Introducing new software means working through the six stages of the workflow adoption curve. One of the most important steps in the adoption curve is Initial Adoption. That’s the stage when you first test the new software with a group of clients. It’s when you see what changes it will make to your workflow. And you see how it affects your processes and team.
Here’s how great practitioners make their initial adoption trials work.
Make one person accountable
Getting the test right means making one person accountable for it. If you have one, it should be your technology operations leader. The leader should be the person in your firm who is the most tech savvy. But also someone who understands the workflow and what a good accounting product looks like.
They ensure your test clients get the software up and running successfully. And they manage the training and support clients require. Most importantly, they are the point person when something in the process breaks. They are on hand to try and understand what happened and how to correct.
Choose the right test group
To get your Initial Adoption test right, you need to pick the right group of clients to work with. Usually advisors select a group that is 5-10% of their client base. Big enough to deliver good data. But not so big that supporting them through the test disrupts the rest of your business.
Many advisors choose test clients who are already frustrated by workflow issues. For instance, they may select clients who feel pain around time-consuming document collection, whom might be more amenable to testing a new solution. Maybe small retailers still struggling to manage paper receipts. If the new app can automate their documents, the value of the change will be obvious.
Good advisors also run initial adoption tests with their more tech savvy clients. The ones open to new technology and processes. This group will highlight bumps in the road that you will need to solve for before migrating the rest of your clients onto a platform.
Set clear goals and expectations
Before you begin the initial adoption test, define the parameters of the trial. Identify how long the test period will run. For many, a 90-day test period works best. It’s long enough to cover several sets of financial statements. You’ll run through the entire workflow several times. It gives you a real window on what is working or what is causing frustration.
Set clear goals for what you want to achieve with your initial test group. How much time do you want to save? Can you measure client satisfaction before, during and after? What cost savings do you want to see? What productivity improvements are targeted?
Prior to starting the test period be clear about expectations. Define and communicate what you will do for the client and what support is available. But also explain what the client’s role in the workflow will be.
Provide training and support
Training and support can become resource intensive. Which can disrupt the regular running of your business. If staff are busy handling test issues, it may take away from the time they spend with the rest of your clients. So define who provides support and within what limits. Make sure they communicate to the leader around how much support is needed as the test unfolds.
Your leader should identify how training will happen in key areas. Like how to use the product. And how to alter your workflow to take advantage of the new software’s capabilities. They should plan to take advantage of all available resources. Especially your vendor’s training and support offerings.
Measure and make adjustments
Next identify how you will track your key metrics. Decide what you will measure, how and how often. Then stick to the plan. Schedule time each week to review the results and discuss what adjustments need to be made. Review previous adjustments and judge whether or not they have made the desired improvements.
Evaluate the test
At the end of your defined test period, it will be time to decide whether or not to roll out the software to all clients. Before making your decision, go back and review your initial expectations. How does the performance of the software at the end of the period compare to your initial goals? Review all the data you collected during the test. Compare it against your benchmarks. But also interview your test clients. Ask them to judge how well the software is working. Do they find the workflow easier to manage? Did they have recurring problems? Have they seen time or cost savings? Go through the same process with your internal team. Ask the same questions. Get buy-in from everyone involved.
If you have any doubt, extend the test period. If the test doesn’t show a clear benefit to adopting the software, do not proceed. Continue evaluating. Or discontinue and start looking for a better solution.
To make your initial adoption trial work, name a leader who will manage the test. Select the right test group. Set clear goals and expectations up front. Plan your approach to training and support. And make sure to consistently measure and adjust. Get these steps right and your tech adoption will be consistently successful.