Whether you’re solving this because you’re selling the software and you want to get used by a customer, or you’re wanting to get your own company to adopt and use a new software solution, you’ll know it’s not easy and the stakes are high. You’re either looking at Churn or wasted licenses, time and opportunity.
For the sake of this post let’s take the latter – software you’re going to use internally, but recognize the lessons can be used if you’re the software vendor as well.
So let’s jump in.
You believe software you’ve found has the potential to improve or even revolutionize the way the company and each department works.
Let’s take the example of ZOKRI, an OKR platform the whole company can use to help you grow faster. But it could easily be HR software like Bamboo, a communications tool like Slack, or a multi-departmental tool like JIRA.
You’re keen to roll it out and start seeing significant results within your business. Getting your teams onboard, engaged and using it is a no-brainer.
5 Reasons For Failed Adoption
Well, perhaps that’s easier said than done – your teams might be:
- Deeply engaged with current Tech
- Enthused in using their current software
- Too busy to train and adopt new tools
- Overwhelmed with the amount of software they use
- Skeptical about the benefits of new Tech
They’re creatures of habit and change can be a big factor for departments. Their chosen software is an extension to the team and changes can alter the dynamic. Software acts like an additional digital employee who aids them with meetings, task management, OKRs and a multitude of jobs that affect every day working life for all departments.
In the eyes of your teams, adopting new Tech means more work added to their busy schedule – hence why accepting new tools and software is often met with a frosty response. It would be like saying farewell to a trusted team member and have them replaced with a stranger who they haven’t met or don’t know anything about.
5 Ways To Achieve Software Adoption Success
Here are 5 steps for SaaS leaders to consider when introducing new technology to employees – and most importantly – for them to adopt it, use it and start generating results.
1. Ensure the new software has a big job to do
The success of Technology adoption begins with the software itself and the valid reasons for selecting it for your company. Ask these questions:
- What job is the software there to do?
- What are the benefits of having this job done?
- What pain points get resolved thanks to this product?
- What resources from each team will be needed to roll this out successfully?
Make sure you can describe and pitch the answers well. The bigger and more important the job and the stronger your sell, the better and easier adoption will be.
2. User Experience is massively important
An underlying and important factor here is user friendliness and user experience. An almost certain way for your workforce to stall or avoid new software adoption is the potential promise of multiple training days eating away at their busy schedule.
“When you’re shopping around for a new technology – be it a CRM program or software to better manage employee timesheets – bear your team’s interests in mind. Functionality is critical, but so is user-friendliness. Technologies that require multi-day training programs and hefty user manuals are a surefire recipe for employee bellyaching and a stalled adoption. – Rebecca Knight, Harvard Business Review
As understandable as this is – some software will of course require training to ensure teams achieve optimal output. But functionality shouldn’t be put over the user experience.
Don’t create extra work for your departments. Don’t give them headaches. Don’t make them think – but instead make them feel. Get them to trust the new product – not resent using it.
Understanding what’s involved in the adoption of a new piece of software, how it compares to the current software used and how it will ease pain points will help to develop an adoption process.
3. Launches need to be planned
This can’t be a one-day affair. The launch or rollout needs to be thought about and planned. This is vital to ensure the adoption of the new Tech is as smooth and accepted as possible by your teams.
You need to know when the new Tech is ready to rollout. When is the deadline for all employees to make the switch? Decide when the current tool will become obsolete.
All at once or in stages?
Decide if your new software will be used by all employees at the same time or rolled out gradually to specific teams to strategically generate trust in the product as proof for teams who might otherwise be skeptical of change. The latter may receive specialized training who can pass newly gained knowledge on to other departments internally.
Will employees be recognized for their acceptance of new Tech? Will some be punished for failing to take on the new tool? There will always be early adopters and then people who join the party a little later on – so consider creating milestones and stick to your deadlines.
“Deploy your solution in phases, and start with the people or departments you know are most likely to adopt and succeed with the software. Select people who are visible and carry influence inside the organization and, before you go broad, pour all your resources into making these early adopters wildly successful. They will be your references and internal case studies when you move forward to subsequent phases of deployment.” – Eric Savitz, Forbes
Build an aura around the new Tech. Generate a buzz. Plan an actual launch event where all employees take the afternoon off, or get them to video call in if you have a remote team.
