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You have chosen a BI tool—what’s next?

Congratulations!  You just selected a business intelligence tool. This product or platform will be either a new undertaking in your company or will replace existing tools. As a next step, you are probably thinking about your first implementation.

It is very exciting time; business users are still enthusiastic about the project, and they still believe in what you and your vendor promised them. But the real test will begin when they actually see the tool and start using it. It is like ordering a present for your spouse’s birthday.  The package came in the mail and, full of excitement, you hide it somewhere. Then, on a special day, you open the package, present it and … well, you never know the reaction.

The situation with BI tools is similar. Having the experience of multiple implementations, I would like to share my advice on planning user adoption. The most important step is to develop a user adoption Plan.  This should be a task that is included in your project plan and time should be allocated to it. 

I recommend the following five focus areas in user adoption plan:

  1. Knowledge management and user support
  2. Communication with users
  3. Stakeholder management
  4. Policy definition and enforcement
  5. Metrics and measures

Some of these areas overlap, and in some cases the topics could be collapsed into a smaller number. Each plan should be specific to the organization’s situation.

Let’s explore the first focus area, knowledge management and user support. The following actions will help get your users proficient on the BI tool:

  • Work with your training department to develop a learning plan, which typically would include an online demo and some instructor led training.
  • A quick reference guide is a handy tool to have. It should be one or two pages long, and should be distributed in a format quickly accessible by users. Something that users can print, pin it on the wall in their cubical. 
  • Develop a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for your website. Depending on your user community, it could be customizable to the user profile.
  • Establish a highly competent help desk. The help desk will be the first place users call with their questions. A more knowledgeable help desk instructions will lead to a more positive experience for the business users.
  • The training plan and learning materials will require consistent maintenance. With every new release and every new feature, this information will need to be updated. In many organizations, information about the application becomes outdated and therefore less useful.

I will discuss communication with users in the next post. Alerts, webinars, forums, and even the training materials can be used for user communications. For example, it is possible to include user feedback in new training materials by sending out surveys. In this way, two-way communication can be offered, with opportunities for input from the users rather than information coming only from the trainers and instructional materials.

Use the comments below to share ways in which you are managing user training and tool adoption in your organization.

Earley Information Science Team
Earley Information Science Team
We're passionate about enterprise data and love discussing industry knowledge, best practices, and insights. We look forward to hearing from you! Comment below to join the conversation.

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