Software Adoption Strategy — Everything You Should Know

Businesses naturally invest in their vision, and innovators are now looking toward enterprise software to allow them to achieve it. However, even some of the most well-intentioned projects will ultimately fall flat because of a failure to include a comprehensive organizational change management plan and software adoption strategy in the project plan. Implementing infrastructure can be a frightening idea for some; as it often results in process changes, department changes — and yes — even employee changes. This project pitfall is a leading reason for implementation and ROI generation failure. So why aren’t more project teams implementing these measures to begin with?

As leaders in the ERP & CRM selection and ERP & CRM implementation space, we are constantly researching and reviewing these cases to help companies can mitigate these risks. Not all projects are similar, however organizational unrest and poor software adoption strategy is often the culprit for failed projects and missed business opportunities.

Below are some of the fundamental software adoption strategy and change management tools and mechanisms that have been successfully helping our clients mitigate implementation and adoption risk…

How To Build A Software Adoption Strategy

Engage employees to identify the root causes for discontent.

We suggest our clients perform this due diligence prior, during, and following an ERP or CRM implementation project. It sounds simple, but is no-doubt a tedious process. With the proper guidance, a company can successfully collect this information and ensure any project aftershocks don’t evolve into a full-on rebellion.

One strategy is to hold an informal meeting, such as a breakout session or focus group. This is an avenue in which users are more apt to express job solutions. Involve only department users (i.e. accounting, sales personnel, engineers, etc.). Department managers should work only as a sounding board and determine if any cases or challenges pertain to specific jobs and processes that can be solved by enhanced business process modeling that can be better ingrained into the new use cases for the new software system. Flushing that information out early will determine if a department has the capacity for change, and is well-equipped for adoption of a new system.

After the system has been configured and mapped to processes, those implementing MUST walk high level users through the system. This gives users a chance to voice any discrepancies to the implementation team. They can then work with the steering committee to determine if those changes are feasible alterations that can be made; in terms of scope and risk.

After go-live, reflections are made and lessons are learned. The client can exercise the option to invest in a Continuous Improvement Plan [CIP]. This is an upfront investment each month that permits the project team to incessantly diminish risk within the system. This may involve keeping data clean, integrating new modules as needed, or simply edifying business users on fundamental elements.


Re-articulate the vision and goals

Help your staff understand why you decided to implement a new ERP system.

This is an obligation for those at the top, and should be a core responsibility of management. The new ERP system should work as the foundation for modernizing the business, and should foster avid growth.

Often we see users personalize procedures for retrieving data from the organization for their own use. A common pitfall of this practice is nonconformance and missed opportunities — largely depleting the healthiest of returns from an ERP or CRM investment. A major function of organizational change management is articulating the vision of the business — repeatedly. Management must be held accountable for using the mission of the business as a platform in their explanation for why the company will be better overall.


Acknowledge that change is uncomfortable.

Be transparent and let people know it’s OK to challenge themselves, and that everyone inside of the organization will be participating in this software adoption strategy.

Change is never easy; and is the primary reason all business leaders and senior sponsors must provide transparent communication. While the idea is to reorganize the company for the better, some users stress over the time adapting to quirks of the system. It is important for departments to understand timelines and project phases. If users simply believe an ERP implementation is a turnkey operation, it is unlikely they’ll adopt the system when it goes live. Effectively communicate that the project will be implemented in phases, is a sophisticated process, and the timeline is subject to change.

Be true to your strategy and process.

ERP implementations can be challenging for everyone involved. Reminders of the key reasons you’re business is implementing a new system is important — efficiency, growth, compliance or ease of use. Illuminating those outcomes can keep one’s head in the game, and fixed on spotting the curve balls ahead. Business users may question the change, but managers are there to coach them on what is most important for the business.

Engage your change agents

Enlist them in a two-way communications loop.

Your change agents are both technical and non-technical power users who are fully engaged in a CRM or ERP implementation. These individuals emphasize the checks and balances between user adoption and system validation. They are aware of the project’s status, deviations and timelines. A change agent updates users on the status of the project, while promoting the software adoption strategy driving the initiative. This keeps end users up to speed and instills realistic expectations across the organization.

Turn them into advocates and evangelists.

There are always business folks who know — far better than many others — that the system in place is best, right? But, this resistance should be welcomed and well documented. Sometimes projects are met with apathy — users wanting to keep their system alive so no extra work is handed to them. These naysayers will need some encouragement. Putting forth an effort on the front end of the project to help educate these folks will ensure these individuals do not evoke contingency to the implementation or software adoption strategy. The last thing a business needs is a business leader exaggerating minor hiccups and pulling resources away from priorities to stifle the noise.

Reiterate functional KPI’s

Make sure each department knows what their key performance indicators (KPI’s) are for the new ERP system.

No matter how convoluted a change management process may be, teams must still obligate to their responsibilities. Keeping focused on assignments pivots away some of the discontent a user may feel during a major change. It also allows management to emphasis that department KPIs depend on individual contribution. Besides the breadth of high level responsibility and quotas placed upon them, managers must reiterate the functional key performance indicators expected of the individuals. Those items should remain unchanged in the process and promote users to focus on their own capabilities to meet the criteria. If KPIs do slump after the implementation, it could be the result of poor training or a laggard process.

Get out of your office and attend department meetings, host a town hall, solicit questions and be accessible for confidential one-on-ones.

Be tangibly visible to the organization; let users see leaders get their hands dirty. Set up status meetings weekly or bi-weekly with users to reiterate goals, strategies and upcoming disruption. Let them know your door is open and there is a reliable resource available to answer any questions. Create a co-op with other business leaders to instill this initiatives everywhere in the organization. This action keeps managers on the up-and-up regarding the health of user adoption. It also removes any ambiguity one department receives over another. A proactive manager will strive to stimulate team members to retain a high level of optimism around what’s to come before, during and after an ERP or CRM implementation.

Wrap-Up

In the next few months a good majority of executives will meet to discuss the implications of procuring modern business software — specifically an ERP system — and (hopefully) determine whether their organization can handle the change implementing one would bring. Organizational change management is a critical component of an ERP or CRM project, and having a top notch software adoption strategy is key. When the euphoria settles, those in charge neglect this responsibility and do not consider the negative impact this inadvertently causes.

Ultimately, businesses that diligently map organizational change management into the deliverables at the project’s beginning will be best equipped to deal with the ebbs and flows of an ERP or CRM system implementation. This means understanding project goals, comprehending what realistic expectations are and fully-grasping what the software can and can’t do prior to creating any deadlines.


Originally published at www.datixinc.com on August 6, 2015.