This article was originally published on Digital-Adoption.com

Crafting an effective product adoption process requires an understanding of the product adoption lifecycle.

This process is crucial for businesses in every industry, not only software developers.


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After all:

  • Virtually every business in the global economy adopts new products
  • The efficiency of the product adoption process impacts user productivity and software ROI
  • It is up to organizations to develop their own product adoption processes

The right strategy can streamline adoption, accelerate learning, and improve user productivity – regardless of whether those users are in-house employees or customers.

Understanding the Product Adoption Lifecycle

The product adoption lifecycle actually begins before users come into contact with a product, at least according to some experts.

The complete product experience, for instance, embraces…

  • The product itself
  • Every interaction users have with a product
  • Business functions that support the product

Viewed from this perspective, it becomes clear that the product adoption process begins well before users first come into contact with the product.

Let’s look at this journey in more detail.

Marketing and Sales

When evaluating problems and solutions to their problems, customers inevitably come across marketing content designed to influence their decision-making process.

From the business’s perspective, these marketing communications represent the earliest stages of the product adoption lifecycle.

Since these also represent part of the user journey, it is important to…

  • Maintain brand consistency across every stage in that journey, beginning with marketing communications
  • Create a marketing funnel that leads seamlessly into subsequent stages of the product adoption journey, such as training and development
  • Coordinate marketing and sales efforts with business units that are responsible for other stages of the adoption process

Marketing and sales are important stages in the customer journey, since they help prepare users for what comes next. However, these stages are only one part of the entire product experience.

Customer Support and Technical Support

Support functions also play an important role in the adoption process.

There are several reasons why businesses should offer robust support to users:

  • Support functions can help businesses gain insight into customer needs, which can further improve adoption efforts
  • Users inevitably require a certain degree of support throughout the journey
  • The degree of support offered by a business will affect important user metrics, such as retention, proficiency, and productivity

As with the other points mentioned here, it is important that customer and technical support functions coordinate their efforts with other units that focus on product adoption.

Onboarding, Training, and Development

Once leads convert into customers, the focus shifts towards onboarding and training.

There are several reasons why these are important for effective adoption:

  • Onboarding familiarizes new users with a product, helping them to realize the product’s value promise and its potential
  • Training improves user skill levels and increases their productivity, which increases the value they can extract from a product, as well as the chances that they will become long-term customers
  • Accelerating time-to-productivity increases a number of other important metrics, such as engagement and the overall product value

Product value, it must be remembered, is relative and depends on skill levels, which is why training is so important.

Integration

No product exists in isolation.

Every digital product exists as part of a digital ecosystem, which is why a product should offer third-party integrations.

The more integrations that a product offers, the easier it will be for users to adopt that product and fit it into their existing workflows.

Even if a particular platform or solution is an “umbrella solution” that offers a wide range of functions, integration is still critical.

After all, new users must still import existing data and integrate other solutions that don’t fit inside the product’s umbrella.

Business Policies

Policies are the rules and procedures that determine how a business operates.

These also impact the adoption process since these policies dictate almost everything that a business does, including:

  • How support staff interact with customers
  • How business units design product experiences
  • The character of the overall product experience

Policies reflect many aspects of an organization, from its culture to its strategy.

And, most importantly for this discussion, they directly impact the effectiveness of the product adoption cycle.

Technology

Last, but certainly not least, is the technology itself.

That technology comprises the core set of functions that customers pay for.

Though it is tempting to focus primarily on the technology, this is clearly only one aspect of the product adoption process.

To ensure that the technology meets users’ needs, it is important to:

  • Create products that are usable, functional, and relevant
  • Follow design processes that are user-driven, such as lean and agile
  • Use data and user input to continually improve products

With the right technology and the right approach to adoption, businesses can make dramatic improvements to critical user metrics – and ultimately their bottom line.