It took months of work and a significant chunk of the budget, but it’s finally here: your new system. Could be a website, an internal tool, an ordering platform. Whatever it is, it’s the latest and greatest.
Except usage isn’t anywhere near what it should be. People just… aren’t using it. Why not? How could we have avoided this, and is it fixable now?
1. It was the wrong thing to build
Requirements analysis and user research are not for the faint of heart. It’s easy to listen to people rattle off a list of what they want. It’s harder to figure out what they actually need. But that’s what you need to do if you want to build a system that will deliver what people need. And if you don’t deliver what they need, why would they use it? It takes training and practice to really get it right – that’s why a skilled analyst is worth their weight in gold.
2. Key stakeholders are mad at you
Every project team has familiar roles: project manager, designer, developer, architect, etc. But every project team also needs an extended family: engaged stakeholders. That could be future users of the system, product and content owners, leaders from different departments who could be affected or just want to feel like they had a voice. The success of a project is hugely dependent on engaging the right stakeholders throughout the process. Because if someone feels they’ve been left out, they’ll be inclined to resist any changes you’re making – and they’ll tell others not to support your product.
3. You didn’t manage the change effectively
Change is inevitable, but change is also hard. If you’re introducing a new system, you’re likely also introducing change to business processes, document formats, modes of communication, maybe even organizational structures. That’s scary! And people’s natural reaction to fear is anger and resistance. To curb that reaction, implement a change management program that alleviates the fear. Help people understand why the change is happening, what the change is, and how it will benefit them. Don’t sugar-coat the downsides, but do emphasize the positives. You’ll find the resistance never goes away entirely, but will smooth out significantly.
4. No one knows how to use it
Whether you’re replacing an existing tool or rolling out something completely new, you have to make sure everyone is actually able to use it. It doesn’t matter how functional and cutting-edge your new system is; if people log in and get lost the first time, they’ll give up quickly. If user experience wasn’t sufficiently worked into the end product, it may be time to assess UX and make some targeted improvements. Additionally, provide thorough, well-organized documentation and training to address any terms or features that aren’t completely self-explanatory. Training and documentation should always be in context as much as possible, but it may be necessary to provide additional training via videoconference or in person.
5. No one knows about it!
No one will use your new system if they don’t know it exists. Communications throughout a project are vital, and it’s extra important to communicate to future users. They should know what’s coming, when, why, and when to expect training. If a website or intranet will be sending users to this tool, make sure the information architecture is sensible enough to guide people there.
Need help with some of these issues? Learn how Ninth Fourth can set your initiative up for success!