The First Question to Ask When Adopting New Software

Your organization has a problem. Something is off that you KNOW can be improved. Maybe it’s an issue with how your sales team conducts outbound outreach. Or how your customer support team manages support requests. Or maybe it’s how you manage key plans and initiatives.

You reached the moment where you said “Alright, there HAS to be a better way.”

So you start looking.

You Google the problem, talk to your network and find a few solutions. They even look pretty good… and work within your existing budget. So you evaluate the platforms and partner with the best fit for your organization. 

The next step is a critical one. It’s to ensure your organization uses the software you’ve selected. 

Adopting software shouldn’t be taken lightly. This initial phase of new software adoption is full of opportunities. But it’s also full of significant risks.

There are opportunities to accelerate and maximize your ROI, build on existing success, and generate new momentum. But there are also risks of delaying that return, reducing long-term benefit, or, not fully implementing.

So, where should you start to maximize user adoption? 

The Key Question When Implementing a New Software

As you kickoff implementation, ask yourself:

“How much change am I asking my organization and users to make?”

Answering this question accurately helps you better understand: 

  • Your starting point
  • Which current successes to leverage
  • Speed bumps you will likely encounter
  • Key steps for your organization to drive successful adoption

At AchieveIt, we believe that a strong joint partnership is a key component to a successful implementation. Over the years, we’ve had this conversation with hundreds of organizations implementing our software.

Amidst all the implementations, including our own, three common answers appear most frequently.

Let’s review the 3 ways organizations answer this question and what the answer means for adopting new software.  

Software Adoption Replaces Established Processes — Little Change Required

The first answer is that minimal change is required. Some customers have established but inefficient processes for reporting and managing their strategic projects and initiatives. They already have good momentum to tap into. Especially if this process is widespread and awareness of the inefficiencies is high.

Other similar examples include replacing manual outbound emails with an automated system or automating the process for managing customer support tickets.

If this is your situation, you’ll still need repeated communication to your users but your central message will be different.

Instead of focusing on ‘a big change,’ your communication should be “We’ve found a way to make what we’re already doing a lot easier”. 

Clarifying and reminding users of key pain points and benefits of the new way of doing things is extremely helpful. It’s common for organizations in this situation to experience rapid adoption, largely because of built-up demand for reducing those annoying inefficiencies.

Customers take advantage of increased efficiency to improve awareness and drive more adoption. This adoption helps drive the completion of key initiatives even quicker. For us, it’s by increasing their reporting cadence and visibility. They will move from semi-annual reporting to quarterly reviews. Or from quarterly reviews of progress to monthly reviews.

This change is often something that never seemed possible due to internal resistance. It’s now possible AND the positive adoption created momentum for future changes.

Software Adoption Improves Reporting or Helps Define and Standardize Processes — Some Change Required

Other customers come to us with a proven ability to complete some of their strategic projects and initiatives. But, they haven’t established consistency. Like creating processes to ensure regular, accurate, and consistent reporting on progress. Their next step is to define standardized processes to help transform their organization.

Continuing with our previous examples, similar implementations could include beginning a standardized outbound outreach program or beginning the formal ingestion of support tickets.

Customers in this situation are asking for more change from employees. And it requires more effort on the front end to establish the momentum needed to drive adoption. However, the total benefit customers realize from this scenario can be huge. The additional effort required initially can have a multiplication effect on your total return.

Adoption may not be as spontaneous as the first scenario but a critical reality to keep in mind is that there is simply more opportunity for improvement.

In this situation, work with key leaders and ‘change agents’ throughout the organization to define the full change required. Include individuals from various roles and positions that will interact with the software. By doing so, you increase the chances of successful adoption by understanding the various concerns and levels of impact.

And instead of communicating “we’re doing things the same way, just better” the communication changes. This time, it’s focused on the impact of the change. “This change will improve our reporting and drive greater value from the strategic projects you’re already doing.”

Here, successful communication on the why is the key to successful software adoption.

Software Adoption Expands Work on Strategic Projects and Portfolios — Greater Change Required

The third answer requires the most change. It’s when customers have wonderful aspirations but progress towards their goals has, unfortunately, been inconsistent or limited. 

Starting initiatives only to have them stall wastes resources. And it reduces their capacity to get other projects completed and live. This could be a slightly longer-term play but the impact can be transformational.

Continuing with the other examples, similar implementations could be implementing a sales engagement tool before committing to an outbound sales approach or adopting a Customer Success tool when ideating how to best resolve customer support questions.

Customers in this situation are looking to take the next step as an organization. They’re trying to increase organizational visibility. Or improve their outbound approach. Or improve how they respond to customers.

To best make this change, establish quick, solid wins. This can be accomplished by starting with a more limited scope. Find the primary pain that exists and start there.

Perhaps awareness of project progress and realistic organizational capacity has been limited. In this example, customers have told us that initial adoption leads to increased visibility. This not only makes meetings more productive but also improves more casual “hallway” conversations. This further enables leadership to spend more time leading and less time trying to figure out the status of projects.

But they didn’t start with the latter goal — freeing up executive capacity. They broke down the problem into a sum of its parts and started small.

Organizations in this situation capture valuable learnings and apply those lessons quickly. For a larger change, start small and let quick wins drive momentum. 

How Does AchieveIt Approach These Answers as a Software Organization?

After encountering these situations hundreds of times, we’ve worked to design our platform and services to help with countless variations on these three scenarios. 

How do we help with adoption?

First, an automated user-friendly update collection process makes immediate process improvements.

Second, easy to pull, up-to-date reports and automated report distribution help define processes.

And last, we leverage customer success and consulting services to ensure customers apply best practices to their change journey.

As you’ve probably guessed, organizations we work with move through these scenarios over time. They build on the success to drive further improvement. 

And just because your organization begins with a specific scenario doesn’t mean improvements should stop after initial adoption. Success with your initial plans and the flexibility of AchieveIt enable continual improvements for current plans and future plans.

About AchieveIt

AchieveIt is the platform that organizations use to get their biggest, most important initiatives out of the boardroom and into reality. There are so many great ideas never quite make it across the finish line because there’s no real way to keep everyone on track. You’ve got to:

  1. Get everything in view in real-time
  2. Get everyone engaged while also holding them accountable
  3. Get every possible advantage drawing on the experience and best practices of our execution experts

That’s why everyone from global corporations, to regional healthcare systems, to federal agencies have turned to AchieveIt for their Integrated Plan Management. Let’s actually do this.

Ready to improve your plan execution?

Organizations of all types leverage AchieveIt to connect, manage, and execute their most important initiatives. Replace manual processes & siloed systems with interconnected plans in a single, automated platform.


Meet the Author  George Sparrow

George has over 12 years' experience implementing web-based software and works closely with many of AchieveIt's largest, most successful customers. In addition to being a trusted resource for customers, he leads a variety of internal initiatives focused on maximizing and continuously improving the return-on-investment for organizations. George has a degree in international business with a concentration in finance from the University of Georgia.

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