What is Designing for Adoption & Why It's so Important? - Splice Digital

What is Designing for Adoption & Why It’s so Important?

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Employees using a software designed for adoption

The concept of designing for adoption isn’t new or unique to the world of digital transformation. But it’s certainly a useful and powerful one in the context of business transformation!

In fact, it’s such a game changer — we’re dedicating this whole article to it. By the time you reach the end, you should have at least a basic grasp of:

  • What is designing for adoption
  • The relationship between digital transformation and designing for adoption
  • How designing for adoption is fundamental to the success of business transformation

Digital Transformation 101

Digital transformation, or DX, is the revamping of business systems and processes so that they’re more contemporary, efficient and better aligned with the requirements and goals of an organization. It’s meaningful, applied innovation for the benefit of the enterprise and its stakeholders.

DX relies heavily on SaaS (software as a service), custom software solutions, and systems integrations to accomplish its mission. But, strategy, people, environment, and more are also integral parts of the overall digital transformation.

There are countless reasons why a business might pursue digitally transforming some aspect of its operations. At a high level, most are looking for ways to do one or more of the following:

  • Acquire or serve customers better
  • Streamline jobs and find cost savings
  • Make more strategic use of data
  • Pivot the company in a new direction
  • Meet regulatory or market demands

Business transformation is different for each organization because the starting points, resources, and goals aren’t the same.

For an in-depth explainer of DX, be sure to read our post What is Digital Transformation? next.

DX & Designing for Adoption

Regardless of what form or path digital transformation takes at a given company, it should still be grounded in  business transformation best practices — like designing for adoption 

What is Designing for Adoption?

Designing for adoption is an approach to business transformation that considers and addresses all aspects of the processes, people, and operating environment that could impact the success of the transformation. In some circles, you might also hear the term human-centered design, which is closely related. 

Key aspects of designing for adoption:

  • It starts on Day 1
  • Solution design is led by research and stakeholder insights
  • Solution design includes feedback from stakeholders before being finalized
  • Plan for engagement - early test groups, rollout, training and communication strategies

Better DX requires utilizing an insight-driven and structured approach to Solution Design and requirements gathering, one grounded in the relevant strategic goals and opportunities for better presented by a new digital solution but always in the context of the people, processes and culture of a specific organization. The overarching goal of designing for adoption is to create an optimal transformation that a company will actually implement and use. 

It’s a Unicorn

As with digital transformation, designing for adoption is going to be a completely different animal at every company. However, all design-for-adoption approaches should have touchpoints for each phase of adoption and each kind of adopter.

Adopter profiles and the adoption arc for technology

For example, the manner and message you use to engage an Early Adopter who’s in the Evaluation stage is not what you’d use to attract a Laggard in the Trail stage.

You need to address stakeholders’ concerns, needs, and working and learning styles as you progress through the DX process. You can’t accommodate every single dimension of every single person’s wishes, but you can make your team feel like they’ve been heard and accounted for in the business transformation.

A Structure for Designing for Adoption

It can be easier to solidify designing for adoption with an outline for how it can be done. Much of this harkens back to business class syllabuses. (S.W.O.T. analysis anyone?)

Steps for Designing for Adoption

  1. Articulate the problem you’re trying to solve. Come at this from multiple angels so that you view challenges from more than one user perspective.
  2. Establish baselines and benchmarks. Record assumptions and starting points. This will come in handy when you want to evaluate progress and achievements.
  3. Think through uncertainties. Brainstorm and plan for the unknown. Come up with contingencies.
  4. Describe the users. Clarify who will be party to the digital transformation and in what capacity. Remember to consider all adopter types.
  5. State the value proposition. Make sure that the benefits, positive outcomes, perks, etc. are known to all DX stakeholders. Help them understand why the effort is worth it. Again, frame this from the point of view of all types of adopters. Be as explicit and comprehensive as possible.
  6. Come up with your elevator pitch. Distill the value proposition down to its essence. It’s an easy-to-remember mantra that everyone can rally around.
  7. Create your communities. Determine which groups of people should be involved, and when. Build out and foster the proper networks for accomplishing tasks, sharing information, and so on. These groups may change over time as you move through adoption stages.

Designing for Adoption, a Critical Success Factor

It’s natural to question why you’d want to go to the trouble of designing for adoption. After all, it sounds like it might be harder, costlier, or more time consuming to do.

Bluntly, designing for adoption can actually result in you saving time, money, and energy while simultaneously getting vastly improved outcomes. It can increase your chances of success and the magnitude of that success.

The Splice Take on Designing for Adoption & Digital Transformation

In the framework of digital transformation, we like to define success as the ability for your business to roll out and use the digital solutions we create — helping ensure the solutions achieve the stated objectives and deliver real ROI.

We’re paraphrasing, but according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 80% of the value of DX comes from the successful adoption of the innovation while only 20% of the value comes from or during the creation activities themselves. By moving through the business transformation with an eye on adoption the whole time — the probability of successful adoption soars.

That’s pretty compelling.

Strategies for Better Adoption of Innovation

While there are no guarantees of total success, there’s a lot you can do to increase your chances of positive digital transformation outcomes. Some of these things include:

  • Engaging the right external partner (like Splice!) who can support and lead on the following…
    • Allocating necessary resources
    • Assessing your needs and constraints to set expectations and determine goals
    • Focusing on strategy first, technology second
    • Proper planning and prioritization
    • Executive buy-in

Accounting for all these dimensions as you innovate can usher your digital transformation more seamlessly into your business.

Designing for Adoption, Simplified

If you’re going to undergo a digital transformation, you ought to do it right. Splice is not only able to help you with your business transformation, but can streamline the end-to-end process and deliver a bespoke solution that’s designed for adoption.

As experts in this field, Splice can increase your odds of optimal digital transformations, smooth implementation, and user acceptance of new and revised systems.

Ready to embrace digital transformation success? Reach out to us for more information.

Frequently Asked Question, Answered

What is digital transformation?

Digital transformation (aka DX) leverages digital technologies and accompanying strategies, procedures, etc. to create or modify business processes, systems, environments, or outcomes. 

What is designing for adoption?

Designing for adoption is an approach to business transformation that considers and addresses  all aspects of the processes, people, operating environment, and so on that could impact the success of the transformation. The overarching goal is to create an optimal transformation that a company will actually implement and use.

How can I ensure my digital transformation initiatives succeed?

There’s no guarantee of success, but there’s a lot you can do to help ensure positive digital transformation outcomes— like allocating necessary resources, assessing your needs, and proper planning. And, of course, embracing a design for adoption approach!