A good QuickBase app is not necessarily a successful one. A successful QuickBase app relies on user adoption, which is often a product of factors beyond the technical wizardry of the solution itself.
To help us get clarity on how to make a QuickBase app successful, we asked the experts in our QuickBase Heroes program for their input. Here is what they told us.
Barriers to User Adoption
When it came to barriers, our experts found common ground in several areas, including:
- Resistance to change. People don’t always like change, our experts found — especially older workers or those who have been following a standard process for many years. Convincing them that a new QuickBase application will improve their lives can be a struggle.
- Lack of stakeholder buy-in. If you don’t have management and users on board with your new application from the start, getting them to adopt the solution after the fact can be a real challenge.
- Poor application design. Any good technology solution has to feel like it was built around the needs of the user — not the app builder. A badly designed app is one users will abandon or complain about endlessly, our experts said.
- Integration challenges. Not only must a good app serve a user’s needs for a particular task, according to our experts, but in many cases it must also be integrated with other applications or processes that the user relies on.
- Lack of time or effort for training. While QuickBase may seem easy to use for most of us, lack of adequate training is often a barrier to success as new users — or those already resistant to a new way of doing things — reject the application and demand something different.
How to Get Over These Barriers
QuickBase experts agreed that a little foresight is key to high user adoption. Their suggestions for getting around the common barriers for user adoption can be boiled down into 7 key activities:
1) Sell your solution before you build it
“Show and tell. I started by replacing a 20-tab Excel spreadsheet for tracking license and support contracts with a 10-table QuickBase app and showed it to my boss. Then I built vacation request for our team of 10, so that my boss doesn’t need to write down our vacation days on his whiteboard. My boss was impressed. I offered my QuickBase app-building service to my team, and now my whole team are QB users.” – Chun Man Chiu, AeroInfo Systems
“Host employee meetings to present the benefits and answer questions about the challenges.” – Shannon Franklin, Shannon Franklin & Associates
“Make sure department heads are on board, and if not, work to understand their needs and present them with ways QuickBase can help. If you can tie usage to employee goals that will be one of the best adoption techniques, although it is quite a hard sell sometimes!” – Leanne Snoeck, Complex Media
“Before building anything, make sure it’s what your leaders want — and that your leaders will expect everyone to use it. Otherwise you might as well not bother.” – Eric Pilon, Southwest Airlines
2) Design for user experience
“Understand your users and how they do things. Tailor solutions around them instead of trying to force new ways of doing things. People will always resist change — it matters how you frame it for them.” – Brendon Sachs, ABG Management
“Involve users in the development process.” – Patricia Reinhardt, Nassau BOCES
“Engaging users in the development stage will assist them in understanding the reason for change. Don’t just hand them a new app with a new way of working and expect them to be comfortable with it. Get them involved and cut out need for any resistance from the users.” – Craig Evans, UK Asbestos Training Association
“Have colleagues either describe the output they want or have them produce the kind of document they want and then craft reports and tables that recreate the experience. It does mean a level of customization that sometimes creates a lack of continuity across the database, but it makes the overall output better when everyone contributes.” – Dave Goudy, Oregon Bach Festival
“Collaborate as much as you can. Something that looks like it would be better off with a new process does not look the same to everyone who actually does the process on a daily basis.” – Alyssa Miller, Southwest Airlines
“When building the new app, work directly with the users who will be entering the data. By keeping them involved and getting their input during the development process, they gain a sense of ownership and accept the app from the very beginning.” – Alan Dunagan, Continental Building Products
“We asked our main leaders and users to participate in the build of the electronic form and then validate the new form by entering information from the old paper process.” – Patrick Kelley, Medical University of South Carolina
“Try to make things as simple as possible. The user must notice an improvement in work, not an increase in workload.” – Brendon Sachs, ABG Management
