User Adoption – Resistance Is Futile, We Hope

The business failing to adopt the BI solution once the work is done.

May 22, 2017
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Money Out the Window

It’s scary to think about the dollars involved, but with over 70% of Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing projects failing it is surprising to me that more research hasn’t been done it to WHY these projects are dying on the vine. I suppose that in the end, it is just a lot of finger-pointing and bad feelings but I would attribute it with two overarching reasons:

  • IT developing without business sponsorship or involvement
  • The business failing to adopt the BI solution once the work is done.

Now the first one bothers me but most IT shops learn from their mistakes and while they didn’t have time to do it right (i.e. work with the business) the you have time to do it over. The second one baffles me, especially if the business has been involved from day one through delivery including the selection of the tools that will be used. Once IT delivers what the business wanted, they don’t use it and the continue to rely on the old way that they always got their numbers before BI was available.

If it Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It

Many users will profess that they are fine doing things the way they have always done them, and just because the executives went out and had a BI solution developed doesn’t mean they have to use it, right? Wrong. While the BI solution may meet the needs to do your day-to-day duties, it’s the analytical power and time savings (hopefully) that will free the user to not only “do their job” but extend themselves to find ways to drive the business forward.

I get it, no one likes change, but the executive team has to help sell BI to their internal teams to help foster adoption of this new way of doing things. The user’s are right, it might not have been broke, and it didn’t need fixing, but there is always room for improvement.

It’s Too Hard! I Can’t Learn How to Do This!

Admittedly, some BI tools can be a challenge to master, and some have a steeper learning curve than others, but executives and IT must work together to train the users to use the tools. Before you choose a tool, did you involve the day-to-day users in the evaluation process? Did you invite them to a demonstration so see their reaction to the tool in use? If not, that may have been your first point of failure. If the user community feel like they had input on the tool selection, they may be more likely to have an open mind in learning and using the tool because it’s the one “they picked”.  Involve the users early and often and adoption and usage rates will rise.

Training can also raise issues with adoption as you have to remember that everyone learns at different paces, with different educational styles. Auditory learners aren’t going to do will with a written manual and kinetic learners are going to get anything out of a lunch and learn unless there are opportunities to get their hands “dirty”. You have to have multiple avenues and styles of training available or you will miss a percentage of your audience every time.

Exposing the Truth, I Think…

The last point might not have anything to do with the BI solution itself, but more with the users and their lack of intimacy with the data. Some people know what they need to see on a report…

“Variance X is within 3% of the budget so I don’t have to worry about it this month…”

Intimate usage of the data involve searching for what might not be visible to the casual user, and because of a lack of deep understanding of the data, there may be a fear of being exposed for not knowing the ins-and-outs of the data like they are suppose to… so if they resist BI, the problem might go away. 

This may be harsh, but with the amount of data being produce and reporting today, users can’t function like this anymore, and it may be time to find new analysts.

In the End, You Just Have to Push

Like I said earlier, no one LIKES change, but most people will ACCEPT change if pushed. Some companies fail to take away the “old way of doing things”, but if your BI solution is supposed to replace the old way, then shut down the old system, or at least deny access to it so that users are forced to make a change.