my world of work and user experiences

May 31, 2022

My ADKAR checklist: helping users to adopt our new solutions

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: — frederique @ 19:50

Implementing a new system or solution will not help anyone, if the users do not adopt it and use it. And they will not do so, if they lack ADKAR for that system or solution: Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. It may sound weird and theoretical, but it has often helped me structure my approach to adoption. In this post, you will find my ADKAR-based checklist.

The projects in which I used this checklist were usually related to Microsoft 365, like the introduction of a new digital workplace. But the checklist also applies to other technologies.

“We understand what is changing”
Do we have a communication plan?
Who will communicate what when to whom via which channel.

Are we involving a business sponsors?
Messages from high-level sponsors in the business instead of IT.

Are we repeating the communication enough?
Sending the message once is not sufficient. Different speakers/writers, different channels, different emphasis to reach everyone.
“We want the new solution”
Do we have a clear picture of the benefits?
What are the benefits for the different types of users; not just company benefits (savings) or IT benefits (replacing an old system that is end-of-life).

Are we explaining “what’s in it for me”?
Write/record effective messages; check if they work.

Are we involving the managers?
Line managers, team leads can bring along their team. And if these managers do not believe in the change, they may actively hold their team back.
“We know how to use the new solution”
Do we have a training plan?
Who needs what kind of training when (e.g. classroom deepdives with exercises versus webinar tours).

Do we have help materials?
E.g. information portal, Quick Reference Cards, instruction videos.

Are we sure everyone who needs the knowledge can get it?
Communicate the training and help materials clearly and abundanty; make them easy to find.
“We are able to actually use the new solution in our work”
Can all users access the new system?
With their device, account, license, network? Is there a clear entry point, e.g. it opens automatically on their laptop, a link in the intranet, pinned app.

Can people get adequate support?
E.g. a helpdesk that has been properly trained, an ambassador network.

Is it clear and easy to get that support?
E.g. prominent contact details and request buttons, prominent list of the ambassadors
“We will keep using the new solution ”
Do we monitor adoption?
Usage statistics of the new solution and of the old solution, surveys how the users like the new system.

Do we have a team with continuing ownership?
Like a Competence Center, that is fully up-to-speed. Do we have a network of ambassadors / keyusers / champions / experts within the organisation, that their colleagues can reach out to?

Do we have an ongoing adoption & governance plan ?
A plan that goes beyond the end of the implementation project? Reinforce aspects that are falling behind, improving and updating the help materials, deciding on and helping users adopt new features

For users, ADKAR is sequential: nothing will happen if they are not Aware of the change. Then they won’t do anything if they don’t Desire it, or at least decide to go along with it. Then they won’t know what to do, if they don’t have the Knowledge. Then they can’t do it, of the lack the Ability. And finally, they need Reinforcement.

As a member of the project team trying to help the users adopt the new solution, you should NOT take things as sequentially.

  • Don’t wait until you have finalised your communication plan to boost awareness, before you start thinking of what’s in it for them.
  • Start preparing help and training materials early too, so that they are ready when you need them.
  • Somebody may need to take serious action at an early stage, if there are blocking issues with respect to the users’ ability to adopt the new solution: give them new devices, transform their accounts, buy new licenses, upgrade the network, hire a better helpdesk…
  • In anything that you set up, keep in mind that it is not just one-off. It needs to sustain reinforcement and the continuous adoption of the evolving system after the project is finished. When you set up an information portal, make sure it is easy to manage and keep up-to-date. If you have a Competence Center or another team who will manage the system, involve them right from the start. Start gathering the ambassador network at an early stage and involve them too.

This way, chances are a lot better that the users will actually embrace the new solution and take advantage of it, making the implementation a real success.

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