Your agency’s new knowledge management system (KMS) went live a few weeks ago. You were excited to introduce it to everyone and expected to hear good feedback, but what are you hearing instead? Crickets. Your co-workers aren’t interested. What happened? A big oversight, that’s what.
Your project plan was missing an essential post-launch action item to ensure end-user adoption of your new knowledge management system: community building.
Building a user community to drive adoption of your knowledge management system
When project teams focus on building a user community, we see higher user adoption for new knowledge management systems. Community building isn’t a one-and-done effort, it’s an ongoing initiative. You have to keep nurturing and driving user engagement. This takes some effort at first, but once the user community builds up critical mass, it starts strengthening and growing from within.
Community building results in higher user adoption, but that’s not the only benefit:
- Users find more value in the KMS because they’ve learned how to take full advantage of its functionality—and your agency gets a higher ROI too.
- Internal and cross agency collaboration and communication is enhanced. Community building breaks down silos as users find out how others use the system and get new ideas from different perspectives.
- Users agree on system standards and best practices that work for everyone.
- The learning curve for new employees is minimized since they have an immediate user support network on call.
- Users become less dependent on IT staff and super users because they help each other instead.
Three ways to build a user community for your knowledge management system
The purpose of user community building is speeding along user adoption and keeping users engaged until the KMS becomes a routine part of their workday.
These three tactics will help your agency remind and educate users about the system, minimize barriers to adoption, and build a social norm or expectation that encourages staff to get interested in and use the new system.
#1: User group meetings
After the launch of your new knowledge management system, invite staff to a user group meeting where you can demonstrate the system’s relevance to their work. Walk them through “before/after” scenarios so they can see how the system improves efficiency and makes their job easier.
Ask users to participate in discussions and decisions about changes to existing knowledge management processes and procedures. If you involve them in these decisions, they will feel a sense of ownership, become more excited about using the system, and understand how it can help them do their job.
Schedule regular user group meetings—either remotely or in-person when conditions allow. Meeting agendas can include:
- Demonstration of new system features and functionalities.
- Sharing of tips, lessons learned, and success stories.
- Discussion of processes and procedures, for example, what’s working and what’s not.
- Feedback on the system, including items for the wish list.
Whenever possible, make sure to use the feedback you receive to take immediate action and then let users know what you have done. Users need to know that meetings are producing results.
#2: User community newsletters
Newsletters keep users in the know about system updates, changes to processes and standards, and what’s coming in the future. When a user doesn’t show up for a meeting, newsletters keep them in the loop.
Use newsletters to solicit questions and issues for discussion, escalation, or resolution. Keep an archive of past newsletters as a training resource so new users can search for the information they need.
Your user community newsletter doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, the more concise you make it, the better. Users will be more likely to open and read it if they know it won’t take too much of their time.
#3: User community training events
The word “training” brings up tortuous memories for many people. If you want users to show up for training events, you have to plan and publicize enjoyable, social occasions. Whether you hold virtual or in-person training events, remember this: training must be engaging and participatory. No boring lectures allowed.
Ideally, your user community develops training agendas based on real needs. Don’t make them one-size-fits-all. Give users the option to select training at the levels and on the topics that interest them. Never force them to sit through something that’s not relevant to their experience or needs.
Commit to successful user adoption
We’ve seen our federal agency clients use all kinds of approaches to engage their knowledge management system users and drive system adoption.
But the best strategy, building a user community, doesn’t require a big budget or a major commitment of time. Try a mix of these three methods and see what works for your user community.
Drive engagement and success of your knowledge community with Tesla's community building services.