Change management and measuring user adoption
With any technology implementation, as you race towards go live momentum is often at a peak. But how do you maintain this energy when the project is finished? As part of your role as the change sponsor, in the lead-up to this point ideally you will have implemented a solid change management strategy to prepare your employees for the changes that have arrived.
However, just because your new change has been implemented, your role in ensuring user adoption is sustained over time is far from complete. Now that the post-go live phase of the project has arrived, a new set of change considerations need to be addressed to ensure your users adopt this new implementation.
Measuring and managing user adoption is an ongoing process in order to ensure users don’t revert back to old habits, and help to determine the overall success of a project. There is a well-known adage that says, ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’, and this applies to the user adoption side of any project involving a change to the way people do things.
When measuring user adoption, there are several questions to consider:
What will success actually look like?
It’s important to define what success will look like for your organisation, and set some key change objectives that you can measure against over time to track your progress. Look forward six months after go live. What needs to have changed in the way your teams work today in order for you to be realising your business benefits? Ideally change objectives should be defined before your project even begins, and will provide both a good foundation for defining a strong change strategy to drive user adoption from day one, but also provide perspective for other activities such as process definition or system requirements.
As an example, a functional requirement of a project may be to implement a customer relationship management (CRM) system that allows employees to track client emails with a single mouse-click. As this change objective focuses on people, our change requirement would be to have employees tracking all client email correspondence in a single location.
What are the behaviours that need to change?
Once your new system or process has gone live, users will need to move to a new way of the doing things; a project implementation alone may not achieve this. This is why understanding the behaviour changes required of your people to make the shift will be key to the success of your project, as without the right level of awareness, guidance and support they may not change their behaviour – as the saying goes “old habits die hard”.
A key behaviour change associated with our example of tracking client emails would be for employees to ensure all client correspondence is set to be tracked prior to sending. An important point to remember is that users will not be forced to complete this as a mandatory step by their email client, so unless they make a conscious decision to change their behaviour there is nothing stopping them from continuing with the current process, which in turn reduces your benefits.
When and how often will you measure the change?
Setting time-based targets for user adoption is important, as it provides you with a long-term view of the sustainability of your change. While it’s important to measure the rate of user adoption at go live, setting regular follow-up activities to measure how user adoption is tracking allows you to identify trends early and, if adoption is falling, be able to respond quickly with follow-up activities, such as extra training or support.
To measure the use of CRM to track client correspondence, you may decide to measure adoption each month after go-live, setting a target measure for each timeframe. For example, at go live you may be measuring for 70% of system users to be tracking their customer emails, that will increase by 10% to a final target of 100% adoption after three months.
How are you going to measure the change?
Once you’ve decided how often you will measure, you need to determine what data you will measure. Often we only consider quantitative measures, hard data such as computer-generated reports, page hits and other statistics telling you how users are engaging with the system. However it is also important to consider soft data, as it provides you with a holistic picture of the success of your change. Soft data is largely anecdotal and less straightforward to quantify, and can include feedback surveys, information sessions with stakeholders and informal conversations with system users.
For example, hard data from CRM may show that users are logging in to the new system every day; however it won’t provide an insight, such as users being confused about how to set emails to be tracked. That would be gained via a feedback survey or conversation with a user.
Let’s summarise our user adoption measure example below:
Change objective: Employees to track all client emails in a single source of truth
Behaviour change: Client emails must have tracking set against the client in CRM prior to being sent
Measurement: 70% of all client emails tracked in CRM at go-live, increasing by 10% each month
Validation (hard): CRM user login & email tracking statistics
Validation (soft): user feedback survey, user conversations
Have you set up a feedback loop?
While it is important throughout the change to seek continual feedback from stakeholders, it is also important to ensure those providing the feedback know that they are being listened to and their suggestions and concerns have, where practicable, been acted upon. When stakeholders feel that voicing their feedback will produce results, they are more likely to provide you with ongoing feedback and be an advocate for the change. A strong feedback loop improves your ability to measure the change, and gives you the opportunity to stop small problems becoming larger issues down the track.
As a change sponsor, naturally one of your primary goals is to deliver a strong return on your organisation’s technology investments. By running a sound user adoption measurement strategy you will increase your chances of delivering on your business benefits sooner.
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