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You Gain by Using Software, Not Just Owning It

January is the time for New Years resolutions and for planning new initiatives.  The gym is getting crowded with new members who have vowed to exercise more.  Others are trying out new treadmills, stationary bikes, and elliptical trainers at home. Unfortunately, many of them will not stick with their plans more than a few weeks, as they become bored or other priorities take over.

This reminds me that business software requires long term commitment, and hard work to drive adoption in order to gain the benefits of automation.  Here are five tips from my company's clients who are most successful in using the software that they buy:

  1. Start at the top. Executive sponsorship and use by the appropriate leadership goes a long way toward driving software adoption.
  2. Keep training after your system goes live. It is hard to absorb too much training at one time, and users can hone their skills if provided training weeks and months after initial training sessions. New employees will also need training, so plan for how you can help them become proficient.
  3. Adapt based on user feedback. Users are likely to find new ways to make the system more effective after they have a chance to use it in production.  Help these suggestions make their way into the product so it can improve over time. 
  4. Learn from your best users. Every organization has users that go further and learn tricks and shortcuts that make them more productive.  Find a way for these users to share their techniques with others.  Lunch and learn sessions can be helpful.
  5. Establish governance over the system and your data. You need processes and people who can maintain the quality of your data and allow your system to improve over time.  A change control board or similar group should be created before you go live.
Business software often brings new approaches and workflows which can make your organization more efficient and effective.  Mindfulness is essential in order to make the most of these benefits, to avoid making your software end up like the treadmill in the basement which is used to hang laundry. 


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