By Stephanie Buckwalter
As important as building a system that captures your data in a meaningful way, is ensuring that staff are entering the data. User adoption is often the last hurdle that can significantly affect the outcome of your project. It is an essential part of a successful go-live.
The staff responsible for data entry, referred to as end users, are integral in ensuring the success of your system. It is important that end users understand the reasons for the system switch and how it will affect their work. In addition, it is important that end users feel responsibility for the information they are entering.
Keeping End Users Engaged
There are steps you can take to improve user adoption, keep users engaged and to ensure a smooth transition. The first and most important is to keep your end users involved in the process from the beginning. Making users feel included in the process and allowing them to have a voice will breed engagement.
Users need to understand why the change is happening. Even the most well designed system will take time to learn and users must learn how the change benefits them. They also need to feel accountable for the data they enter. If no one looks at the work, it’s easy to put off, which increases the likelihood of poor data entry.
And speaking of data, if you are migrating data from legacy systems, or long-held spreadsheets, it is incredibly important that the data at go-live is clean. It is quite discouraging to utilize a new system and find that the information is incorrect or that there are duplicate entries, as this will lead to a lack of trust in the database by your team.
Training for User Adoption
To improve user adoption and getting end user buy-in, training is another essential piece. End users need comprehensive training, clear instructions and expectations, and ongoing support. It is best to promote a just (or blameless) culture, where users feel they have the leeway to ask questions, and make mistakes. This support is especially important for staff who are less comfortable with technology, and will make them feel better about the change and any unexpected outcomes.
It is necessary to highlight the fields that an end user will need to complete data entry, as well as those they will need for running reports or providing updates to leadership. Identification of data and location of fields is essential to ensuring that users can find what they need. End users should be able to identify the necessary fields and understand what information is being gathered, and why.
Finally, it is important to be open to modifications and suggestions from your end users. Even the most well thought-out system will likely need moderate maintenance and updates as you learn more and start to expand use of the system. Oftentimes, using a phased roll-out, and starting with the minimal requirements for go-live is good practice, as it allows your end users to learn how to complete only the most necessary tasks at the beginning. Once end users are comfortable with their basic responsibilities, it is easier to add new features or collect additional data. In addition, this practice will allow end users to provide feedback as more sophisticated functionality is added to the system. Being open to hearing what works well, and also what does not, can affect the success (or failure) of your transition.