Introduction

Depending upon the product (or service) in question, full product adoption can be a potentially quite complex and even onerous task to perform well. As with all complex tasks, the secret is to break it down into its constituent components and then to deal with each component one at a time (as much as possible at least). There are many ways in which product adoption could be divided up and broken down into separate parts. The steps I have divided up adoption planning into are shown below:

Step 1: Determine Adoption Requirements

Step 2: Identify Process Changes

Step 3: Create Impacted Groups (IGs)

Step 4: Document Practical Considerations

Step 5: Determine Communication, Training and Support Requirements

Step 6: Capture Adoption Barriers and Risks

Step 7: Create Outline Adoption Plan

Step 8: Create Adoption Proposal and Gain Acceptance

Step 9: Complete Full Adoption Plan and Publish Adoption Roadmap

In my previous articles I explained the first five steps in adoption planning, taken from Chapter 8 of my book Practical Customer Success Management. This week I’m describing the final two steps, namely Step Eight: Create Adoption Proposal and Gain Acceptance as well as Step Nine: Complete Full Adoption Plan and Publish Adoption Roadmap.  As I have mentioned in the previous articles in this series, being a chapter from the mid to later stages of the book, it does assume knowledge attained from previous chapters, and it also mentions downloadable tools that purchasers of the book have access to. But hopefully as a standalone series of articles it will provide a useful reference for CSMs who are looking for a way to break down the adoption planning process into a series of tasks and to learn how to perform each task efficiently and effectively. Also just to mention that of course adoption planning (and the use of the tools discussed herein) is also covered in detail in my Certified CSM Professional training program and within the upcoming Practical CSM Academy subscription site.

 

Step 8: Create Adoption Proposal and Gain Acceptance

What is an adoption proposal?

An adoption proposal is a simple document that performs a similar function to a business case. Its purpose is to enable project sponsors and other senior authorities to sign off on the adoption plan by providing the basic information they will need in order to do this, set out in simple, clear and business relevant terms that they will understand. Adoption proposals are not always required, it depends entirely upon the way in which decisions are managed within the customer organization. If acceptance and sign off from sponsor/s has either already been given or is not necessary then the CSM and SPL may decide not to write an adoption proposal and to proceed directly to Step 8: Complete Full Adoption Plan and Publish Adoption Roadmap. However, for more complex situations there may be value in creating an adoption proposal just purely as a checksum for ensuring the adoption plan is complete.

The recommendation is to keep the adoption proposal as brief and succinct as possible, although of course it is very important to ensure it is accurate and contains all of the information necessary for project sponsors to make any funding or other decisions. The Adoption Proposal should be created to suit the needs of the specific situation, but might include the following sections:

Sections of a typical adoption proposal

SectionDescription
Executive SummaryA brief (half to one page in length) summary of the content within the proposal, including a summary of the objectives, proposed activities, costs, timescales, measurements and reporting
Adoption ObjectivesAn explanation as to the initiative that the solution supports and the outcomes to be attained from successful solution adoption
Proposed ActivitiesA high level description of the activities that will be taken to complete each phase within the proposed adoption plan
Finances and TimescalesDetails of expenditures and timeframes for each adoption phase and overall
Measurements and ReportingDetails of measurements and reporting for each adoption phase and overall
Key RisksDetails of any substantial risks that have been identified but that were not avoided within the plan, together with the proposed steps for managing them should they occur
AppendicesOther information to support the proposal. This might include details around personnel to be deployed, third parties who will be involved, research and planning methodologies and research findings

 

For owners of the book Practical Customer Success Management, an Adoption Proposal Template that follows the above format has been included in the Downloads section at www.practicalcsm.com.

Getting approval

Once the adoption proposal has been completed and validated, the SPL (with support from the CSM as required) can submit it to the initiative’s sponsor/s and other senior decision makers for discussion and approval. The sponsor/s may request amendments, in which case the necessary changes should be completed as swiftly as possible and the proposal resubmitted for final approval.

Note that in some circumstances it may be necessary for other key stakeholders including team leaders and process owners to sign off on those parts of the proposal that impact their teams and/or processes. It is the responsibility of the SPL to know who needs to view and approve the adoption proposal, but as with everything, it is best practice for the CSM in their advisory capacity to do their best to ensure that all necessary approvals have been granted.

 

Step 9: Complete Full Adoption Plan and Publish Adoption Roadmap

The full adoption plan

The adoption plan is a fully detailed document (or collection of documents) that will be used by the CSM, SPL and others to manage the implementation of the adoption program. It makes sense to gain approval and acceptance of the high level plan prior to completing all of the details of the full adoption plan, especially in more complex situations. Once approval has been gained, the CSM and SPL can be confident that it is worthwhile to invest the necessary further time that will need to be spent on fleshing out the details of the plan.

By this stage all the creative decisions will have been made and therefore the vast majority or perhaps even all of what remains to be done is the administration work around availability of personnel and resources and scheduling activities. The CSM need only take an advisory role here and should not take on the role of completing all the details. There may be others (for example Training and HR professionals from within the customer organization or from third parties) who will need to be liaised with to complete this work. The CSM may need to perform some of this liaison and “project management” to ensure that collaboration between the necessary partners takes place in a timely and efficient manner.

In terms of documentation, for more simple adoption programs the full adoption plan can be documented within a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel. A more complex, multi-phased adoption program with multiple IGs and multiple outcome requirements may need to be documented in a project management tool such as Microsoft Project, or whatever project management system the customer and/or the CSM’s company uses. As with any complex document, it always pays to get someone who was not involved in its creation to review the document once created to check for errors and omissions.

The adoption roadmap and other marketing collateral

The adoption plan itself is a fully detailed document (or collection of documents) that will be used by the CSM, SPL and others to manage the implementation of the adoption program. This document is of course invaluable for those who will actually manage the implementation of the adoption program, but it may also be a good idea to provide a summary roadmap of adoption activities that can be published more widely for everyone – or at least for key stakeholders – to see, so that they can prepare themselves and their teams for any impact of the adoption implementation in terms of their time and workload ahead of time.

An adoption roadmap can also be considered to be a great marketing tool. As such it might be a good idea to include creative personnel such as graphic designers and marketing specialists in the team to help design and create the roadmap itself. The roadmap might typically be created in the form of a PDF that can also be printed as a large sized poster that can be displayed on office walls.

Your adoption plan may also call for other marketing collateral such as posters, videos, email campaigns etc to be created. Again, you will need to ensure that this work is completed as appropriate.

The look and feel of the adoption roadmap and other collateral should be tailored to suit the culture and requirements of the customer organization. What the marketing campaign needs to convey is an explanation for:

  • What will be happening (a description of the initiative and the changes it will engender)
  • Why it is happening (the benefits to the customer’s organization that the initiative will bring)
  • Who will be impacted by the change
  • When the changes will take place (for the roadmap particularly, this will be the majority of what it contains, showing the major phases of the adoption program and summarizing what will happen during each phase)
  • Expectations of the workforce (typically to make sure they understand the implications to their own role and to prepare themselves for the change ahead of time)
  • Reassurance of support (to allay doubts, fears and concerns)