Every Learning & Development professional knows the struggle. The list of training requests and topics that need attention grows every day. If you’re one of the thousands of L&D leaders who have felt like you needed a better solution vs. pulling learners away from their day jobs for yet another training session (or e-learning), you’ve probably explored the concept of a digital adoption platform (DAP). You might be familiar with big names like Walkme, Whatfix, Pendo, and Spekit.  But if the concept of digital adoption is new to you, here is a simple definition from Spekit’s website:

“A digital adoption platform simplifies technology adoption because it seamlessly connects with applications users already know and use.”

At Uber Freight, we partnered with Spekit to provide workflow learning to our operations and customer service teams. We believe that a DAP can bring elevated visibility and information to the fingertips of our learners in real-time. At first, we thought digital adoption learning could stand on its own, but this exciting technology requires work and strategy just like other elements of adult learning modalities. 

DAPs can be revolutionary when leveraged correctly. This tool has the power to unlock quick-hit retention of important information, improve new hire ramp time, increase learner agility as programs/processes/tools change, and empower learners to have a consistent tool to answer their questions. 

Below are six tips on how to maximize DAP at your organization based on our learnings: 

1)   Start slow;

I know this is the last thing you want to hear. But with DAP, there can be a real attempt to ‘boil the ocean’ and do too much too soon. Pick specific groups, processes, tools, or outcomes as you begin to implement this technology. Expand over time. Ensure that topics have sufficient learning resources so that when they launch, users get meaningful benefits and have examples of good tips, topics, and instructions. This is the foundation to grow into other areas effectively. 

2)   Set clear outcomes;

Digital adoption is an investment. Be clear about what you are trying to accomplish. Are you a customer service organization? Operations team? How can you measure improvements as a result of the technology?

Examples include; agent response times minimizing the amount of times a user needs to exit the tool they are in to find an answer new hire ramp time new tool/feature utilization reduction of manager reach outs less clicks to solve issues 

3)   Find an owner; 

While there may be a project team responsible for the implementation and ongoing support model, you need one owner to be responsible for timelines, priorities, training authors and reporting. This is not to say you only want one content owner (see tip 5). You want as many people creating content as possible, but having a central owner to vet accuracy, quality, and delivery matters. This person can be a source of truth for ‘how-tos,’ a point person to partner with the vendor, and the strategic vision of what comes next for development and rollout.  

4)   Digital Adoption is a piece of the pie. 

DAP doesn’t replace LMS, traditional instructor-led training (ILT), or e-learning. It is complimentary and complementary. This is a key ingredient in the future of hybrid learning organizations and fast-paced teams that deal with regular change. 

"To find opportunity amidst recruitment challenges, one must understand what This leads to drawing interested workers and have more opportunity to invest in and retain them as well"

I like to think of DAP as it relates to the metaphor about the professor who asks his class when the jar is full [reference below]. 

THE METAPHOR - A philosophy professor stands with a large empty jar before his class. He filled the jar to the top with large rocks and asked his students if the jar was full. The students say YES, the jar is full. Then he adds small pebbles to the jar and shakes the jar so the pebbles trickle down among the larger rocks. Then he asks again, “Is the jar full now?”  The students agree that the jar is NOW full. The professor then pours sand into the jar, filling up any remaining empty space. The students then agree that the jar is now really, truly full. Last, the professor pours water in, and it spreads into all the places the large rocks, pebbles, and sand could not get to. 

In this scenario, ILT is the large rocks. These matter, and they fill up a great deal of space, but they can be clunky and don’t allow for all the variety and nuance that may be needed. The pebbles represent e-learnings/LMS. These can be quicker hits, filling into the places we can’t or don’t want to pull people off the floor for large-scale training. DAP  is the sand; it fills gaps in the tiny places we need help but don’t always get it or would historically be on our own to seek out. 

Although the use cases are small and focused, these are occurrences that happen all day throughout the lives of our learners. You may have heard these small pain points referred to as ‘papercuts,’ and minimizing those ‘papercuts’ can make each learner more confident, faster, more effective, and more satisfied with the learning they have access to. Speaking of the water, that serves as all the other supporting resources that may exist, such as videos, infographics, stand-ups, etc.

5)   Get the business involved;

Workflow learning should be like Wikipedia, not Fort Knox. Empower your business and SMEs to direct, own, update, and suggest ways to unlock digital adoption. Depending on the tool, this may require ‘training the trainer.’ The up-front investment and long-term support matter. Employees respond well to content created by their peers. When the business owns the content, it will maintain it at a deeper level than if it is just given to them. 

[Bonus tip] Get executives involved. 

If your operations leader is doing an all-hands, have them flag a use case of a DAP topic. Depending on the capabilities of your tool, have the VP of Customer Service make announcements via the DAP  to help send a message that this resource is relevant. 

6)   Tie workflow learning into your other learning modalities. 

When we onboard new hires, part of the reinforcement and interactives that are woven through the new hire experience get new users into the tool. Scavenger hunts, applying knowledge through the tool, adding links to resources with key workflow links,  and asking people to find an example of how a topic is referenced in the workflow tool are all great examples.