How often do you find yourself investigating all the features and functionalities on your smartphone, tablets, or even your favorite social media app? If you are anything like me, you do this whenever the device or application is upgraded and new features are added. When I’m upgrading I’m interested in the new features, filters, or layouts now available to me. Last time my phone upgraded, I was checking out some new photo editing options and discovered the HDR setting. For those that do not know, the HDR setting adds more dynamic range to photographs by taking multiple photos at different exposures, compiled together into one photo that is more realistic than what the camera can capture without HDR. For that reason HDR is extremely nice to have when visiting National Parks, and I wished I had that feature on my phone during my recent visit to Yosemite after learning about it from my tour guide. After I discovered the new setting and bragged to my photographer friend he looked at me like I was behind the times. Turns out HDR is a common feature for phones and it was there all along!
I say all of this to point out that upgrading enterprise software is not all that different and companies should always dedicate time to evaluating their overall use of the system. Think about it: you embark on an upgrade, poke around to learn the new features, and discover some that satisfy recent business requirements. Only it turns out the one of the new features is not new at all but something that only became relevant to you as your business changed and expanded just as HDR imaging only became relevant to me after my visit to Yosemite.
A client who has used our Lawtrac product for years is the perfect example. After initial implementation they developed a need to route documents to specific users for review and were doing so via email and instant messaging. When they upgraded their instance they were clicking through every tab and link in their system and found the “routing slip” feature, a method to electronically notify and request approval or feedback from a particular set of users. The legal operations team had been fighting these users on storing their contracts in Lawtrac. These users were never fully onboard with using the system because they found uploading the information into Lawtrac and then sending it via email duplicative. After implementing this feature, the legal operations team has had higher adoption and have been able to maintain oversight of their contract renewals. This was a game changer! If they had not taken the opportunity to re-evaluate their use of the system during their upgrade they would have lost out on not only the new features introduced in that release, but also the “routing slip” feature that was always there and became relevant over time.
So my recommendation to all: If you aren’t already evaluating feature use and adoption of your software, plan and allocate time during every upgrade to do so. Give your users access to a test instance and let them “play” with the new version and provide feedback before the upgrade. And lastly, stay up to date on the latest release, to incrementally improve the use and adoption of the system over time.