How to Ensure Successful Adoption of HR Technology Solutions

July 25, 2016 Appirio

By Patrick Crane

Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to work with many organizations on their journey to implement new HR technology solutions and deploy manager and employee self-service. I’ve seen some successes, but unfortunately, I’ve typically seen more failures when it comes to employee adoption. Perhaps the expectations for full user adoption were too ambitious. “If we build it, they will come” may work in movies about Iowa baseball fields, but isn’t enough to drive successful enterprise technology adoption.


Organizations that are able to successfully deploy self-service solutions realize several benefits:

  • Cost avoidance through the elimination of paper-based HR processes and HR data entry.
  • Better resource utilization — by no longer needing HR data entry administrators.
  • Permanent, electronic audit trails of HR transactions.
  • Real-time visibility into the approval status of HR transactions.
  • Alignment with the personal behavior of managers and employees (e.g., internet shopping, electronic banking, and mobile device usage).
  • A tool to provide managers with real-time access to employee data and analytics (aka putting information into the decision-makers hands when it’s needed).

Determining why some organizations have success and others don’t

With so many benefits, it’s no wonder every organization implementing a new HR technology solution includes the deployment of self-service in their business cases. But why are some organizations able to achieve full user adoption of self-service functionality while others are not?

I recently had the opportunity to facilitate a workshop of ~20 senior HR technology leaders from large, global organizations. Like me, many of these leaders had seen varying levels of success in the deployment of manager and employee self-service, and we all wanted to learn that secret formula for user adoption. We started out with several theories and assumptions and consolidated them into the following categories:

  • Characteristics of the organization.
  • Types of transactions.
  • Devices being used.
  • Level of support provided by HR.
  • Change enablement initiatives.

The workshop’s aha! moment

The workshop attendees reviewed and evaluated each of these factors and debated the merits of each by providing supporting and opposing examples. Unfortunately, this debate led to few solid conclusions. But suddenly, the discussion was silenced when a lone voice spoke up and pointed out the elephant in the room: If the HR solution does not deliver a positive user experience for managers and employees, none of these other factors matter. She was right; if the self-service functionality is not intuitive, easy to use, logical, and not perceived as relevant or worthy of a manager or employee’s time, they won’t use it… period. You could consider this revelation either an aha! moment or a “duh” moment — or perhaps both.


The biggest lesson I took away from this exercise was to not overthink the question and make it more complicated than it needs to be. If you consider the user experience in everything you do (including selecting an HR technology solution with a consumer-grade user experience and implementing it as intuitively as possible), you will maximize the likelihood that your deployment and adoption of manager and employee self-service will be successful.

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