6 Rules for Successful Adoption of Cloud-based Applications

Feb 27, 2019

Are you frustrated by patchy business take up and low returns from your IT initiatives despite investment in the latest cloud-based applications and the best endeavours of your team?

You are not alone. Many of the business leaders that we talk to have struggled to get the business results they want from a move to cloud and recent studies continue to point to significant numbers of implementations that fail to achieve their original business objectives.

Very often the problem is not the IT solution or its technical implementation. Things tend to go awry when teams focus all their efforts on the technology aspects of a project and either underestimate the business implications or fail to build a business environment that encourages effective adoption.

Here are six rules based on our experience that will help you to get the right balance in your projects and get better results from your IT initiatives: 

Understand the business impact 

Development cycles may be shorter and solution costs lower for cloud-based applications but the impact on an organization is often much greater. Projects will almost inevitably involve moving an organization quickly to new processes and operating models to take advantage of the best practice embedded in the solution. If an organization has many business units or multi-country operations, this rapid ‘harmonization’ is genuinely hard work and will require input from staff and management across the business to achieve the best results. So, don’t underestimate the business effort required for effective adoption. Understand the depth and breadth of impact on your organization and plan and resource accordingly.

Encourage active sponsorship 

It almost goes without saying, but active sponsors can make the difference between success and failure in some projects. If you are deploying SAP SuccessFactors from the UK into acquired business units in Scandinavia like one of our clients, it helps enormously to have the local leadership team on board, freeing up resources, supporting implementation and reinforcing adherence to common processes. Adoption without sponsorship rarely works so spend time in identifying, engaging and coaching the business leaders who will help you to achieve your project’s goals.

Ensure high quality engagement

There is no excuse for poor communications and engagement when successful adoption depends so much on business effort and ownership.  Don’t spend all your communications budget on generic high-level communications or one-off initiatives like ‘cabaret’ kick-off events. Deliver targeted, high value, high impact communications across the implementation life-cycle. This is what gets the right information to the right people at the right time and builds confidence and buy-in.

Invest in training and performance support

It is easy to assume that cloud-based apps are intuitive because of their user interface and that users will require minimal training to be proficient in their roles. This is not an assumption that holds up in many implementations. Sooner or later low or poorly-conceived investment in learning will impact user adoption and business performance. You need to think through your user enablement strategy and invest in the training and performance support that will build and sustain new roles and processes. If you make this investment focused and relevant you will quickly embed new skills and knowledge, maximising the benefits for future operations whilst minimising disruption to business-as-usual.

Be prepared for post go live

Technology teams tend to focus on application Go Live and the first month of early life support. Business teams need to think further ahead and the most successful projects plan and prepare for live operation of new processes well before they transition. Knowing whether adoption is on track, what KPIs to measure, who owns process performance and having the capability to intervene when things aren’t going to plan or when users are not complying to process is very important. You should never fly blind or rudderless after Go Live.

Deploy digital adoption tools

Our experience shows that a good digital adoption platform is an essential component of most successful cloud-based applications deployment. Take advantage of these tools to accelerate business preparations and support post Go Live adoption. They make targeted communication to large user communities easy, enable context sensitive and role-relevant training and performance support, provide instant user feedback and metrics on competence and compliance and support fast responses to adoption issues e.g. communicating the process changes in quarterly application updates.

Follow these 6 rules and we believe that you will significantly increase your probability of success and of achieving the strategic benefits for which you originally made your investment. 

At delaware our mission is to help our clients to get the best return on their investment in IT.