June 25, 2009

Marketing Technology User Adoption Framework

Do you remember HAL from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey? HAL was the artificial intelligence program that took care of everything on the spaceship at the behest of the crew (and can read lips, so beware). Unfortunately, though we are well past the year 2001, there are no HAL’s to help us run our marketing software, we still have to ‘man’ our own computer programs. So, for now, we must rely on our marketing software user team to be our HAL.

Generally, our marketing software teams consist of people who are taking on new challenges by learning brand new software and procedures. I mention this because internal software changes can be tricky and change management can be a difficult program to supervise. I have found it is best to tackle this challenge head on with some good planning, otherwise you may find your end users unwilling and/or simply not self-motivated to learn the new software. Without users wanting to actively use it, your marketing software investment has just become a pretty icon untouched on someone’s computer desktop screen.

My goal with this blog is to help you combat the potential trouble spots and make your marketing software implementation a success! So with no further ado, I would like to offer up our proven Marketing Technology User Adoption Framework:

  • Identify all general users
  • Identify the power users
  • Develop a Training Calendar
  • Decide on if you will you have an internal help desk?
  • Conduct Pre-implementation training
  • Conduct Power User training
  • Conduct Post-implementation training
  • Continue user education

IDENTIFY ALL GENERAL USERS: This is something that you will need to complete for the implementation team, but this will also help you to start thinking about which users will need what type of training. For example, if you have 300 users and 150 of those users are only superficial web-portal users, there is no need to send them to the heavy training.

IDENTIFY THE POWER USERS: These users are the fulcrum of your user team. They will more than likely be the people in the software day and night – the users that others come to for help and additional training. Ideally these users should be working along side your implementation team although they should be, at the very least, helping to lead the user acceptance testing.

DEVELOPING A TRAINING CALENDAR: With the help of your implementation team, you will need to plan a training calendar. By predefining the types of users you will have up front, (general, power users, etc) you will be able to plan the training classes you will need. One of the reason for completing this so early is to make sure you have secured the proper sized rooms for the training (we all know conference rooms get booked up fast) and that all your team members being trained have this on their calendar in advance. By doing this early you and your implementation team will have plenty of time to create all the training tools necessary, including things like training databases and exercise manuals/guides.

WILL YOU HAVE AN INTERNAL HELP DESK? This question is not easily generalized because each company is so unique. Some companies will only have a handful of users while others will go live on Day 1 with 700 users. But small or large, your users will need support and help in the beginning!
It may not always make sense for a user that has simply forgotten how to add a seed list to a segmentation to call the marketing software company’s help desk. You may want to think about using a consulting company to assist you, working with your IT team and power users to provide that the internal help. Regardless of what you set up for your users, they will need help starting on Day 1, that is, if you are committed to the user adoption of the new software tool.

CONDUCT PRE-IMPLEMENTATION TRAINING: Many marketing software development companies (i.e. Unica, Aprimo, Alterian, etc…) offer a pre-implementation training option. Usually targeted for your power users, this type of training does and should not get into serious details, but it should give your users just enough information so they are more effective during the implementation and user acceptance testing. This type of training is optional, but more and more software companies are offering it as a way to get a head start. Many times companies find that with a strong implementation team on site, this training happens during the implementation leading up to the formal classroom training.

CONDUCT POWER USER TRAINING: If the power users and the implementation team are working hand-in-hand during the entire implementation, typically the power users will pick up new things during the natural course of the project, but this is no substitute for formal power user training. Often this power user training is where many of the best practices and less frequently used (but not necessarily less important) features will be demonstrated and taught. The goal for a power user at the end of training is to arm them with knowledge so they are able to assist the other general users during the training and maybe even perform some of the training themselves.

CONDUCT POST-IMPLEMENTATION TRAINING: After the implementation, user acceptance testing and power user training is complete, users will begin to use the new software tool. This training will cover the basics and it’s important that users shouldn’t feel overwhelmed at the end, otherwise your adoption will suffer. As previously mentioned, some the power users should be able to conduct this training on their own.

CONTINUED USER EDUCATION: Employees come and go so be prepared and make a plan to educate new users as they come on to your team. Also, you will need to consider providing advanced education for your current users. There are many options to help with this like: using an outside company, attending software conferences, working with your power users to provide the training, or relying on self-training. However, you need to decide what the right type of training is for your team and how that training fits in with the future plans of your marketing software.

In this blog I have introduced you to our general Marketing Technology User Adoption Framework. It should be thought of as a guide to help ensure your investment in your marketing software implementation is used by your marketing group. To fully leverage this framework it should be customized by an experienced individual who can help tailor it to your company’s needs.

Bottom line, this is all about change management and how you will help your users succeed. In the end, by helping your users become successful with their new software, your implementation has a much higher rate of success!!