How can you achieve success when rolling out a new reporting solution across your organization?
First, let’s define success: we’re referring to getting your team, department, or even organization to use their reports to make effective data-backed decisions. We believe that there are 4 key milestones on the path to achieving this: Awareness, Adoption, Action and Improvement. Below are our tips on securing success at each milestone.
You can’t possibly expect your team to engage with your reports if they aren’t even aware they exist. Laugh if you will, but it’s unfortunately all too common that rollout arrives and no communication strategy has been thought through, or, that months after an implementation we hear from new users who hadn’t previously been informed that they have access to reporting.
To prevent these occurrences and ensure that you’re leading your team down the shortest possible path to data-driven decision making, make rollout communication strategy a priority at the planning stage. Not only will this allow you address communication with sufficient time in advance to create the best possible strategy, but considering this early on can also help determine the project scope and its execution. For example, if you know you will have upwards of thousands of new users, the ability to create these on mass would be critical in whichever solution you move forward with. Likewise, inbuilt automated email notifications and password management functionalities for new users should be a priority. In addition, analytics on who has successfully received notification, and who has taken action on this by accessing their reports for the first time, can help you monitor and control the effectiveness of your communication implementation.
When developing your communication strategy, it’s important to start with the following questions:
There are also some general rules that can be applied to all your communication to guarantee maximum effectiveness. Ensure that your formatting is appealing, succinct and promotes understanding, and that you use plain language that will be easy to comprehend, while effectively communicating your message. Be clear and concise but also provide additional clarifications where required. Summaries, especially of expected next steps, can be effective at inciting action.
And perhaps most importantly, address the concerns of your audience to develop trust and rapport through each message. Communication, by definition, is not a one sided dialogue, but an exchange. So don’t forget to inform your audience about how they can reach you. The most effective communication is often done by listening, not speaking, so do so actively by developing feedback channels and engaging in these with energy, empathy and consistency.
If you were successful in implementing your initial communication strategy, you should have seen a large number of your intended users log in for the first time. There is a massive difference between logging in once and adoption, however. Adoption occurs where users accept that the solution meets their needs and integrate it into their routine to help them complete tasks it is intended to assist with. Building habits, however, is an extremely difficult thing to do – as countless psychologists and behavioral economists, among others, will fretfully inform you. So if changing behavioral patterns is difficult, how can you get your users to adopt their new reporting solution?
Let’s break down adoption into its two distinct components. Adoption occurs where:
How can you ensure it meets their needs?
Firstly, if you’ve done due diligence in the planning stage and scoped out users needs, and then implemented your solution in line with your plans and objectives, you should in fact be there already. Unfortunately, large projects with vast numbers of stakeholders often struggle to satisfy 100% of users, 100% of the time. Likewise, where users are making requests that are out of line with the project objectives, these will likely never be met (and in this case, these users should be educated about the project, it’s objectives and what falls outside of its scope, so they can make additional arrangements for non-compatible requests).
Secondly, if you see poor adoption, request feedback on why.
You’ll most likely receive contradictory feedback from different stakeholders, and also have to find a compromise between the quantity of changes implemented as you start to experience diminishing marginal returns from adjustments made. Thus keeping the objectives of the project in mind at all stages is critical.
There are a number of typical methods through which you can promote behavioral change. Those listed below have proven to be successful in supporting data-backed decision making in our experience:
We recommend testing some of these methods on different groups in the initial stages of rollout then continuing with the most successful across the larger implementation.
Of course, it’s pertinent to note that long term success will not be achieved when the first condition of adoption is not satisfied, independent of how effective any of these methods are in the short term.
The objective of enterprise reporting, as discussed earlier, is to make effective decisions from the analysis of data contained within reports.
Simply getting your team logging into their reports, viewing the data contained within them and exploring ideas for improvement just won’t cut it. In order to make a difference to outcomes and increase ROI, your team needs to ACT.
They should engage with their reports, understand what they are presenting and run additional analysis on this where required. They need to be testing and recommending actions that can be taken, asking their colleagues for input and considering all suggestions for merit. And most importantly, implementing recommendations.
Furthermore, they should be adding contextual information where possible to describe the decision making process, the final decision and the outcome of this. Opening up conversations around ideas is critical to maximising the value of your team and optimizing actions.
The methods described above for promoting adoption can all be equally applicable to encouraging engagement, or even more successful. At this stage you truly have the ability to demonstrate the impact of this engagement and tangible benefits.
It doesn’t stop with action. Organizations are not static entities. Markets continually appear, develop, evolve, shift and explode. Teams shuffle and change, expand and contract. And objectives are revised, transformed and diversified.
This makes enterprise reporting a process rather than a project, a cycle of: development of objectives, definition of a reporting model, creation of reporting structures, rollout and human adoption, and engagement and revision (before restarting it all again).
Not only should you be reacting to massive internal or external shifts to adjust your objectives and definitions accordingly, but you should also be habitually revising your structures. You might be surprised at the misalignment you see between your reporting structure and current organizational goals as a result of multiple incremental changes.
Additionally, one of the greatest benefits of organizational reporting is that not only can it help you to take impactful actions and improve outcomes at present, but also to improve future decision-making. By drawing on historical learnings that can be gleaned through analysis of: past performance, recommendations, tests and ideas, you have the ability to continuously improve the way you make decisions.
To capitalize on this opportunity:
Now that you’ve shared ideas on improving decision making, it’s time to restart the process and ensure that your objectives and Key Performance Indicators are relevant and reflective. Use this opportunity to learn from the mistakes you made in the first round and the glory of your effective decisions. Don’t forget to compare your success in this second iteration against that of your first to understand the benefit of experience and analyze how successful you were in scrutinizing, learning from and improving on your first attempt, and use this to fuel you going forward as you continually improve your process and outcomes.
Have you been successful in getting your team to engage with reporting? If so, what methods did you find most successful? We’d love to hear about your experience.
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