Stay as close as possible to users habits and behavior

10 essential factors for Onboarding - 4/10

Maximising collaborative platform adoption will be more easily achieved if users habits evolve gradually and not radically. Indeed, resistance to change is often a major obstacle in this type of project. A detailed understanding of existing practices and an opportunity to make these practices evolve will make a difference.

Map existing tools

When a new tool is integrated into the galaxy of existing solutions, it is important to consider its positioning. Drawing up a map of the tools available and their perimeter of use by adopting the point of view of the user can provide interesting information. Very often, this exercise is not simple and gives astonishing results: some tools have similar functional perimeters, others have an unclear positioning, finally, some are being used in a way that was not initially planned... Understanding of the galaxy of solutions will facilitate the introduction and understanding of the positioning of the new tool so it is as close as possible to everyday users concern. Mind mapping is recommended to represent this ecosystem.

Describing usage scenarios

Moving away from the "tool" approach, it is important to focus on the actual users needs. Writing of usage scenarios can strongly contribute to this approach. A usage scenario describes a specific action (or series of actions) made by someone in a particular context to achieve a defined goal.

To illustrate this definition, here are some examples of usage scenarios:

  • An HR employee asks the staff opinion about a new knowledge management training.
  • A project manager publishes a draft requirements specification within the assigned project space for it to be amended by the different stakeholders of the project.
  • A Customer Expertise expert finds an article about the new challenges faced by french companies in an online magazine and wishes to share it with the other team members.
  • The communication department writes a new article on paid referencing and would like the team members opinions, remarks, suggestions on the same document.

In practice, the exercise consists of listing the project target groups (groups with similar needs in terms of access and information production). Then, by putting yourself in the shoes of these target groups, describe the actions that this population carry out on a daily basis using information.

This exercise can even be accomplished in two stages. Initially, make an inventory of the current collaborative practices, even if there are few. The project will focus on supporting these practices through the tool. Then, list dreamed or imagined collaborative practices so the tool can ultimately tend towards supporting those new usages.

Writing scripts has several advantages:

  • When it is done upstream, it allows a good understanding of target groups needs and uses to reflect on the project direction
  • When it is done downstream, it makes it possible to validate that the structure, the vision and the direction the project is taking corresponds well with users needs

In both cases, it allows to be as close as possible to future users habits and behaviors.

The tool supports existing processes

The platform structure must reflect the concrete users realities, while avoiding the creation of silos. There is a balance to be found between the reproduction of existing uses and habits and the creation of new uses resulting from a desire of the project team rather than a real need. When a solid foundation is created working with identified needs and field realities, new initiatives can be launched with a better chance of success.

The temptation to use the platform to create new processes is great but adoption will be much more important if the users already realize the key activities, now feasible on the tool. Rendering will be improved, time will be gained without trauma. Indeed, the resistance to change is often significant and replicating existing processes will comfort users. There will always be time to make things evolve in the future, once employees are familiar with the new platform.

This can also be seen around vocabulary and tags. Management or project team desire is often to want to create an official and structured taxonomy. Searching for the existing keywords and the vocabulary used in the field will be much more successful and will contribute to the adoption of the tool.

Similarly, it is not desirable to open discussion spaces only if management wishes create collaboration on these topics. The opening of new spaces must come from the users themselves, the chances of success will be increased by the creation of a space that meet their needs. Obviously, the will to break silos must remain a priority of the project. Nevertheless, if users have needs of exchange in their language, with their teams, it is difficult to impose a space of collaboration common to all and hope that everyone participates openly (at least at first).

Finally, needs can sometimes be foreseen but collaborators are the best people to determine the project direction. Capitalizing on experiences at the beginning of the project will be key to replicating good practices and making the platform evolve. It is even possible, in suitable environments, to start projects where the perimeter is not strictly fixed and the project is driven by experimentation. Project managers observe how users take ownership of the tool and identify best practices. Of course in this case, support and follow-up will be critical to success.

At last, these guidelines will facilitate the use of the tool while lowering the content creation barrier and facilitating its sharing. User initiatives will be promoted and the set up of certain ideas will be quick and simple, ensuring a higher use and adoption.

Published on October 1st 2016

Hélène Marcq
Customer Success Manager

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