As ‘user adoption’ is becoming a better-known aspect of IT implementations one thought leader in particular stands out. And one of the things we at Tri Tuns love about Michael Sampson is his distinct ability to distill the complexities of user adoption into an easily understood and digested reasoned process.
While Michael specifically centers his work on collaboration technologies such as SharePoint, in a recent two-part SlideShare presentation he walks the viewer through the larger concepts surrounding user adoption by beginning with a discussion around the idea that “great technology is not enough” but is just “a small factor in success.”
90% People, 10% Technology
To underscore his point, Michael brings up research done in the 1990s – the findings of which mirror our experiences since the 90s. The study Michael cites found that a major theme, the formula for success was, in this case when building virtual teams, “90% people, 10% technology”.
That is, even 15-20 years ago we had the data showing us the need to focus on the people – that is, the business drivers, the team culture, social patterns and interdependencies, etc. and focusing too much on the technology was a perfect way to set yourself up for failure.
Of course, however, the goal in business isn’t so much to avoid failure, but to create success and maximize the value of what your organization does. And technology is merely the tool your people and your teams use to generate success and build value.
Michael Sampson continues the presentation emphasizing ensuring people adopt the company’s technological tool(s) to create value doesn’t just happen – it’s made to happen. There is focus, effort, infrastructure and, perhaps most importantly, an adoption strategy.
Don't Assume 100% User Adoption in Your Business Case
Incorporating an idea Tri Tuns also raises frequently, Michael points out business cases assume 100% adoption. This assumption is a mistake on multiple levels and is one that can heavily skew ROI and IRR projections so they look a lot better on paper than they ever will in reality.
“Poor adoption is a common issue,” Michael says and it’s “a process, not an event.” He goes on to outline a four-step model of user adoption that includes Winning Attention, Cultivating Basic Concepts, Enlivening Applicability, and Making it Real.
Throughout his presentation, he emphasizes that in most cases, vendors have done their part and that success at your organization is up to you. This makes ultimate sense when you think about the 90/10 rule of spending 90% of your time and effort on your people, and only 10% on the technology. After all, only you, not the vendor, is going to know your business drivers, your culture, your governance structure and institutional best practices that are in place to generate success and build value for your organization.
As always, Michael has a great presentation (check out part 2 for further illustration of user adoption successes and debacles through real-life examples) and we’re excited for him that his book, User Adoption Strategies is now in its second edition! Be sure to pick up a copy and read Tri Tuns’ CEO Jason Whitehead’s contribution, an expanded article based on a previous blog entry.
Other resources of interest:
At the end of last month, Tri Tuns went to Cloud Slam ’12 in San Francisco where our CEO, Jason Whitehead, was invited to give a presentation about the newest challenges in cloud adoption: the users.
As one might expect at a cloud conference, Cloud Slam ’12 leaned heavily toward the technical and many people were talking about the amazing changes and possibilities the cloud, now in its infancy, will bring. The conversational overtones were reminiscent of the early days of the Internet.
Jason’s talk was one of the only “business-centric” presentations at a very “techno-centric” conference, and we were happy to offer an alternative perspective on the cloud and cloud adoption. While we were already thrilled to be invited, once there we found out after receiving consistently good ratings from the selection committee, Jason’s speaking proposal was chosen from more than 1,000 submissions! Thank you Cloudcor and Cloud Slam ’12 organizers, we were very pleased to be part of it.
In keeping with Tri Tuns’ focus on the people-side of system implementations, Jason was different from most of the other speakers who discussed urgent and emerging issues regarding the more technical aspects of the cloud. Jason addressed the non-technical side of the cloud: the people using it. As we heard one person say, “It’s never the software that fails; it’s always the fleshware.”
Jason’s talk addressed how when it comes to the cloud, and migrating thereto, many of us do so because we think it’ll be that Holy Grail trifecta: better, faster, cheaper than what we’re doing right now. But low up-front costs (for the buyer), the often-blinding speed of change, and on-going updates and changes take their toll elsewhere….and in every direction: the vendors, the customers, the users.
What we see time and again is that the laser-focus on “better, faster, cheaper”, defining “success” within the narrow confines of technology (did it go-live on time and on budget?) and managing organizational change in the traditional ways leads to business failures that could have easily been avoided in the first place.
Further, Jason outlined the inherent issues with traditional change management and its inability to accomplish business goals today. The old ways of “go live and go home” and “train and blame” just don’t work, especially in today’s workplace.
In essence, while the cloud has changed the game for vendors, clients and users, the cloud is also an excellent proxy for all the other technological changes organizations go through.
In today’s climate, with today’s workforce organizations must focus on behavior and performance management issues that can easily be addressed by effective user adoption programs requiring specific activities, deliverables and resources. Traditional change management just doesn’t do that. And at the end of the day, ROI will not be determined solely by “up time”. ROI is far more contingent on the people, the “fleshware”, involved.
- How is success defined for your implementation project? Help ensure you're focusing on the right things for business success by reading our new eBook.
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- How are you delivering IT change in your organization? Literally, what's the administrative mechanism? Are you trying to build your own? Checkout www.MyUserAdoptionPlan.com to see what pre-built, pre-loaded, customizable options exist.
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