End User Adoption in a Field Service Deployment

Some may think that collecting requirements, interpreting them, designing a solution, developing it out, and testing it before hitting the ‘big on-switch’ is what a field service project is all about (OK, sure modern solution deployments should be Agile projects, but that was too hard to explain quickly to make my point).

My point actually is… that in a field service implementation, key user adoption – i.e. that of the field workers impacted by the change – is where the real work starts, and the success of the project is determined. It doesn’t matter how ‘perfect’ the solution is, how great the test scenarios were (usually focused on dispatchers, managers and administrators), how beautiful the documentation is, or even how much the executive supports the project from their board room. 

What matters most in a field service project is how well the solution is adopted by the field staff that will be using it. This is too often an afterthought, left to some short phase on the project plan called ‘Training’. Not good enough! The field staff using this solution will ultimately, and definitively, determine its success. If they are on-board, engaged, involved, and excited, many of the other likely deficiencies in getting there (e.g. it’s not a perfect solution, the testing was not really complete, the documentation is a bit lacking, etc.) will be dealt with, and overcome – because there will be the will for it to succeed.

System integrators deploying field solutions must identify up front – from day 1 – who the influential field staff are, and invite (not order them) into the project. Once in, truly listen to them, learn from them and respond to their needs. They are the only ones that really know what happens in the field, and are ultimately what a field service deployment is designed to serve. They are the front-line company representatives that your customers like and trust the most. The benefits far outweigh just a deployed solution. Engaged field staff impact directly on customer service and satisfaction at the end of the day.

If you have the right number of the respected and influential senior and junior field staff on your side, with the will to make this thing work, whatever it takes, then your project will be a success even with a swathe of minor defects in the final solution. This is what I call the art of project management. The science is easy – Gantt charts, phases, tasks, meetings, status reviews, stand-ups, time boxes, whatever. Anyone can learn this. The art however is a different story. The very best project managers know how to appeal to the hearts and minds of their stakeholders (especially end users) and bring them on an emotional journey to collective project success. If everyone is pulling together for the ‘common good’, then there aren’t too many obstacles you can’t overcome.

Be a project artist, as well as a project manager, and you will find your projects will have a much better chance of success, and importantly much better user adoption.

I hope this helps.