Driving User Engagement and Adoption: 7 Critical Success Factors for Technology Deployments (Part 1)

During Pavia’s August 2nd e–Construction enablement workshop, Beth Chmielowski, VP Customer Experience for Pavia Systems, Inc., introduced a detailed framework for building successful deployment plans. In part 1 of this series, Beth discusses the role of vision, goals, success metrics and moving beyond parity to help users embrace new technologies.

Watch the entire exchange on YouTube

Pavia Systems User Adoption Checklist

It’s not enough to deliver great technology – you have to help people to be great with that technology. This is not that difficult, however, we tend to dramatically underestimate the level of effort needed on the people side. This effort isn’t needed because technology is hard, but because adapting to something new can be hard.

The Myth of Soaring Productivity

The common expectation for any new technology is that once it’s implemented you’ll see immediate benefits. In reality, there is typically a dip in productivity before you start to see those benefits. This is primarily because you’re deploying the new technology to people who, for the most part, are quite good at their jobs. Now you’re asking them to do that job differently. No matter how compelling the reason may or may not be, the change introduces a level of confusion or uncertainty. If not addressed, this can lead to an uphill battle getting people to adopt the new tool.

As a result, many technology projects never recover from the dip in productivity and end up blaming the technology and abandoning the implementation. Fortunately, there are established ways to help users, and projects, succeed:

  1. Define the vision, the value and the plan
    Vision is an end-state. In the best cases, it is widely shared, bold and inspiring. In the case of e-Construction, for example, the vision should be about much more than going paperless. A true vision would be more along the lines of having 360 degree insight into all of your projects and assets. That won’t happen overnight, and likely not from implementing one piece of technology. But if that is your vision, then everything you implement should be advancing that vision.Value speaks to why individual stakeholders should care. Why would the vision matter to them? How will the technology in question help advance that vision? What will it mean to them, and how will it make their job different and better? How will it make their organization as a whole different and better? This should be defined by role, as it may not be the same for every role or person. For example, what looks like greater access to data and improved decision making to one person, may look like tedious data entry and more work to another. However, if the technology lets the person collect data more easily, or minimizes redundant admin tasks, it becomes more valuable to that person. And if the end result to the organization is improved quality or reduced claims, that provides value to everyone, making any new efforts worthwhile.Finally, by plan, I don’t mean a tactical project plan or a Gantt chart. I mean, if you have a broader vision, and you have a specific piece of technology that you’re deploying as part of that vision, be sure to articulate how the project relates to the bigger picture – what has gone before, and what might be coming next. This is important to make sure you’re setting appropriate expectations about what this deployment delivers for two reasons. First, you don’t want to over-promise. And second, you’re providing insight into what aspects of your vision this component will help you achieve, or set you up to achieve, over time.
  2. Identify goals and success metrics
    Goals are what you’re hoping to achieve with your deployment – what do you want to be able to do or change? Success metrics are the specific things you will measure to meet those goals. For each of your goals, how will you know if you’ve achieved them? Identify leading and lagging indicators.

    • Leading indicators provide insight into whether or not you might achieve your goals, and allow you to take action before it is too late. For example, if my goal is to get to work on time, a leading indicator would be that I got up when my alarm went off. If I wake up and realize I’ve overslept, I have options for shortening my morning routine that might let me still achieve my goal. But if I never look at the clock in the morning, I’m relying more on luck than planning.
    • Lagging indicators are retrospective and tell you what you have achieved or not achieved. Once you see them, there’s nothing you can do to change the results. Continuing the example above, if I’m supposed to get to work at 8:00 and I arrive at 8:30, I’m late.For a technology deployment, you’ll likely have goals around productivity gains, or cost savings, or quality improvements. Determine the leading indicators for each of these, actively monitor if you’re on track, and adjust based on what you’re seeing.You will likely also want to monitor leading indicators for user adoption and be proactive if they are not meeting expectations. After all, if people don’t end up using the technology, you’re unlikely to achieve any of your other goals.Finally, clearly communicate what the goals are and what success looks like to everyone involved in the deployment. You’re much more likely to achieve your goals if everyone is working towards the same ones. To that end, provide status updates over time so people know how it is going and what they can do to help.
  3. Go beyond parity
    It’s not enough to give people a new way to do something they’ve always done. That is, simply taking a manual process and pushing it into technology is a great way to encounter a lot of resistance. It’s the “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, exacerbated by the disorientation and discomfort of turning experts into novices.Put the vision and value aspects of what you’re doing front and center, and make it clear this is about more than just the same process done differently. For example, mobile project inspection should be about real-time access to data or streamlined report creation, not just about learning to take notes on an iPad.This is especially important if the new approach doesn’t 100% map to the old method. If parity is the only goal, then you’ve failed. But if the value is in something greater, then it becomes ok if the report isn’t exactly the same, for example.Also, this is an opportunity to rethink your processes. It may be that achieving your goals means that you don’t actually want to implement the same process in an electronic format, because the technology allows you to do something more or better. Wherever you’re able, configure for outcomes and adjust processes rather than replicating the status quo in a new paradigm.

Beth addresses additional success factors, including strong sponsorship at all levels, delivering thoughtful and thorough deployment and onboarding processes, and enabling peer-to-peer support, in Part 2 of this series.

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