“Don’t let users beta test something that doesn’t look nice — very few users like wirefirame-y, sketchy, or cryptically-named apps, because they believe that is what you’ll be giving them. People get excited about test driving things that look polished and professional — and they build positive momentum with other users even before the ‘big update’ happens.” – Paul Lanterman, OMS Photo
“Build a useful dashboard as the app’s home page. The dashboard is one thing Excel doesn’t have, and managers especially love dashboards. That helps sell the app and QuickBase in general.” – Chun Man Chiu, AeroInfo Systems
“Think clearly about every form, field, and grid, and what you want it to do for your application. It’s fairly easy to add redundant data in certain instances. This can become frustrating to users.” – George Khairallah, GoToMyERP
3) Integrate into existing processes wherever possible
“Work closely with people to incorporate your application into their existing processes.” – Jeremy Morris, Portland General Electric
“QuickBase APIs provide the power to access data in QuickBase and create solutions that meet all requirements. QuickBase Sync is a great option to keep data synced with QuickBase apps and other cloud based apps.” – Dinesh Vijayakumar, Altran
4) Training, training, and more training
“Be persistent and positive! Keep pointing out the benefits and encouraging users to champion others along in the adoption journey. Provide plenty of training opportunities and be flexible to hearing and adjusting to user feedback.” – Jessica Curtis, Formation Healthcare
“Be intentional about training, and really lean into the citizen developers in your organization because one admin can’t do it all.” – Ryan Kjesbo-Johnson, ServeMinnesota Action Network
“Create your own methods to train and familiarize users.” – Candice Martey, Wolseley
“We created a large library of short training videos (2-10 minutes) for various tasks that are performed in QuickBase. I then added a link to these video on appropriate forms.” – Erich Wehrmann, Harder Mechanical
“I’ve learned to do small workshops or reports that cover small aspects of the database thoroughly rather than trying to summarize everything shallowly. I also try to discuss the database needs of each member of staff individually in brief discussions to better understand what they need and cater solutions to them. We have a staff of 12 in 3-4 departments, so such a dialogue is possible, though it is time-consuming. In those discussions, I make sure to emphasize the similarities to Excel with Grid Edit so they can feel some level of comfort when editing and and adding records. That alone takes care of about half of office complaints, as most people are used to single dimension spreadsheet usage for storing data.” – Dave Goudy, Oregon Bach Festival
“I’m gradually inviting more employees to the app and giving mini sets of instructions with emailed reports, so that they will become familiar and see how easy QB is to use.” – Helen, Landmark Consulting LLC
“Send out update notes, create help guides and offer training sessions.” – Cindy Follis, Sage Payroll Solutions
5) Plan your roll-out
“Clarify and re-clarify with leaders and key influencers what they want to see from the app so they use it. Then the rest of the organization will follow.” – Eric Pilon, Southwest Airlines
“Start using it to solve small issues and show the results and compare the productivity. People will be open enough to adopt it within their projects.“ – Auro Sai Vijay Sista, Southwest Airlines
“Start small and as user adoption increases include more users in the improvement process.” – Jason Johnson, Pomeroy
6) Be proactive about support
“Go to the basics on the first company-wide implementation. Provide a help desk for launch day/week.” – Rick Suttles, Intuit
“Working with management teams to understand their issues and how QuickBase can help them resolve them. Then working with users directly to accomplish the same. And finally having super quick response times when any user encounters an issue or a process needs to be revised once in the live app – to show them that they can improve the system with feedback.” – Leanne Snoeck, Complex Media
“We listen to our team regularly to make improvements – such as removing fields, aspects, etc that have fallen out of use, so that it streamlines what they are seeing, and makes that content more relevant.” – Sara Barker, Nexcelom
7) Understand that every app is a work in progress
“Devote time to training users with one-on-one sessions, an open door policy for any issues or improvements, and follow-up with management on which users are not catching up.” – Leanne Snoeck, Complex Media
“Revisit your apps now and then. Sometimes a little data mining can produce some very useful insights, and can help you on future updates and future projects.” – Paul Lanterman, OMS Photo
“Talk to the users. They often are a wealth of suggestions for improvements, what they’d like to see, what would make them more likely to use it, etc.” – Sara Barker, Nexcelom
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