Have you ever noticed how many organizations jump to deploy software in hopes it will fix large organizational performance issues? They hope that providing tools - like SharePoint, CRM, ERP, and myriad social sharing systems - that enable collaboration will actually result in improved collaboration.
But spending a lot of time and money on a technical solution alone will not fix an organizational and people problem.
Don’t be silly. Nothing will fix Congress.
Regardless of your political views, the US Congress is a shining example of an organization which does not embrace collaboration.
There are deep differences in values, complex rules and processes that prevent collaboration, a complete lack of accountability, and misaligned incentives. (Let's be honest, most elected officials’ primary concern is their own personal career and desire to win re-election.) This means there is never a shortage of poor performance and finger-pointing.
In short, there are complex levels of organizational dysfunction that no amount of technology alone will fix.
Deploying enterprise collaboration software doesn’t mean your enterprise will collaborate
Enterprise collaboration technology does have the potential to add great value to your organization, and, in many organizations, it does just that. However, it is important to recognize that in order for people to actually change their attitudes and work behaviors to embrace collaboration requires that you look at the people and organizational realities - the actual social (non-technical) systems operating within your organization. If you don’t address these social (non-technical) elements no amount of technology will improve your organization.
Before your invest in collaboration software, ask yourself how your organization is like Congress
Before you even begin to define requirements and evaluate software tools, make sure you ask yourself, “How is my organization like Congress”? Identify all of the people, organizational, process, policy, and operational elements that will drive or prevent actual collaboration. Make sure you have mapped out a strategy – with resources – to address these elements. If you don’t know how to do it, be sure to get help from qualified experts.
Sounds like a lot of hard work? It is. And not many people have the knowledge, understanding and experience in addressing the non-technical aspects of collaboration. But if you don’t correctly handle these elements, your collaboration technology effort will fail before it even begins.
All image rights belong to the artist.
This famous clip from the movie Office Space is a quick reminder of one of the most commonly overlooked issues when implementing IT systems – motivating people to work. And sure, Initech is a fictional company, but it actually resembles a lot of organizations with which I have worked over the years.
In this scene, the employee Peter Gibbons tells the efficiency consultants how his organization approaches motivation and the impact it has on his work efforts. Does this sound like your organization?
Watch video here.
How do you motivate people to use your IT system?
Whenever you implement an IT system, look at all things affecting employee motivation. Sometimes there are issues with compensation and incentives. Other times the management may actually be demotivating employees.
As Peter says, “I have 8 different bosses right now…so that means when I make a mistake I have 8 different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only motivation – not to be hassled.”
Would WIIFM motivate this employee?
Convention wisdom (which is high on convention, and low on wisdom) often says that when implementing an IT system you should try to “sell people on what’s in it for me”.
Do you think trying to sell Peter on WIIFM would work in this case? Of course not. There are bigger issues that need to be fixed here. And unless these other items are fixed, WIIFM will not work.
So, what will you do to make sure you have motivated people to use your system? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LInkedIn.
In the olden days (you know, about a week ago), before the rise of cloud computing, software vendors could use a lot of big words, slick demos, and fancy marketing props to entice people to buy a system. They were selling hope.
Sales are easy. Customer Retention is hard.
And many vendors are feeling the pain. The above video from Adobe does a great job of highlighting the issue. SaaS systems, with low upfront fees and the relatively easy ability to switch to a completely different system, enables customers to learn for themselves what your system can deliver.
Subscription pricing means you need to prove your worth. Everyday.
The impact: every time you have a renewal sales discussion, your customer immediately knows if you are BSing them or not. And they won’t tolerate BS.
Ensure your customers' success if you want to keep them.
What this means is SaaS vendors need to ensure they stop BSing customers and start ensuring their success. Make sure your customer has achieved measurable business value from investing in your system. To do this, evolve your sales, implementation, and customer management processes.
Help customers address the two biggest issues they face – namely, driving and maintaining full, effective user adoption of the system AND realizing the clear, measurable business benefits. If you can’t do this, your only choice is to try to BS your customer.
Good luck with that.
Please share your thoughts and experiences on the Customer Success Practitioners group on LinkedIn.
When I speak with the leaders of Customer Success Management (CSM) programs they often ask about how they can make their program more effective for increasing customer renewals. This leads to a discussion about the focus, methods and tools they use to deliver their CSM service.
More often than not, it becomes clear that the CSM tools and methods they use are part of the problem.
At its core, CSM is about helping customers adopt your system
The purpose of Customer Success Management is to help your customers fully adopt and maximize the value they receive from your software or service. Many times, the root-cause issue that needs to be addressed is that people are simply not adopting the system – which is almost never a technical issue. If the CSM team can maximize and sustain effective user adoption, the value to the customer (and renewals to you) will follow.
So, how do you maximize IT adoption?
How does your CSM team identify all barriers preventing adoption?
Many people assume user adoption is 100% discretionary effort on the part of the end-user. This leads them to focus all of their efforts on trying to help the end-user know how to use system and see how it will make their lives easier.
The reality is quite different. User adoption is not entirely at the discretion of the end-user. There are many non-discretionary factors that can make users unable to adopt the system - even when they want to use it!
Almost every IT project on which I have participated (like, 99% of them) there have been some organizational or system-related issue that actually prevented people from using the system. These issues fell outside the users’ span of control and required action on the part of management to resolve. Yet management was unaware of these issues or how they prevented system use.
In order to be effective, your CSM methodology needs to help customers identify barriers to IT adoption. But how will you do it?
- Do you know how to identify potential IT adoption barriers?
- Does your current CSM methodology actively uncover all barriers that affect IT adoption?
- If not, how will you change your approach?
How do you remove barriers to IT adoption?
Once you have identified barriers to adoption, how will you make sure your customer takes action to remove them? Sadly, driving and sustaining effective IT adoption is not a core capability of many client organizations. Even if you are able to help your customers identify barriers to adoption, it does not mean that they will know how to resolve them. You may need to help.
Change your CSM approach
Like most initiatives, your CSM capabilities and approach will need to mature over time. Initially your CSM team can be successful just helping customers get minor increases in adoption and ROI. However, to maximize customer renewals and, if possible, expand accounts, you will need to adjust your approach to help customers fully resolve their IT adoption issues. To do so, you will need to expand your knowledge regarding the root causes of IT adoption and the most effective methods to influence it.