If you’re a CIO or CFO trying to move your organization forward with enterprise content management (ECM), you know how crucial user adoption is to a successful technology implementation. If executives and shareholders anticipate an uphill battle to get employees on board, they’re understandably reluctant to invest in an ECM system.
When you understand how user adoption works and how to plan for it, there are many ways to make a new ECM system appealing to your employees.
Workers will only adopt a new ECM or document management system if they feel it offers them new advantages. If a person believes the system is going to make their job more complicated, they’ll only use it when forced. Does it make their work more fun and satisfying? Does it make certain tasks faster and easier, or reduce opportunities for error? Whatever advantages you anticipate with ECM, communicate these improvements from the employee’s perspective.
Here are five tips to make sure that your new system is easily adopted:
- Minimize indexing data entry: Don’t give your employees too many fields to fill in when saving electronic files or scanning in paper documents. While you need a certain amount of indexing to retrieve documents easily, try to minimize data entry and explain the purpose of the fields. When employees have to key in lots of data without some rationale, it feels like a waste of time.
- Don’t go overboard with security: When companies switch from paper to digital document management, some take document security to extremes. Information that used to be quite open and easy to access is now locked up like the crown jewels. There’s usually no need for this heightened security, and it only discourages people from using the ECM system.
- Avoid disrupting how users work: The new tools should help people be more productive and efficient without changing all of your processes. The new system may make people work slightly differently, but the process should be essentially the same.
- Make the software as easy to use as possible: A good, well-designed ECM or document management solution should be intuitive enough that employees are able to use it without much training. The document management should be integrated into your other existing systems, such as your ERP or email. If employees are able to just press a button and get the results they need without significant training, it makes good content management both fun and useful.
- Don’t change too much at once: If you change all of your processes and tools at the same time, it’s hard to know what causes a mistake. But if you keep the process the same and a mistake happens, you know it’s the tool. That makes it much easier to fix mistakes. Then, once you’re used to the tools, try keeping the tool constant while improving the process.
In addition to a user-friendly ECM rollout, it’s also important to give employees additional time to learn and adapt to a new system. Workers may not be as productive at first as they were with the old system; that’s just part of the learning process. Setting a date for when you’ll stop using the old system may help ensure employees get on board with the new tools.
Ultimately, user adoption is a process that every company needs to manage and drive. Don’t assume that when one department loves the new system, others are going to organically adopt it. Your accounting team may love your new ECM solution, but they probably aren’t also telling the HR department how great it is.
After introducing the system in one department, you might want to hold a review and optimization workshop, in which you ask users about their experience with the system and if they would like to share it with another department. This process helps you get a better value from your investment and improve more of your business processes.
Ready to learn more about successfully implementing an ECM solution at your organization? Read our free e-book, An ECM Insider’s Guide: The 7 Factors For Success.
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