As exciting as innovation software is, it doesn’t roll itself out. As with anything new, it takes some time and adjustment. So, let’s take a dive into the five key psychological barriers to software adoption. How businesses can be agile as they search for ways to increase software adoption.
1. The Appeal of the Status Quo
“We’ve always done things this way, current processes work just fine, why do we even need this?”
As a manager, you might have heard this before. If a new software decision has buy-in from the top, but the employees are the last to know, it could be a recipe for a slow start.
At this point, it’s crucial to demonstrate why the software is getting introduced, which problems it solves and how it will make everyone’s lives better.
Bring as much excitement as you can. At the very least, issue an internal press-release, at most launch it with a bang; make a video, order pizza and have a party.
Not only should your employees understand why it’s needed on a rational level, but ideally, they need to be excited about it on an emotional level. As you know from personal experience, being positively charged about something makes the journey so much smoother and the obstacles don’t matter. This initial bang will give you much-needed speed in the first weeks of software adoption.
Encouraging interest: how our customers did it (from Rob Toon)
One of our clients, a property development company, nailed this approach to software adoption. They were looking for innovations for everything from how to buy and develop real estate in the Metaverse, to making their business more inclusive.
Rather than going ‘big bang’ with the software and asking for ideas for everything, they started small and focused to ensure a long lead in to the software being launched. They used different techniques such as internal communications, raising awareness, hackathons and idea workshops to collect ideas in the ‘traditional’ way, guest speakers that were experts in the areas they were asking for ideas in and, finally, they launched the software to collect these ideas.
This approach introduced the business in an empathetic way to both the software and the reason why the business needed to innovate.
2. Making it a Habit
When the initial bang wears off, inertia can catch up with us. Again, it’s not totally dissimilar to your New Year fitness resolution – it starts nice and smoothly, but when those identically grey February days seem to be never-ending, somehow Netflix becomes more appealing than the gym. That’s because at this point, we might need to apply some effort, and an effort means finding and gathering energy that is not always there.
Your task at this point is to make things as easy as possible for the users. As we discussed just now, there’s a gap between a decision to commit to exercise and exercise becoming an effortless habit. Between the two, there’s effort. So you need to help your employees feel they’re making a small effort, not an insurmountable one.
We recommend two tactics at this point:
- A continuous drip of prompts. Set up a sequence that feeds your employees with reminders of how to operate the new software. Remind them how to submit an idea or set up a project. Make those reminders visual and easy to grasp.
- Make sure your knowledge centre is easily accessible. If an employee gets stuck, they need to know where to find an answer immediately.
Overcoming inertia: how our customers did it (from Rob Toon)
A global brewery used this tactic to great effect as they were trying to increase engagement among their partner organizations.
It may be seen as ‘boring’ comms and not super sexy, but it is so important to keep your users engaged and make sure they understand what you require of them.
Our client, for example, set up a two-stream attack; remind users of their activity using regular reporting, and support and train users in key features of the software.
This is the less interesting side of the communications strategy, but it is so important in terms of building knowledge and ability in your user base.
3. Losing Sight of Your North Star
We do things consistently when we understand why we’re doing them, what the end goal is, and how it will improve our lives (well, even then we may slip to an easier route, but let’s not go there).
Management is a fine art of combining the external motivation of company goals and an employee’s intrinsic motivation. Keep reminding your users what the big goal is.
For example, one of our clients keeps reminding its suppliers, who participate in its green initiative, that if they continue to update their project details diligently it will increase the chances of their project getting a worldwide expansion. And that, in its turn, will lead to the supply chain becoming more sustainable and the world – a better place. Quite a goal to get you through the many fields of a project form!
Remember, “Why” should always be answered before “How”.
It’s a good time to introduce some external motivational perks. Our software offers a whole set of gamification opportunities – points, leadership boards, etc. Set up a competition, a game, a friendly race. Attach a reward to accomplishing a goal that is essential to the company and reinforces the Why. For example, reward an idea that demonstrates a cost-saving potential, or timely submitted projects.
Boosting Momentum: how MM Group did it (from Rob Toon)
MM Group were receiving ideas from the front line – the workers in their factories. They were keen to incentivise their staff by offering cash rewards for the top 3 ideas.
This seems very simple, but is a great example of a company understanding their people and acting on what motivates them to drum up enthusiasm and maintain engagement in the software.
4. Fear of Failure
Let’s admit it, not everyone is a tech native (this doesn’t apply to your five-year-old – they are!).
If your innovation software is used by all kinds of users, as in the case of open innovation, for example, it’s reasonable to expect that some users may simply be scared to do something wrong and look silly.
To make sure this doesn’t happen, we have a team of friendly training managers, who can always hold your hand during the software roll-out. Our marketing team is also there to arrange special training days or online events with positive vibes only.
In any case, try to communicate that your users can’t “fail” at using new software, the help is always there and they’re never alone.
Improving understanding: how our customers did it (from Rob Toon)
We worked with a huge organization that was focused on engaging their supply chain through innovation software to submit their cost-saving ideas.
This customer had the challenge of engaging with their users, in this case their suppliers, to ensure they knew exactly what was expected of them when they signed up to the software.
As with everything, a blended comms approach worked best. Comms when launching the initiative, setting the scene by leadership, training materials shared, and on-demand training built into the software itself. This blended approach included a mixture of videos, articles and in-person (well virtual) training calls.
5. No Champions
People are social creatures and they model their behaviour (or at least some of it) after opinion leaders in their social groups. The same applies to organizations.
Not having innovation champions would mean the pace of software adoption will be dragging when it could be flying. Enthusiastic users will spread their passion, making it so much more accessible for everyone else, normalising software use in the organization at a much greater speed. They will create the feeling “everyone’s already doing it and so should I”.
Creating a Network of Champions: how our customers did it (from Rob Toon)
One UK construction organization we work with has the best example of a network of champions that I have seen amongst our customers.
In fact, they had the network before they had the software, and the software enabled the network to grow and perform better!
The best thing they did? Gathering champions from a range of backgrounds and levels of expertise, then getting to know them. The commonality between the champions was their understanding of the process and the reason why they were doing what they were doing.
In Summary: How to Boost Software Adoption
And there you have it – 5 key barriers to innovation software adoption and how your business can overcome them!
But, if you need an extra helping hand (or two!) our team of experts are here to help. Check out our Professional Services offerings to find out more.