Crescent Parts' Secret Sauce for User Adoption

Submitted on: Tue, 03.31.2015 02:56am - Annie Eissler |

Note: The following blog post was written by guest blogger Andy Weith.

So much time and research goes into selecting new software solutions for our businesses. Does it do what we want (and then some)? Will our ROI be 6 months or 2 years? Will it be a solution we can continue to grow with 5 or 10 years from now? Will it help us innovate and lead our industry?

Why, oh why, do we spend so little time making sure our users actually put it to use and reap the benefit?

Well, we made just this blunder at Crescent Parts & Equipment a few years back. We implemented the awesome reporting and analytics software called MITS, but failed initially to get users to actually utilize it! We then scrambled to figure out an adoption plan, and ultimately succeeded in motivating users to harness the power MITS put at their fingertips. Here’s how it played out:

Houston, we have a problem!
Months after MITS was implemented, the questions staff asked of IT made it abundantly clear very few people were using it (‘What’s my login for that MITS thing again?’). Why weren’t they? It came down to two things: First, any data they were concerned with could be found elsewhere. Be it standard sales reports from the ERP, monthly meetings regarding commissions, daily scorecards reporting profitability, and so on. Second, in their eyes MITS did nothing to help them do their job on a daily basis. It wasn’t required to bring inventory in or ship it out, and that’s what makes us money, right! Why would they want to use MITS?

From the Top Down
Working closely with the management team, a mandate was put in place: most information Sales Reps, Branch Managers, and Product Managers need on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis will no longer be provided by management or other means. They will have to get it themselves from MITS with no easier alternative. That meant (gasp!) commissions, bonus program progress, and customer scorecards could only be found on MITS. We set each person’s landing page conveniently to their own dashboard so they could see these snapshots of info at a high level.

Workshop Style v Powerpoint Boredom
We developed a training program where users brought their laptops and tablets, logged into MITS to review their personalized data, and together with the trainers and their classmates built reports, filtered the data, and added calculated fields. Our training exercises not only required them to learn how to use the tool, but helped them understand why they would go through these steps in MITS, and what conclusions they would reach. Questions like:

  1.  Who are your top 10 customers/vendors/lines by sales $
  2. sales margin %
  3. sales margin % over X $
  4. % growth year to year
  5. % growth but annual sales under X $

We found this approach gave them both incentive to get into MITS, and the spark to see what conclusions they themselves could draw from the data (and can now get to in seconds from MITS). Without quick methods to slice and dice data, our people had not only never known how to look for this data, but they hadn’t even known why to look for it!

MITS and the Sales Team
One of the biggest impacts MITS has had on our business falls on the sales team’s shoulders. Our reps knew their biggest accounts, but they couldn’t tell you what specific segments of their business were growing or shrinking and why. In just minutes, using MITS, they can now tell why a given customer is, for example, decreasing in sales:

  • a certain job or bid that was won last year but lost this year
  • they have stopped buying the premium model of a line and instead have turned to an economy option
  • overall sales are down across the board (is their business suffering or are they using a competitor?)

The bottom line? Our reps are now equipped with the right questions to ask when they walk through that customer’s door or pick up the phone to see how they can help.

What's your user adoption secret sauce?

Andy Weith is the Founder of ASW Global Consulting, focusing on helping businesses better utilize the technology they have and improve the processes they employ. In addition he is acting CIO of Crescent Parts & Equipment, an HVAC and Refrigeration wholesale distributor, where he enjoys using MITS every day!