10 Tips for Successful User Adoption

Tip 1: You can do it – but don’t go it alone!

Project Server user adoption planning requires a team of players. This team should include stakeholders from all impacted business areas.

Consider external resources who may use the tool you’re looking to adopt. These resources could be other customers and partners or members of user groups. Hearing from sources outside of your company increases confidence and provides opportunities for learning at all end user levels, at all stages of the process.

Vibrant Fusion consultants can help you:

  • avoid common pitfalls
  • demonstrate Project Server and Project Online based on your specifications to your executives and end users
  • work with you to create an adoption plan

Whenever we consult with a client, user adoption is a part of our implementation plan from the start. However, we rely on a strong customer team of sponsors and stakeholders. The more prepared the team is, the better we can guide them through the process.

Tip 2: Know where you’ve been to know where you want to go.

User Adoption Planning begins before you even select the next tool. Why? So you can measure and set goals based on where you are at that moment.

When planning for a new system such as Microsoft Project Server or Project Online, your business case includes the justifications for the system: quantitative factors such as cost-savings from efficiency, current pain points, and qualitative factors like a modern interface, mobile-friendly apps, and more. This information is fantastic fodder for communications. Hold on to it. Don’t lose it.

Tip 3: Really know your Audience

It’s a common misconception that the sole answer to successful user adoption lies with a happy end user base. However, end users aren’t the only keys to user adoption success. Consider the end user leadership’s expectations and engage them in your planning process. What can these leaders do for you?

  • Echo your communications to their team
  • Monitor and enforce processes and procedures
  • Allocate time for training

The business area leadership can be a powerful ally in a large communication strategy as end users often respond better to messaging from their own leadership rather than IT or PMO leadership.

Make sure the business area leadership understands the significance of their role in the user adoption process.

Tip 4: Create a Powerful, responsive support network

Successful Project Server / Project Online implementations utilize a strong support network. This usually includes the Project Management Office, IT support as well as the Vibrant Fusion support team.

Successful Project Server / Project Online implementations also utilize a group of power users or as we like to call them, Champions. These resources are a subset from across all impacted areas, and are invaluable for:

  • Providing feedback in the early stages of planning
  • Being an active voice for your project that is not leadership. They are closer to the end user and can help improve confidence because these resources know the end users
  • Acting as first-level support when troubles arise
  • Communicating messages post go-live to team members
  • Communicating feedback post go-live to the Project team

And it goes without saying that, responsive support plays a great part into not only addressing the current issue but preventing future issues!

Vibrant Fusion’s Support Team can help you quickly identify the cause of an issue and provide possible solutions or workarounds due to their experience working with many other customers and Microsoft.

Tip 5: Only implement the right features and tools

When implementing a system, don’t attempt to do everything at once. At Vibrant Fusion, we call this the Big Bang Deployment – and we highly recommend against it. Doing too much too quickly can introduce too much change in the organization. Instead, choose the tools and features that help you meet the goals you identified as well as those that will bring excitement to your users. Features that save time, and improve processes are usually the best candidates as these help meet savings goals as well as are good winners with end users.

In the Microsoft Project Server / Project Online space Vibrant Fusion’s KwikPMO provides many tools and features such as the Resource Schedules dashboard that allows executives, resource managers, and project managers to quickly view resource availability without having to run reports or navigate through the Resource Pool.

Consider gathering feedback from your Champions on the tools that are valuable and generate excitement!

Tip 6: Implement features and training in phases.

Along with avoiding the Big Bang deployment, a phased approach to implementations provide a more easily ‘digestible’ load for your end users. By allowing time to focus on learning the minimal amount of features required, end users will not feel overwhelmed and can more easily implement the tool into their daily processes.

A phased approach also allows for just-in-time training that focuses on the tools they are going to use now.

Tip 7: Create a consistent realistic Message

By now you should have:

  1. Identified your goals – the whys and wherefores of this implementation
  2. Identified your audience – including end users, key stakeholders, and your new Champion group
  3. Identified the exciting, time-saving-super-fantastic features that everyone wants!

Take all of the above and begin creating a consistent message for each level to embrace! What do you want executives to share with their staff? What do you want Champions to communicate to their team members?

But what should your message include? First, place yourself in the shoes of each of the audience members. What would you be concerned about? Your message should address these concerns. Second, think about what’s going to be asked and try to address that before it’s asked. You’ll be a hero.

Typically, this includes the following at various stages of the process:

  • Why the new system – the goals you plan to achieve
  • How it will benefit the recipient of the message
  • How it will benefit the organization
  • What pain points it will resolve – again, try to be specific to the end user
  • What challenges the end user may face, and that the organization is aware of a transition period
  • How you’re tracking against the goal you set in the beginning
  • Options for the recipient to see the tool (websites, images, demonstrations, etc.)
  • Methods for the recipient to provide feedback
  • Future Roadmap
  • Training
  • Support plan (Champions, PMO, IT Help Desk)

Tip 8: Communication – Now, Again, and Always

If it isn’t obvious already, 75% of successful Project Server / Project Online user adoption is clear, consistent communication. We’ve covered what to say, and towhom to say it to, but what is often missed is when to communicate.

The answer is now. As in: as soon as you have your message. Your first message may be a small statement in a town hall or staff meeting.

Continue to communicate throughout your process, consistently, and in a bi-directional manner.

  • Receive and respond to feedback
  • Have end users hear a consistent message from multiple sources. This builds confidence that it’s not solely benefiting one area but the overall team and organization.

Tip 9: Training

It’s hard to believe how often training may be neglected, or relegated to a universal job aid or link to a website or help file. However, do not skimp on this critical last step. Here at Vibrant Fusion, we consider the lack of skills to be one of the greatest risks that a Project Server / Project Online implementation can face. The best way to mitigate this risk is to create a training plan for all user types and provide that training in multiple formats.

Proper training should be:

  • Specific to the end user’s role and process
  • Utilize a “day in the life” approach
  • Be presented by a professional who knows the tool and the end user’s needs

Training is critical to minimizing user anxiety and helping the user properly and efficiently use the tool. This is why you’re implementing the tool, right? All Vibrant Fusion Architects are also skilled and certified trainers to help ensure your organization receives the best possible Project Server training.

Tip 10: Rinse and REPEAT!

Congratulations! You’ve made it to the end! Now …look back to where you were in Tip 1. How did you do against your goal? Gather feedback from the end users, stakeholders, and Champions. Surveys, lessons learned meetings and more are helpful.

Then – repeat the process! Create a new Goal, implement the new features, and continue communicating and evaluating!