How to Increase User Adoption with a Phased Adoption Strategy

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Your company is going through digital transformation. You can immediately fire up a new system or gently transfer business processes to new software step-by-step. This second approach is called phased adoption.

The phased adoption method allows you to gradually switch to a new system without stress. It’s a low-risk approach to new technology adoption — yet you need to know how to do it right. The process can last for ages if you don’t have a clear plan for phased adoption.

This article explains the phased adoption approach, why it matters, how it differs from the big bang approach, and how you can use it to drive user adoption in your organization.

What Is The Phased Adoption Approach?

Phased adoption is the process of gradually transferring internal business processes to new software systems. In this method, older systems are replaced one by one, allowing for proper configuration and testing for each system separately — without affecting operations in other business units.

During the interim period, you have time to train your staff on new operating procedures and prepare the ground for a smooth step-by-step transfer. This is an effective approach for companies going through digital transformation on all levels and wanting complete control over the process.

Big Bang Approach vs. Phased Approach

The phased adoption approach is usually opposed to the big bang approach. 

The big bang adoption approach involves implementing new technology in one go. This method implies eliminating old systems and switching to new ones without much adaptation.

However, the fact that all the changes go live simultaneously doesn’t mean that there’s no strategic planning involved. The truth is that the big bang approach requires more preparations, testing, and planning than the phased approach. It might take way more time to prepare for the big bang adoption than going through the phased process.

The Pros and Cons of Big Bang Adoption

The most significant advantage of big bang adoption is that new software doesn’t have to be integrated or compatible with systems that aren’t being replaced. You don’t need to spend time connecting new and old software and allocating resources to support several systems.

Another significant benefit of the big bang approach over phased implementation is lower costs. Since you don’t have to maintain several systems simultaneously, your expenses are determined only by the cost of a new system.

On the downside, big bang adoption causes productivity issues as the team adapts. While in phased adoption, employees undergo extensive training, the big bang approach requires people to adapt to a new system and its peculiarities on the fly. In this case, a longer time is needed to perform routine tasks and turn them into standard operating procedures.

Also, the big bag method involves high risks. You can’t run a full-system test before the launch, meaning there’s no way you can predict any issues that may arise once you go live. Problems that inevitably occur after implementation might hurt the company’s processes on all levels if you’re unable to resolve them promptly. 

All things considered, the big bang approach is sufficient for small businesses undergoing low-risk changes. However, a phased adoption approach is a more reliable and less stressful option for growing startups and mature organizations, and if the changes to be made affect your customer experience.

Advantages of Phased Adoption Approach

Compared to big bang adoption, phased adoption puts you in less trouble, supports gradual yet stable change, and facilitates faster user adoption. Let’s discuss some of its benefits in detail.

1. Fewer preparations

Before you switch to new software in one go (a.k.a. big bang adoption), you need to spend a lot of time preparing for the change. Moreover, all your preparations and troubleshooting strategies will rely on theories you haven’t had a chance to test. It’s also very likely that after a few months of planning, you face problems you couldn’t oversee in your hypothetical scenarios.

Phased adoption requires fewer preparations and more practice. You don’t waste time making assumptions — you just act.

2. Better user adoption

You can’t make your employees commit to a new system overnight. But you can train them to do so. The phased approach involves the gradual adoption of new software, giving people enough time to learn and adapt.

3. Less risk

Imagine switching all your teams — your HR department, accountants, sales reps, etc. — to a new system on the same day. How is your IT team supposed to prioritize issues that will inevitably arise?

With phased adoption, you not only avoid management and IT team overload but also reduce risks that come with decisions made hastily. If something doesn’t function correctly, it’s easy to roll back before a proper solution is found — no need to rush into making quick fixes that don’t address the root of the problem.

Phased adoption allows you to identify roadblocks and bottlenecks early and solve them with minimal impact. And if you implement a temporary interface between new and old systems, you can maintain stable performance and secure critical data during the transition.

4. Change management

Seventy percent of change programs fail because of employees’ resistance to change. When adopting new technology, you’ll have to face unwillingness to embrace digital change and find ways of convincing people to adopt new processes. Luckily, you have phased adoption.

