New business automation software challenge: driving user adoption

One of the biggest challenges in implementing new business automation software is driving user adoption. The right software can provide CEOs with the visibility into mid-project profitability, revenue forecasting, service resource planning, and accurate labor utilization. Many IT Solution provider CEOs will confirm that  one of their biggest frustrations is, despite having invested in business automation software they were sure would finally give them critical visibility into their business, they still can’t get the visibility they need. Why not?

The software vendor will tell you that it’s the old “garbage in, garbage out” principal. Although there may be some truth to that, as CEO of a large IT solution provider and having put in four different business automation software platforms in 20 years, I now have a different perspective.

3 reasons business automation software fails to deliver on its potential

Experience has taught me that there are really only three reasons why business automation software installations fail to deliver:

1.  The business automation software is not mapped closely enough to the company’s business processes:

    • there are disconnects between the steps the employees need to take to do their job
    • the steps are in the wrong order

2. The business has automated a poor business process

3. There are too many steps for the employee to consistently remember

Bad data due to business automation software which is not intuitive

Most employees don’t intentionally want to enter bad data. But if an employee is required to enter or update the same data multiple times, the more likely they are to make mistakes. This can happen if the software:

  • requires the employee to remember to enter the same data more than once
  • requires information from separate supporting documents to be re-keyed (separate BOM, estimate, quote, etc)
  • forces the employee to flip back and forth between modules updating the same information multiple times

When you have these issues with your business automation software, then what you have really automated are a series of disconnected tasks, not a business process.

3 ways to successfully select, install, and leverage new business automation software

Having gone through the process of selecting, installing and leveraging new business automation software four times, here is what I’ve learned:

Make sure the vendor you are selecting has specific expertise in your industry.

Not only is it critical that your software vendor has extensive industry experience, but they also need to perform a proper requirements analysis as part of their installation process. You don’t know what’s possible with the new business automation software, your only know what you’re doing now with your current software tools. Only a business automation software implementation resource with expertise in your industry will be able to understand your business processes and effectively map them to the new business automation software capabilities in order to maximize its potential for your business.

Leverage the vendor’s knowledge of industry best practices

It might save money to install the software yourself but then you’ll miss out on any industry best practices the business automation software vendor should be bringing to the table as part of the implementation. If you DIY, you may end up just making the same mistakes faster. Putting in new business automation software is often an excellent reason to justify making long overdue business process changes.

Drive user adoption by selecting business automation software that is easy to use and doesn’t require duplication of data entry

Of course, senior management must enforce the mandatory use of the new business automation software. But the truth is, if people aren’t using your current software, it’s probably because it’s hard to use. If users are required to enter or update the same data more than three times per business process, then you have automated the tasks, not the business process, and that is why you are not going to get the user adoption you need to drive the visibility into the business you want.

Get more out of new business automation software by giving users what they want

Do I believe that we could have gotten more out of our previous business automation software? Of course I do. But, anytime you are forcing people to do things that are hard, repetitive or difficult to remember in a busy environment, then things are going to get missed. And then, it is just a matter of time before you cannot get the information you want or do not trust the information you get.

At my previous company, when we moved to the PROMYS business automation software, what we found was that users actually “wanted” to use the software, because it automated their business processes, not just the tasks, which it made their jobs easier not harder. And because PROMYS made it easy for employees to capture the information that senior management needs visibility into, my job became easier as well.

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