The average U.S. business uses software from dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of vendors at any given time. Since organizations are always changing, procuring, consolidating and integrating software is a never-ending process. 

When we think about what enterprise software is for, we think about solving specific tasks, or jobs-to-be-done. But tasks and business processes don’t happen in silos. Today, everything is integrated: every process spans across multiple software applications, and every application is used by multiple departments.

In this reality, digital adoption becomes critical — the ability of any given company to maximize the value of all the software being used. The more work gets done, the clearer the success of digital adoption is. But quite a few challenges still need to be addressed. 

The Challenges of Digital Adoption

Once a company procures new enterprise software, the next step usually involves creating or buying training seminars and online courses to teach employees how to use it properly. 

Most traditional software training focuses on functionality and features. It answers questions such as how to access and operate necessary documents or how to complete a certain task. 

What this type of training is missing, however, is teaching employees how they can use software to improve the macro aspects of their work: how to flow through the day better, faster, with more efficiency and accuracy overall. 

When we over-focus on training, it’s easy to forget the initial rationale for getting new software in the first place. Software is not about completing to-dos, but increasing everyone’s productivity to help move your whole business forward.

With that in mind, I want to present five key ideas for improving digital adoption at your organization, to help you maximize the value of new software and to also rethink how you’re using your existing software.

Related Article: 12 Principles of Digital Workplace User Adoption

1. Solve Recurring Onboarding Issues

When it’s time for onboarding, we tend to focus only on the initial rollout — that is providing training for current employees. When new employees get hired, we quickly find out there are no updated training materials to get them up to speed. 

The way any company is using software changes over time, and such changes should be reflected in the ever-evolving onboarding process. It’s relatively easy to do at the moment, and the ROI on this type of work is immeasurable. But once you skip a few iterations, catching up can be difficult. 

Another recurring onboarding issue is having to retrain the same employees all over again due to the training being too theoretical, rather than grounded in real-world problems that employees are trying to solve. 

People learn best by doing, and it’s critical to tailor your onboarding process to the tasks that actually need to be done, instead of offering feature-by-feature how-to manuals that traditional software training is often based on. 

2. Analyze Software Usage Post-Training

Digital adoption doesn’t end with onboarding. In fact, it’s just the beginning. For any software to be fully integrated into your company, you need to measure how it’s being used. 

With metrics, it’s not enough to track whether people log in to the new software or how much time they spend in it. You need to get the data that shows how employees are actually using the software to complete their daily tasks. 

Effectively analyzing software adoption means outlining all the essential processes it should help with and then closely tracking their completion. 

Related Article: Digital Workplace Key Performance Indicators: Looking Beyond Adoption

Learning Opportunities

3. Focus on Multiple Applications

As I mentioned above, it’s rare for any software to contain a whole business process within itself. On average, completing an important business task involves using three to five applications at once. 

Thus you should not only focus on new software onboarding, you should also think through how that software works with the system you already have in place. 

To improve the efficiency of your digital adoption, you should keep track of all the most important business processes involving the new software and measure such aspects as: 

  • Ease of use.
  • Successful task completions.
  • Time to complete business tasks.
  • Number of employees actively using the software.

Make sure to see how these measurements progress over time compared to the initial benchmarks. 

4. Improve Data and Process Hygiene

Data is one of the most critical assets in any company. But not all data can be trusted. Incorrect or corrupt data is not only useless, it can cost your company up to 30% of revenue.

The only way you can get valuable data is to design and enforce good data hygiene within each application right from the start, during the onboarding process. 

After data guidelines for all business processes are integrated, make sure to conduct occasional checks to see whether more training or better guidance is required. 

Related Article: Data Ingestion Best Practices

5. Be Flexible and Agile

Successful digital adoption is not always a goal, it’s a process you can always improve. 

Software (especially cloud-based software) evolves quickly, releasing new features and functionality all the time. Are you changing your training to adjust accordingly? 

My advice is to adapt the changes in your training process to actual software cycles (e.g. Salesforce gets updated three times a year). The key is to be able to update your training without putting too much strain on your own resources and taking your company out of its normal workflow. 

Following the ideas outlined above, you should see how traditional software training differs from the digital adoption of today. It’s not a one-time commitment but a continuous process that sees every task in the context of your high-level business goals and helps you get there faster and more efficiently.

fa-solid fa-hand-paper Learn how you can join our contributor community.