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Designing Your Project with Adoption in Mind

By April Heimerl posted 07-09-2019 09:31


Designing Your Project with Adoption in Mind

by @April Heimerl and @Heather Ritchie

If you build it, they will come … right? Perhaps in movies about baseball. But in law firms - not necessarily. Starting any new initiative involves a significant amount of thought and planning. Surprisingly, user adoption, which is critical to a project’s success, can often be an afterthought, or overlooked. In this blog post, we explore ways you can design your projects to better ensure that they are adopted. We cover key strategies to involve your users throughout the process and embed their input in the project lifecycle, so they are interested and invested in the end result.

Change can be hard. You are asking your users to leave their comfort zone and embrace something new and different. But you can make that transition easier - through collaboration, communication, testing and training.


Collaborate – Creating a better solution

There are no shortage of potential projects that can consume your time, so as a starting point, confirm that you are picking the right project. The project should address a major pain point and solve a business problem. (For more guidance, check out this recent ILTA webinar on the topic.)

You can gather this information through a number of ways including one-on-one interviews, focus groups, online surveys or a design thinking exercise.

Design thinking is a collaborative and iterative approach that helps identify opportunities that can be translated into key features or functionality via collaboration and a continuous feedback loop. As part of the design thinking process involves building a prototypes, users will have a hands-on opportunity to evaluate proposed solutions as well as understand constraints at work, and you will get a preview as to how users will interact with any solution.

Involving users in identifying the problem and developing a solution is a sure-fire way to increase adoption down the line. It’s the IKEA effect - users are more likely to value something they participated in creating.

Communicate – Engaging the Audience

For users (and stakeholders) to embrace a project, they need to understand the benefits of the project and specifically “What Is In It for Me” (WIIFM). Communicating regularly as to what people can expect, and when they can expect it, is essential. Staying top of mind helps keep users engaged and active in the process. And communicating back what can be changed now, what might be changed in the future, and what changes are not possible will help manage expectations.

Test – Engineering Success

To keep users engaged in the project, involve them in testing the solution and capture their feedback. If you can make adjustments to address the issues they share with you, you might diffuse objections and generate goodwill. Through testing, you might discover champions for your project, who can help promote the project to their peers.

As part of the testing process, also try to get the users’ feedback on your communications and training materials, and then further refine those aspects before roll-out.

Train – Easy and accessible

Whether your project involves a new product or a new process, there is typically (or should be) some training. Leverage some of the adult based learning and end-user training techniques like Just in Time learning and Community Based Learning, to further increase the likelihood of adoption. As users may not have time to attend a scheduled in-person training session, look to also provide snackable soundbites that are quick, easy to access and consumable for users. Consider creating a space for users to collaborate with one another and share best practices, use cases and enhancement ideas. When possible, deliver one-on-one sessions, which gives you an opportunity to address issues head-on, customize the learning to the individual and promote usage.

Sustain - Keeping the dream alive

After the initial roll out, projects are typically closed and user adoption often drops off. So how do you maintain the momentum? Here are a few methods to hold users’ interest:

  • Review and report on the measure of project success at regular intervals
  • Hold a town hall or lunch ‘n learn, setting out tips and tricks
  • Capture and communicate success stories
  • Highlight new enhancements or features

Adoption takes time and planning. But if you engage your users - through collaborating on a solution, openly communicating, enlisting them in testing and making training easy – you can drive project adoption and foster organizational change.