The Critical Role that Customers Play in Software Adoption
Software vendors are not solely responsible for the success of a customer deployment. While they hold great responsibility for the successful deployment and adoption of their technology, they cannot be 100% accountable for it.
In order for any successful software rollout, the customer plays a key role and must become a partner in the project. I have seen excellent software platforms fail during deployment because:
Customer teams are too busy with dozens of competing deployments and projects.
Internal champions are pushing hard but the top executives are not providing support or air cover.
Timing for the software deployment is wrong for the customer, as their tech stack is missing other critical components in order to work as desired.
Customer does not have a change management mindset and thinks change happens on its own with the new software.
Customers see the software vendor as a supplier instead of as a partner for success. The relationship can be tense and confrontational.
Software acquisition was done in a silo without IT and finance support, creating roadblocks later in the deployment and with user adoption.
While this list is not comprehensive, they are some of the more common points of failure when the customer is not fully bought in or supportive of a software purchase. The point is – it takes two to tango!
The partnership needs to start during the initial sales process
Vendors need to propose their adoption methodology and protocol early in the pre-sales process. Adoption needs to be included in the project and professional services deliverables as both sides need to commit timelines and resources. The right metrics need to be agreed upon, including any services portions of the agreement. Targets need to be defined jointly with thresholds, timelines, roles, and responsibilities.
Having the adoption methodology and protocols in writing, with both sides dedicated to reaching 90% or greater adoption, is the best way to reach faster time to value and superior realized value. This documentation is much more than a symbolic gesture. Signing agreements with all these deliverables and commitments forces action and execution.
Customers must demand adoption programs from their vendors
Adoption must become a selection criterion when evaluating software solutions. The focus cannot just be on price and technology features. The quality of the professional services and the customer success programs play a significant role in the success or failure of technology. As a customer, it is up to you to ensure the vendors you select are setting your team up for success. Without the framework to support end user training, manager training, admin training, and more, your
We aim to forge strong partnerships between vendors and customers, as this is essential to the success of the transaction. But, we cannot forget that the software solution must be solving crucial customer pains, must be bringing tangible economic value, and must be simple to use. These are prerequisites for any software technology.
Adoption alone cannot make a software good and valuable. The combination of superior technology with powerful adoption protocol results in the impact that customers seek. In our next and final blog in this series on driving meaningful adoption, we will wrap up and provide a summary for action!
Dr. Stephan Liozu (www.stephanliozu.com) is the Founder of Value Innoruption Advisors (www.valueinnoruption.com), a consulting boutique specializing in industrial pricing, digital business, value models, and value-based pricing. Stephan has 30 years of experience in the industrial and manufacturing sectors with companies like Owens Corning, Saint-Gobain, Freudenberg, and Thales. He holds a Ph.D. In Management from Case Western Reserve University, and has written several books, including Dollarizing Differentiation Value (2016) and Value Mindset (2017).