“There’s no good way to show my boss that our software rollout was successful.”
Ryan, an IT Director, said this to me recently and I’ve heard it 100 times before from IT, Operations and Training professionals.
Software rollouts come with challenges that can take years off your life:
Migrating data that’s incompatible with your new system
Documenting dozens of new processes step-by-step
Training end-users who fear and resist change
Answering the same questions over and over… and over again
To add insult to injury, after all of that effort, you can’t tell whether or not the whole project worked. Let alone communicate the results in a way your boss and their boss care about.
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I recently asked 70 people working on a software rollout:
How do you measure the success of your software rollout project?
All of the answers were somewhere on this spectrum 👇
Most use a combination of personal anecdotes and product usage reports to measure success. Many weren't particularly happy with their answer. Some laughed out loud—literally.
Personal anecdotes defined
Product usage defined
I completed several training sessions
Users activated their account
I answered all of the questions
Users logged into the system
I’m not getting any complaints
Users are logging in daily/weekly
I get it. You work with what you have. But there’s two problems:
Product usage doesn’t actually tell you as much as you think.
It feels good because you have this objective dashboard and it looks great in your update report and frankly it’s easier than interviewing all of your users. Unfortunately, that usage report doesn’t tell you if the product is being used correctly. And it’s easy for users to game the system i.e. they just login once every day to stay off of your radar.
Business leaders don’t care about when you finish your task checklist, how many training sessions you led, or if people are logging in to the new software.
Your bosses are under pressure to show ROI on the spend they signed off on. To help them prove it was worth it, you need to directly connect your rollout to the business outcome they want and expect.
Measure process adoption, not product usage
There’s one metric that works for you and your stakeholders: process adoption.
Process adoption defined:
Users are following the exact prescribed steps for specific workflows
Users are completing 100% of the steps for each workflow
You can see the specific steps where users get stuck
Measuring process adoption on a team-wide basis answers the main question executives have about your project.
Are we achieving the desired business outcome?
The people in your company who pushed to buy this software had a problem in mind they wanted to solve. When you start building out all of the processes your end-users need to follow, look for one to two that most closely relate to that problem.
Then, educate your stakeholders that these key processes are a proxy for the desired business outcome. So when they see those specific workflows being completed accurately, they know the results they want are soon to follow.
Process adoption leads to business outcomes which leads to return on investment.
Here are some examples 👇
VP of Sales
“Pipeline reports aren’t accurate”
Convert lead to opportunity
Better data quality leads to increased pipeline accuracy
VP of Marketing
“Attribution reports don’t tell us anything”
Create new marketing campaign
Clear attribution ensures investment in successful tactics
VP of Support
“First touch resolution is too low”
Search for matching help articles
Higher first touch resolution leads to happier customers and lower support costs
VP of Success
“Quarterly business reviews aren’t effective”
Prepare for QBR meeting
Better meeting prep leads to higher adoption and upsell
VP of HR
“Hiring criteria aren’t standardized”
Enter candidate interview questions
Standardized interviewing leads to better hiring decisions
And measuring process adoption on an individual basis answers your biggest question.
Have I successfully enabled my co-workers?
Brianne, a Senior Operations Manager, pointed out, “I have no way to see if they’re doing it correctly or not until it’s too late.”
She’s right. Just because people are logging in and the questions die down does not mean your processes are being followed correctly. If you’re lucky, you’ll know you have a problem right away.
But often mistakes related to data entry and process adherence don’t reveal themselves for weeks or months causing bigger data quality, security and compliance messes to clean up.
Instead of continuously sending reminders and surveys through chat and email and repeating yourself in the team meeting every week, look at the success rate for each process on an individual basis.
That will tell you who’s getting it right, who needs help and where they’re getting stuck so you can focus your energy on the people who need it and clarify any confusing steps.
Try this approach on your next software rollout project
Follow this four-step process to connect your work to your stakeholder’s desired business outcome:
Step 1: Ask the business leader who signed off on the software, “what’s the #1 business problem you are trying to solve?”
Step 2: Identify one to three specific workflows closely related to the problem then build them in such a way that, if they are followed perfectly, the problem will be solved.
Step 3: Define the success of your project upfront based on adoption of these 1-3 critical processes. At Tango, we use the Objective & Key Results (OKR) framework for our projects.
Here’s an example of what an OKR would look like in your project plan 👇
• Project: Migrate to Netsuite • Stakeholder: Chief Financial Officer • Problem: Our sales tax liability is unclear and changing constantly •Objective: Get real-time visibility into our sales tax liability • Key Results: 95% accuracy on weekly sales tax liability forecast to actual • Key Process: Enter new customer order into Netsuite
In this example, how is entering the customer order perfectly into Netsuite going to solve the CFOs problem of lack of visibility into tax liability?
Netsuite automatically calculates the tax amount based on many factors including the type of product or service, the customer’s physical location and whether or not your company has a physical presence (nexus) in that state.
And like all software, if you put garbage in, you get garbage out. So if the finance team correctly fills out all of the fields when entering orders, the CFO’s weekly reports will increase in accuracy.
Step 4: Now here’s the key point… After you’ve rolled out the new software to your co-workers and completed your initial training sessions, don’t close out the project just yet.
Instead, review the process adoption numbers with your stakeholders every week. When they hit the thresholds you set as your key result for an acceptable period of time, then you’ve struck gold.
And if you aren’t seeing adoption at the levels you expect, you can explain the specific steps you are taking to improve the process versus telling your boss, “I guess I’ll run another training session.”
Elevate yourself from project manager to difference maker
Connecting the dots from your work to end-user success and ROI does more than satisfy C-suite expectations; it offers you personal clarity. You’ll feel more accomplished and less frustrated at the end of your project. And might just set the standard for how all software rollouts are measured in your company going forward.
How have you been measuring the success of your projects? Email me and let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love your feedback on the ideas in this blog. Especially if you disagree! 😁
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