User Adoption…or Lack Thereof

In Best Practices, Change Management, Project Management by Andy YangLeave a Comment

User adoption, or the lack thereof, can be a significant barrier to maximizing the full potential of a Salesforce system. Some might even say it is the most important requirement. Without user adoption, processes break, data is incomplete, and goals can not be achieved. 

One of the most common reasons companies come to us for help is to address slow adoption rates. Adoption issues can arise from many different root causes, including:

  • Poor technology implementation – it’s easiest to blame the technology but is often just a first-level excuse for something deeper
  • Organizational and process issues – lack of clarity on expectations is often the key reason for inconsistent adoption
  • Poor training – when people don’t feel comfortable using a system, the usual reaction is to stop using it, or more often, to not take the extra effort needed to make it a success
  • Lack of connection to a relevant business process/need – when end-users think a tool is only there for management, they may be answering the “what’s in it for me?” without the full picture

Invest the time, energy, and funds to ensure success. While we couldn’t hope to scratch the surface on the many strategies and tactics for successful user adoption, we do see a number of common best practices:

  • Make sure you line up executive sponsorship to push adoption. You may consider adding an executive session or a workshop to get leadership on board first. It is much easier when you can directly connect the project to key business drivers. These key business drivers may include recent initiatives that have political momentum. One common example of ‘connecting the dots’ is to use the ‘data consolidation’ argument. When all of the data is current and centralized, it gives the management team the possibility to have visibility into their business like never before. Visibility and transparency is but the first step – once you have that, you can start to create analytics that can turn data into insight. When you can organize and present the data in a way that directly ties to operational metrics, business KPI’s or progress towards a company initiative, that data becomes the central player.  
  • Understand and communicate the benefits to end-users. For example, improvements that come from a Salesforce project may increase efficiency so that the direct benefit to the end-user is that they can focus on higher value work rather than rote work (and have at the ready what they should focus on with their new spare time). In the past they may have received reports monthly after a large spreadsheet exercise that was manually intensive and error prone. Imagine being able to have these reports be automatically accessible in seconds via a one-stop-shop dashboard.  An even better step is to have these reports not only be retrievable but to have them sent to their inbox every morning.  Another example might be that the project may improve scale so that all leads or all cases are automatically tracked.   In this case, nothing falls through the cracks like in the old system, decreasing human error so that quality control metrics can be met and the team can get their bonuses. Consider a ‘change management’ session to get people excited that they are moving to the cloud, and tie it directly to the benefits to the end-user.
  • Communicate early and often, so that the plan is well ingrained and confusion is minimized. Communicate weeks, or even months in advance – and have an hour-by-hour plan for the day of Go-Live so that no one has a moment where they feel they aren’t in control.  Consider workshops to help educate the team on the benefits.  One customer we worked with had end-users that had never worked ‘in the cloud’.  We held workshops that helped the team understand the basics (and benefits) of cloud applications and tied the benefits directly to how it would make the end-user’s day better.
  • Enforce the usage of Salesforce by orienting your business.  For instance, if organizationally the pipeline call is a key driving process for your sales organization, then drive the pipeline call using Salesforce reports. This can be a simple matter of going through the opportunities in the order they’re reported in Salesforce. End-users will always optimize the “game” provided to them. When bonuses are tied to measurable activities, team-members will welcome the ability to see where they stand through better reporting and through features of the system that help them achieve their goals.
  • Handhold your end-users. Provide a central resource with important links, quick reference guides, walk-through videos and other instructions to guide end-users through key flows.  Some customers have gone a step further, creating training and certification steps, along with “homework assignments” to help nudge end-users to get into the flow. We’ve even seen some customers hold internal office hours to support end-users.  Still others have mentorship programs that connect power users with beginners to give them guidance and support.  More proactive companies track usage data to identify trouble spots – for example, one company checked after the first week whether every person had inputted a lead or opportunity in the system.  For those who had not yet, they reached out to see if there were any usage questions.
  • Good design is key to a successful implementation as well. A well designed system is intuitive, efficient and enables people to be successful at their job.  As with any powerful system, Salesforce is highly flexible enabling multiple ways to accomplish any single business task. Use good user experience principles to ensure that the end-user is successful. 

Since adoption is centered around people, technology, and process, there are so many kinds of issues and respective solutions that would be appropriate that it’s impossible to exhaustively address them all in a single article.  If you’re feeling intrigued, drop us a line; we’d be happy to share our experiences with you to help you on your way.

Andy Yang is one of MondayCall’s co-founders.

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