Article | May 11, 2017

Tips To Perfect User Adoption

User Adoption Strategies For Field Service

By Ken Kelly, president of Kelly Roofing

As with most companies, our biggest issue implementing changes is user adoption. After years of struggling with the foe, making tons of mistakes, and committing to success we have learned a few tips. These concepts have allowed our company to go from a 1:$75,000 in revenue per employee ration to 1:$160,000 over three years. Perhaps these ideas can help your organization tame the largest cause for stagnation businesses face today.

Take The Time To Shadow

Before we make any changes in the company, we now shadow others so we become intimately knowledgeable about what they do and how they do it before suggesting any changes. Even the most rigorous SOP's, procedures, and requirements are open for interpretation. Our job in leadership is to provide value to those we serve. The best way to do this is through Genchi Genbustu — the act of going to see for yourself. The time you spend with front-line coworkers helps to build alignment and open communication. We have found that much more is shared during one-on-one sessions at the employees’ station than ever would be shared in a meeting or conference room. The ability to be open minded is the most valuable trait a leader can possess going into shadowing events. This is not the time to be defensive. Listen, take notes, and ask a lot of questions. You'll quickly have the tools necessary to ensure the change your company is about to make will bring value to front-line workers, and hence quickly become accepted.

Enlist Change Champions

In every area of the organization, there is that one person that "gets it.” They own their position, see the big picture, are willing to help others, and lead up the chain of command by providing leadership with the information needed to make good decisions. Regardless of position, champions exist. They want to do better, and they have the capacity to grow. A great book to help learn about this principle is Traction by Gino Wickmann. Champions are the best place to start when considering a change. If you can get their buy-in, you're likely on the right track. Bring in a champion from each department to form a focus group. Most of the time, their ability to help drive improvement, and a little recognition, is all that is needed to get their full support. Use the time to relay feedback from shadowing events. Champions can help parse the information into actionable items. Present your ideas along with the group in this way, "I'm thinking about changing our ERP software. The one we have is outdated, doesn't give us the insight we need, and is no longer maintained by the developer. I've done some research and I'd like to show you the program I'm considering. I need your help to show me where this would not work." When your solution is chosen and the green light given, champions will bring their respect with others to bear on helping to implement the new solution.

Consider Agile Development

Except for very large projects we have moved to a “development in production” environment company. If the same amount of time typically allocated to testing is repurposed for upfront development perfection, there won't be a need for testing. The key to making this successful is to have a representative from each area of the organization affected to be part of development. Of course, this is not their area of expertise, but it doesn't have to be. What you're looking for is input. By creating in a group with every area of the company being represented, the zero to hero time from will be drastically reduced and the output a far more successful project than the standard development process. Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect — it just has to be better than what you have now. There's always time for phase two and three later. This approach also gives your team time to absorb the new system and avoids large culture shocks.

Workforce Boot Camp

My son returned from Marine Corps boot camp with more knowledge, confidence, and ability than I could have imagined one could gain in just thirteen weeks. The key to boot camp is that every Marine must go through it. Although there are hundreds of jobs, roles, or MOS's in the Marine Corps, everyone starts with the same basic knowledge. After implementing the boot camp philosophy in our company, we found a natural cross training, culture shift, and desire to cover for each other mentality throughout the company. Everyone can deliver strong customer service, has a firm understanding of our company's processes, and believes in our mission.  To see where your company stands, email me for a copy of the organizational checkup form we have all employees complete every quarter. This is an important KPI that leadership reviews and improves on. Because everyone is on the same page, adding a new system to their daily routine is considered necessary for continued success.

5,4,3,2,1 Blastoff

In her book The 5 Second Rule, Mel Robbins talks about the brains’ ability to talk us out of doing things we know are good for us for fear of acceptance. Since organizations are living, breathing, organisms run by people, the same is true for them too. When the project is ready for deployment, just do it. Consider training in very small groups lead by the campions. A form of recognition is a great way to reward for the training accomplishment. We like to email that person's manager so the manager knows they possess a new skill. The manager is instructed to then test that skill as soon as possible with a real-world situation. The reinforcement ensures adoption. We also like to make mini-champions out of the people who show signs of grasping it so others around them have another person to go to for questions.

Ask For Continued Feedback

Refinement is where change really gets its traction and brings exponential ROI. Small changes are better than big ones in my eyes. The one second time savings here and elimination of an unneeded step there are worth millions over time. Empower everyone inside and outside your organization to provide feedback. Aside from internal staff, vendors and customers are also great resources of change. We like to ask, "If you owned our company, what would you change?" Vendor relationships are partnerships. They know your company better than you do in many cases. Vendors are close enough to notice, but not close enough to say something. Be sure to reach out to your suppliers for their input too.

Don’t Fear Rapid Changes

Once an idea is presented, act upon it immediately. Even if your initial reaction is that the idea isn't that good, make sure the person suggesting it is thanked and let them see it being added to the discussion list. Good ideas should be put back into agile development and implemented right away. The quicker the idea is in place, the faster your ROI will grow. It also instills a sense of pride in the person offering up the suggestion, prompting them to look for the next thing.  Remember, the key is small changes. Little, tiny changes over time are much more powerful than big ones. We like to think that big changes cause disruption and small ones result in efficiency. When users know their opinion matters they will embrace the changes.

There is no silver bullet to user adoption. However, doing some or all of these tips can have a lasting impact on your organization’s ability for new processes to be implemented quickly. This is a virtue organizations can leverage to outpace their competition and become market leaders. If you have any follow up or would like to discuss our journey, please feel free to email me at

Ken Kelly is the president of Kelly Roofing,