Tips for ensuring user adoption rates worth singing about

After two months using Central Desktop, 65% of Ansira’s users were actively contributing users (and the number kept climbing steadily from there); the average in those first couple months is closer to 40-45%. How was Ansira able to exceed expectations?

Beth Lee, Ansira’s creative traffic manager, shared her eight critical user adoption tips with the audience at this year’s Collabosphere.

Getting ready

When you’re taking on new technology, you must have a clear vision of what you hope to accomplish – and then it’s important to share that vision with everyone who’s impacted. But don’t just hit the fast forward button. “It’s really important to know where you’ve been and where you are right now before you move forward,” Lee said. As we’ve heard from other customers, Lee recommended putting this process in writing; as you move forward, you’ll be able to refer to your document to make sure you’re meeting all of your original objectives – and will be able to see how far you’ve come from the headaches of the previous system. When sharing your vision, remember that informing and communicating are not necessarily the same thing.

“Communication is the key,” she said. “It’s not just getting out information, but communicating with and listening to your users.”

The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through. – Sydney J. Harris

This is also the time to get your leadership on board. Our internal research shows that strong executive buy-in results in 23% higher long-term adoption; it’s one of the most important of all the different factors that will boost your success.

The core team

“Of every software implementation I’ve been part of, the best ones have involved small teams,” Lee said. “Small teams with key people who know the process but might not be the expert in it. You want someone who knows who to go to for expert information, but experts can be too involved in the process to see the bigger picture.” Again, communication will help ensure commitment and shared vision. Don’t promise a magic bullet.

Show and tell

Once the time comes to introduce your tool to all of your users, you want build credibility by explaining the selection process and being clear about the reasons driving this change. Open communication does not mean democracy – or anarchy. You can welcome feedback while simultaneously discouraging second guessing.

“This is not a feedback session; it’s an informational session,” Lee said. “That’s a horrible loop that we got into the first time; we had a demo and all of a sudden we were flooded with feedback. So be clear upfront.”

Get some guinea pigs

“This was extremely helpful with our implementation: we started a pilot with some of our biggest accounts, which had an array of different project types,” Lee said. “We could work out all the kinks before we released it to the masses.” This is a good way to identify any potential snags, as well as a means to identify potential ambassadors who can help get their coworkers on board.

Put a fork in it!

“You could spend weeks testing and tweaking little things,” said Lee. “But I’d encourage you to draw a line in the sand and make a decision. And when you make that decision, it’s all or nothing.” Once Ansira launched Central Desktop, they shut off their old system. Cold turkey. Sink or swim. But prior to that, Lee and her team offered ample time and resources for users to choose “swim.” When they conducted training sessions, they were clear that the old system would no longer be an option.

Repeat, repeat, repeat

You’re going to be throwing a lot of information at your team. “The training sessions are like drinking from a fire hydrant,” Lee said. She recommends sprinkling in some mini-sessions that focus on the basics, and providing templates that can help serve as a roadmap (for example, a new project request template or an internal review proof template).

Communication central

As Lee’s team got deeper into Central Desktop, they created a workspace devoted to notes – which then evolved into a process training workspace, utilizing wiki and blog functionality. This workspace is now a hub for change management and knowledge management. As Lee was fielding questions post-launch, she started dropping them into an FAQ section. Ansira also now uses the space to communicate process tweaks and other news.

“Don’t reinvent the wheel,” she said. “I didn’t copy the Help Desk information from Central Desktop. This was all pertinent to our implementation, not just general knowledge.”

Post-training sessions

Monthly training sessions provide a means of reaching new users as well as taking a deeper dive into subjects of particular interest to Ansira users. And don’t forget about your guinea pigs! Routine check-ins with your pilot groups and your key stakeholders will help ensure you stay on track.

To learn more from Beth Lee, you can download her slides or watch the full session video below. For more tips and best practices related to user adoption and change management, check out these articles.

Post by Adam McKibbin

Adam McKibbin is the content marketing manager for iMeet Central. His writing has been featured in Adweek, the Chicago Tribune and The Nation, and he’s produced content for some of the leading tech brands on the Fortune 500.