Promoting Tools — You Already Own

Promoting Tools

Every organization needs to purchase tools. Typically a long drawn out process where a lot of people review, critique, and ask for changes, inclusions, and items to be removed. Now that you’ve got your shiny new tool you just need to figure out how to get everyone to use it. Some place it at the feet of the tool vendor, some to training departments, but few have a method of universal acceptance. Sometimes this is just fighting human nature and the resistance of change, while other times it is simply communication. Most of the time it is simply a mix of time and need of the end-user.

For a tool to be utilized it first needs to work for the intended audience. Second it needs to be integrated into the actual working process. If a tool isn’t part of the daily process, it is destined for life on the shelf. Simply relate to how many people use Microsoft Access even though it used to be part of most corporate Microsoft Office packages. Now let’s say you are the sponsor of a new tool. How do you make sure the box gets opened?

Any tool whether a new software program or that state of the art printer need to fit a purpose of the organization. So recognize the following:

  1. Who is the user?
  2. How does this make their job easier?
  3. How does this tool change the process?
  4. If the requirements change, how does the tools flexibility get shown

With these objectives known, develop a communication plan to meet this, then roll out the tool. Most tools do many things, focus on the two items in the tool that end users need the most. This provides a platform of use. With users you get feedback, sharing, and a base to grow the tools utilization.

Now that the tool is rolled out, the real work begins. Far too often a tool has the initial training and use cases, but the molding and shaping of the tool and use is neglected or not communicated. Users need to constantly know new features, old features, and reminders of how this makes their daily lives easier. If they don’t, they forget, find some other method, or simply don’t perform the tasks required. Internally there needs to be a focus on:

  1. Creating and promoting user groups for feedback and help
  2. Internal support and information posting (Distribution Lists, Support Team, web pages, forums, etc)
  3. Easy known access to the tool (location, install files, etc)
  4. Weekly/Monthly communication on updates (emails, newsletters, presentations, etc
  5. Tool usage statistics (broken into features if possible) to know who is and isn’t using the tool (and what in the tool)

If these items are being met your tools will grow or point to the issues with the tools to direct vendors to improve it for your needs.

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