What the IRS Can Teach Us About End User Acceptance … and Adoption

End User AdoptionWe all accept that we have to pay taxes, and that with every paycheck, there is a gap between what we earned and what we actually take home. But do we really adopt paying taxes? Do we welcome April 15th with open arms? Nope. And therein lies the difference between end user acceptance and end user adoption.

One of the most difficult problems Information Services departments face is obtaining end user adoption of new technologies. And end user adoption of a new technology, and the new processes that go along with it, is what determines whether an investment in technology really pays off. There are 5 key steps to end user adoption.

To help ensure End User Adoption:

1) Create ownership by involving users in the project. Form a user advisory group that includes members from all affected teams and departments, and consult with them early and often. Document the decisions, comments and suggestions that come out of user advisory group meetings.

2) Obtain and communicate executive support for the project early and often, too. Staff need to know that their leadership is willing to allocate the time, money and resources necessary to ensure the project is a success.

3) Set a realistic schedule for the rollout of new technologies. Make sure that schedules take into account all of the factors that may play into end user adoption, such as previous experience with technology in general or previous history with projects that have “gone wrong” in the past.

4) Provide education to ensure that staff are comfortable with the new technology, and offer training in that meets the needs of a variety of learning styles and speeds.

5) Create a support plan involving “superusers” so that employees feel comfortable asking their peers for assistance. One of the biggest fears users have is that they will lose their jobs due to not being able to use or understand the new technology.

We can’t guarantee that following the above steps will make you dance a jig when you sign your Form 1040, but they may help your IT projects be more successful.

5 Key Steps to Identifying User Requirements: A Lesson from Rosie the Dog

One of our recent Project Management Quotes of the Week was: “This is meant to fix a problem we don’t have.”  While in this case an application analyst was referring to a patch that needed to be applied to a server, IT projects are sometimes implemented without fully identifying user requirements.  In other words, they try to fix problems the users don’t have or, even worse, don’t fix problems the users do have.

Identifying User Requirements in IT ProjectsWe experienced this when we bought our dog, Rosie, a new dog bed.  She always hung her head off of her other one, and we assumed it was because the bed was too small.  But apparently hanging her head off the bed was an unknown user requirement. We tried to fix a problem she didn’t have.

How do you make sure that you’ve gathered the user requirements and help ensure that your IT project will be a success by meeting those requirements? Start by following these steps: Continue reading