Understanding user needs to build a plan for change management
It is no secret that effective digital transformation requires more than just a successful implementation or migration. Realizing real business value from both new and existing technology requires that users adopt new ways of working. Without strong adoption it is difficult, if not impossible, to realize the full value of your technology investments.
When examining the state of cloud-driven transformation, Harvard Business Review observed “Many companies are at an inflection point. As they hasten to increase their cloud adoption, they should take time to reassess their approaches and build the capabilities necessary to reap the full benefits of their cloud investments.”
Let’s explore 4 key elements to ensure both strong user adoption and successful value realization.
#1 Focus on people
The first and most important ingredient for strong adoption is to focus on user needs. In addition to technical goals, you should prioritize ensuring that users understand the value of the technology and how to use it.
According to the Gartner® research report, User Technology Adoption Readiness Index Helps Target Organizations Ready for Digital Transformation, “users can and do make decisions about how to adopt new software based on their attitudes and experiences[i],” underscoring that enablement alone may not be enough to ensure strong adoption.
To ensure widespread and successful utilization, it is also essential to bridge the gap between the technical capabilities of the solution and users’ specific needs:
- How does the technology support users in working more efficiently, or with less room for error?
- What processes does it streamline?
- What new challenges might it create?
#2 Emphasize communication
Focusing on users requires a parallel emphasis on communication. Simply understanding the benefits of technology at an organizational or business unit level may not be enough to motivate users to embrace the change. Users must be able to see the value of the solution in terms of their own deliverables and goals – the what’s in it for me factor. In the research report, Cultivate the Voice of the User to Generate High-Value Adoption of Software Products, Gartner warns that “users share their positive or negative opinions of software with their peers, sometimes starting a chain reaction that decreases overall usage[ii].”
It is also essential to ensure that the right message is delivered to the right people. Key features and benefits that need highlighting may differ from one part of the business to another. However, clear and open communication can preemptively address questions, reinforcing the unique ways digital transformation benefits different parts of the business and different individuals.
#3 Address the impact of change
It is important to keep in mind that even when its impacts are positive, change often creates resistance. Sixty-three percent of executives surveyed by Harvard Business Review ranked cultural challenges as the biggest impediment to transformation efforts.
Gartner research suggests that where cloud transformation initiatives are not delivering the expected results, “gaps between cloud initiatives and business results are often pointers to cloud adoption challenges that need attention[iii].” This makes it imperative to go beyond training on tools and features, to address change resistance itself by highlighting the value these tools bring to users.
#4 Target adoption efforts
Adoption is always specific to a particular product, user group, or use case. A single digital transformation initiative may introduce a bundle of new or modernized technologies, only to see some tools widely embraced while others are minimally utilized. Ensuring strong adoption depends on delivering the right messages to the right audiences to show the value of each tool. User training is more valuable if paired with targeted engagement initiatives to highlight how technologies support existing business needs. When it comes to digital transformation, adoption is not icing on the cake, but a fundamental ingredient.