's politics, it may either be better to ask for the training budget during the initial licensing budget approval process or to wait until after the initial license costs are approved. The former makes more sense in most cases.
  • Break down the budget needs for both the initial vendor training and internal ongoing training. The vendor training is hard cash budgeting. The internal training cost is soft budgeting, which is really time allocation approvals.
  • Consider either train-the-trainer or train-everyone programs from the vendor or vendor partner. If you do go with the latter, ensure it also includes the former since you will need to invest in a permanent internal expert training group.
  • Get the best training you can get from the vendor. If the vendor is suggesting 20 hours for train-the-trainer, ask for 30 since you will need more time later. This always happens, so reduce the number of time you need to go back for budget approvals.
  • As mentioned above, consider the best people to be the trainers.
  • Keep the student to teacher ratio as low as possible. At PIEmatrix we keep our training ratios around 3:1, that is three students to every one trainer during each session. This provides maximum training impact to help cover both advanced and slower learners.
  • Include your personal value message (from step one above) in your training classes.
  • Require hands-on training exercises. Lectures only just doesn't hit home.
  • Break complex solution training down into smaller parts so the students consume and practice what they learn in smaller bites.
  • Revisit training with the same students multiple times. A good approach is to make each future session more advanced along with revisiting to ensure everyone gets some value.
  • Consider conduction weekly or monthly user experience group sharing discussions. During these sessions users and trainers can share challenges, questions, ideas, etc.

3) Revisit your software solution selection process and add or elevate the importance of UI (user interface) design and usability. Don't let decisions be made in favor of features. Also, don't be influenced by the feature wars promoted by vendor analyst reports, such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant or the Forrester Wave. You may end up making a decision purely on how many requirements are met rather than whether or not the solution will be a burden to learn and use.

The following are the five pillars of usability to help when reviewing tools:

  • Learnable - How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks the first time they encounter the design?
  • Memorable - When users return to the design after a period of not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
  • Efficient - Once users have learned the design, how quickly can they perform tasks?
  • Effective - Does the tool help get work done better, faster, cheaper?
  • Error-tolerant - How many errors do users make, how severe are these errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
  • Enjoyable - Above all else, does the solution provide an enjoyable user experience?

At PIEmatrix we no first hand that if it's not friendly, it will not be used. That's why we work hard to continuously improve the user experience.

In summary, reducing your user acceptance death gap will have a huge impact on realizing your return on investment for all of your enterprise software solutions and tools. The next time you purchase a new tool, ensure you pick the friendliest design possible, provide the best training, and identify and share personal value.