PLM Learning and Adoption: A Strategic Approach to End-User Acceptance

Most companies invest in PLM to improve important business metrics, such as time to market with new products, product quality, and product development cost. But they often struggle to achieve their goals because they end up focusing more on implementing new software features and functions and less on process change and efficient ways of working.

If end users resist the new approach, or simply take a long time to change, the expected productivity gains are hard to come by.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make in this regard is thinking that simply running a training program at the end of the implementation is the right way to ensure adoption.

Instead, high performers understand that the key to real change is to emphasize learning and adoption from the very start.

A proven learning and adoption model. Learning and adoption should come into play during each phase of a well-designed PLM initiative. Focusing on the complete learning and adoption continuum is the best way to ensure ultimate success.

Here is a simple model to consider, with key stages of program development and the associated learning and adoption activities:

  • Initial program planning: Develop high-level learning and adoption strategies.
  • Program kickoff: Include learning and adoption experts on the project team; begin an organizational awareness campaign to build understanding of the coming change.
  • Process design/redesign: Conduct stakeholder demos to show how the process works today and how it will transform; validate working methods; plan for role-based training on the new processes.
  • Solution design: Determine organizational readiness for the technology; prepare appropriate learning and adoption reinforcement as well as support activities.
  • “Go live” with new solution: Implement role-based training and organizational change management activities.
  • User acceptance: Provide mentoring and ongoing support for application of new ways of working; stabilize the user environment.

A critical component of ensuring adoption of the new processes and technology and the successful outcome of such a model and approach is designing a learning and adoption program based on how today’s workforce learns.

This often means embedding training and support directly into the daily work environment with careful consideration of different learning styles, preferences and cultures across the organization. It also means putting extra effort into motivating users and helping them understand how the technology is connected to their job, how it will impact processes and their daily work, and why it is so important to the organization.

Organizations have much to gain by considering learning and adoption at each stage of the project and by accommodating different learning styles and preferences with a flexible, engaging training program. They can shift from a traditional technology-centered implementation effort to an end-user centered approach that promotes user acceptance and in turn will accelerate the adoption of new processes and technology. Most important, they can achieve their ultimate business objectives faster and with less disruption to the organization.

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