The Connection between User Adoption and Project Management Success

The term user adoption is one that is becoming increasingly popular in theproject management world. An overwhelming majority of executives will agree that user adoption is a critical element to project management success.  However, user adoption is one of the toughest things to manage. Because user adoption involves changing human behavior, it is one of the biggest hurdles to the successful deployment of a new system or project. Collaboration expert Michael Simpson recently stated, “Difficulties with technology represent 10 percent of any kind of user adoption hurdle. The other 90 percent are due to poor project management, lack of collaboration and user engagement.” In other words, technology should not be the main focus of change. Rather, it is the focus on changing the mindset of the people that will make all the difference in the world.

Challenges of User Adoption

The challenges of user adoption are not isolated to the project management sector. Humans naturally resist change in everyday life. Everyone knows that a consistent exercise program provides many long-term health benefits. However, by nature, people make excuses on why they do not work out.   No time, lack of energy, and too busy are just a few of the excuses people use to get out of their daily exercise routine. The typical default behavior is to continue doing what you have done in the past, because it easier. Jumping off the couch and away from the television set for a 20-minute jog outdoors is a change. And this change will not take place unless there is some consistent follow-up process in place.

Marshall Goldsmith, a nationally recognized management coach, says, “The most reliable predictor of what you will be doing five minutes from now is what you are doing now. Very few people achieve positive, lasting change without ongoing follow up.”  Goldsmith used the habit of watching television as an example. Goldsmith points out that when people are done watching a TV show, chances are they will zap the channels and continue watching something else.  Simply put, without some sort of on-going process in place, humans will continue to do what they have always done.  

The Importance of Measurable Milestones

On the other hand, if there is a process in place where there are measurable milestones and the progress, humans are much more likely to change.  Furthermore, most people welcome change if it makes their jobs and lives easier.  Additionally, when team members are aware of why these changes are being implemented, the natural resistance to any changes will begin to fade.  Going back to the exercise analogy, when there is a trainer, workout partner, and a measurable plan in place, the resistance or excuses for not working out are eliminated.

A study by Forrester Research indicates that a lack of user adoption is the primary cause for 70 percent of failed projects.  With staggering statistics like this, why are corporations not focusing more on user adoption?  It is probably the same reason why so many people are ignoring their commitment to an exercise program.  Even though lack of exercise causes 1 in every 10 pre-mature deaths per year (same as smoking), people continue to ignore the importance of exercise.  Although there are no guarantees that health issues will not arise with individuals who exercise regularly, a consistent workout regimen doesn’t hurt your chances.  Likewise, efficient user adoption is the absolute best predictor of project success.  The key to this effective user adoption is to have a comprehensive change management plan in place.  While there are many different types of change management plans and approaches, there are a few consistent themes that should be factored into a plan.  These themes are broken out in the three levels of end-user adoption whitepaper created by Innovative Management Solutions.

Understanding User Adoption 

At Innovative Management Solutions, we understand the biggest challenge in technology-driven change is achieving user adoption.  Ensuring the end-user embraces the changed technology involves modifying behavior and shaping attitudes.  We also understand that systems don’t change people; people change people.  Knowing this, we have broken out three levels of user adoption and have detailed the strategies your organization can implement across all three levels.  The resource will help organizations take a step closer to developing a culture of end-user adoption. Once this culture is off the ground, corporations will begin to see the correlation between their user adoption efforts and the success of their projects.

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