5 Tips to Drive Strong Adoption of Your FP&A Solution

FP&A Expert Kerman Lau

Finding the right FP&A solution is only half the battle. You also need people to use it.

Adoption is critical to success, not only to reap the full efficiencies of self-service dashboards as well as swift analytics and reporting capabilities, but also to build growing awareness of the strategic value for your entire enterprise.

If you falter in the adoption phase, you’re headed for trouble. People are creatures of habit. If they don’t see the value and ease of the new solution, they will quickly revert to Excel or familiar legacy systems, or—worse yet—seek technology that is siloed or adds cost.

Here are five keys to getting users to buy in—and stay in:

1. Make sure your FP&A team is on board

You can’t expect to get buy-in across your enterprise if your own FP&A team isn’t fully sold and well-trained on your solution. That starts with getting your team involved in the vendor selection process to make sure the solution effectively addresses current and anticipated needs—and that the vendor has robust and ongoing training and support to pave a smooth transition.

Ultimately, the solution you choose should help your team do their jobs better, allow them to expand their strategic capabilities, and, ultimately, add more value. If the solution doesn’t deliver consistently on those fronts, you can bet they will revert back to what they know does work. And let’s face it, your team’s not going to push business partners to get on board with something they aren’t even using.

2. Make it easy

It doesn’t take much to turn off a potential adopter—particularly a busy exec who has endured plenty of system and technology changes. If something as simple as logging on to the new system proves extremely challenging, you might lose him or her for good. To that end, the solution you choose should be fast, easy, powerful, and intuitive—and ready and accessible when that person needs it to be.

Even with the most intuitive solution, make sure you don’t skimp on communications and training. Explain the self-service features and how customized dashboards can allow users to readily access data and information specific to their needs. And develop a plan to keep in touch with them to answer any questions and expand their use of different capabilities.

3. Focus on the benefits

For sustained adoption, users need to see the clear benefits of the system. As part of the rollout and ongoing efforts, focus on demonstrating the unique value to each user. For example, for a budget owner, explain how relevant and actionable data is always at his or her fingertips. Also, emphasize that the system allows your organization to establish a single source of truth so you don’t waste time squabbling over data accuracy.

Further, make sure that the data that each user relies on is readily available, complete, and easy to navigate. If not, people will resist adoption and revert to spreadsheets only or go rogue and turn to other tools that increase cost for your organization and add more technology siloes.

4. Showcase progress

Your solution should be delivering wins—so don’t be shy about promoting victories both large and small. Look for opportunities to highlight instances in which the solution increased efficiency or allowed a business partner to make a more informed decision. Emphasize the forecasting and scenario capabilities that will provide users across your enterprise access to data and insights that inform their planning and decision-making.

In the process of showcasing success, you open the door to another key benefit of your solution: nixing less efficient processes and technologies. If you want sustained adoption, you need to be able to turn things off and wind down systems that no longer add value. This is much easier if your users see the benefits of the new solution and realize that while they may be giving up a familiar process, they are getting more in return.

5. Listen to the complainers

My boss at a previous job gave me some lasting advice when I asked him how we would measure progress on a certain project. His simple answer: You’ll know you’re successful if the CFO doesn’t get emails complaining about it.

It’s tempting to dismiss complainers as Luddites and naysayers who just resist any new technology that comes down the pike. Yet the reality is the complaints should be a red flag that there needs to be better communication or more training. If there is noise, it is likely happening for a reason, and whether or not it is deserved is irrelevant. You need buy-in if you want to be successful.

The journey to greater adoption doesn’t happen overnight. Yet if you set the tone within your FP&A team, offer up adequate initial training, and communicate the benefits and success on a consistent basis, you’ll get greater adoption, and ultimately, better results.

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