high five exchanged between a cat and a human
PHOTO: Jonas Vincent

When discussing digital adoption efforts, one question comes up a lot: We have a small workforce and a low budget. Which digital adoption programs do we need to prioritize so we can achieve more with less?

In the field of personal development, certain tiny habits, when well-coordinated, are known to maximize measurable productivity gains. A similar principle applies to the field of psychology-meets-technology.

Many companies deploy productivity and collaboration software applications like SharePoint, but not all succeed in getting employees to actually use the digital tools. Software turning into shelfware is a common reality for many digital workplaces. Thankfully, a set of five programs has proven to produce tangible results toward deeper-and-wider usage of deployed digital tools.

It Takes More Than One Program to Ensure Success

For many companies, reliance on user training is the default approach to digital adoption efforts.

Furthermore, this training strategy is limited to a few sessions of classroom-style presentations: Q&A sessionscustom help site and user support automation are all skipped. That is not the kind of training strategy that ensures sustainable digital adoption success.

Given that managing the human side of technology is a continual effort, you need digital adoption programs that are also continual.

Related Article: It's Early Days Still for Microsoft Teams

Prioritize Programs That Produce Greater Outcomes

To ensure employees actually use deployed digital tools and remain capable of adapting to digital innovation, start and focus on the following five digital adoption programs.

  1. Change management program.
  2. Incentive program.
  3. Governance optimization program.
  4. Workflows simplification program.
  5. Ongoing micro-training program.

Each of the programs requires a budget, a team of managers and a permanent schedule.

Change Management Program

A formal change management program will make sure all activities outlined in your digital adoption plan are implemented, monitored, measured and improved. Technology is always changing, hence, the necessity for a permanent sub-department of change management.

Layout a comprehensive change management plan. Appoint change managers, and recruit influencers from the pool of staff as well as from that of executives. Leadership involvement is crucial. More importantly, align your IT department with the company-wide efforts in this direction. A modern IT department is that which continually enables organizational change, without delay.

Related Article: Change Managers: The Key to SharePoint and Office 365 Adoption

Incentive Program

Rewards motivate action and repeated rewards motivate repeated action. Make sure employees who complete digital adoption activities on time experience some form of instant gratification.

Create an incentive program for all planned campaigns. From our experience, we found this effort produces a substantial number of early adopters whose influence plays a major role.

Governance Optimization Program

Governance policies can make or break digital adoption.

With so many capabilities and options available in certain tools, it is easy for IT teams to multiply rules in the effort to avoid chaos. If not done the right way, the imposed governance policies become barriers, rather than enablers, of digital adoption.

Limitations are necessary at times, especially when ensuring data security and regulatory compliance. But in other instances, there are better ways to make governance policies

Related Article: No One Cares About Information Governance But You

Workflows Simplification Program

With Office 365, for example, admins have the ability to create tools, processes and workflows. It is when simplicity is ignored that using a digital tool becomes an inconvenience. Aim to always deploy systems that are easy to use and workflows that are simple to follow.

In the case of SharePoint, for example, prioritize out-of-the-box solutions and avoid lengthy forms, time-consuming approval processes and workflows that require a steep learning curve, etc.

Always consider a low-to-no-code solution before you think of coding. If customization is required, wherever applicable, have users dictate the options. More importantly, make sure the program includes activities aimed to yield continual improvements of all the active solutions.

Ongoing Micro-Training Program

Running a few classroom-style training sessions may initiate a digital adoption process, but it will never sustain it. A comprehensive approach is essential. At the minimum, it should include ongoing micro-training enabled by daily-tips campaigns and automation of user support enabled by contextual help systems. A contextual help system delivers on-click display and auto-display step-by-step walkthroughs within a software application environment, in-context. 

Ongoing autonomous learning-by-doing and bite-size digestible tutorial delivery have proven essential to digital adoption success.

Related Article: A Proven Strategy to Train SharePoint Users

Focus on the Most Effective Activities

Businesses have many options when it comes to improving digital adoption, but some work far better than others. Start by allocating all your limited resources to the five winning programs, the essentials.

Once the programs are initiated, take continuous steps to ensure that change is well managed, participants are rewarded, limitations are reconsidered, getting things done is simple, and learning is an automatic habit.

Only after you have successfully implemented and mastered these programs may you think of adding more activities. With time, digital adoption should gradually and continually improve, keeping your company digitally agile.