blog.frederique.harmsze.nl 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.

WhatHow
Awareness
“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.
Desire
“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.
Knowledge
“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.
Ability
“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
Reinforcement
“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 their 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.

February 28, 2022

Microsoft 365 adoption: It is not over when it is over

Filed under: Adoption,Microsoft 365 — Tags: — frederique @ 21:36

I have been involved in the implementation of Microsoft 365 a few times. It is a project in which we get everyone into the cloud, migrate all of the information into the cloud too and activate all kinds of spiffy applications. We organise some training and set up and information portal to help our users adopt Microsoft 365. And when we have finished that, we are done. Right? Wrong!

The journey to help our people adopt Microsoft 365 does not end when we have implemented the technology and migrated everyone & everything. It even does not end when we have finished a training programme. Instead, it requires an ongoing programme. There are several reasons why you need to keep paying attention to Microsoft 365 adoption.

All changes need reinforcement

For any change, you cannot stop once people have learned how to work in a new way. You need to reinforce the change, to make sure that the people do not revert back to their old way of working as soon as they get back from their training session to the hectic hustle and bustle of their daily job.

In the ADKAR model that we favour, this is the R. The last stage, but definitely not the least. See also ADKAR: are our users ready to adopt our solutions?

So in the weeks and months after we organised our training sessions and went live with Microsoft 365, we should check if the new tools are being used rather than the old ones and if the people work in the new way instead of being stuck in their old ways of working. We should also make sure that it is very easy to get help, if you are not entirely sure about the new way of working. And that anyone who can set a good example does so: managers, team leads, influential colleagues, HR, Communication, IT,…

Microsoft 365 evolves continuously

Microsoft keeps adding applications and improving existing applications. So the people need to be aware of those changes, know what’s it in it for them and what to adopt them, know how to use the new & improved applications and be actually able to do so. And again get reinforced in the updated way of working.

So we should keep an eye on the Microsoft roadmap and put governance in place to determine how we deal with these updates: activate everything? Wait if it is possible to wait, and activate applications only if they are sufficiently mature and explained properly? Activate only for a specific group of trailblazers in a targeted release? And then arrange to help the people adopt the updates, for example by organising knowledge sessions like webinars on new features, publishing tips in communication channels that suit the audience (such as intranet news and departmental newsletters) and continuously updating your information portal for the details.

Our situation evolves continuously

The organisation may change, the users may change, the users’ insights and needs may change. New questions get asked. New solutions to facilitate work processes get thought out and implemented.

So you need to update the help materials you have, your information portal if you have one. This requires governance: somebody needs to be responsible for it and have a process when to update or add what information. And take it to the users: you don’t have to wait for new features from Microsoft to publish tips and organise knowledge sessions.

You also need a channel to collect feedback from the users on what should be explained or explained better: via the log of the questions that are frequently asked the servicedesk, via a network of ‘champions’, a feedback form, informal chats with users,…

New hires need to be onboarded & adopted

One of the advantages of Microsoft 365 is that many organisations use it. So when you hire new employees, chances are that they have used Microsoft 365 before, or at least parts of it. Nevertheless, these new people are unfamiliar with your specific templates and guidelines for how you use Microsoft 365 in your organisation and in your teams.

So you need to adopt these new colleagues and allow them to adopt your toolkit and your ways of working. I know, a bit of a mixed metaphor: take these new colleagues under your wing, so that they can embrace your tools and ways of working. Make them aware during the onboarding programme and show them the benefits. Offer them training if they need it. Make sure they are able to get started by creating their accounts promptly and giving them the required permissions. And again reinforce everything: managers and close colleagues and coach and guide the new people.

Support should be available continuously

Ok, maybe not continuously as in 24/7, but support cannot stop after Microsoft 365 has been launched and the implementation project is finished. Users should always be able to get proper support when something does not work or if they get lost. See also The importance of support for Office 365 adoption.

So make sure they know who to contact and that the people they contact are able to help them. For example.

