A good pair of jeans. A cast iron skillet. A Martin guitar. The more you use each of these, the better they get.
The same is true of an enterprise search solution. When user adoption is high, enterprise search can significantly improve productivity and speed innovation. Because it learns from each interaction, more usage leads to continuously improving relevancy and results. As users become more familiar with the solution, new ways to use it can also be revealed, extending your investment to use cases limited only by the imagination.
Going from a great solution to a greatly appreciated solution isn’t hard, but it does require companies to use both the head and the heart. With this guide, we’ll help you foster user adoption by combining great technical design and implementation with a people-centric approach. Here’s how to get there:
4 Steps to Launching a Successful Search-Based Application
Following these steps will help you build the right search-based application from the start and can guide new phases and changes to the app as you grow and expand its use cases. Ideally, User Experience and Change Management resources are either contributing or leading some of the following steps:
- 1. Prepare. The key here is to design an experience built for the user first, rather than for the data first. It should answer a specific need and be both easy to use and easy on the eyes. Start by defining your audience and their objectives. What are their challenges? What information do they need? How will they ask questions? What do they want the answers to look like? The information you gather in this stage can help ensure you build the insight app that’s truly needed, rather than the one you may think you need. If possible, you might consider leveraging proper User Research here to further speed the process.
- 2. Implement. This is your beta phase, before releasing to the general population. In this step, the goal is to first test, learn, and adapt based on feedback from a subset of “super users”. Think about who you can recruit to be your testers, so that they are as representative as possible of your final audience. Consider what incentives you can offer to encourage them to participate and reward them for their time and feedback. You may also want to look to your partner ecosystem for recommendations. At this stage, be sure to collect insights regarding customizations that should be added for your organization’s specific needs and goals.
- 3. Go live. Once any wrinkles have been ironed out, the next step is to roll out the enterprise search solution to all potential users. This is where clear and frequent communication, coupled with training programs are critical. Make the tool easy to access and ensure employees know a) that it exists, b) how to get to it, and c) why they should use it/how it can help them in their day-to-day operations. Plan to send multiple communications and schedule various trainings to break through the clutter.
- 4. Run.With the enterprise search solution officially launched, the next step is to monitor and gather feedback. Consider adding a feedback element directly into the tool, or by sending surveys on a regular basis. Watch for metrics such as a decrease in users, the number of queries, or response time, and troubleshoot as needed to ensure an optimal experience.
4 Tips for Driving Buy-In, Usage, and Adoption
The best way to prove the value of your enterprise search investment is to show how it has become essential to the daily work lives of your employees. The four steps above help you build and deploy a high-value enterprise search solution. But that’s only half of the job. The other half is to encourage users across the organization to use the tool on a regular basis. If you’ve done the build phase right, once employees start using the insight app, they will quickly wonder how they ever worked without it. You just need to get the ball rolling.
Here are some tips for how to get your employees on board:
- 1. Communicate, communicate, communicate. One announcement email isn’t enough. Create a communications plan that includes ongoing outreach messages. Remind employees that the tool exists, and where they can find it. Show them concrete examples of how the insight app can be used to make their job easier. Celebrate early adopters and frequent users. And of course, don’t forget to send updates about new features and enhancements. You may also want to consider giving the project a name with a matching look and feel to help rally users around a fun or catchy theme. For example, “Introducing Sunshine – a new initiative to shed light on all of your information needs.”
- 2. Make it fun. A little incentive can go a long way. Consider introducing contests or rewards to encourage usage and be sure to regularly shine a spotlight on champions that have found success using the insight app. Nurture those champions with regular gatherings and/or virtual meetings and turn them into ambassadors who can help influence usage among their individual teams.
- 3. Ask for feedback Let employees tell you how satisfied (or not) they are with the enterprise search tool. By creating a feedback loop, your employees feel like a valued part of the process, who have a say in the changes and improvements made to the tool. This also gives you valuable insight into the strengths and weaknesses of your insight app, the issues needing attention, and customization that can further enhance the tool.
- 4. Iterate. Gather feedback, make changes, test, learn, and repeat! Iterating on a small scale will help you build the best enterprise search experience possible. A great experience will attract new users and maintain loyal users—a win, win.
See It, Believe It
An enterprise search solution that becomes a workday must-have brings many benefits. Take inspiration from these examples of search done right:
Northrop Grumman was looking for an institutional memory solution to facilitate knowledge sharing. They discovered that their Operations team was using Sinequa for enterprise search and realized that they could also use it for their KM needs.
- Rapid prototyping with users and stakeholders to get feedback and make iterative improvements
- Customized social media elements that enabled users to share knowledge, link related objects together, share and save queries and results, and engage with experts
- Customized views based on each employee’s role and work
- Notifications to promote continued content engagement, alerting users when their favorite documents have been changed
- Recognized by the Chief Technology Council as the biggest impact tool for their sector
- Nominated for the President’s Award for Innovation
Societe Général needed a digital workplace solution to meet the challenges of information sharing and collaboration in large groups. They chose Sinequa to help them develop a custom search-based app.
- Tested the solution first, to visualize how it could help them in a tangible way
- Conducted user interviews to pinpoint needs
- Ran workshops to design and test the interfaces and understand what users were expecting to see
- Usage of the solution quickly grew to 50K queries per month
- After a year, monthly queries had increased 7X to 350K
UCB partnered with Sinequa on a search-based application to help them quickly and more efficiently discover new drugs, identify experts, and maintain GDPR compliance.
- Recruited KM ambassadors throughout the organization
- Built the solution based on real search use cases
- Gave each database owner a seat at the table throughout the process
- Branded the engine TOSEE, with a nautical theme
- Launched a newsletter to share updates and improvements
- Ran live sessions to demo the solution
- Conducted an end users survey
- Developed a Sharepoint support site
- Launched awareness campaigns and promotional plan
- Users gave TOSEE a 3 out of 4 stars rating, and rated it better than their embedded data source search tools
- Employees reported saving 45 minutes per week