Five Reasons Software Doesn’t Get Used – And What We Do About It

I’ve visited many companies over the years as a software consultant and been introduced to many different solutions. Often, my job was to replace a system because of “poor user adoption” – a fancy way of saying that nobody used the software. When designing Crelate, we knew that recruiters and managers had little tolerance for applicant tracking and recruiting software that can’t keep up with a fast-paced day. Below are 5 reasons that I have seen companies struggle to adopt software, but the good news is they are easy to avoid.


Reason 1- The software doesn’t help people do their day-to-day jobs

The best software helps someone do their job, but most software is built to help management get reports. It’s really that simple. When I worked in sales, we had a system loaded with features for contact management, sales process management, pipeline management, and activity tracking. The system also had a section where we had to enter financial data in order to get credit for a sale. All those other features weren’t really configured to make it easy for me to keep in touch with my customers, or generate proposals, or anything that could help me treat my customers better, or close deals faster. When I put data into the system, nothing was configured to let me to use the data in my daily routine. Users did not adopt the other features of this system, because it was really just a data hub. It did not help me do my day-to-day job at all. All we ever did was enter the required information to make sure we got our commissions.

In contrast, everything we have built into Crelate has been from direct feedback from users. We have focused on the user experience first to ensure that we have built a system that users want to use to help them do their job. We focused on an experience that was not just easy to use, but also anticipated and helped with next steps. For example, categorizing a candidate today helps you to find them and place them for a job tomorrow. Importing resumes brings you to a screen where you review and categorize candidates and make data edits right away. Clicking on an activity lets you easily reschedule, set up a new follow up task, or reassign to someone else.

Reason 2 – The users aren’t part of the planning or implementation process

Ideas Most people appreciate having an active voice in planning changes at work, and a software implementation is no different. But, often an organization implements new solutions in a vacuum. By talking to your users, you are able to better clarify your requirements, and get your team excited about the benefits of a new tool. When everyone has a say in how a system is configured they are much more likely to use it, especially when it is set up to solve their challenges. When management pushes software on people, even if it works well, the system can be rejected just because of the bad feelings.

When we onboard new customers to Crelate, we take a very consultative approach to both configuration and training. We’re always learning when we’re training, because people bring new perspectives and ideas on how to use Crelate. Our customers love seeing features implemented that they suggested during training. We are also very proactive about soliciting feedback and making sure that your subscription is configured to bring the best value we can.

Reason 3 – Too many +1 features, not enough A+ Features

Here’s another example from my time as a software consultant. I worked both technical pre-sales and implementation, so I met with many people that were evaluating different software packages and then, after they bought a system, I helped them implement it. Usually, people based their decision to buy on which package had the most breadth of features, and depth wasn’t that important. But when we got started on the implementation, people really cared about a few very important things. In fact, a big part of my job in technical sales was to help figure out the features that were really important and demonstrate why that was more important than having a whole list of things the customer wouldn’t really use.

In these situations I often thought of as a Swiss Army knife. It does A LOT of things, and is generally pretty useful. However, if I wanted to eat a steak, I would be much better off with a proper steak knife. The team had their “A+ features” (Steak Knife) and “+1 Features” (Swiss Army Knife). The best user adoption happens when the A+ features of an application align with the way you do business, without too many +1 features to get in the way. When there are too many +1 features that don’t really mesh well with the A+ features, the user experience isn’t very tight, and people start feeling like the software is a burden. Too many features actually hurts adoption.

When developing Crelate, our energy has been focused on enriching our A+ features that focus on the core activities that recruiters do on a daily basis. We want to provide the easiest experience for publishing a job, getting candidates into the system, finding the best candidates for a position, understanding where candidates are in the interview process, and ultimately getting people into the right jobs.

Reason 4 – Using processes that were dictated by the old system

Process I used to have a big binder of CDs in my car, and then I got a car with a port for an iPod, and finding the music I want is much easier. Could you imagine if I still went flipping through my CD binder to use the CD player? You’d think I was crazy.

But with software, that happens all the time. The team goes to configure the new system, and sets up things because they’ve “always done it this way.” But sometimes buried within the older processes are decisions made due to limitations of a previous system, not because they helped people get things done. In the worst cases, these are the very same problems that led a customer to get a new system in the first place!

For example, I was helping a customer get started with Crelate and they wanted as part of their process to have 3 interviewing stages (we actually hear this frequently). As I dove a little deeper, I realized that the reason they had all of the stages was that in the previous system they had no way of tracking activities, just stages in the workflow. This meant if they wanted to record more than one interview, they had to put the candidate in the 2nd or 3rd interview stage. Another problem – they could only record 3 interviews!

In Crelate, we set up 1 stage, and taught the team they could record any number of interviews with the Interview Activity. The user experience was much more natural and gave everyone the ability to record information the way they really worked, and not the way their old system forced them to track what was happening.

Reason 5 – Poor Training and Ongoing Support

Training seems like an obvious way to help ensure software adoption, but the wrong type of training can overwhelm instead of inform. If the product is good the smaller features will be obvious anyway. When we train new users, we focus on going through a day in the life of a recruiter rather than explaining every feature in a vacuum. This helps people see themselves using the application in their day-to-day jobs, and reinforces key features of the application, as people often see the same screens in different scenarios. It may seem counter-intuitive to go over the same feature more than once during training, but keep in mind the features you should be repeating are the ones that will be used over and over again.

Training is great for getting started, but what happens when something new comes up? That’s where support comes in. We are zealous about responding to support requests, because when someone is confident that they’ll get help if they need it, they are happy to dive in and use the system.

When you combine a well-designed product, proper training, and responsive support you end up with a user that can intuitively integrate the application into their day-to-day job, and knows they can get the help they need, when they need it. That’s why 95% of our recruiting customers are in Crelate every day – because it helps them get their jobs done.


Image Credit: Paxson Woelber


Filed under: Recruiting Tips