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User acceptance is more than communication at launch


Designing product training and support materials that brings your user into the implementation journey

Anyone who has tried to implement a new organisational system will tell you that user acceptance is important to the project’s success, adoption and long term sustainability. Let’s face it, you can’t implement a system or product without it. Training and support pre and post launch is a critical element in this mix to get right.

We recently had a client who was embarking on a significant transformation project. They were transitioning their disparate content management systems (CMS) to a centralised new platform globally — Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), delivering significant economical benefits. A move that would significantly change the way our client’s 400+ authors globally delivered digital content and updates.

Being a large global organisation our client’s new CMS had also been customised with tailored features and products to suit their brand and ways of working. So when we were asked to begin developing training and user support for the project — we knew the product off-the-shelf training package wouldn't do.

Since the 1970’s, 60% of transformational change projects are failing post implementation.

So we started working in collaboration with Adobe to intimately understand their platform and customised features. From there we were able to design and develop a series of tailored training materials to support our client’s new Adobe Experience Manager system into implementation.

It was expected that users would find AEM and the new features relatively easy to use. But with 400+ users globally the experiences and competencies across the user group were known to be very diverse. With this in mind, we developed an engagement and training program to touch every user in person or virtually — utilising the full three months leading up to the project launch.

We developed our program based around a series of ‘workdays’. The workdays took place in locations across the globe targeting 150 users who were considered system advocates for their region or team. The goal — to enable the advocates to walk away from the workday and coach their peers. We delivered the content through intense day sessions and working evening sessions. Adobe specialists joined us to share information and insights on the platform. The workdays provided great opportunities to show users key workarounds to the scenarios they may encounter. We filmed and streamed the sessions to the entire user-base.

The program included documentation, manuals, guides, videos, live-training modules, face-to-face meetings (workdays), and many one-to-one discussions. Our guides covered every piece of functionality within the system from a user’s perspective; they highlighted what questions they may ask, or the journey they may take.

A revision or two is better than delaying the training program until all system testing has been completed.

With the training program kicking-off months prior to product launch we were able to embed a user feedback cycle. As users worked through the content and began testing they could highlight system bugs and issues that would feed into the system development cycle process. This also meant on the flip-side that some development components changed after the training had been completed. But with 400+ users, revising training documentation was a an easier proposition than delaying the entire process until after system testing.

Successful change management projects have one major thing in common — users are empowered and have been involved in the testing and implementation processes. Three weeks after the last of the workdays program our client recorded all 400 users actively testing the system — prior to launch! We attribute this largely to the fact that users were given the critical tools and resources to get started and coach others, as well as active understanding of where to go to ask questions and provide feedback.

Titbits and takeaways

Document the system as early as possible to alleviate additional pressure in the testing and training phases.

Apply training and user support tasks in parallel with product development and testing rather than as a task at the completion. User uptake is critical to the success of a new system; 10% change throughout the development and testing process is far better than users seeking to change 50-100% at the end.

Throughout the development process, seek the advice and perspective of your user group and those who will have the responsibility to train staff in the system. Their feedback will provide perspectives the development team may not have considered. This method gives the organisation the opportunity to integrate the feedback into the process and central documentation.

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