Adoption strategy is an important consideration when organizations launch enterprise-wide initiatives. After all, the value of any technology soars when many employees embrace, adopt, and use it.
When organizations launch projects to modernize GIS infrastructure and expand ArcGIS access to new business units and groups of users, a phased release is a popular approach. Individual departments or specific workforce roles are identified and scheduled to participate in separate phases of the technology implementation.
A phased release approach has several benefits, including the following:
- Reduced disruption to daily business since fewer individuals must spend time learning new workflows at the same time
- Ability for line of business managers to review and confirm positive outcomes
- Ability for project managers and change leaders to collect feedback after each release to improve the technology as it is being implemented.
While the benefits are compelling, phased releases have a few potential drawbacks, the most obvious being an extended implementation timeline. Challenges that may arise include the following:
- Confusion about the full implementation plan and which phase departments and employees are assigned to
- Loss of interest in using the new technology by employees who do not get to start using it as early as others
- Confusion or delays when different employees are using different technology to accomplish the same workflow
The five strategies below leverage people-focused change management principles that can help project teams avoid challenges when executing a phased release and accelerate adoption of their next enterprise-wide implementation.
Plan and schedule both the technical requirements of the phased release and the communication, training, and sponsorship support needed to prepare employees in each release. Integrating people-oriented tasks into the technology project plan is efficient, and it raises their visibility. Drafting separate plans increases the likelihood that important communications, training, and other activities will not occur at the time they're needed by each group of users.
Enlist Leader Support for Employee "Ramp Time"
Work closely with managers and project sponsors in participating departments to ensure that a proper level of prioritization is allotted for employees to learn and use the new technology. Leverage executive sponsors to highlight the value of embracing geospatial capabilities. Employees who are comfortable using new workflows and capabilities often share positive feedback with employees slated for later phases. This builds anticipation for access to the technology as it is released over time.
In a phased release, adaptability to changing conditions within participating departments is essential. Good planning combined with frequent communication helps ensure you maintain the pace of release. Keep everyone informed about the release schedule. Some departments may have time-sensitive business requirements that preclude their participation in their assigned phase. Other departments may be willing to move to an earlier release phase to assist the challenged departments. Flexibility will earn you the role of valued partner with all of these departments.
Ask for and Act on Feedback
Take the feedback that you receive and act! Once the technology team has executed on those changes, communicate the improvements. People appreciate when they are included in the process and see that their input has made an impact. Be sure to share items that you intend to change, items that have been resolved, and even items that may not be addressed. Honesty builds trust.
Broadcast Early Successes
Capitalize on successes that were achieved by individuals or departments in the first few release phases to increase the pace of adoption in later phases. Remember that your adoption efforts do not stop on the first go-live date. The beauty of sharing success stories is that you are accomplishing two tasks at once: reinforcing adoption within early-phase departments and creating curiosity and excitement to use the technology among employees in later phases.
By leveraging people-focused change management principles and applying the five strategies above, you can maximize adoption throughout a phased-release technology implementation. Perhaps more importantly, you will create a strong foundation for enterprise use of ArcGIS capabilities that deliver location intelligence and strong business value to your organization.