By Laura Maker

You’ve implemented Salesforce at your organization, but are your users taking full advantage of the system? If you’re struggling to get your staff and volunteers to actually make use of your new (or not so new) Salesforce system, this post is for you! After you’ve read this article, you should understand why user adoption is important, know the key principles of a user adoption strategy, and learn how to use Chatter to put together a robust adoption plan for your organization.

First, what do we mean when we talk about user adoption? User adoption is a pretty simple concept: it means are your users (like volunteers, staff people, and others who interact with Salesforce) using the system? How often are they logging in? Are they using Salesforce to find information and make decisions, or are they still managing their work out of email, a legacy system, their own private spreadsheet, or sticky-notes posted on their desktop?

If those examples ring a bell, you may have a problem with user adoption. Getting users actively using your system is arguably the most important metric of success for any software or process implementation. If people aren’t using the system to do their work, then they’re not getting value from it.

So how can we go about improving user adoption to get the most out of your investment in Salesforce? Let’s review some principles of user adoption, and discuss how you can use Chatter – a tool built right into Salesforce – to take action on increasing your user adoption right away.

Principle 1: the system needs to be the single source of truth

You probably implemented Salesforce to get rid of information silos, and to get a 360-degree view of your constituents. That only works if your system is the single source of truth for information about your work. If information is lurking on other places, you’re not getting value from having a CRM in place. You know this, but you need everyone else to get on board!

Action ideas

  • Enable Chatter feed tracking for important objects in your system – like contacts, donations, volunteer events – anything people are collaborating on. This will allow users to have conversations about their work within the system, rather than outside of it.
  • Lead an all-company training about how to use Chatter. Make sure your users are comfortable with the tool and understand how to use it to communicate about their work.
  • Start an all-company Chatter group and post important announcements to it regularly. Get people accustomed to seeing important information in Salesforce.
  • Use Chatter as your company directory. Users can add their contact information, job duties, expertise, a picture, and post status updates. Make sure the directory is updated with new hires and role changes.

Principle 2: Leaders need to lead the way

The leaders at your organization need to set the example of using Salesforce so that others follow suit. Make sure to get them on board with your adoption plan.

Action ideas

  • Meet with your executive director and leadership team to ask for their support with your adoption plan.
  • Executives can set the example of using the Chatter feed and Chatter groups to communicate with their teams. Managers can pull up Salesforce records during their 1-1 and team meetings to show that the information in Salesforce is the official record.
  • Show company leaders how to use Chatter to see what topics are trending at your organization. This can help them uncover trends and sentiments.
  • Leaders are not only at the top of the org chart! Recruit a team of Salesforce champions from different departments to help with your adoption plan. These folks can set the example and get others on board with using the system.

Principle 3: Users need continuous training

Make sure that your users have the training and information they need so they feel comfortable using the system. Training should be offered on an ongoing basis.

Action ideas

  • Create a Chatter group to store training materials, such as video recordings and documentation. You can post files and make updates to files when new versions are released. (Make sure your training group is set to not auto-archive.)
  • Include Chatter training as a part of the company onboarding plan. Make sure all new employees understand how to use Chatter as part of their work.
  • Encourage users to share tips and tricks with each other. You can use your training Chatter group, or create a group specifically for tips and tricks.

Principle 4: Communicate changes to users

When you roll out changes and enhancements to your system, make sure your users are in the know. If you don’t have a roll-out plan, you’ll likely frustrate people and it will discourage them from using the system. Instead, give users ample notice and assistance to help them understand the changes.

Action ideas

  • Use the “all company” Chatter group to post updates about changes to the system.
  • Give users advance notice of the change and how it will affect their work. Make sure to highlight the benefits of the change and how it will help people do their job better.
  • Offer training and hand-holding for significant changes to the system. Some people may need more support than others.

Principle 5: Invite users to give input and feedback

Your users have valuable information about what they need from the system. Make sure they have a chance to share their ideas and request enhancements.

Action ideas

  • Create a Chatter group where users can add ideas for new or enhanced features. If you have a lot of users, you can use Salesforce Ideas to manage this!
  • Use the Poll post type to ask for input directly. You can have your users vote to tell you what kind of functionality they need.
  • Take action on ideas and feedback. Make sure you’re communicating with your users and following up on their ideas. Even if you don’t implement an idea, make sure to let your users know you heard them.

Principle 6: Reward your users

Make sure that your users feel good about using Salesforce. Change is hard, and people won’t necessarily flock to your new system without some encouragement. Reward users for adopting the system, and use Salesforce as a platform for encouraging great work overall.

Action ideas

  • Use Salesforce reports and dashboard to monitor usage regularly. Use Chatter to thank your active users and highlight their success.
  • Start a culture of using Chatter to recognize outstanding work efforts overall at your organization. The all company Chatter group is a great way for staff to share kudos for each other. This is a great way not only to encourage adoption of the system, but to improve morale overall!

Bringing it all together

Now you have some ideas about important elements of user adoption and how you can use Chatter as a tool in your organization. Most important, make sure you have a plan for addressing adoption at your organization.

It’s important that someone at your organization (perhaps you!) owns user adoption as part of their duties. Make sure you and your champions team are continuing to engage in Chatter groups. At your regular leadership meetings, report out about user adoption.

If you keep using these strategies on an ongoing basis, you will encourage people to engage in your system and get the most value out of your organization’s investment in Salesforce, allowing you to do more for your constituents and your community.

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Laura Maker

Laura Maker

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