Be inspired by the late great Steve Jobs and deliver a speech on why/how/where this software will impact the business, and of course invite other SaaS leaders to express real-life examples of how the new Tech has made work life easier, better or more insightful.
4. Training your way
Training mustn’t be a burden or a hardship. Make it engaging, and again, make them feel something. You want them to feel as happy with the new software as they have been with their previous Tech tool.
To ensure a streamlined rollout with minimal confusion, frustration and loss of productivity you must understand the Four Ms.
These four points will make a big difference in the speed and success of adoption to new software.
Modality. High-touch and low-touch
Everyone is different and have preferred ways of learning. This means your people require different learning paths in order to become experts in achieving the goals of your new software acquisition.
Which you choose or have available depends on the vendor, what you want to achieve and its complexity, and the time your people have available. For example, getting large numbers of people in a room is often hard to do.
High-touch, two-way and the most flexible type of learning is on-site or screen based learning e.g. Zoom. Here you can deliver training, with recipients asking questions. There is also the benefit of the development of a customer / vendor relationship. This is also the most expensive and time consuming.
Lower-touch, pre-recorded video for those that like to see and hear to learn. And the written knowledge bases with Q & A and screen grabs.
The lowest-touch is User Guiding. Using in-platform technology like Pendo, users can be shown how, with a chat bot + human on stand-by to ensure they succeeded.
Some training is hard to digest in one go, so consider Micro-learning. Here you break up training into smaller, more digestible experiences with a clear and focused learning outcome. This also enables employees to learn at their own pace.
How many times have you turned to YouTube for an answer to a very specific problem? Let’s take Excel as an example. You would never consider reading an entire manual on complex Excel functions and features to solve a small query you have – you’re busy, you want an answer now!
Consider that feeling when thinking about your workforce adopting new Tech. Perhaps some departments will only focus on one section of the new software. It’s a waste of productivity time for them to learn functions they would never use – doing this would make them resent the training and in turn resent using the software.
Take a look at your Marketing team right now – think about the strategies they are using to tell the story of your business. You’ve decided that this new software is best for business, so that story must be shared. Enlisting multiple department heads to provide input adds credibility.
Skeptical employees will always want to know exactly what is in it for them – after all, they want to do their jobs well and finding that balance between completing tasks and training can be difficult.
Make employees feel like they’re part of the solution and their needs were taken into consideration, they are much more likely to give their best effort. Communicate clearly why the new rollout and the training that comes with it are so important.
If you have laid out milestones, consider rewarding those who have already fully adopted the software. Incentives will certainly encourage the early adopters to continue usage and in turn will convince the skeptics to make the switch.
Proactive maintenance and support of the new software closes the loop on a successful rollout. The ability to immediately retain new information varies from person to person.
Consider developing a self-service knowledge base – a tool for employees to refresh their skills. This base is where those micro-learning assets come into play; your staff can access them on demand to stay productive without requiring external assistance.
5. The Follow-up
“A final step for the successful introduction of new technology into an organization is to perform an evaluation of its performance once installed. There may be actual problems with the way the technology works, or there may be perceived problems for some users. An evaluation identifies both types of problems.” – Bert Markgraf, Chron Magazine
The launch/rollout is never complete. It’s important to evaluate and get feedback even if your teams have fully adopted the new software. A post launch follow-up will help identify individuals whose training was insufficient or incomplete and will help when training new starters.
Be open to employee feedback and prove that you’re willing to act on their suggestions. Employees who feel that their concerns are heard and respected will ultimately be happier and more engaged with new software than those who feel they aren’t valued throughout the adoption process.
To conclude this blog post, here’s a checklist for SaaS leaders to follow when introducing new technology to your company:
- Outline what you need the new tool to do
- Define who/what/where the software will be used
- Communicate early and often about the benefits of the new technology to avoid paranoia
- Choose influences in your company to become early adopters
- Be ready for resistance
- Customize the launch and training to be a fun/social activity – not a dread
- Encourage feedback
Have you already rolled out new technology to a team who were resistant? Was this software specifically OKR software? How did you overcome the struggles? Will you be following the steps outlined here? Or do you have any advice to better the steps within this blog post? Please comment and share your valued knowledge here.