Changing Culture: When User Adoption Is Hindered By The Way People Do Things

I attend user groups occasionally, and last night was the Orange County MOSS User Group (I think that’s the title). I do it because it’s good to get out to actual users as opposed to design’y people that worry about the color of the button, where most people just want a button that works.

Long story short, one of the people had an interesting paradox: how do you get people to use SharePoint when they are using the voice mail system for everything?

He works for a local restaurant chain, and most of the users are restaurant managers that are too busy managing their restaurant to report on issues. They are supposed to log the going’s on in MOSS, and now instead of using a diary, they use the voice mail system, because it records all the messages.

He’s talking about some of the issues, and there are some very interesting patterns, most of which are cultural because of the nature of the users he’s dealing with.

I suggested that instead of trying to force them onto SharePoint, do the opposite and let technology do all the work — there’s some voice mail software that will transcribe the message to text, and save the audio message. You can probably hook that up to MOSS, and thus save the messages and the voice mails themselves for archival. Sure, there’s a loss of potential meta data, but that could be cured other ways.

But it brings up an interesting point: how many of us have run into an environment where user adoption issues are so severe, the technology just doesn’t get used? Square hole, round peg, right? That’s why we write personas, so we can understand the culture of the people that we work with.

In this case, the restaurant managers are not computer users — if you studied their usage patterns, they are probably recording their voice mails on the way home after a long day on their feet (and they would drive home and record the message instead of sitting in front of a computer). So sitting them in front a blog probably wouldn’t happen.

Any suggestions?

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