User adoption tips: how to get your team to love your tools

Collaboration is a key to the future of business. As of today, though, most businesses are failing to take advantage. As collaboration became buzzier, it became another box to tick, another philosophy paid lip service to on “About Us” pages. It’s little wonder, then, that Gartner estimates that 80% of current social business initiatives will fail.

Our own research indicates that there are several key factors and user adoption tips that will help ensure long-term success when you deploy Central Desktop, including:

  • Understanding the urgency (why are we doing this now?)
  • Involving users early in the process
  • Securing strong executive support
  • Documenting your processes (including the processes you are hoping to replace)

But don’t take our word for it. At this year’s Collabosphere, ScottMadden’s Karen Hilton (partner) and Mike Christopher (senior research analyst) gave a compelling presentation titled “Making it Stick: How to Get Teams to Really Love the System.”

ScottMadden implemented Central Desktop way back in the halcyon days of October 2012, replacing a homegrown database focused around document management, but not located in the cloud and not featuring collaborative capabilities. In their first year, they found a lot of ways to increase engagement and adoption. Here are a few of their user adoption tips.

Give your solution a name

Right away, they took some advice from another Central Desktop customer, FSG’s Carl Frappaolo, and personified their tool; internally, then, they refer to Central Desktop as “SID,” short for ScottMadden’s Information Destination (we love hearing about the different names and faces we’re given). Employees talk about the balding, cigar-smoking SID like he’s one of their coworkers.

Identify your power users

“It quickly became clear to us that there were some people that were early adopters and were very excited about the tool, so we’ve engaged them formally,” said Hilton. This group of power users is a cross-section from the firm that includes junior members. They come together to give feedback, to think about new ways to use the tool and to help develop best practices.

Proactively solicit feedback

Hilton and her team received a lot of positive feedback after their implementation,but knew there was still room for improvement and deeper collaboration. Six months after implementation, they launched an internal survey and assembled a focus group. The survey dug into the specifics of ScottMadden’s use cases, asked users to rate various features, provided space for open comments and specifically sought to identify reasons that non-adopters were reluctant to use the system. Sometimes it’s not enough to just say you have an open door for feedback; be proactive about learning how your team is progressing.

Take action on the feedback

The survey revealed that the biggest user issue was related to skills and confidence; a user may be slow to collaborate, for instance, due to a simple lack of confidence in how notifications work (i.e. not wanting to leave a comment on a document for fear of blasting a notification to the entire company). Some basic additional training can help eliminate those kinds of obstacles; Hilton and Christopher enlisted their power users to lead those training efforts. They incorporated mini-sessions in pre-existing all-hands meetings and showcased innovative “case studies” of how SID was being used around the company.

Lead by example; push usage from the highest level

Christopher worked with key stakeholders to ensure that they were using the system – and, thus, those stakeholders (all the way up to the partner level) were sending notifications, documents and calendar updates from the system, helping slower adopters get acclimated to SID. Executive support is vital.

Turn today’s new hires into tomorrow’s new power users

Before new hires even show up at the office for their first day of work, they’re given a chance to spend time with SID. ScottMadden takes advantage of their external licenses to grant access to these new users; they can get into a workspace and see all the documents they need for their training day, as well as start to get to know and collaborate with their soon-to-be colleagues.

To learn more details about how ScottMadden boosts engagement and maintains the quality of their platform, you can watch the full session below and download Karen and Mike’s presentation.

Check out our full Collabosphere page for many other fascinating talks and sessions, featuring leading brands and agencies like CBS, Pinkberry and RAPP, as well as a keynote address on the future of work by best-selling author and collaboration expert Jacob Morgan.

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.