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For Easier Adoption Add Change Management

Sep 27, 2019 by Nigel Williams

The difficulty of driving technology adoption in the workplace is easy to underestimate.  Our lives as consumers are so enriched by technology that the idea of resisting technology isn’t intuitive.

There is, however, a vast difference between our use of consumer technology, which we adopt by choice, and workplace technology, which is presented to us by employers.  Corporate initiatives designed to drive adoption are subject to a wide range of responses – from enthusiastic adoption, through what might be best described as ‘malicious compliance’, to absolute rejection at the negative end of the spectrum.

One of the most vital decisions you can make to maximize enthusiasm and minimize rejection in your adoption program or project is to understand and harness the power of change management.  The purpose of this article is to make the case for change management in support of technology adoption.

The principles apply to any technology, but as I work in the Office 365 ecosystem the examples refer to that space.

Managing change

According to Microsoft’s comprehensive guide to adoption: “Successful adoption of new technology requires behavior change. And change can be hard.”

This is a good place to start – adoption is a form of change, and change is difficult.  The key to making adoption easier is to embrace the learnings of change management, particularly as they relate to behavior.

Put another way, if your approach to technology adoption is based on technical considerations alone, the journey will be an unnecessarily hard one.  That is not to say understanding the technology isn’t important, it is; with Office 365 adoption, understanding the adoption needs workload by workload is vital.

Technology is one dimension of adoption, but it is far from providing the whole picture.  An exclusively corporate approach aligned to business goals will also be difficult.  Unfortunately, neither of these approaches foster user adoption, as it requires a behavioral approach. That’s why embracing change management is helpful.

If your company has already adopted a change management methodology it is worth embracing to support your adoption plan.  There are several versions available such as Lewin’s Change, McKinsey 7s, Kotter’s or ADKAR.  Each of these systems has its own approach, sequence of steps and terminology but change management as a discipline brings a set of capabilities that will substantially improve your adoption success rates.

The synergy between Adoption and Change Management is such that they are increasingly offered together as a single service.  As an example, Microsoft architects offer this service as part of the Microsoft Value Realization Framework.

At this point, you may be asking yourself what specific benefits change management brings to adoption.  Whilst that answer will vary according to the system you are using, this is my assessment of what these systems can bring to the adoption party:

  • An assessment of the current situation including current adoption status, an analysis of the organizational pros and cons for the new technology, and the risk factors in the adoption process.
  • An effective strategy to develop a company-wide understanding of the need to change and to develop readiness for change, including moving some employees out of their comfort zones.
  • A well-documented plan that includes:
    • Target end-user groups and prioritized scenarios (for Microsoft Office 365 adoption projects these scenarios need to be workload specific)
    • Identification of those in the organization that could help lead adoption
    • Metrics and measures of success
    • Communications strategy and cadence
    • Training requirements, including end-user and stakeholder content
    • Change management process development
    • Strategies to overcome potential resistance in employees, processes, etc.
    • Alignment of the above
  • An adaptable implementation based on the plan above:
    • Designed to deliver quick wins that can be communicated to the organization.
    • Aligned to metrics
    • That will build on the initial momentum to ensure ongoing results

What should be apparent from the above is that the specialist approach change management brings provides a rigorous framework that you can use to help drive your adoption program.

If your company hasn’t adopted a change management system, you could research and propose one for your organization, or you might want to look some of the tools that are readily available that will help taking behavior into account – such as the Six Sources of Influence Model, which is the subject of my next blog.

If you’re undertaking an Office 365 adoption initiative in your organization, Adoption Accelerator can help you run data-driven campaigns with integrated, automated end user communications. Whether it’s a workload, like Microsoft Teams, or a feature, like sharing files via OneDrive links, you’re aiming to promote the usage of, Adoption Accelerator enables you to narrow your scope during your campaign, and fine-tune your audience. This enables you to track your progress granularly, opt users in or out, and adapt your approach as you go. Find out more here.