SaaS Misconceptions

'How to' training drives adoption

It’s easy for organizations to get swept into focusing purely on ‘the technology’ when it comes to any digital transformation project. In many cases the discipline that businesses need to have is the ability to step back and appreciate that the technology is an enabler to a larger business process and is not the process itself.

While some businesses plan for, design and implement technology in a considered way, others focus heavily on turning features on and off rather than asking what their people truly need to make their lives smarter, faster and easier.

A wise man once said to me that “a feature is not a feature unless people use said feature”. This is an important consideration when evaluating needs analysis and procuring new technology, but also when deciding on configurations and other technical options.

This misconception around ‘how to’ training doing the heavy lifting often manifests itself in the businesses approach to change management and enablement.

It is common that the businesses who see technology as part of a bigger puzzle often look at change and training—which we covered in our second misconception post—in the right way and develop programs and content to support users through the whole transformation.

However, other businesses that get swept into the technology however often focus much of their effort on training people ‘how to’ use their new tool, rather than properly enabling them on all aspects of the transformation that they need to adopt.

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“Our plan is to create 'how to' training to drive adoption.”

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How does this misconception impact businesses?

The challenge with such an enablement strategy is that users typically only have one piece of the puzzle.

What is the first question that you ask when you are introduced to a new technology? What is it? What does it do? What is the value of it? You certainly do not ask how to use something that you don’t understand or value.

As such, a purely ‘how to’ training strategy can leave users with big holes in their understanding of other important things, such as the strategy, behaviors and processes that sit around the technology.

This lack of understanding, including a lack of appreciation of value, often leads to poor user adoption and engagement. This subsequently translates to poor benefits and value realization, and ultimately leads to project failure.

Although it is difficult to change a business’s cultural approach to technology projects, to avoid the damaging effects of this misconception I would actively encourage practitioners to view technology as an enabler to a business process, rather than the epicenter of a function or department itself.

Practitioners will look at processes and experiences first and subsequently should appreciate the transformed areas that you are asking users to adopt. I would then create a change and enablement plan that accommodates for these needs for each stakeholder group that you are asking to adopt the new technology.

At AppLearn we have a model called The Six Pillars of Digital Adoption that outlines the key aspects that are common when a business is embarking on a new digital transformation project or strategy. ‘How to’ training makes up just a small part of this.

This model helps shape a business’s thinking about broader topics than just the software that are critical to communicate and train around to drive project adoption, success and achieve value realization. And if you are guilty of the ‘how to’ training misconception, I highly suggest you read it, and think about providing wider support to your people.


“The strategy going forward for us is to support employees in what they do within the system, rather than support the system. It’s a subtle change, but for me a very strong one.”

Rolls-Royce’s Global Head of HRIT Solutions, Simon Barker.

Learn how to maximize the value of your applications and bring certainty to your SaaS investments. Watch our on-demand webinar with Rolls-Royce here.

Insight by

Daniel Gripton

Insight by

Daniel Gripton