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In 2021 at the Tokyo Olympics, just before crossing the finish line, American Isaiah Jewett and Botswana’s Nijel Amos became entangled and fell. They’d put so much into making the podium only to stop a few meters short. We’re no Olympic athletes, but those of us who are part of deploying an IRM solution can be victim to a similarly tragic fate: spending months planning, developing and launching an IRM solution only to have it stumble and fall when your users just can’t wrap their heads around it. It’s not uncommon, which is why we’ve baked user adoption into our process.

Having a good IRM solution in place is essential for working efficiently, protecting your environment, customers and reputation, and avoiding fines. But equal attention must be paid to adoption. Read on for tried-and-true ways to win in the user adoption game.

Change management

We all know how much people struggle with change, which is why change management has become a familiar practice. Simply put, it means taking a structured approach to introducing your change. And it starts on day one with planning how you’ll present the project. You’ll need to understand end users’ reservations and motivations and take their input and feedback seriously. Clear, proactive communication helps a lot. This includes communicating the what of the implementation and the why behind it. Repetition is key to this: the goal is to have it “stick” in people’s minds. When your stakeholders share the same vision, goals and strategy, success is far more likely.

Stakeholder buy-in

Let’s delve deeper into stakeholders.

Who are they? Your stakeholder group consists of everyone whose buy-in matters—from senior leaders who could kaibosh the project part way in if they didn’t understand the value of it—to the users who will either use it or dig their heels in and do it “the old way”.

You’ll want to have one lead represent each functional area. Each lead can solicit input from their team. Selecting these leads should not be taken lightly. As part of the selection process, you need to consider:

  • Knowledge – They need proper know-how of the IRM solution and how it will impact their particular area.
  • Decision-making – They need decision-making authority on behalf of their functional area for IRM Solution decisions.
  • Bandwidth – They’ll need adequate bandwidth to devote to the IRM project.

Platform selection

Of course, the solution itself will impact user adoption. No two IRM platforms are alike, but over the years, we’ve come to recognize that two features impact user adoption the most:

Flexibility – The software should have the functionality and flexibility to mirror your existing (or desired) processes. The greater the magnitude of change, the more friction it creates. At Karta, when we develop an IRM solution for a client, we spend hours and have workflows dedicated to customizing the solution in order to eliminate this friction.

Usability – A platform that is intuitive to use and that makes the job easy is one that users will be likely to adopt because it flattens the learning curve. Ask your IRM partner about the interface and user adoption. Perhaps they can provide a reference from a past project who will share their first-hand experience with the interface.

At Karta, we run a usability check by building a test solution for users and getting their input on it before we deploy the full solution. This step ensures we have understood the user requirements and properly built them into the IRM solution.

Training Users

Even the simplest of software requires user training. Your rollout should include mandatory training sessions. Make them fun with humour, prizes and games. And record these training sessions for use when onboarding new employees in the future. People are most willing and excited in the beginning–so this is your greatest opportunity for success.

Find out what training and resources your IRM Solution partner will be providing. Is there live training, recorded sessions, or simply written documentation? Also, schedule follow-ups with users between sessions to ensure they’re applying what they’re learning without any issues.

As with most digital adoption, expect a high uptake in the beginning with a fall-off after that as people revert to their old ways. To combat this phenomenon, hold occasional ongoing training sessions. Your new hires will benefit from these immensely.

Karta also provides e-learning or learning management system training options that provide new users with a quick and easy way to learn the solution. LMSs like ours are great because they give unlimited access to content in one location, and track user progress.

User guidelines

“Garbage in, garbage out.” We’ve seen companies get bogged down with poor data quality, which can lead to incomplete reports, miscommunication and other frustrations. To avoid this pitfall, insist on quality inputs by establishing and documenting requirements. Once again, stakeholders can help to make this happen. Assign a monitor who occasionally performs quality checks to make sure inputs are high-quality so that resulting analytics and insights are yielding, too. A create time to run these quality checks is just before team training, so that the findings can be shared with the group.

Given the growing complexities and regulatory environment, using an integrated risk management solution as the backbone of your compliance effort is a no-brainer. A well-devised solution puts checks and balances in place to avoid human errors. However, IRM is a people-led process, so you also need to invest in user adoption, too. Look to your IRM solution provider for guidance and support, and be sure to follow the best practices that we’ve outlined here.