Pitfalls of the "Deploy it and they will use it" Philosophy
Many times, successful implementations of new technologies and applications in the workplace are coupled with great strategies and an overarching vision among the organization. We have found though, that in some instances, organizations have a philosophy of “deploy it and they will use it.” This means that they add applications and technology without much input from their users and expect them to just use it. The idea is that if it’s accessible it will be used. However, that way of thinking often ignores any kind of strategy or goal for systems. In this blog, we will talk about some major pitfalls when you implement systems with this kind of mindset and some things you should consider doing to achieve user adoption.
1. User Neglect
First of all, when you implement systems with the “deploy it and they will use it” mindset, you usually end up neglecting the needs of your users. Instead, you deploy a system loaded with features that your users may or may not need. This can lead to a lot of frustration and a lack of long-term user adoption. Not to mention the lost capital you invested to implement the system. You might find yourself jumping to the next new-and-improved system because your first system obviously wasn’t working. This is not the ideal strategy.
Instead, make sure your users have a say in what kinds of systems and features they want or need to work in. They are going to be your best resource of information for how day-to-day tasks are completed and where gaps need filling. By including users in the process, you are more likely to gain user adoption and sustain it much longer than if you ignore them.
2. Underestimating the effort
In many cases, deploying a new system also means getting rid of another system or group of systems. In the case of a document management system or enterprise content management system, adding a new system to the mix might also involve moving content from one repository to another. Deploying a new system is costly on its own, and you must also consider the expenses associated with moving content. With that, you also want to keep your users in mind. They are likely to not be so happy if their folder hierarchies get changed or lost along the way. Consider the needs of users before moving content from one system to the other. In other cases, there’s the possibility that your expectations are just misaligned with reality.
Make sure that you have the resources available for the project in its entirety before you commit one way or another. Assemble cross-functional teams to help your IT department with the deployment and implementation of the project. Account for any and all roadblocks that you may encounter along the way. Make sure that your timelines are reasonable for such extensive projects.
3. Lack of expertise
Finally, another issue with the “deploy it and they will use it” philosophy is that you can easily lose focus on the scope and impact of a project, and that might be caused by a lack of expertise in the system you are deploying. In turn, you’ll end up unable to properly train your users on the new system. Training plays a huge role in user adoption, and with a lack of expertise, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Bring in an outside expert in the system or systems you’re deploying. Have them work with your team and train users before the new system is deployed. Gather a team of users to be ambassadors for the new system so that they can be involved in the trainings as well. Long-term, these ambassadors will make sure that people are continuing to use the systems as they were intended.
The “deploy it and they will use it” method is often unsuccessful for these reasons. However, some organizations still rely on this way of thinking and they easily get caught up in a mess that could have been avoided. Anytime a new system is implemented, organizations should rely on their users to help guide them to the system that is going to benefit them the most. That way they can stay competitive, spend less money and time figuring out what has gone wrong, and spend more time being productive.
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