User adoption refers to the acceptance of a new system or process in technology. Gaining staff acceptance is an important consideration for companies hoping to move from an old system (such as spreadsheets) to a modern, more comprehensive and efficient system such as business intelligence. A user adoption strategy is crucial to the new system's success so people know how the software will benefit their specific roles and how they can contribute.
According to BARC BI Survey, the average adoption rate of business intelligence (BI) among employees in mid to large companies is 15%. This means roughly one in ten people at companies using BI platforms use the solution for day-to-day work. Therefore, your user adoption strategy is crucial to your new system’s success and to ensure everyone understands the capabilities of the software and how it might help them.
Let's discuss four key success factors to improve BI user adoption.
Key success factor 1: Involve end users
The lack of a BI tool may be costing time and money in several departments, not just in yours. Find out which internal departments are negatively affected by a lack of data insight, or are performing time-consuming tasks to gain insights from data. Typically, these are sales, operations/inventory/purchasing, executive management and finance. There are benefits to be gained by IT adopting BI as well.
Approach those department heads to discuss their significant challenges, and develop a list of talking points for how BI will help them. Knowing what you are looking to solve can help you choose the right solution for your needs and help build a business case for BI in your business.
Key success factor 2: Executive support
Executive support is critical to the ongoing user adoption of a BI solution. How can managers gain executive support? By demonstrating the cost of not implementing a BI solution. You can also compare the cost of using spreadsheets, data storage, and other short-term solutions, along with the amount of time employees spend manually performing tasks that become automated using BI. For example, your IT team may have a backlog of cumbersome sales reports to prepare, and because BI provides self-service reporting, the reliance on IT to produce these reports is significantly reduced.
Finally, use these costs to validate the return on investment (ROI). Your executive team cares about revenue. Show them how the cost of implementing BI will be quickly overtaken by the revenue return.
Most reputable BI solutions will offer a free trial or live demonstration for customers to test their product. Once your executives are open to the idea, include them in a demonstration so they can see the benefits of BI in action.
Key success factor 3: Change management
Change management can help set your business up for data analytics success. In a survey with 111 organizations, Tech Target found that change management is critical to the ongoing user adoption of a BI solution.
BI expert, Howard Dresner says: “When senior management drives BI initiatives, change management is easier to deploy and the odds of successful BI initiatives are much higher.” Change management in a BI context is important because users who are comfortable with spreadsheets may resist adopting a new way of doing things.
The first phase of change management includes defining your strategy and preparing a team to oversee the transition.
During implementation, plans are created to communicate steps to support the staff who are impacted by the transition. These plans may include conveying key messages, implementing a training plan, and a plan to address potential resistance.
The last phase involves reinforcing the change, and this may include measuring user adoption, creating a corrective action plan, and positive reinforcement techniques, including individual and group recognition.
Key success factor 4: Training and education
Training and educating staff is a critical factor for successful BI user adoption. Douglas Briggs, Director of Business Intelligence at Washington University, found that one of the 'most effective ways to drive BI user adoption, is to hold multiple sessions of free, internal training for prospective users’.
Training from the vendor during a system implementation is a great way to get started with a BI solution. Once your implementation is complete, hold follow-up training meetings to see if your reps need additional support. Good BI solutions will provide its users with a database of training resources available on demand.
Here at Phocas, we are proud of our recent #1 ranking in Front Runners Business Intelligence Report. We are recognised for providing easy to use software and support to help you increase user adoption in your business.
You will increase the chance of a successful transition and successful user adoption by always involving end users, getting management support early as well as provide plenty of training and education so everyone can understand how BI can assist them.
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