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Why You Should Master the Adoption and Change Management Process

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Image: Christian Horz - Alamy Stock Photo
Welcome to the first in a series of three articles that cover the adoption and change management (ACM) process. This formal process is designed to increase end user adoption of new technology and ensure that your organization receives maximum return on investment (ROI). This article outlines the benefits of a formal ACM process and provides an overview of the steps required. The second article will cover how to manage and execute the discovery and planning steps, and the third article addresses the execution and reinforcement steps of the adoption and change process. By breaking down the ACM process into a series, we can cover each phase in depth without overwhelming you.
 
And now – why consider an end user adoption and change management process?
 
Some people say that new technology should be so easy to use that no training is needed. But any technology that offers more than cursory capabilities requires education to utilize the full potential of the tool. Yes, the user interface should be simple and intuitive. But communication and collaboration tools must meet many different types of user needs, and feature depth introduces complexity.
 
An intentional and complete end user adoption and change management process will help maximize the ROI of the new technology.
 
This information is based on a session from Enterprise Connect 2022 in March that I presented along with Vallorie Weires with Enabling Technologies. Her expertise on the ACM process is extensive and invaluable.
 
Benefits of a Formal Adoption Process
Each stage of a formal process builds on previous stages. This increased efficiency and ensures that nothing is missed. A successful process can:
 
  • influence project success and perception
  • improve IT reputation
  • increase user engagement
  • reduce turnover
  • streamline or decrease the burden on support staff
On a previous project, I had the opportunity to observe the difference between two groups that implemented new technology within the same company; one group emphasized end user training while the other group did not. When the new system went live, the help desk tickets illustrated the difference in outcomes: The group that didn’t put the effort into training was less than half the size of the group that had emphasized end user training, yet its members filed twice as many tickets. In other words, the volume of help desk inquiries was four times as high for employees who had not had end user training. Both groups were using the same technology; the difference was in the training and support for the change.
 
For the group without a user adoption plan, the results included:
 
  • more (and very vocal) user frustration
  • frantic Day 1 support due to user questions that would have been covered had they attended training
  • a less positive perception of the project
  • significantly delayed ROI
Other sources agree that adoption and change management is important. Here are some other studies from analysts and change management firms:
 
  • Businesses move twice as fast on their digital transformation journey once the staff and management collectively understand the importance of their digital path ahead. (Gartner)
  • Companies are 2.5 times more likely to financially outperform their peers when a good change management practice is in place. (Towers Watson)
  • 143% of the expected ROI is achieved from organizations with an effective change management program, while organizations with little or no change management only achieved 35% of expected ROI. (McKinsey)
  • Organizations with an excellent change management strategy are six times more likely to meet or exceed objectives. (Prosci)
 
What is included in the Adoption and Change Management (ACM) process?
There are four parts to the process: Discovery, Planning, Execution, and Reinforcement.
 
Every phase is designed to take the user perspective into account. The process requires interviews with staff to understand their technology, communication, and collaboration requirements, preferences, and wishes.
 

 
This process isn’t just about bringing users along for the ride. It intentionally (and transparently) designs the ride WITH and FOR the users. The ACM process aligns with a typical project process, but focuses on the human side of the project management coin rather than the technology itself.
 
In the end, any new technology intends to improve the experience for the users. This improvement requires an understanding of the various ways that the current technology is used, and how the new tool will impact users.
 
While the technical part of the transition must be done correctly, the project will ultimately fail if the new tool is not used correctly. The ACM process focuses on the users and on what is needed to promote the adoption of the new technology and ensure project success.
 
Editor's Note: This article has been updated since its initial publication. 


Melissa is writing on behalf of the SCTC, a premier professional organization for independent consultants. SCTC consultant members are leaders in the industry, able to provide best of breed professional services in a wide array of technologies. Every consultant member commits annually to a strict Code of Ethics, ensuring they work for the client benefit only and do not receive financial compensation from vendors and service providers.

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