7 Steps for Driving Adoption for your New UCaaS Solution

May 03, 2018 by Matthew Welch

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Why is adoption so important and how to set up for success

Change is constant. Humans are constantly innovating and evolving, trying to make things better, faster, more reliable, or more efficient. In the business world, changes are often seen as way to create competitive advantages, enabling the business to leverage technology and innovation to drive improvements and facilitate success.

Typically when companies embark on wide-scale technology projects, they are really looking to drive a process or behavioral change. Deploying a UCaaS solution is no different. Like with any technology, it must deliver an outcome to be successful. As IT organizations mature, they quickly realize that simply adding capabilities to a person’s working tool kit does not guarantee usage or benefit realization. Change is the result of a shift in behavior and actions of a community, not simply an investment. True change only comes through adoption.

This blog looks at what steps can be taken to improve the chances of successful adoption of a new UCaaS solution, or any change that is implemented within an organization.

Step One: What does success look like?

It sounds obvious, but it’s a step that many organizations fail to do. For a project to be successful, it needs to have a clear set of tangible objectives and measures. As part of the initial business case prior to making an investment, the project stakeholders must develop a set of requirements, the expected benefit of the requirement, and also a plan for how these benefits will be tracked during the life of a contract.

An example of a measure would be to improve the customer journey, when making a support call, the success measure can take the form of a reduction in the handling time for a call, or an improvement to the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as this shows the tangible improvement

Step Two: What do my users need?

Following on from the high-level requirements, it’s important to validate the needs of your workforce. After all, even a well-intentioned change will not be adopted if it does not support their needs. It's important that a working group is formed to understand the different types of users and their differing needs. The working group should be part of the requirement definition, proof of concept, and success definitions.

Engaging with the user community will have a powerful effect on the adoption of your project. It ensures that your requirements include support for the detailed day-to-day workings of your people. It helps you understand the impact of the change on them and what it will mean for them to adopt (more on that in Step Four), it allows the workforce to be part of the change process, actively having a voice during the decision making stage, and forming the requirements, creating project evangelist.  

Step Three:  What does the change mean for the organization?

Don’t forget about the importance of communication here. For changes to be successful, they need to be communicated well, initially at a high level. An executive stakeholder can start the process by sharing the goals for the program, why the change is important, the expected benefits, and why it is good for the company. Once that information is conveying, IT or HR can  follow up with internal marketing throughout the rollout phase.

Step Four: What does the change mean for employees?

Very few people like change for change's sake, especially in the context of an already stretched work day. While the workforce will often understand the high-level benefits outlined in Step Three and why the company is making a change, they often don't understand how that applies to them or why they should invest time in doing something differently.

At this point it's crucial to demonstrate that you understand their needs, how they work, and how the UCaaS technology will improve their work experience day to day. Using the expertise gained in Step Two, customized benefits can be shared with departments along with tailored process updates and targeted training materials.

This does not have to be a lot of work either, as much of the materials needed at this stage were collected in Step Two. It often works best to have your working group participant lead these sessions as they have credibility when outlining the benefits and outline the inputs they had in influencing the requirements.  

Step Five: Who are your evangelists?

Many successful adoption campaigns have evangelists - an executive sponsor who serves as the figurehead of the project and helps with communication and a persona evangelist who represents the workforce or end users.

The persona evangelists are are usually the early adopters of any change and work with the new tools and process to fine tune them prior to full scale deployment. The evangelists actively promote the benefits within their peer working community and act as the focal point for questions or feedback within the group.   

Using evangelists well, can lead to a groundswell of change within the organization. If early adopters are able to see the benefits, they can articulate those benefits back to the group, and encourage adoption across the group.

The theory of adoption assumes a typical curve to be made of the following:  

  • Innovators 2.5 %  - Will adopt something because it's new
  • Early adopters 13.5 % - Will adopt based on the expected outcomes
  • Early majority 34 % - Will adopt once they begin to see the benefits
  • Late majority 34 %  - Will adopt once the benefits and support are mature
  • Laggards 16 % - Will only adopt when forced

Your persona evangelist should fit the profile of an innovator or early adopter, and you should expect that the work they do within a team will be enough to encourage through to the late majority. The project team will need to use targeted training and process updates to encourage the late majority and laggards to adopt.

Step Six: The Rollout

Considerations need to be made about how and when to rollout to the workforce. Do you rollout based on department, locations, risk, or projected benefits? Many projects often look for the low-risk areas to make a change and prove the process before expanding, but doing this you might not be able to expose the wider benefits needed for the majority adopters’ needs.

Or do you deliver all of the changes at once, risk overwhelming your majority, and not being able to provide evidence of the benefits you need to drive adoption?

Or do you rollout the new technology in smaller chunks,  making it easier to deliver but risk change fatigue among your late majoring and laggards?

There is no silver bullet when planning the rollouts. It has to be assessed on a case by case basis taking into account the adoption factors, the business needs and the overall business case for benefit realization.

Step Seven: Measure, Measure, and Measure

For the change to be deemed successful, organizations must be able to demonstrate the measurable benefits throughout the lifecycle of the contract. The success factors that were identified in Step One must be measures as the project begins to rollout, starting with a baseline pre rollout, and then periodically as users get more exposure to the change.

A typical measurement cycle might look like day 2, week 1, week 3, week 6, month 3, month 6, Year 1, Year 2. Using this frequency will enable you to understand how the change is trending against the initial plan, capturing inputs from the five characteristics for change. If your measurement cycle is too narrow, you may see the benefits trending correctly for the early majority. But you may miss the steps required for those slower to adopt. This trend is often seen in the IT sector where organic adoption of tools happens for 45-55% of the workforce but does not drive a fundamental shift in the way the company works, often creating silos and a disconnected workforce.

You can identify if any action is needed to ensure the success of the project by tracking the success measurement. The data can typically help you focus on areas such as where people need additional support, where requirements have not translated as expected, processes have not evolved accordingly, or when users have not had the correct enablement.    

Successful adoption does not happen by accident.

It is a carefully planned and orchestrated undertaking within an organization. It focuses on the needs of the business and individuals in order to ensure a mutual benefit. It uses governance and controls to ensure those benefits are met. Project evangelists play a key role in helping to motivate individuals to invest in the change and this creates the momentum required to drive a successful change program.  


Matthew Welch
Matthew Welch

Matthew has spent over 15 years working in the Unified Communications sector. In a mixture of technical and more consultancy based roles for companies such as Nortel and Verizon Business. Matthew is focused on the business challenge his customers face and how to find innovative solutions that drive measurable outcomes.

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