my world of work and user experiences

November 30, 2016

5 lessons learned about user adoption programmes

Filed under: Adoption — frederique @ 23:03

Currently I am involved in a user adoption programme and there are a few lessons that have become evident. No rocket science, but things that I want to do different next time.

1.Make sure everything works well before you sell it to innocent users

Or at the very least the key features are ready to delight the innocent users. Ok, this sounds obvious, but we had a few missing pieces. Early adopters don’t mind. But innocent users who just want to get their job done and who don’t want to waste time learning something new shouldn’t hit snags.

We had some uphill work explaining Skype for Business but having to help them log on first: the user name is not what you would expect. And then we had to tell them that are not allowed to use it to communicate with people outside the organisation yet. And we decided to stay silent about the new options to attach a file to a mail message as a link to OneDrive, because that will only work when Exchange is integrated.

2.Offer help content before you start training innocent users

Or at least a draft version. Or at least a draft version. When you are in a session explaining new tools to innocent users, they usually ask where they can find the slides or where they can look up the details. After all, we can’t expect them to remember everything and we can’t expect everyone to spend time experimenting.

In our programme, something strange happened to the timeline and we started doing sessions with innocent users before we had any up-to-date help content. One reason is that we planned some fancy help pages and videos and it takes a lot of time to implement them. So now we have just put up some basis help content, like a Frequently Asked Questions list and simple pages for the time being. It is better than nothing until we have the official stuff.

3.Offer some training or getting-to-know-it sessions

Savvy users find out everything out for themselves. But innocent users benefit from a session in which they are told what’s in it for them and shown how it works. Sessions per team can work well, because they allow the teams to discuss what would work best for them. One size does not fit all teams, because they do not have the same work and they do not have the same needs.

We organised a session per team and we had an intake meeting with the team lead before hand, to discuss the team’s needs and the most relevant agenda for the session.

4.Be visible and approachable

One you start introducing new tools and a new way of working, people will have questions. Basic questions for which the answers are in a Frequently Asked Questions list but that some people still prefer to ask in person. And questions about advanced stuff, from enthusiasts want to push the envelope.

We have a mail address for questions and we will have a big ‘help me’ button on the intranet. Between the intake meetings and team sessions, we are present in a central location at their head quarters, wearing t-shirts and hoodies with the ‘Collaborate smarter’ logo. We’ve got a big banner with the logo to flag our location and to lure participants into the sessions. The only problem is that the people who are most visible now are consultants who are only there part time and who will leave after the programme. We need to make some ‘natives’ more visible soon…

5.Plan ahead

An adoption programme does not end after the first series of getting-to-know-it sessions. For one thing, Office 365 changes all the time. For another thing, users want to widen and deepen their knowledge of the tools and of how to use them to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. How are they doing with the new tools and new insights? Do they need more guidance?

Several people in our sessions have already asked if we will do a follow-up session, to take the next step. In particular, we’ve introduced basic team sites and several team representatives have already asked how they should make the team site do what their team needs. At the moment, this follow-up has not been planned yet, though something will have to be arranged.


So we should improve our user adoption programme. But we do see how important it is to pay attention to user adoption. New tools and new ways of working won’t land properly and won’t yield the desired benefits when we just drop them into the laps of the innocent users.

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