via Putting the Car Before the Horse When it Comes to IT – Forbes.
No matter how much money you throw at a project, if the people don’t support it, it won’t be successful. Thus, the most important metric to gauge the success of a new implementation isn’t TCO or ROI, it’s adoption. The organization has a responsibility for helping people understand how to use the system, to learn something new, and to realize that everyone has greater value beyond what they’ve always done.
Microsoft wrote this specifically aimed at IT departments, and organizations implementing new systems, I think it is an important message for software vendors as well. The other day we posted about the slow adoption rate of IT created apps, but this is a problem we have seen since we first started working in software years ago.
The worst offenders are top down “mandated” systems, often put in place to enforce a policy or limit the ability of the employee to make judgement calls. As software vendors, if we want our products to be successful we have to find ways to encourage people to use and benefit from our software. This means several things:
1. We need to really understand how people work. If our software prevents people from getting their job done, they will find ways around it.
2. We need to provide a benefit that will make people’s work easier. Asking people to adopt a new software platform is asking them to make a change. People resist change, so to get people to change, we have to make an improvement.
3. We need to communicate the benefits (for the individual not the business) of our solution. It isn’t enough to make a product that has value, we have to paint a picture of how it makes the user’s life better.
4. We need to continuously communicate with our users and potential users and build a strong relationship. And a large part of that is to turn up the listening
5. We have to remember that people typically retain only a small portion of what they have learned, so repetition is required. People may not see the benefit, or realize that there is a better way to do their jobs right off the bat, and may have to hear the same message multiple times
Turning licensees into users and users into fan is one of the greatest challenges any software company faces, but the biggest differentiaters between successful and non successful products.