Prior to joining New View Strategies, I was the General Manager of the Business Central / NAV User Group with Dynamic Communities. “User adoption” firmly retained its place, year in and year out, in the top three list of questions/concerns/issues that were raised and discussed. I speak at multiple conferences and meetings every year, and the session I remember clearly having the most audience energy and discussion was around user adoption. Even when I was with a Big 5 consultancy back in the 90s and working with companies on implementations, user adoption was a typical stumbling block. Why does user adoption persist as such a struggle? What makes gaining effective Dynamics 365 Business Central / NAV user adoption so elusive?
The answer is…
The answer is actually very straight-forward: because we’re human. We’re emotional, irrational, illogical, and it’s a wonderful thing.
That inescapable fact begs the question, is there any hope of ever being successful with any sort of change in your organization? There absolutely is, with the right mindset and approach. Which brings me to answering the opening question, what is the worst mistake you can make as a Business Central or NAV customer? Whether you’re looking at the software for the first time, evaluating an upgrade, or are at a steady-state but struggling with how to be more productive and efficient with what you have, the answer is the same: underinvesting in user adoption.
When I use the term “user adoption”, I don’t think of a subjective feel-good, “how does everyone like using the system” evaluation. For me it’s an umbrella term that encompasses your team’s ability to achieve your organizational goals and drive company growth using BC/NAV as a tool. It is about real ROI. It’s about your team’s ability to:
Know the most efficient and effective way to complete their regular job tasks
Lack core knowledge and waste time, commit errors, struggle to use the system
Understand the system beyond their core tasks so they can look for ways to use the system better
Struggle to question, experiment, improve
Participate in continuous learning
Continue to forget what they already know
Share insights and tips with teammates
Focus on getting their own tasks done
Be energized to find new efficiencies, provide better service, reduce effort
Be stuck in the status quo
Struggle to maintain
To walk through these points would take several other blogs, but I will point out that none of this is achievable without equipping your team with the core knowledge they need. And that’s the point of failing for many companies. I receive countless calls from companies who underinvested in training as part of their implementation or upgrade. Whether it was caused by the company’s tight budget or the partner’s lack of attention, the result is the same. At best - struggle, frustration, delays, errors. Many times orders are lost, shipments are stopped, month-end close is delayed or impossible. Even if you are one of the few that takes the care needed to equip your team during the project, 80% of what we learn is forgotten in 30 days. What are you doing to counteract this? ((I’ve written about how to make your approach with Dynamics 365 Business Central / NAV user adoption more programmatic on our New View Strategies blog).
What’s the ROI?
You’re likely either comfortable with your current level of investing in user adoption or are dubious as to the ROI. I do wish I could provide you with a clearly defined data-driven guarantee that you will realize a 30% ROI on any new investments in user adoption, but of course every company’s situation is specific. But let me start here: What’s the ratio of your BC/NAV spend on the technical components (licensing, maintenance, ISVs, upgrade services, hardware and infrastructure, modifications, system admin and related team members, consulting fee, support services, etc.) vs. your spend on user adoption (training, coaching, process improvement, dedicated internal support, etc.)? Of course it’s more, but how out of whack is it? Are you comfortable with that?
Here is an analogy, but please pick your own: do you select some random person on the street to compete in the Monaco Grand Prix? Of course not – you find and continue to train a highly-skilled driver to get the most out of your Formula 1 car. A truth that has stood since the 80s says that technology is only a tool. So why invest so much time, effort, and money to implement, upgrade, and maintain your NAV / BC system, but not invest an appropriate amount in its actual use?
A final thought regarding the business case, which comes from my involvement in many dozens of implementations and talking with hundreds of companies about their ERP use: by far the best implementation I’ve been a part of was when the company invested at the right level in user adoption throughout the project, and one of the best examples of ongoing improvement at a company has been when they had a dedicated resource focused on user adoption.
How you doin’?
Still not convinced this is the worst mistake a Business Central / NAV customer can make? Here is a quick litmus test to know if you’re underinvesting in user adoption:
How much of the system’s functionality do you use?
Are errors increasing or decreasing?
When’s the last time you spent any serious money on training?
What new efficiencies did you implement this year?
Does your team share tips and insights?
When was a new piece of system functionality last initiated?
Do you have a program in place for continuous improvement?
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