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10 Keys Series: Adoption-Driven Digital Transformation

By 10.16.18
Reading time: 4 minutes

What Is Adoption-Driven Digital Transformation?

Adoption-driven digital transformation is defined as holding users and managers accountable for proper platform utilization. Adoption measurement and improvement should be included in program governance to ensure new processes and technology are improving performance and should be led with the project’s Vision statement, which we discussed in a previous 10 Keys article. Once we’ve deployed the solution and people are using the platform, the goal is to ensure the true measure of success, adoption.  This requires a consistent focus on adoption goals throughout the project, changing and reinforcing those goals as needed based on qualified feedback.

Dimensions of Change Within an Adoption-Driven Strategy

Stakeholder Engagement, Organization Impact & Alignment

Stakeholder engagement begins with creative information gathering: surveys, meetings, conversations, workshops etc. in order to drive buy-in and alignment with the project vision and objectives. This is the time to establish pathways for future communication for the duration of the project. It’s important to give a comprehensive understanding to stakeholders of the changes to come and how it will affect them in their day-day activity. Information empowers people and empowered people invest their time and resources back into your business.

Successful digital transformation isn’t just about having the perfect system or solution; it’s about users understanding the solution and how it impacts them in their particular department and role, particularly how it benefits them (WIIFMs: “What’s In It For Me?”) and enables them to do their jobs better. It’s also important to remember that changes to a system inevitably flow into an organization’s cultural environment, something we touched on in our “Data Obsessed” 10 Keys article. Keeping this in mind allows the breadth of understanding and awareness that enables adoption efforts, ensuring role clarity, and ownership at the department level.

Business Readiness –  Communications Plan and Change Network

It’s vital to ensure the customer’s state of readiness is assessed effectively before initiating their digital transformation project. This ensures the plan suits the specific customer’s needs and environment as they embark on this transformation. This assessment includes evaluating the culture, the vision, the stakeholders and the project objectives. Stakeholders should have an opportunity to be heard and contribute to mapping the journey.  The critical components of Business Readiness include an effective communications and a Change Network of individuals dedicated to ensuring consistent messaging, listening and responding to feedback and mitigating areas of resistance.

Training is on the Critical Path to Successful Solution Adoption

Imparting skills, knowledge tools, references, and learning solutions are important for enabling adoption as quickly as possible. Crafting and executing a strategy for training that is customized to the different stakeholders is a step that often is missed or doesn’t receive the time an attention it deserves.

What are their training needs? Can the training be virtual or would it be better delivered in person? Do any stakeholders need prerequisite training to ensure everyone is at the same level before group training on the solution begins? Understanding your audience, the culture, and the organization will ensure you appropriately meet all training needs for the stakeholders who ideally will ultimately become advocates and evangelists of the digital transformation.

Reinforcement Drives Continuous Adoption

Reinforcement is imperative to continue to drive solution adoption and continuous improvement. It may be challenging because once the the project, implementation, and rollout are completed, focus on adoption may be lost.  There are many reinforcement strategies you can apply such as:

  • Celebrating the wins and stakeholders’ participation in making it successful
  • Ensuring support is readily available after go-live
  • Monitoring project and adoption outcomes, continuing a communication plan
  • Gathering and responding to feedback in a timely and effective matter

Reinforcement is all about driving towards continuous adoption and managing expectations of the stakeholders once the digital platform has been rolled out..

Adoption-Driven Strategies as a Cultural Practice

When engaging stakeholders, it’s good practice to ask how they are feeling about change brought about by digital transformation.People are naturally resistant to change, so it’s important to meet them where they are and address their fears related to the changes heading their way. Even if the platform currently in place isn’t working for them and meeting their needs, it can be hard to let it go.

The digital transformation project may also be another set of changes in a long line of changes for the stakeholders, and they could be suffering from ‘change fatigue’. This fatigue is natural and it’s vital to take it into account during readiness and training discussions so appropriate actions can be taken to mitigate it.

It can be tempting to get swept up in architecting the solution but when that happens, focus on the stakeholder is sometimes lost. It is a best practice to bring the focus back to the people, as we discussed in our “Human Centered” 10 Keys article. How will these changes affect a stakeholder’s day-to-day? What pieces are entirely new? How will these changes cause ripple effects for the rest of the organization?

The Bottom Line: Why Adoption Driven Strategies are Crucial to Digital Transformation

Since an adoption plan isn’t necessary to implement a solution and driving adoption is more of an art than a science, it often is put to the side or put off until late into the project, with sometimes disastrous results.

At the beginning of my career, I worked with a bleeding edge technology organization. The brainchild of three Fortune 500 companies, this new business was set to dominate and innovate the fledgling content portal landscape. Instead, it became a case study in how to fail at adoption strategy.

During a tumultuous time of layoffs and reorganization, the company embarked on a major upgrade of internal systems to keep pace with the ever growing numbers of subscribers. Unfortunately, they neglected to inform and consult with their internal business stakeholders. Staff would come in to the office, turn on their computers, and be denied access to the system because of changes made without their knowledge. Since the company was going through so many layoffs at the time, most staff thought they had been fired!

The impact of the complete lack of adoption strategies was lost revenue, lost staff, lost productivity, and a loss of consumer confidence. In today’s technology environment, this event would have made front page news and led to a loss of positive brand recognition.


Simply put: being adoption-driven from the start speeds your journey to success, minimizes the discomfort in getting there, and maximizes your ROI. Whether you’re new to digital transformation and driving adoption or you need to jumpstart your existing journey map, Silverline has best practices to help you navigate your route. Subscribe to the Silverline blog as we dive into each of the 10 Keys to Successful Digital Transformation on the Salesforce platform, or contact us to schedule a demo.

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