Getting the most out of your enterprise system: it's all about user adoption

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One of the presentations at this year's Kinexions (our annual user conference) struck me as being valuable for any company that has deployed software and wants to get full value from it. The presentation was put on by Ron Stappert, Senior Director of Supply Chain and Devin Taylor, Senior Director of Advanced Planning from Jabil.  Jabil is one of the largest contract manufacturers in the world with 85000 employees in 55 sites around the world. Jabil bought RapidResponse in 2000 and has 4300 named users that have accessed RapidResponse in the last 12 months.  They have roughly 250 users accessing the system at any one time.  For supply chain software, these numbers are impressive.  The question is, how did Jabil do it? Ron and Devin identified 3 key factors; Users get what they need - A user friendly environment; the ability to easily customize views backed with powerful analytics means that users can immediately use the software to get the answers they need.   All Jabil users have the ability to author resources - that is, the ability to create or modify the views that they use.  Most users simply add a column, others however, create complex resources from scratch. Tools match the process - The tools that were deployed match the processes used.  This helps to ensure that the users can learn the new tools as they learn the process. User training and functionality - Users are trained and encouraged to modify their views to simplify their tasks. Further, users are allowed to experiment and are given support if they have questions or are confused.  Jabil has "subject matter experts"  within each group who provide support within that group. Two of these factors have a dependency on the software that you are using. If your system requires 3 weeks of consulting to add a field or change a report, I'm afraid user adoption is going to suffer.  Your software just isn't agile enough to keep up with today's changing business processes.  Flexibility and ease of use must be key items on your software selection matrix. Jabil's training philosophy is interesting as well.  Devin showed how they created a simple data environment that can quickly be loaded and used to demonstrate key aspects of the software and resources in the context of the problems that users would face day to day.  The scenario started with a simple problem and complexity is added as the new user starts to learn. Ron and Devin outlined some basic suggestions to improve user adoption; Develop internal expertise - This is the subject matter expert (SME) that I mentioned earlier.  Ron and Devin went one step further and recommended that if possible, the SME should be retained when workforce reductions occur.  As we have seen, workforce reductions are often followed by workforce increases and SMEs are very useful to train new employees. Leverage training resources by the vendor - Kinaxis and many other software vendors offer free training in the form of streaming videos that your users can leverage to learn. Read the Manual - (or as Devin put it….R.T.F.M - Read The Functional Manual ).  This is all about getting new users to help themselves.  Get them used to going to the manual first.  This means that you will have less work supporting them, and they can get the answers they need when you aren't available. Look at your systems.  Is user adoption where you want it?  Do you find users going back to the tried and true (like Excel) to do their jobs?  Maybe you need to take a closer look at how your users are trained and the support you give them.  Perhaps there is some potential that you can unleash to drive user adoption to the levels you need.

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