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Custom enterprise solutions can solve problems off-the-shelf software can’t, but only if people actually use them. User adoption presents challenges anytime you introduce new technology to an organization, but it’s particularly challenging for custom-built enterprise applications. You’ve invested the time and money into building a solution but will never see a return on your investment if your users fail to adopt the application. So how can you increase your odds of being a successful adoption? In this post, we’re highlighting the top challenges with enterprise application adoption and how to avoid them:
Custom enterprise applications are built around a set of unique cases not met by existing solutions. The challenge in documenting these cases and translating them to requirements for your application is that each user is not the same. Different teams or departments inside an organization may function differently. If your application isn’t aligned with the way people do their work, you’ll experience problems with adoption. Users will be reluctant to adopt an application if they think it makes their work cumbersome.
To avoid a mismatch between how you’ve designed your application and how it will be used, you should collect user feedback before, during, and after the project development process. Don’t rely on one person’s view of how processes work or what’s needed. Collect feedback from a wide range of users to build an application that seamlessly fits in with their workflow.
The quality and effectiveness of your training will significantly influence your adoption rate. With off-the-shelf applications, trainers can rely on existing training materials from the vendor or the training library of their implementation partner. With a custom application, you’re starting from scratch.
To build an effective training program, consider integrating more digital tools into your training experience. Traditional classroom training is often the most ineffective and expensive. Users forget 70 per cent of what they learn in a classroom training session within 24 hours.
Consider using a digital adoption solution instead. A growing category of SaaS software, digital adoption platforms can decrease training time and increase adoption rates. These tools show users how to use new software with on-screen guidance and contextual help. With a digital adoption solution, users can learn at their own pace while working in the program.
Training often receives a lot of attention at the launch of a new application, but not much after. Not planning for how to onboard new users can lead to a failed adoption. Every organization will face some level of turnover. If the people you trained at launch leave, how will you make sure their replacements utilize your application? Don’t rely on new hires’ peers to train them. In the absence of a formal user onboarding program, your process and application training turn into a children’s game of telephone. The message gets slightly distorted each time it’s passed on to a new user.
Document your processes and plan for how to onboard new users to your application. Consider using an onboarding checklist to make sure that all users are operating from the same knowledge and expectations of how to use the application.
The biggest enterprise adoption challenge may be how to track and measure your success. You may have analytics on how frequently users log in to the system, but logging in and completing your work are two different things. How do you know if someone is using your application and using it well? In addition to tracking individual user success, how do you measure your overall adoption rate?
Make analytics a priority when developing custom applications. Items to consider tracking include:
If you’re unsure of where to start, consider looking at marketing and eCommerce sites. They’re constantly tracking their conversion rates and optimizing. How many people signed up for this email list? Why are users abandoning their carts before checking out? Your custom application isn’t that different from an eCommerce transaction. The workflow for an eCommerce is a user finds an item, adds it to their cart and checkouts. It’s a three-step process. The site tracks everything from what a user searched to which buttons they clicked along the way. Break your workflows into steps and track how your users are completing the process. What’s your conversion rate? Are your users finishing the workflows? This level of tracking helps you measure how easily users are adopting your application and how well the application is solving your business challenges.
Change isn’t easy. As humans, users are naturally resistant to change. To successfully adopt a new enterprise application, you’ll need a change management plan to overcome users’ hesitations. Consider the challenges we’ve covered in this post when building your overall change management strategy. Knowing what you could face should help avoid an adoption disaster. Keep in mind that a good development partner can also be a key success factor in preparing for new adoptions.
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