There is no such thing as a successful project without succesful adoption. No matter how well your interface integrates with other systems, how much need the organization has for the solution, or how much time you've put into the solution, without adoption, end users won't know how to properly use your solution, and therefor all your efforts are likely to go to waste. But rest assured, because adoption is here to save the day!
Everyone involved in a project must recognize the following: a need arises within the organization, the perfect solution is developed and after a few years the then so perfect solution, suffers a silent, lonely death leaving everyone wondering 'where did it go wrong', 'why didn't we use it?' The answer is: adoption.
We admit it: adoption is difficult. Drawing up adoption plans requires a lot of time. And if that is not bad enough, after going 'live' it will most likely take up even more of your time. But you will see that it's worth it, because if that need is really present and the solution is really good, people will want to use it. They however cannot do so without the right support. And with a good plan and thorough implementation, your solution too, will succeed.
Step 1: Determine vision & describe scenarios / Start on time
One of the most common mistakes in the adoption process is that it only starts after the project plan has been drawn up and established. Even before the project starts, at least one project member needs to get up and get started immediately with the adoption. Because if you want to determine what your organization needs, you first need to know what the current bottlenecks are, what challenges and dependencies there are to solve them and which colleagues you need.
Collect a strong team of organization-wide stakeholders around you who, like you, understand what, why and when. And believe in this!
Step 2: Prioritize & plan
As soon as the project has the vision and scenarios clear, it is time to determine where the priorities lie. Which solution fits here and for the organization to determine the right strategy. This is also the time to put your adoption team together, who will jointly make the adoption process a success?
Do not forget to check the above regularly, for example with the help of a pilot or a proof of concept. When you build it in the right way, it can be used as a basis for your end product and therefore no work and initiative is lost.
Honesty and a realistic view of the world are essential here. Know your customer. No matter how beautiful a particular solution may seem, it is only successful if one understands why and wants to take the trouble to use it. Make it feasible. A realistic and good (communication) planning can not be forgotten at this stage.
Step 3: Get out there
Now that the project is starting to take shape, it is time to create awareness among your colleagues about what is coming and when. Managing expectations is of great importance here. Do not promise more than what you can do and listen carefully to the questions you get during this phase. This will help you to draw up adoption materials and the roadmap for further development after the launch.
During this phase, you will also discover who can help you in phase 4 to spread the successes. These future 'fans' will ask the most questions and if you go about it smartly, they will be the ones most motivated to get their hands on your new tool.
Make sure that the whole adoption team is available during the go-live and the first period afterwards and that everyone has the same knowledge about the solution! This seems to be an open door, but in practice this often turns out to be a small part of the group.
Step 4: Measure, evaluate, and don't give up
From the moment the project phase is over, the work for the adoption team really starts. After going live, most questions come, the first successes and the first new wishes and questions from the organization.
Do not expect the go live to run perfectly smooth. No matter the amount of preparations of the project teams, there are always unexpected circumstances that you will come your way. It is therefor necessary to be as flexible as possible. Do not let yourself get distracted by minor set backs, take it easy, step by thep. Also don't forget to enjoy the successes and share them with the organization, this is the best way to positively promote your project.
And don't forget: nobody understands the chosen solution as well as you and your team. You have been working on it daily (for weeks), while the majority of your colleagues still have to get used to the new solution. So even if you have to repeat yourself over and over again: do it. Do not give up. It's impossible to force understanding to someone. Until then: keep calm and love the process called adoption!