User Adoption – It’s Not Just About Training

Think about a technology implementation that went live for your business sometime in the last two years:

  • Are you seeing the business results and benefits you expected and counted on since you made both the financial and resource investments to make this change?
  • Is the new system, and associated processes, considered “standard operating procedure” or is it still this new thing that your organization is transitioning into (or avoiding fully adopting)?
  • Do your people feel comfortable with the “new way” or are they holding on to the “old way”?
  • And, do you know the cost to your business if they are holding on to the “old way”?

We generally choose a Go-Live date and think of that as the day a “switch gets flipped” and you are no longer in the “old way,” you are now in the “new way.” For the actual technology system, that can sometimes be the case. For the people who need to embrace and fully adopt the new, there seem to be no switches on the people that can just be flipped.


For people, change is a process.

Lets look closer at this with an example. Think about a change in your personal life. Most of us have moved from one house to another, or even one city or country to another. The day you moved your belongings into the new house was not the beginning or the end of the change process for you. Yes, there was a technical, practical side to your move, all those tasks on your checklist that needed doing and the financial investment you needed to make to do the moving tasks. But there was also a process going on inside of you:

  • The need to make the move came to your attention, you thought about it, researched, talked to family and friends, to get clear about your decision and get yourself motivated for the major endeavor that house move was going to be.
  • You gathered information, Googled, talked to experts to gather all the knowledge needed for this move to be successful.
  • You checked out what skills and abilities would be needed to be successful and either found them in yourself or found where to get help.
  • Once you made the move, there was still a lot to do to feel “at home”, comfortable in the new house. That part could take a few months, or longer, to feel truly settled if you have moved to a new city that you are not familiar with, or you have aging parents with you, or children who are now in all new surroundings, attending a new school, physically away from their best friends, and on and on.


It was a process.

You were committed to hanging in there and getting the results you wanted when you decided to make the move. So, you planned and prepared, you took great care as the process continued, you reinforced the change once you were settled into the new house until it was “standard operating procedure” for the whole family.


Guess what?

When you choose and implement a new technology in your organization, people go through the same personal process to accept, learn and adopt the change successfully. Why? In the case of the house move and the technology implementation, as human beings we have resistance, we are comfortable with how things are now (even if we have complaints about it). We have formed habits that are hard to break or we just do not want to change habits, if we are being honest.

The whole purpose of Change Management as a discipline is to facilitate people through the change process into full adoption of the change, so that the desired result, the goal, the vision can be achieved.


Prosci ® has developed a model to help us guide people through change:

Awareness – Do the people know about the coming change? What information do they have about it? Who is communicating to them? How often?

Desire – Do they want this change? Have they embraced the need? Can they see the benefit to the organization and to their self? Do they see what is in it for them? How do you know? Is the conversation on the side, “at the water cooler”, different from their official response to their bosses?

Knowledge – Do they have the information they need to understand the change, what is going to happen for the business, for their role, for the processes and procedures they must follow to get their job done?

Ability – Do they have the skills needed to be successful with the new system? Do they need training? Coaching? Job aids?

Reinforcement – Once the “switch has been flipped”, is their feedback heard and addressed? Do they continue to have the support they need to fully adopt and declare the new system and processes “standard operating procedure”?

ADKAR® — If you are an executive sponsor responsible for seeing that the financial investment your organization has made pays off, or if you are a project manager responsible for getting the new system developed, implemented and operating successfully in your business, you will benefit greatly from taking on a mindset of looking at the people side of the change continuously from an ADKAR perspective. If you need help with that, call on a Change Management Practitioner.


The only question left, is how change ready are you?



About Debra

Debra Larsen is a Director at Statêra. Passionate about change management and business transformation, she is a Prosci®’ Certified Change Practitioner and Statêra’s Change Management lead.