Today, businesses spend a significant amount of money on SaaS. We use SaaS solutions for nearly everything now: payment processing, CRMs, organization, communication, project management. I could go on.
According to Gartner, SaaS solutions we use are now becoming "Mission Critical" meaning that businesses are trusting these solutions to help them with critical business tasks. Traditionally these solutions were in on-premise applications, requiring a full-stack of software and hardware to be sized, purchased, delivered, and configured before work on the application could even start. Solutions that have taken the SaaS route are mostly as simple to use as a click of a button.
But, have you ever purchased a SaaS product that was supposed to be the solution to your problem, only to later realize most of your team hasn’t adopted it after months (or even years) of you paying for the service?
Yup... that’s what happens when you assume your teams will use the awesome SaaS solution you found, but didn’t keep track of the adoption progress (or lack thereof).
That poor SaaS solution you bought is probably an incredible product with a perfect user experience, but some (or most) of employees still won’t use it...It actually happens more often than you think.
And for the past few years, that’s been the case for many well known software companies.
These are Goliaths of certain industries, leaving opportunity to smaller startups to fill the gaps.
Yammer is still dealing with the possibility that: "...Enterprise workers are holding onto email for dear life and are not prepared to give it up". (source)
It’s not just Yammer though.. Salesforce Chatter has had some similar issues:
"Don’t just turn Chatter on and expect it to get used." - Gary Diora (CloudSherpas.com)
Benefits can be hard to see immediately for a lot of applications. New tools and solutions force people out of their comfort zone. They simply don’t know how to set them up, or utilize them best. All it takes is one poor experience to torpedo adoption.
But there’s no reason a SaaS adoption can’t occur smoothly for your business. You just need to influence how your team adopts the SaaS solution:
Your team will gain confidence if your leaders are actively using and championing the solution themselves. As the leadership team, do not just hand them a solution you bought and say "use it". Buy in can have a domino effect, if done right from the top down.
Teaching your team how to use it all the same way is important, and might be worthwhile to incorporate it into your new hire training. Having lunch and learn sessions, remote webinar trainings, and designating a resource on your team for any questions can all help with boosting adoption of your SaaS tool.
Leadership needs to be held accountable, and regularly. Adoption metrics, timelines and goals should to be established immediately to make this easier. If adoption isn’t happening, you’ll find out much quicker by keeping tabs on how often it’s used and the pros/cons of how it’s working out.
Try to not make people go out of their way for something unfamiliar. You can’t expect your team to lose momentum on the things that were working on previously. If a solution is more work to access, open, utilize, and gain value from, then they won’t use it. The SaaS solutions you choose have a better chance of success if they can be used in their existing routine.
Finding a solution that fits into their already successful workflow makes it much easier for them to take on. The risk of trying something that’s basically right in front of them is low. It’s so hard to break habits, so when evaluating SaaS solutions you need to make sure you take into account the workflows of each persona using the tool.
Too often, you see that it’s the managers who are the ultimate decision makers who choose a solution based on the features, functionality, and analytics capabilities of the tool. But what they fail to take into account is the end-users who are leveraging it everyday. When making your final decision, it may be a good idea to bring in some of the potential power users of the tool into the decision making process as they will have a better idea of how the solution will fit into their workflow.
Most SaaS applications offer simple analytics or data to help you track usage of the most used features. Be careful of any tool that does not, because it’s going to leave you blind compare to others that do.
Using data to understand adoption, or lack-of-adoption, can be an important aspect of optimizing the amount of value you gain from any given tool. The top performers and leaders on your team should provide you insight based on their usage, which can be used to help give structure and guidance to the rest of the team.
And, as we all know, sometimes what a person says they do and what they actually do, can vary quite a bit.
Using data to help you make decisions and understand adoption is now the standard, not the exception.
Allow power users to teach the team to ensure they are using your SaaS solution right and how they can utilize it in the best way possible. Uncovering champions is important, but making sure you use their behavior as a model of usage is even more key to the rest of the team’s adoption.
Transparency breeds trust, and if you have top performers that are able to verify that something works, then the rest of the team is more likely to follow. This gives team members a direction through demonstration. Without a clear path to success on how to use a solution, people will wander off in their own directions and not fully unlock the potential value.
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