6 Practical Steps for Executing a Successful User Adoption Strategy

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Enabling user adoption of new technologies and processes can be one of the most challenging obstacles to growth in today’s fast-paced businesses.

In The Economist Intelligence Unit report from 2019 on corporate growth, 750 executives across multiple industries identified the challenges they face. One of the primary ones identified was, “technology skills among employees.”

From that same report, 6 out of 10 executives also believe they will increase the adoption rate of technology in the next five years. Why? The report found that executives feel technology is a key element in business growth, efficiency gains, cost reduction and providing better service.

Consequently, there’s a lot at stake and tons of pressure to get user adoption and enablement right. Here are some time-tested steps for doing just that:

1. Using Proactive vs. Reactive Problem Identification

For digital transformation leaders with user adoption challenges, there’s no worse place to be than knowing you have multiple initiatives that “should have been done yesterday.” But that’s exactly where many are at. Translating anticipated headcount growth, shifts in product direction, sales region expansion and other major business changes into adoption and enablement needs is critical before they become stumbling blocks to broader business execution.

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2. Driving Alignment and Proper Timing

In addition to translating business changes into your organization’s digital adoption and enablement needs, it’s important to be part of the conversations around business change earlier. You can’t understand the needs around adoption and enablement if you aren’t present. You also can’t voice your concerns around realistic timelines, needed resources or prioritization on a strategic level.

Your initiatives should always align with broader company goals and initiatives, as well as the timing for those initiatives. In like fashion, it’s important to have that same alignment with the stakeholders and those directly affected by your adoption and enablement efforts. Failure to get cross-company alignment up, down and laterally in a business can affect your ability to succeed.

3. Addressing User Adoption Pain

While you can have all the alignment in the world, you won’t get very far if your approach doesn’t address actual team and employee needs. Thinking through all the relevant teams, their processes and associated learning resources—as well as interviewing teams directly—can help what you implement to be effective.

So too will understanding what information and training is needed when. Onboarding, process change support and the management of resources like battlecards, playbooks, scripts and marketing collateral can all require different approaches.

Beyond this, it’s important to understand not just what “pulling your weight” means within a team, but what success looks like when your user adoption initiatives are launched, what the actual problem you are trying to solve is and what benchmarks are in place. Finally, it’s essential to understand what will motivate an individual on target teams to support the effort. What’s in it for them?

4. Conducting a Knowledge Audit

Once you understand needs and what success will look like, a content audit is in order. Tying all the pieces you find to the greater knowledge base, contextual learning and process support needed will help you to understand where you have gaps and what should be updated. It’s also important to step back here once you’ve tied those things together initially.

Is what you have valid, contextual and effective? What is the best way to deliver that knowledge and training? From here, you can identify resources for developing updated and new content, whether it be internal or external. You may also want to consider the time and effort needed to consume content. Is it worth it? Does it help the team do their job better and faster, or are you expecting the same approach you’ve used before to yield a better result?

5. Evaluating User Adoption Technology and Software

Before you get too far down the road, you may want to re-examine your learning and digital adoption technology. Are you working with centralized (or disparate) resources. Do you have a wiki, an LMS system, etc.? Are these tools going to cut it for driving your user adoption rate? Can you consolidate? Can you move faster by implementing more contextual learning?

Many companies find modern, lightweight user adoption software solutions help them develop learning faster, provide better just-in-time learning experiences to employees, and more effectively address the need to increase efficiency. This is done by enabling learning to be accessible within the flow of work (i.e. inside the applications you are trying to drive adoption and enablement).

By providing in-app guidance and accessible resources, coaching, and support, employees are able to quickly adopt new tools without the need to reference disparate training materials every time they get stuck. This “less is more” approach often produces better results with less effort by leveraging up-to-date technology.

User Adoption and Change Management
User Adoption and Change Management

6. Incorporating Communication and Ongoing Reinforcement

Finally, collaboration is not just important in identifying scope and defining success, but throughout the entire execution process. The worst thing that can happen a few months down the road is your effort being thought of as a “document graveyard.”

The learning associated with your adoption and change management efforts should be living, adaptable, easily updated-and most of all-relevant to your teams. While technology and approaches to learning can help, constant change management communication is essential. This goes beyond assessment, launch and a few follow ups to creating a persistent feedback loop within the learning itself, so it can be improved and remain relevant.

About the author

Elle Brayton
Director, Content & Communications
Elle is a boy momma 2x, brand builder, storyteller, growth hacker, and marketing leader with 12+ years of experience scaling SaaS B2B organizations.
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