Budgets Are Coming Back, But Employees Aren't Yet: Ensuring Software Adoption in the WFH Age – TechDecisions

Budgets are beginning to stabilize at some companies worldwide, meaning IT departments are shifting focus back to software and digital transformation projects which were jammed by the pandemic. Remote work has helped many IT departments realize the benefits of a cloud-first approach, but it also has them worried about ensuring tech adoption among remote and hybrid workforces.

How can IT achieve smooth technology adoption among employees who they aren’t even sharing a building with?

The project re-start

Obviously, the banishment of employees from office to home office in early 2020 put a strain on IT departments, forcing them to reconsider their priorities and hopeful projects.

“In March through June, companies were scrambling to understand the impact of the pandemic and resources had to be re-allocated to connectivity and collaboration systems, helpdesks, etc.” says Brian Berns, CEO of Knoa Software.

“But around late-summer, we noticed companies pivoting back towards upcoming projects. We just closed a few very large deals in September through October.”

Leaders are now looking at a the business climate and taking stock of where they are. The new challenge revolves around ensuring their software choice will fit their companies ever-evolving needs — the things they may have been more confident about before facing a global pandemic.

Choosing software for better tech adoption

Simply put: you have to use the equipment yourself first.

“How can you deploy anything based on a sales pitch?” Saundra Merollo, senior sales engineer at Sharp Electronics, says. “You should work with a manufacturer or another partner who has the resources to help train.”

Related: The Iowa Caucus Debacle Is A Case of Poor Tech Adoption

Does the software provider also provide company trainers? Tutorial videos? Instructional PDFs? If they don’t immediately offer these, put pressure on your supplier to do so.

According to Berns, the next question you should ask yourself when considering software options in the WFH age is: is the solution designed to work remotely?

What to do once the decision is made

Unless you want to run through a Teams or chat list of every single end user, you’ll need a method for mass communication with these stakeholders.

“IT managers used to be very hands-off, but that’s just unacceptable now,” Merollo says.

“Some people are very, very nervous when it comes to new technology, so I always say that things like simple surveys for remote employees which target their relative confidence in the product could help you get a no-pressure view into their minds and their struggles.”

“With all the different generations in the workplace, asking consistent questions of everyone pre- and post-adoption will give you a consistent view of the overall confidence in the system.”

Berns suggests other methods for getting to know how your users are getting on with the new software.

“Our data shows usage patterns are different for remote workers versus on-prem,” he says. “More dispersed usage tends to happen throughout the day, with wider gaps in idle time;, a prevalence of mobile access, etc.”

Pay attention to idle time! It’s a telling metric.

Let’s say a user task — say, shipping a product — has a 15-step process. You’re seeing a lot of idle time after step 8.

The reason for this could be non-intuitive interfaces, it could be a system or user error, or it could be that the employees weren’t trained properly to begin with.

But compare that example to an instance of idle time that’s not consistent, or seeing idle time dispersed among various steps in a given task.

“That would lead you to the conclusion that employees might be less engaged, challenged or distracted by the new environment, etcetera,” Berns says.

“You need to run software with baselines in mind, paying attention to common issues that come up.”

More questions to consider for better software adoption: 

  • Are your employees struggling with the software they’re using?
  • Is the software working differently because of compliance, privacy concerns, or connection issues?
  • Has the software actually been tested to ensure it is working properly and the workflow is intuitive?

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