The average IT worker uses 10.4 apps at work. What’s the harm in introducing one more, right? Wrong. If you’re using too many SaaS tools, it’s more exhausting than productive.
That doesn’t mean you should stop searching for new tools to help your business grow. It means finding the RIGHT tools -- not MORE tools. You need implementation strategies that minimize tool fatigue and accelerate adoption so you can get more done.
Adoption is what delivers results from SaaS solutions. If a new technology isn’t used, it isn’t going to make a difference. I’m sure you can easily envision a more efficient and more effective version of your company. You know the changes that need to be made to realize your vision, that’s why you’re testing out new Saas in the first place. The largest obstacles in actualizing that vision are communicating through change and getting buy-in from key parties.
Buy-in is mandatory if you want to accurately assess whether a SaaS solution is right for you. I’ve been helping businesses drive end-user adoption for SaaS products for years and can definitively say: You do not want to be the business leader who's unable to harvest transformative benefit potential from new SaaS because you can't get your team onboard. That's a seriously frustrating situation to find yourself in.
Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to facilitate SaaS adoption from your team. Before you can overcome adoption issues, it’s best to understand where they’re rooted.
Obstacles to Adoption
Tool fatigue is real, it’s discouraging, and it isn’t going away. I’d be shocked if you’re a TSP and not dealing with tool fatigue in some capacity right now.
Tool fatigue is when you have:
- Too many tools
- Too much overlap between tools
- Too much jumping between tools
As software management becomes increasingly decentralized, it’s common to find numerous SaaS tools with overlapping features. For example, most organizations use a combination of Google Docs, Slack/Teams bots, email, and employee surveys to collect feedback. What they choose is dependent on the team or use case, and in some instances, arbitrarily, without any thought to organizational cohesion. This can quickly spiral and create more trouble when trying to filter through threads to pull relevant feedback for 1:1 meetings or performance reviews.
As the work your team is doing spreads out across more and more apps, your team will struggle to find the data they need when they need it, adding complexity to their workflow. At that point, can you blame their reluctance in adding another tool to their stack?
Change in Mindset
No one looks forward to changing a well-worn workflow, not to mention the stress and the time commitment that comes with it. But adopting new software isn’t just about creating better, more user friendly processes. It’s also a mechanism to transition towards a new way of thinking.
For example, continuous feedback cultures require a totally different mindset. If your team isn’t prepared to receive feedback about themselves, feedback will come across as a top-down initiative rather than a company-wide culture shift. Instead, leaders must emphasize, communicate, and lead by example, demonstrating feedback and more regular conversations around performance are necessary to reach company objectives and a healthier work environment.
Be understanding that any approach intended to foster long term buy-in will likely take time to take hold.
Deloitte reports that up to 70% of change initiatives fail because key stakeholders struggle to adapt. That struggle can begin before anyone even begins to use the product.
It’s one thing for you to see the value in a new tool, it’s another to effectively communicate that value to your team. Think about it through the lens of selling your clients on a new Managed Security Service that you use internally; you can’t position the solution as it benefits your security, you have to position the solution as they see it protecting their data.
Failure to frame your messaging towards your team could easily lead to misaligned expectations, and sets up your new SaaS tool for an uphill battle towards team-wide adoption.
Even if you perfectly prepare your team for a new SaaS tool, it won’t make a difference if they are unable to derive value from it early-on.
First impressions are huge and whatever early impression your SaaS tool makes will drive the motivation towards buy-in going forward. So, what are your options when you need every employee onboard with a new SaaS tool? How can you work with leadership and your vendor to accelerate the spread of a SaaS tool within your company? Most importantly, what’s the right approach when you’re faced with employees struggling with change?
The wrong answers to these questions could deliver a death blow for fast adoption, leaving you flat footed with a discouraged team and without a solution.
How to Drive Widespread Adoption
Choose the Right Tools
For any problem you’re trying to solve with SaaS, there are probably multiple solutions for you to choose from. When comparing similar solutions, keep two things top of mind:
- Is the tool industry specific
- How quickly can your team use it
First, Is the tool built for you or is it built for the broad market? It’s almost always the right move to go for the industry-specific tool. Vendors in your industry speak your language, understand your business problems and desired outcomes, and will be more likely to act on your feedback and feature requests, giving you greater opportunity to shape the tool for your needs. If there are comparable tools with comparable features, going with the MSP-specific solution is a no brainer.
Second, be proactive in countering tool fatigue. Much of the software you truly need already exists: Office 365, GSuite, Teams, Slack. This is where users are already spending time.
Look for tools that embed or layer into your existing processes and systems. Make it easy for them to adapt.
Third, weigh their UX. If a tool does exactly what you need it to do but it feels clunky and poorly designed, you won’t see efficiency or effective deployment when your team ultimately hates working with it. Probably rings a bell, doesn’t it?
