User Buy-in – An essential element for new technology adoption

Imagine you have been working on an efficient legacy application for 10 years and you love it because you take no time thinking about how to process it. One day your company decides to replace it with a new application that can automate manual tasks. Will you be excited? Most people aren’t.

New Technology! Means learning from scratch? Completely changing the way you work! Like going back to the time when you first joined the company. It has been years of hard work to master the skills to use the current application. With new technology, you become a fresher. Perhaps you won’t match up to the new breed which is abreast with the latest technology. How do survive this new challenge? Try to prove that the legacy software was the best!

The chaos begins. Management faces extreme resistance from employees, making implementation of the new application a nightmare. Contrary to the new technology giving the company a boost, processes are halted. Employees complain that the new system is not up to the mark or cannot be learned easily.

Now what? Give up the idea of adopting the new technology while competitors are moving fast to embrace them? Any laxity in upgrading to new technology can make the organization obsolete. The options are to be an adopter or become obsolete. (In other words, be thrown out of the market sooner or later).

The challenge. How do get the employees to embrace this change in the face of their insecurities and resistance?

The solution? Buy-in.

You thought of the new technology to improve the quality and productivity of your systems aiming at improving your organization exponentially. Now, you need to think about the key users who would use the application extensively.

Scenario: Your 10-year-old employee is facing delays or other major issues with the legacy system. You go to this guy and ask him what his challenges are? Your new technology vendor comes up with a plan to address them. You go back to the employee and tell him that you have a way to help him and ask if he would like to try it? There is a high chance that your employee would want to see the solution.

You arrange a demo and put this key user to test the software. He finds it difficult, but a technical person is by his side to resolve his queries. The user sees that the software can actually solve his problems. He is then asked for his feedback. He suggests some improvements considering his experience and the work culture of the company. The vendor promises to implement those changes before the technology is brought live. Will such a person be positive about the new technology adoption? Most probably yes.

You don’t need to do this exercise with each user but with only the hottest users of your technology and those who are in the leadership role either in a hierarchy or due to their influence. You motivate them, and they carry forward your lessons to get the buy-in from others.

Another important aspect of technology adoption is training. Standard training modules with some presentations and instructions to explain how things work may not be sufficient. Every employee would have a different way of learning. One person may easily experiment with interfaces to grasp a software, while another would be reluctant and need hands-on training.

Training is a very important part of your plan. Do not rely on standard training procedures. Rather, make your employees use the software for some time when there would be experts to guide them. Here, they would only be learning and experimenting so that no matter what mistakes they make, they do not affect the existing systems. Only when they are confident enough do you migrate and go live.

The key is getting buy-in from all the potential users even before you plan the adoption. So include them in your planning stage and have the features selected, added, or implemented based on their needs. When they see that their difficulties are well understood and their voice is respected, the chances of getting their buy-in are very high. Higher the buy-in smoother will be your technology adoption, and faster will your company be ready to implement the technology to achieve your desired business objectives.

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