  • Arrange for keyusers / champions who can help their colleagues. This approach can work well, because these champions are closer to the innocent end-users than IT. But then the keyusers need to be kept up-to-date on developments and they need direct access to expert support if they don’t know the answers to the users’ questions.
  • Make sure the helpdesk can help people: is there a clear and easy way to contact the helpdesk, does the helpdesk have the knowledge required to help the users?

Bottomline: you need to arrange for ongoing adoption capabilities, especially when you have an evolving toolkit like Microsoft 365. Or the Power Platform. Or any other platform where the users experience continuous change.

November 30, 2021

ADKAR: are our users ready to adopt our solutions?

Filed under: Adoption — Tags: , — frederique @ 19:17

IT creates and launches technical solutions that could make the lives of the users a lot easier. But even if these technical solutions are brilliant, we will not achieve anything, if the proposed users do not adopt them. We will only reap the benefits we were aiming for, if the users embrace it. In short: if they are aware of it, if they desire it, if they know how to use it in theory, if they are really able to use it in practice and if their changed way of working is reinforced so that they keep using it.

It not just me saying this: it is the ADKAR model developed as a foundational part of the world-class Prosci Methodology for change. The ADKAR model applies to all kinds of changes, including digital transformation. And – in a lot of the projects I have done – to the new way of working that is introduced with new tooling like Microsoft 365.

The basis of this model is the realization that you will only achieve the required change in your organization and reap the benefits of the new technology that you are introducing, if the people make the change and adopt it. Not just the abstract notion of ‘the users’, but the actual people. The individuals who may have very different characteristics, needs and experiences from the idealized picture of the end-user IT had in mind when they developed the solution.

Let us take a look at the stages that the people have to move through before they can make the change and adopt the solution.

Awareness

First of all, the people need to be aware of the proposed change. Otherwise, they can never use the new solution to adopt the new way of working, for example. Not only should they be made aware of what is planned, but also why: why is that new way of working a good idea anyway?

To create this awareness, communication is key. Not just one news article on the intranet, but thorough communication tailored to reach people with different preferences and repeated often enough in different ways to “stick”. To maximize impact, a high-level sponsor should be the one telling this story.

Desire

Once the people know about the change, they need to understand what’s in it for them, so that they desire the new way of working for themselves. Or at least decide that they will go along with it. If they refuse, we won’t get any further.

To help the people understand what the change means for them and what’s in it for them, it works best if their managers are involved. Or team leads, senior colleagues close to them.

Knowledge

Once the people have decided that they want the change, they are open to learn about the details of the ‘how’. If the people have no desire to adopt the new way of working, for example, it is no use sending them to a training session.

To help the people gain knowledge about the change, the new way of working, the project should provide things like training and help materials.

Ability

When the people have been trained in, for example, the new way of working, they know what to do. At least in theory. But are they also able to start working in the new way in practice? Or is it more difficult to apply that knowledge in their own situation? Does it work on their device? Do they have the right account with the right permissions? Can their network handle the load?

To make sure the people are actually able to make the change, great support is key. If the users get stuck, they should be supported effectively and efficiently. And the issues that may be blocking them in real life may be unexpected, so you need to be on top of it.

Reinforcement

When the people are able to work in the new way, they have made the change, the next question is: will they keep doing it? Or will they fall back to their old, familiar way of working, as soon as they hit the slightest snag? If they don’t keep it up, the benefits of the new solution and the change will be short lived.

To help people stick with the new way of working, reinforce the change. Don’t stop the project the day after Go Live. Make sure the owners who will manage the new solution can sustain the change. Monitor usage of the new tools, which should have increases, and usage of the old tools, which should be disappearing. Actively ask for feedback and make sure everyone can easily give feedback whenever they want, for example via an ambassadors network.

The ADKAR is a great model to manage change. I even like it as a checklist for relatively simple things like the introduction of a Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways portal. Are people aware of its existence or how shall we make sure they hear about it? Is it clear what’s in it for them? Do they know how to use it or do we need to explain more? Are they really able to use it, or is it impossible to find, impossible to access or impossible to use on their devices? How do we reinforce the portal’s usage, by keeping it relevant and tying it into related initiatives? A recent example: when HR sent another message about working from home, they linked to the Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways playlists about online communication.

So I like it!

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