Lastly, how much time will it take to onboard the average employee? If it has extensive training programs and a lot of digital resources/tutorials, it will likely take more time and effort to learn the tool, making the tool susceptible to pushback. Additionally, look at what sort of support is available from the vendor. Will it be easy for your team to get help when, where, and how they need it?
Communicate Change Management
The role of management in any situation is that of motivation. It’s your duty to help your team cross new bridges despite their tendency to look back. Best way to get them moving forward? Ready them for the other side. Communicate how to get there and why it’s going to be better.
For adoption to spread you need an effective internal marketing plan that will help ingrain these habits into people’s workflows. This is where you address the how and why:
- Why will using this product benefit them?
- How can they be successful using this tool?
- How is this going to make their job easier/better?
- Why is this better than the old way?
- What do they need to do to start using it?
Think about what triggered the need for the tool in the first place. Are you struggling to train new or inexperienced managers? Are you growing too fast and need more effective systems in place to scale? Are you experiencing low engagement levels? Be genuine in what you expect the new tool to do for the organization and for them, and don’t focus solely on the practical uses, find fun ways to get your people excited about using the tool and your adoption rate will increase.
For example, even if you know introducing continuous feedback will help solve several overarching problems, culture change is a long-term benefit that will take time to implement and be felt by the team. Instead of selling the idealized result, start by focusing on a couple more immediate and specific pain points and explain why it’s critical to address it now. For example, ask weekly employee surveys that will form the foundation for tomorrow’s continuous feedback culture.
Strety Users: Use our customizable email templates to internally communicate what Strety is, what it does, how everyone benefits, and next steps all before you launch and increase your odds for faster adoption.
One of the most important factors in getting widespread adoption is widespread participation. If the vendor allows it, encourage your team to participate in the demo/trial period. Collect their feedback and let them know their input will be a part of the evaluation process. Early ownership can go a long way towards adoption.
Once you have your team using the product, lean on your superstars to crank up usage. Contrary to logical opinion, don’t look to early adopters (more on them in a minute) to help usage spread, look to your company’s key influencers. Focus on your team members who get it, you know the ones, and encourage them to be more active within the tool to set an example for the rest of the team. Even the most reluctant employees are much more likely to adapt if a coworker they trust is supporting new software and processes.
Your team is also likely to adopt new tools more quickly with rewards in place. Reward early adopters with positive reinforcement; It's far more effective than enforcing penalties or discipline over a lack of adoption.
Though you have your team’s best helping you out, you’ll need to lead by example. It’s critical that you show enthusiasm for the tool. A leader’s level of usage and promotion is a great indication of the success a product will have across an organization.
Strety Users: Acknowledge when your team participates. Leave a comment whenever a team member responds to a Check in or updates their Goal. If your team doesn’t see your feedback in the early stages, they’ll be less inclined to respond to the next prompt.
Once a tool is in place and you know you’re moving forward, force change away from existing tools or old behaviors. According to Charles Duhigg’s research on habit formation, “to change a habit, you must keep the old cue and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine”.
For example some employees just don’t feel as comfortable providing feedback or expressing themselves in written form. Changing to a more documented approach presents an extra barrier for them to adopt.
Help them through the transition by tailoring new processes to their individual needs. One size fits all will not apply. Be patient and flexible, but make sure incremental progress is being made; do not settle for a complete absence of participation or reverting back to old processes
You must encourage and reinforce usage until it becomes habitual. If there’s always the option of returning to the old way, you’ll continue to fight tool fatigue and fall short of actualizing full value from your new solution.
Strety Users: Start by setting up Check ins around what your team discusses during their Daily Huddle, i.e ‘What are your priorities for the day”. No need to reinvent the wheel. Your team will be more comfortable responding to what they’re familiar with. They’ll soon see their Daily Huddles become more productive and efficient, increasing adoption.
Set SMART goals and milestones to measure success at each implementation phase for key stakeholders in your company. Be clear what you want to accomplish, for example, at 1 month, after 3, and in 12. Goals will vary depending on the pain you need to solve, so work with your CSM to help you come up with goals you can track with the tool.
Once you hit those goals, draw attention to the quick wins that come through early adopters. Celebrate any example of the product improving specifics; i.e “Jessica’s team has knocked 15 minutes from their daily stand-up as a result of enacting new processes”. It’s vital for the team to know how the new software is making an impact across the organization.
Strety Users: We want you to be successful using Strety. Schedule time with a CSM to discuss what success looks like for your organization and let’s work together to get you there
Finding new tools to unlock your business’s potential is hard work. Once you’ve found the right solution, it can be a real challenge to take those tools and implement them company-wide, especially when you’re working with teams of varying personalities and preferences.
In order to receive the full benefit of your new tool, an intentional, strategic adoption approach is a must. Be mindful of the technology you select and the way in which you implement it and make sure adoption is top of mind when deciding on new tools, and you’ll see ROI much more quickly.