Posted by: datango AG | September 8, 2011

Securing user adoption without a safety net. Frightening…

I saw this video recently and it was one of those rare occasions where my heart skipped a beat when the gentleman slipped and I thought he was about to fall to his death (fortunately, on closer inspection, you’ll see the safety rope he has attached to the wire and himself – I guess he’s not such a daredevil after all…). But there’s a lesson here that corresponds directly to end user adoption strategies relating to application upgrades or implementations. How so? Let me try and explain…

When I meet with prospective clients, in particular for new application implementations, the focus is generally on ‘getting to a successful go-live’ (or perhaps 2-3 months thereafter). However, when we focus solely on getting to this ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ we forget that the light is really just the start of a different tunnel, albeit perhaps somewhat better illuminated.

Consider the fact that, according to AMR Research’s Jim Shepherd (now with Gartner), 50% of ERP users will ‘churn (change roles/leave/etc.) every 2 years. Add to this the fact that the system itself will likely evolve, and we’re left with a series of ‘tunnels’ that persist throughout the application’s entire lifecycle. In essence, when we contemplate that the user adoption ‘problem’ will be solved by go-live, we’re really walking a tightrope without a safety net and the likelihood that we will fall increases exponentially from go-live onwards. (Did I reach my daily metaphor quota yet?)

“That’s great hyperbole, but what does a safety net for my ERP/CRM end user community look like?” I hear you cry. Well, today, it probably looks a lot like your power users, floor walkers, IT help desk, user manuals, job aides, system help menu or, possibly, self-service help portal. And lets be clear, these are all great resources – but your ‘people-based’ help systems are likely your most expensive user training delivery vehicle and even the most helpful materials, when located more than a click away, will rarely be embraced by your users. So your ‘safety net’ is likely highly inefficient or not effective when needed – and neither are optimal scenarios.

The solution? Simply put, it has to be easier to obtain assistance than picking up a phone, asking a colleague or searching for information. It has to be user, context and task/transaction-aware so that the right information is presented immediately the user is in difficulty. In short, it’s just got to be there when needed and respond quickly to prevent as much ‘damage’ as possible.

So, with that in mind, does your end user adoption strategy have a safety net? How does is stack up to the requirements detailed above? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.



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