New technology can help propel both productivity and efficiency within the workplace, but what happens if employees are reluctant to learn and adopt it?
In order to be effective, new technology needs to be adopted and used by all members of a company. To achieve this, user adoption initiatives must be taken from initial vendor selection all the way through the implementation process, training, and final sign off.
How can the employer make user adoption as easy and painless and effective as possible?
Employees and managers alike should be involved in every step of technology selection and providing constant feedback throughout the process.
Users must find the technology easy to use and intuitive, or be amicable towards training and changing their work practices.
Users must be incentivized to use the new technology and realize a benefit in doing so.
It all starts at vendor selection.
Management is more than capable of crunching the numbers and calculating the ROI, the labor reduction, and the cost savings connected with new technology options, but the caveat is that if employees don’t use it, little financial benefit may be realized. In fact, costs may go up if there is insufficient user adoption. For example, many employees might continue with their old practices so that their work has to be re-entered into the new system in order for management to obtain complete reports or to make business decisions. This is one reason why including users from all areas of a company, starting with making a prospective vendor list, can be critical.
Which users should you select to be part of the process, starting with vendor selection? In many cases it is clear which employees are the power users and influencers of the legacy system in place. They know intimately what works and what does not, and often what can be done to improve old processes. They often lead their teams when new technology or methods are put into place. For these individuals, winning their buy-in means winning the buy-ins of everyone else. They should have input into which vendors will be considered so that whichever is ultimately implemented has been vetted and accepted by them. This way, the users themselves take ownership. If they help choose it, they will likely find the selected system beneficial to doing their jobs better and more efficiently. They will be willing to train to fill any performance gaps.
The user must find a benefit in adopting the selected technology.
Including users in selecting new technology helps a company assure that it is keeping its employees happy with change. Putting new technology in place is often a major change and it is only human to resist it. Employees need to see a direct benefit from changing their old practices and to be committed to buying into new ways of doing their work. New technology needs to be both functional and user-friendly, and finding the right balance between the two can often be difficult. Employees will appreciate an intuitive and accessible system, something that doesn’t cause them to get frustrated after a week-long training session. They will be able to tell you what they believe the best options are, what works for them, what will save the most time, and what will ultimately allow them to do their jobs better than ever before. In some cases, the best technology choice might not be the easiest to use. It may require training. But when employees recognize how training is worth the results to their future productivity, they will be motivated to work hard at learning and adopting the new system.
The user must ultimately train with the new system, be incentivized to use it, and adopt it.
After choosing the perfect system or software, and implementing it, the next step is to truly achieve full user adoption. This is often where training is the critical piece. Even with complete buy-in from the users for a selected vendor, often only an exhaustive training approach will lead to full and effective user adoption. Management must be actively involved with both the vendor and employees through the training process. Here, as discussed above, user feedback is vital. Is the training going well? What are the points of frustration? Are the users finding that the new system is helpful towards doing their jobs more efficiently? Do they see the value in the company’s use of the new system? In some cases, it may be helpful to provide additional resources to users who have more difficult learning curves. Oftentimes, one-on-one training is helpful, either through the vendor or through co-workers who have a more intuitive understanding of the new system in place. Online training videos may be helpful supplements. Ultimately, communication is vital.
During the user adoption process, incentives can be very helpful. What incentivizes an employee? In each case it may be different. Some may be encouraged by financial motivators, while others may find time off more of an incentive. Remember that transition takes time, so rigid expectations and timeframes may not be as motivating as rewards and patience. Ultimately, flexibility and communication are key.