3 Strategies to Run a Low-Stress, High-Outcome Technology Pilot | Ascent

(6 min read)

Deciding whether or not to adopt a new platform can be stressful. Too often, businesses make the transition but are unable to successfully implement the tool to its full potential, for any number of reasons. Other times, businesses find themselves in the unenviable position of having taken a leap of faith on a new product — shelling out big bucks or signing a long commitment — only to find that what they got wasn’t what they’d hoped for.

That’s why we at Ascent encourage businesses to run technology pilots before committing to a larger purchase.

If you’re planning on piloting a new technology soon, here are three strategies we always use to increase the chances of a smooth, successful pilot that will give you a clear indication on whether to or not to go all in.

1) Clearly define the goal of the pilot.

If you don’t know where you’re going, then you won’t know if you’ve gotten there. How do you ensure your pilot has clear goals?

— Work together with your vendor to establish goals and benchmarks for success. Will this new technology improve efficiency, increase productivity, or make for easier communication? By how much? Can you quantify it?

— Establish a time frame for the pilot. How long will the pilot run? The time frame should be long enough to accurately evaluate the tool’s effectiveness.

— Determine the scope of the pilot. Establish who the participants will be and whether or not they will use all of the features of the new technology or just a few.

A pilot is a form of research. Just like with any research, collect useful data and choose criteria that will give you real insight. It may feel like extra legwork in the beginning, but it’s well worth it if it leads to a successful solution that ultimately improves the way you do business.

2) Make sure the decision-makers and day-to-day users are on the same page.

Adopting new technology is often met with resistance from the day-to-day users. Understandably, staff who have gotten used to the technology already in place may have a hard time breaking old habits. In these cases, the real challenge is overcoming a mindset, rather than fixing any specific infrastructure.

Taking the time to make your piloting group feel at ease can go a long way. Follow the 3 E’s:

— Engage: Before you ever sign off on the pilot, involve individuals in the decisions that affect them by soliciting their input. This creates transparency and trust between the decision-makers, the users, and eventually the vendor. The result is genuine commitment from everyone involved.

— Explain: Explain your decision to pilot (or to not pilot) a technology, or why you selected one technology out of multiple options. An explanation of rationale creates confidence that decision-makers have considered the daily users’ opinions — even if they don’t ultimately agree.

— Expectations: Once the decision is made and shared, set expectations. What are the users expected to do during the pilot and how should they evaluate the product? Knowing the rules of engagement will set your team up for success.

It’s just as important to have an effective onboarding and training program in place. Your vendor must provide ongoing and easy-to-access customer success resources for your team, which will increase the likelihood of a successful pilot.

3) Obtain useful feedback. 

One of the most important aspects of running a pilot is obtaining feedback; after all, the point is to understand what is working well and what still needs adjusting before the technology is implemented company-wide. Before the pilot begins, you and the vendor should agree upon a procedure for providing and receiving crucial feedback.

Schedule periodic meetings or phone calls that will give users a chance to address concerns about the technology as well as discuss the features that work well. By creating a structured method of sharing feedback, you can avoid the disconnect that often exists between how decision-makers believe new technology will work versus how it actually works.

Test drive Ascent with a pilot.

We offer our customers the opportunity to test drive Ascent with a low-cost, low-risk pilot. Our Customer Success team is fully engaged throughout, making onboarding as simple as possible for your team while still ensuring you gain a clear understanding of all the ways Ascent can help you achieve your goals. Interested in learning how to track and manage your changing obligations by leveraging cutting-edge automation? Request a demo below!

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