In its broadest sense user adoption is the process by which people are encouraged to change their behaviour in some way. Although the process is old, the terminology is relatively new and is often heard when some sort of technology is being introduced that changes a way someone does something.
Perhaps one of the best examples of user adoption in action can be seen in the rise of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like; where people have moved away from the telephone, letters and email towards keeping up with family, friends and brands online.
In organisations it’s most commonly seen when a new way of working is introduced, in my world this is usually when Office 365 is introduced. People associated with the company move from an old way of working by making changes to their behaviour and sometimes culture, to a new way of working often designed to improve productivity which is (in theory) newer, better, faster, more comprehensive, and altogether more efficient.
User adoption is essentially a fancy name for change management, and if I’m brutally honest, there are only ever two ways to go about change management:
- The Genghis Kahn method of change management
- The influence model
Which an organisations chooses to use depends a lot on the change that’s being introduced.
I work in the technology industry and typical changes include updates to current systems, for example an update to a new HR system; a change of system to replace something that is either out of date or no longer support; and finally something completely new.
If it is a change to, or replacement of, an essential system that all staff must use, for example a time recording system or client information system; then the Genghis Kahn approach is often the most cost effective and simplest to implement. It revolves around two primary strands, communication (about the change) and training (how to use the new/updated system). How communication and training are delivered is a matter of choice. A typical response to a question might be ‘that’s just the way it is!’ with the follow on statement ‘so get over it ..’ implied but hopefully not said.
However, if it is enabling a suite of tools staff can choose to use or not like Office 365, then the change management process is much more complex and the most cost effective and simplest approach is the influence model. The answer to a typical question might be ‘what do you need do?’ with the implied statement being ‘there are lots of ways you can approach this and we need to discuss what might be the most appropriate’.