5 ways to achieve 98 percent end user acceptance, seriously

Men looking at computer

It’s not every day you hear of an ERP implementation with over a 90 percent end user adoption rate.

So, what if I told you achieving a 98 percent adoption rate was possible?

No, I’m not kidding. It’s exactly what Mike Martin and his team at the Hampton Roads Sanitation District (HRSD) of Virginia Beach, VA, did when implementing Oracle E-Business Suite in an 18-month timeframe.

During his session at this year’s Collaborate16, Technology and Applications Forum for the Oracle Community, Martin highlighted the five ways he was able to garner the support of end users in their adoption of a new ERP system.

Here are the steps you can use to make any technology implementation a success:

  1. Get executive buy-in

Ensuring your executives are on board with your project is critical to the success of your implementation. Make sure to have them attend meetings when necessary and actively participate in the process.

HRSD even made a brochure for executives that highlighted what the implementation team expected of them, outlining what they needed to accomplish to make sure the implementation ran smoothly.

“We knew what to expect. We told them when we’d need their help – like when confronting negative behaviors. Then, our executives were able to meet those challenges,” said Martin, who served as change management and training lead during the implementation process.

Other items highlighted in brochure included:

  • Reallocating resources as necessary to ensure project success and resolve roadblocks
  • Sharing department ERP-related implementation concerns back with the ERP team and working to resolve those concerns
  • Explaining, supporting and reinforcing the application of new processes and procedures
  1. Let end users see the software – more than once – before go-live

It’s critical that end users get to see and learn about the software well before it’s in use. Not only does this increase their familiarity with the application, it also helps with change management.

At HRSD, end users saw the software a few times before they started using it. These employees took part in:

  • Conference room pilots
  • Systems integration demos
  • User acceptance testing
  • System demonstrations

“By the time training had started, most of the organization had been exposed at some point,” Martin said. “The software wasn’t a total surprise to them.”

  1. Ensure effective organizational alignment

As with any software implementation, HRSD had to create and fill new roles. However, who will fill those roles? If you’re like HRSD, it’s the employees themselves who must take on these jobs.

But to do it effectively, Martin stressed the importance of allowing staff to focus on these important implementation job functions.

“One of the things we learned is that we needed to pull everyone out of their full-time jobs and put them on this,” he said. “We back-filled their positions and the benefits were huge.”

New roles for the implementation included:

  • Project sponsor
  • Full-time change management lead
  • Change liaisons – End users can talk/complain/ask questions to this person
  • Trainers
  • Work center champions – Promote the project; first line of help at go-live
  1. Create winning communications

As HRSD set out to communicate all that was taking place with its implementation, it made sure to thoughtfully communicate with end users. This meant not spamming them constantly with information. Rather, the implementation team distributed information via newsletters when they had something newsworthy to share.

But that’s not the only method used to communicate updates. Other tactics included:

  • Department briefings
  • Posters
  • “Why change?” business cards
  • System demonstrations, both live and recorded
  • SharePoint site for project information
  • Project email that end users could email questions, concerns, etc.
  • Critical cutover communications
  1. Deliver high-impact training

For end users, time available for training varies. That’s why it’s important to design a training program that provides flexibility in scheduling. The more flexibility and variety in your training schedule, the more likely your end users are to go through the training that’s expected of them.

At HRSD, Martin’s team also created two rooms dedicated to training before go-live and developed a classroom schedule that respected different start times and shift work.

Martin also suggested that employees who are highly respected by their peers conduct training. And don’t forget to have your executives attend. End users will be more responsive when they see senior management on board.

It’s hard to believe that within 18 months, HRSD – a sewer district that’s the size of the state of Delaware – was able to have two successful go-lives in its implementation of E-Business Suite.

In that small timeframe, with due diligence and dedication from all of those involved, Martin and his team were able to reap the benefits of their hard work. Some of those benefits included:

  • Upgrading aging databases into one central system
  • Retiring hundreds of shadow systems throughout the organization that employees entered data into multiple times
  • Minimizing manual processes and reducing paperwork
  • Providing easier access to information and reporting, eliminating information silos across the business
  • Enhancing employee self-service access to information

How else did it pay off? Just look at the response to this pre-training end user survey question: “I am committed to doing my part to make the Oracle ERP project a success.”

98.2 percent said yes.

Katie Alberti

Katie Alberti is the product marketing specialist for integrations at Hyland, Creator of OnBase. She joined the company in 2012 as a content strategist and spent the last few years focusing on marketing OnBase for back office departments. Prior to joining Hyland, Katie was a writer and reporter for nearly 10 years, covering state and local news. She received her bachelor’s degree in magazine journalism from Kent State University as well as her master of arts in teaching, integrated language arts curriculum and instruction.

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