By Maddy Watchmaker
When implementing a new system, the technology can be the easy part. What takes more time and effort is for users to understand and fully adopt a new tool. The goal is for the system to be deeply ingrained in your organization's business processes and utilized for optimal effectiveness.
The following steps can significantly increase your rate of user adoption:
#1: Engage users early in design
Include both end users and leaders in the earliest stages of the project. Consider user surveys, ideation sessions and end user job shadowing. This kind of involvement not only helps your stakeholders feel heard and valued, but it helps to design an effective system that will truly make people’s jobs easier.
Ask your implementation partner about a change management plan. They can help develop a people-centered approach that gives your users the time and tools they need to work through change and adopt it for the good of the organization.
#2: Build awareness and establish expectations
Keep users informed of launch plans and help them understand their role in supporting change. Provide a clear timeline for go-live and a cutover date when users will no longer have access to the historical system. This gives people mental and tactical time to prepare.
Communicate expectations and set accountability standards. Establish KPIs for training and usage, varying by role and department. (See also #9.)
#3: Provide training before and after go-live
System training is an essential part of any launch. For the best results, tailor your training to specific user groups. Training in small teams helps you address unique user needs and roles, so you can provide the most practical, relevant information for each group.
A one-size-fits-all training program will be too much for some, and not enough for others. If you’ve identified resistors or users most likely to struggle, consider one-on-one training for those individuals.
When developing a training plan, incorporate options that appeal to all kinds of learners. Live trainings, videos and webinars can be good for visual and auditory learners. Others learn better through reading or hands-on tutorials.
Provide easy access to a training library and thorough documentation on the more complex tasks and processes within the system. Test environments can also be set up to provide hands-on practice. Laminated reference sheets are also helpful as users are learning new tasks.
#4: Show users how to make it their own
Encourage users to personalize the system. Introduce them to customized dashboards, page pins, and other ways to tailor the system to meet their individual needs and work preferences. Show them how they can see what they want to see, how they want to see it.
#5: Foster internal collaboration
You can advance user adoption by building internal collaboration practices. Identify a team of “power users,” for example, who will lead internal trainings and be a resource for users.
Organize monthly or quarterly meetings to provide training, reminders and user tips. And update onboarding processes to incorporate user training for all new hires.
Secure role models and advocates from your C-suite leaders, mid-level managers and frontline supervisors, too. Help leaders understand their role in driving change.
#6: Position IT to support end users
Help end users get their questions answered. One way to do this is through an internal help desk. Or, designate power users and allocate some of their work time toward supporting colleagues.
IT ticketing systems provide an organized way for users to report bugs and breaks. Make it easy for users to bring these to your attention and get them resolved quickly. Reliability = trust = adoption.
Remember support for your system administrators, too. Provide resources (such as an ongoing support agreement with your system partner) they can turn to when they have questions and requests.
#7: Empower system administrators
Lay the groundwork so system administrators can do basic/frequently needed tasks on their own (e.g., user setup, light configuration changes).
You can support system administrators by connecting them to D365 user groups and other online resources. These groups provide peer support for problem solving and innovation.
Enable system administrators to attend conferences and training seminars (even if just as virtual sessions). These events are an opportunity to preview new features and gain familiarity with fresh possibilities available in the Microsoft ecosystem.
#8: Practice data hygiene
Users are more likely to use the system when they trust the data it provides. For new deployments, make time to clean your data. Migrate only relevant, useful information. Then, help keep things clean with tools to standardize, dedupe and verify data input.
#9: Identify their WIIFM
Users may not be excited about having to adopt new tools and processes. Help them understand why the organization is implementing the system and how it can benefit their own performance. Identify WIIFMs (what’s-in-it-for-me) and incentives for various user groups.
For example, you could pull reports of a user’s individual adoption in order to demonstrate positive contributions to the organization during performance reviews. Sales professionals may value tools that report win/loss ratios, win/loss rationale and revenue at both the individual and business unit level.
#10: Partner for success
Find a system partner who will provide support through an ongoing services agreement. This puts your organization on a predictable cycle for maintenance costs. Managed services packages typically include supported upgrades, data hygiene management, system enhancements and break-fix support.
You’ll also get the opportunity for monthly status calls (to keep your new technology investment top of mind) and road mapping meetings to facilitate long-term thinking.
Wipfli is a Microsoft Gold Partner offering full implementation, change management and support for Microsoft D365. Please reach out for more information on our Microsoft Dynamics services.