Adopting new software is a significant challenge, especially at the enterprise level. While rolling out new software might be a simple case of clicking a few buttons, getting to that stage can involve gargantuan effort. Hundreds—maybe even thousands—of individuals must change their way of thinking and working simultaneously.
Leading the adoption of new software in an enterprise is one of the more challenging forms of change management, but by using the tips we’ll outline below you can minimize these challenges and successfully sign off your next software rollout.
Challenges to Enterprise Software Adoption
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A 2020 report by leading software adoption specialists AppLearn details UK and US businesses’ readiness to adopt new digital technologies. AppLearn surveyed over 500 C-level professionals to get a clear picture of readiness, challenges, and enterprise software adoption priorities. The report outlines a 3-step approach to adoption readiness:
- A clear understanding of what digital adoption is.
- A strong belief that the successful adoption of cloud-based technology is a priority.
- Having digital KPIs in place to measure success across all business applications.
Alarmingly, despite the simplicity of criteria, only 26% of businesses meet this adoption-ready standard. But why?
The most cited barriers to adoption were difficulty changing employee’s habits (38%) and the cost of training and supporting staff (18%). Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to overcome these issues and make your next software rollout a success.
How to Increase User Adoption
Here we are going to share a few well-established user adoption best practices you can utilize to combat the most common challenges of enterprise software adoption.
Get Senior Management on Board
Senior ranking employees have the power to make or break new software projects. When senior management is highly engaged in the process, they cultivate increased trust in the software, making it easier to get the wider employee base on board. From an operational perspective, getting buy-in from department heads and team managers will help delegate all the reminding and encouragement that would otherwise fall to you.
But to address how to get senior management on board, you need to know the reasons for their reluctance:
- Fear of new software not making an impact: The fear of adopting new software that has little to no impact on the company’s bottom line is a powerful one. A study by McKinsey found that 70% of digital transformation projects don’t meet their stated goals. While this figure pertains to large-scale projects, it’s so jarring that management can be reluctant to embark on small-scale projects too.
- How the new software will impact the big picture: C-suite execs and other senior ranking employees think about the big picture. They care less about how a piece of software has improved efficiency in one team and more about the new software’s holistic benefits to the business.
- Digital literacy: Tony Saldanha, Author of Why Digital Transformations Fail, identifies poor digital literacy as a significant problem among senior management teams, stating that less than 20% of board members have the digital literacy requirement in a modern business environment.
To get senior management on board, they have to see the value the new software will bring to the business. Speak of how the software will bring benefits like increased efficiency, productivity, and safety to the business as a whole.
By focusing on beneficial outcomes, you can bridge any digital literacy gaps. Senior employees will pledge their support when they are confident of realizing a return on investment (ROI). When the ROI appears robust, reluctance diminishes.
Beyond managers, appointing one person in each department to champion the software is an excellent way to drive engagement. It should come as no surprise that employees have closer bonds with the people they work most closely with.
When new software is only promoted from the top down, employees may be less confident it will be a good fit for their team. They might not believe that the senior ranking employee has enough knowledge of their day-to-day work to fully understand the impact of the software on them. Appointing champions solves this issue.
Champions don’t have to be senior, but they need to be respected team members. These champions cultivate enthusiasm, knowledge, and confidence in the software to their colleagues. This approach was key in helping Kainos get the most out of the Kimble software as they grew from 370 to around 1,000 staff in 4 years.
Provide Smart Support and Training
The cost of training is often viewed as a major barrier, but champions can really help to bring this down. Having a flexible approach to training built into your internal enterprise software adoption plan can help cut costs even further by providing training only where and when it is needed. For example, you can run drop-in sessions and send out any training manuals and videos available from your software partner. You can also encourage “on the job” or “on the fly” learning.
Always be careful to tailor the level of training to the complexity of the software. More intuitive applications are likely to require less training. At Smartway2, we have made every effort to create a solution that is easy-to-use while providing as much support for training as we can in an attempt to ease the financial and operational burden on our clients.
Link to Business Goals or Values
While it’s important for C-suite employees to visualize how the software’s intricate features shape the big picture, it’s equally important for all employees to understand the big picture clearly.
When employees can connect the software to the company’s wider goals, they are more likely to support it. If the software can increase efficiency, reduce your carbon footprint, or encourage a new way of working that frees up more time for creative thinking, employees feel invested in working towards this brighter future.
Adopting new software comes with very real challenges, but it’s not something companies can avoid if they wish to remain agile in the modern business landscape. By following the advice outlined in this post, businesses can largely overcome the most frequent challenges of software adoption.
However, we also believe it’s important to be selective about the software you choose to adopt. Partnering with similar-minded software providers will make adoption more straightforward and avoid the dangers of having to roll back changes that you worked so hard to implement.
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