Competitive Advantage Through User Adoption

Last week we attended the SAPinsider HR Conference in Orlando. During our educational session, we were fortunate enough to tell the “before and after” story of how Devon Energy leveraged our solutions to achieve true HR innovation. For many years, the qualitative day-to-day experience of employees has been difficult to quantify. We are just now starting to hear our clients tell stories of how user adoption has really become central to strategic planning.

Our joint presentation at the HR Conference.

At this conference I had the privilege of introducing two thought leaders in HR technology adoption - Lori Conaway with Devon who owns their employee and manager experience, and Oliver Ziegler with Sitrion who leads our Global Support and Implementation teams. About a year ago, Lori came to us and challenged Oliver to create a “one-click open enrollment” workflow for Devon. Oliver accepted the challenge and the adventure began with goals to increase employee satisfaction, drive adoption, and reduce costs. On stage, the two brilliantly walked the crowd through the project from beginning to its current state. The highlight being the outcome, Devon’s HR Service Center’s call volume dropped from thousands of calls to less than a hundred during their open enrollment period. This really rings true to a phrase Oliver repeats throughout our open enrollment projects, “Nobody taught us how to buy stuff on Amazon so nobody should have to train their employees how to complete their open enrollment process.”

 

During our session at the conference, we were happy to see representation in the audience from some of our other clients and really enjoyed some talented professionals kicking off discussions like how to deliver ease-of-use when you have multiple health benefit plans (active and grandfathered) across multiple states; how to deliver centralized data across the globe while still maintaining a localized feel; and how to deliver a coherent cross-browser experience onto iOS, Android, and Windows Phones. We walked through many implementation stories, specifically how a user-centered approach has been the differentiator in helping our clients build a business-driven vision vs. an IT-only vision.

 

In our booth we talked to so many amazing people. At no other time have I seen so many talented people excitedly focused on creating strategic competitive advantage by driving engagement of their workforce. With the increased data that engagement brings, one HR Leader that stopped by our booth told us that the ROI on a new hire was more than six to seven years. Interestingly, five years was about the time that his best employees were being courted away to the competition. They found the volume of communication between managers and employees directly correlated with the probability they could be lured away to the competition. Driving real system adoption became a critical objective in their strategic business plan. And HR became that strategic voice by helping identify and manage the optimum employee to manager ratio, preventing the competition from getting top talent without the development costs. They slowed the drain of talent and forced the competition to invest heavily to build their own employee development program from scratch.

 

Especially in terms of user adoption, portals are seeing a rebirth. Forrester Research has recognized that the “engagement workplace” is central to a competitive strategic plan. Actually delivering self-services – not a confusing website with a one-page PDF – is the key to organizational competiveness. The organizations who make it easier for their workforce to share in building the vision will succeed the next wave of competitive pressures. Today, the tools that exist to thread together all of your systems do not come from a closed provider, they will come from many different vendors. They will take an approach from the employee point of view, not the system architects, and they will mold the tools for empowerment, not conformity.

 

If you have not read Steve Krug’s ‘Don’t Make me Think,’ you should at least skim it. Something he quoted his wife as saying sums up the simple equation we should all be focusing on, “If something is hard to use, I just don’t use it as much.” Seriously, this is like the weight loss industry. Every year there are thousands of new books revealing “never before seen secrets,” when in reality there is a simple equation that if you burn more than you consume you will lose weight. If we can make systems easier to use, people will use them more. Life is too short to be content with unleashing a terrible interface upon your employees, your career trajectory will thank you for it :)

 

Thank you all who joined our session and stopped by our booth to share your stories and vision, we learned from all of you.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Reed, Sales Director, South Region

David is a go-to-market guy, a web and mobile entrepreneur, his wife's husband and his kids' dad.

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