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Improving User Adoption, a critical success factor

Guus Dorenbos, 05 juli 2023

User adoption refers to the process of users accepting and integrating new technology, software, or applications into their daily work routine. It involves users embracing and effectively using the new technology to achieve their goals and improve their productivity or performance.

User adoption is a critical factor in the success of any technology initiative, as even the best-designed and most feature-rich systems will fail if users do not adopt and use them effectively. Therefore, understanding user needs, providing training and support, and measuring and optimizing adoption over time are essential for achieving successful user adoption. The importance of user adoption has been recognized more and more by decision makers and responsible managers for cloud projects.

“Gartner Survey finds nearly half of customer service reps avoid adopting new technologies”

Gartner, January 2023

Poor user adoption can lead to failure of software initiatives, while effective change management, onboarding experiences, and user experience can significantly increase the chances of success. Interestingly the Gartner research found that access to legacy systems is also preventing users from adopting new technology. A fact we often see in our projects where sales reps rely on Outlook instead of a CRM application for planning their sales activities.

Not all users are equal

Although we speak of user adoption, we should not generalize all users. While some users may quickly become familiar with a new application, others may lag behind and struggle to adapt. Just as different groups of consumers adapt differently to new technology, there are also different groups of users.

Based on Everett Rogers (Diffusion of Innovations, 1995) the user adoption curve follows a predictable curve.

Change managers that are responsible for user adoption in an organization should be aware of different user adoption groups by utilizing the right measures and tools for different groups at the right time to accelerate user adoption. Some user groups require more training, other groups are active in contributing to application improvements so they are represented by key users linking business and IT.

user adoption curve
Change management accelerates the adoption process by facilitating and enabling users to adopt the new system faster resulting in higher adoption levels in a shorter period (dotted line).

5 key areas for successful user adoption

Successful user adoption of CX systems involves five key areas. They are closely related but may require different attention depending on the current state of user adoption.

  1. User Experience – The user experience is decisive for the implementation of a CRM system. An intuitive system that aligns with daily tasks, supports you in performing your role. By sharing experiences, progress can be made towards optimizing and identifying system issues.
  2. Knowledge and Skills – Being equipped to use the CRM system is important to experience the added value of a system.
  3. Leadership – Utilizing the CRM system as an organization and using it as a starting point in management or coordination. You complement each other in providing optimal support to achieve your goals.
  4. Communication and Culture – Improving user adoption cannot be achieved without a culture of transparency and clear communication. By facilitating platforms where users can be heard, keep up-to-date with the latest developments, and have space for feedback, a culture of open communication can be created that benefits user adoption.
  5. CRM System – The CRM functionality is tailored to the business needs. Besides system functionality, data consistency and reliability, system performance, availability and integration with other applications are important aspects.

The User Adoption Maturity Model

Using a User Adoption Maturity Model is very helpful to assess the current state of user adoption and to help organizations achieve their goals by improving their user adoption processes, increasing user satisfaction and maximizing the return on investment of their products or services. It provides a roadmap that organizations can use to assess their current state, identify gaps, and develop a plan for improvement.

Acorel developed a User Adoption Maturity Model that measures how well you perform on the mentioned five key areas and determines your overall user adoption maturity level. The User Adoption Maturity Model is a roadmap to guide you as you navigate through the five key areas. The required competencies help you to understand what you need to do to create a successful user adoption program, whereas the maturity model categorizes the level you’re doing them at.

After completing the Acorel User Adoption survey, you receive a personalized report, summarizing your performance on all five key areas and your achieved maturity level. You gain actionable insight on the five key areas and identify strengths and weaknesses of your user adoption program. In this way you get a better understanding of the current user adoption state and work from there to grow to a higher maturity level.

Growing and accelerating user adoption

Your personalized report is a starting point for the next steps such as:

Evaluate: Discuss the results of this report with relevant stakeholders involved in the use of the CRM system. Ensure that all stakeholders are aligned on the areas highlighted in this report and discuss this regularly over the next 6, 12, 24 months.

Plan: Create a plan to achieve and maintain progress in user adoption. Develop a roadmap with initiatives aimed at improving user adoption and set clear and measurable goals.

Execute: You do not have to focus on all areas of attention at once, so keep focus and prioritize. Implement the initiatives but ensure that these initiatives always contribute to achieving the objectives.

Monitor: Repeat this survey every 6 to 12 months. Involve the various stakeholders and user groups in this process. Compare progress and adjust where necessary. This is a continuous change process aimed at improving user adoption.

Currently we are in the phase of finalizing the Acorel User Adoption Maturity Assessment which will be available from our website soon.

Guus Dorenbos

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