Every organization has them. Those business processes that end users must execute in their enterprise software applications that stretch the limits of traditional training approaches and ongoing performance support. They are complex, infrequent, or the result of a highly-customized system – and sometimes all of the above.
And just as these types of business processes are ubiquitous in enterprises, the results of their failed execution are similarly familiar. When training and support don’t adequately address them, they often lead to some of the worst consequences of poor user experience and unsuccessful digital adoption: critical and costly errors, diminished employee engagement and productivity, or growing internal resistance to organizational change.
But if these challenging processes are both unavoidable and unavoidably consequential, how can organizations and end users successfully navigate them? Read on to learn how and why these business processes complicate digital adoption and what solutions help neutralize them.
Infrequent or seasonal processes
These processes tend to be essential processes where errors are especially costly. Think quarterly financial reports or end-of-year employee reviews. And yet, the infrequent nature of this business process makes it ripe for mistakes. To complete an intermittent, high-stakes business process from memory without errors and with efficiency is – to put it plainly – an unrealistic task.
In the best-case scenario, end users received helpful training in the process during onboarding, but that was months ago. And though there are easy, up-to-date manuals that were created to offer a refresher in the process, they are stored in an intranet folder or LMS and need to be tracked down. Statistics show that employees spend 1.8 hours a day in this pursuit of the information they need to do their jobs.
In the worst-case scenario, the end user was not trained on this business process. It didn’t fit the curriculum of a more fundamental onboarding or catch-all training event. And there are no reference documents. And the only employee familiar with the process is the end user’s predecessor, who has left the company.
Neither of these scenarios is ideal. And the equally problematic reality likely lies somewhere in the middle: the end user received training but can’t recall the information when they need to use it, and the applicable reference is outdated or lost.
In 1935, Boeing began flight testing its B-17 bombers and learned a hard, crucial lesson. One of their first test flights ended in a fatal accident when the pilot forgot to complete a critical step before take off. As a consequence, the plane crashed. When Boeing assessed what went wrong they came to a realization: the aircraft was too complex. And it was unrealistic and unsafe to rely on memory to ensure each process was completed consistently and accurately. The result of that accident was the creation of the first pre-flight checklist.
Typically, the complex processes of enterprise software do not have the life or death stakes of a preflight checklist. But they can impact the bottom line of a business and the livelihoods of its employees. Complex business processes need to be executed correctly every time.
No matter the caliber of the instruction, one-time training or even repeated shadowing is not sufficient to support end users in complex business processes. However, these remain common onboarding strategies. Not only are these approaches subject to the forgetting curve, in which 70% of what is learned is lost in 24 hours, but they also don’t account for the inherent fallibility of memory in complex sequences. This approach all but guarantees processes pocked with errors – or worse – errors that have become ingrained through sheer repetition of a faulty business process flow.
A common-sense alternative is to provide a physical or digital manual for end users to reference as they complete the process. But for these complex processes, there are so many permutations, combinations, and specific conditions that the resulting manuals are very large and hard to digest.
Additionally, depending on the reference’s format, they often require the user to toggle between their screen and paper, or the enterprise application and an LMS or web tutorial. This is painstaking. And the drag on productivity is felt both by the end user and the organization. This sort of laborious and inefficient process execution can diminish digital adoption and negatively impact employee engagement.
For organizations using core enterprise software like ERP, these systems are frequently developed with customizations that match the enterprise’s business and IT needs. Though system standardization is increasingly touted by vendors in projects like an SAP implementation, customizations may drive value by reflecting unique and intentional business processes and protocols. However, they can also complicate rollout and future onboarding by complicating digital adoption. Since these systems are not out-of-the-box, neither is their end-user training – or at least it shouldn’t be.
On its own, a tailored approach to an enterprise’s end-user training is not a bad thing. On the contrary, if done well it can improve user adoption and, therefore, help enterprises realize the full value of their system implementation more quickly. But to be successful, a tailored training strategy needs to be comprehensive, leveraging more tools than a one-time, instructor-led training. It needs to be developed efficiently, not overburdening training and support staff and resources. And it needs to be effective, addressing a range of end-user needs and objectives to achieve competency.
If these conditions are not met, training strategies for customized systems can increase implementation costs, prolong end user time-to-productivity, and undermine digital adoption. And the sum of these pitfalls is much more than a slow software implementation ROI. It can fuel internal resistance to digital transformation initiatives – for the implementation at hand and organizational change as a whole – moving an enterprise that much further away from achieving agility.
Three birds, one practical solution
Each of these three common scenarios stalls and hinders digital adoption, which is the process of reaching a level of proficiency on a given technology that enables users to understand and utilize its full capabilities and value. And if one or all of these scenarios sounds familiar, you are not alone. Again, every organization grapples with these types of business processes.
Fortunately, there is a solution aimed specifically at digital adoption – digital adoption platforms – that can address the challenges to business process optimization and execution, data accuracy, and continuous employee performance support. A digital adoption platform (DAP) will:
- Act like an expert co-pilot with a checklist, providing step-by-step instructional guides. No need to memorize a complex or once-a-year workflow.
- Eliminate the time spent finding the right reference. The guides are centralized in the platform which is easily accessible in the enterprise software itself. At the click of an icon, the DAP layers the walkthrough instruction on top of the business process workflow.
- Ease the burden on training and support staff and make end user onboarding more efficient. DAPs present the option of self-service support, which reduces training time and costs. DAPs like OnScreen also leverage internal subject matter experts to create guides, more effectively capturing , updating, and preserving the unique institutional knowledge of these particular processes.
- Speed time-to-proficiency for end users in any enterprise system. Creating guides that reflect the enterprise’s customized system is as easy as recording a workflow as it is completed – and even easier for end users to replicate as the resulting guide assists in their process execution at the point of need.
- Enable organizational agility. When end users feel confident they have the resources and ability to fully adopt any new technology – no matter how idiosyncratic its business processes – they are ready to take on every new technology. This, ultimately, is the attitude of enterprises that thrive in the digital economy.
OnScreen is the agile digital adoption platform for SAP and web-based enterprise applications that boosts process efficiency and employee productivity by empowering any user to become a power user. Sign up for a free trial to see how OnScreen can smooth the path to the digital adoption of your enterprise software.