Although phased adoption seems to take longer, it’s indeed a more effective approach to change management. Employees have more time to get used to a new system, go through training, ask questions, and develop new habits. Therefore, there’s a lower chance people will fall back into old processes.

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The Complete Guide to Change Management for Enterprises

5 Steps to Increase User Adoption with Phased Adoption Strategy

So, how do you bring your phased adoption strategy to life? Here are five steps to take.

1. Plan out adoption phases

Before rolling out phased implementation, identify the critical project phases. You need to map out all your steps toward successful new system adoption. To do so, answer the following questions:

  • What kind of software are you going to implement?
  • Which business units will be affected by the upcoming change?
  • What challenges are you expecting to face?
  • How does the change affect business processes?
  • How can you minimize the risks of negative effects?

Say, if you’re going to implement a new customer relationship management system (CRM), the change will affect your marketing, support, and sales team. Once you’ve identified the most affected business units, you can split the implementation and adoption process by the units. In this case, the biggest threat to your business might come from changing customer-facing processes. That’s why it’s best to start by transferring marketing campaigns. Switch support operations to new software when you’ve fine tuned all the other processes and feel confident about your new system.

You must focus on finding the most effective way of process migration without disturbing the most important business operations. Once you’re ready, you can move on to preparing documentation and a training plan.

2. Build a training program

Help your employees to adopt new technology by guiding them through the entire process with written documentation, video tutorials, and interactive in-app training. 

Phased adoption allows you to develop personalized training programs for different business units. It’s best to use a digital adoption platform like Whatfix to create personalized in-app walkthroughs and tooltips based on the user’s role and responsibilities. Whatfix connects to your software and enables you to speed up the adoption process by adding in-app guidance and self-help widgets right to the system interface.

 

Salesforce Integrations to Boost Productivity Across Your Organization

Alongside creating in-app walkthroughs, you’ll need to fill your knowledge base with explanations of new processes. And it’s best to do so before you roll out.

Consider running workshops at each stage of the phased adoption process so that you have a chance to show new systems in action and answer employees’ questions in an open dialogue.

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Create personalized learning & training flows for your enterprise apps with Whatfix

3. Communicate

The success of your phased adoption strategy depends on how you communicate it to your employees. If you fail to explain your plan, how are you supposed to make them stick to it?

When you have an idea of what should be done to achieve successful adoption, host a company-wide meeting where you’d talk about the upcoming changes. Walk your employees through each phase and milestone on your way to fully implementing a new solution and make sure everyone understands their role in the process. You might start a series of training workshops with this very first meeting. 


Tip: You can outline the key steps into phased adoption with Whatfix’s task lists. The feature lets you map out your action plan, share it with everyone concerned, and keep track of your progress toward complete software adoption.

4. Start phased adoption

When everyone is on board, it’s time to start implementing phased adoption. Make the first changes and see how it affects your internal workflows. Collect feedback from everyone concerned to learn what problems people have faced. If no issues arise, you can proceed to the next step of the adoption process. 

5. Measure digital adoption in every stage

As you proceed, you’ll be able to measure the success of each phase with product usage analytics and employee surveys.

Implementing a digital adoption solution will help you get insights from its in-depth analytics, user behavior data, interactions with help content, and task completion rates — all of these can be found in Whatfix Analytics. For more insights, collect real-time feedback through in-app surveys. 

It’s also important to look into how every change affects business outcomes. Is productivity increasing or dropping? What about other metrics, like customer satisfaction or retention rates? The metrics you need to track depend on the type of software you’re implementing and the areas it’s expected to impact. With data at hand, you’ll be able to adjust your strategy to achieve better user adoption.

Enable Phased Adoption with Whatfix DAP

Whatfix drives user adoption by removing the barriers between your users and true productivity across all software. It helps you get higher ROI on your enterprise software through context-sensitive onboarding and personalized training based on the user’s role and responsibilities. 

If you are struggling with your user adoption efforts across the organization, schedule a demo with us to see how Whatfix can help!

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