How To Roll Out a Mobile App Across Your Business (And Make It Stick)

As the saying goes, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." This is especially true in the context of new technology.

With the widespread availability of smartphones and tablets, companies are spending thousands of dollars every year on mobile apps. In fact, 58% of companies have purchased apps to enable mobile access to critical enterprise systems. 

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However, getting employees to actually use these apps in their daily routine can be a slight hurdle. Although it can be difficult, it's not impossible. If you’re considering implementing a mobile app in your workplace, here are four important principles to make sure it’ll stick: 

1. Keep it simple

​Ensuring a successful mobile app rollout actually starts long before that, during the app selection process. 

​Look for simple, intuitive apps that will be easy for employees to learn. If your app requires too much training or explanation, people will be less likely to use it. ​Meanwhile, user-friendly apps will encourage widespread adoption. 

So — how do you tell if an app is user-friendly or not? A convenient layout and logical navigation are the two biggest things to look for. Someone unfamiliar with the app should be able to figure out how to perform tasks in the app quickly without too much trial and error. 

2. Make sure employees have access to mobile devices & data

Another consideration many companies overlook is how employees will access the new app. Will you provide them with iPads or tablets? Or will employees use their own devices? 

Some employees may not wish to download an app onto their personal device. In that case, it might make sense to look for a web-based app that can be accessed through a browser without needing to download anything. Or, if distributing individual iPads isn’t an option, you may consider setting up kiosks where employees can access the app — much like a check-in kiosk at the airport. 

With mobile apps, Wi-Fi access is another important consideration. Most workers will have easy access to Wi-Fi in the office, but connectivity can be difficult in large warehouses. Field workers likely won’t have access to Wi-Fi, so mobile data is an option. However, signals are often unreliable and workers may need to access apps when they’re outside of normal cell phone coverage. An app that enables offline access can greatly reduce inconvenience for users when an internet connection is sporadic or unavailable. 

3. Create buzz for your launch

Here's a scenario that happens all the time: After a lengthy selection process, you’ve finally chosen an app. IPads have been purchased. The app has been installed on every device. Employees have received their training and login information. Your work is done, right? Wrong. 

Selecting and implementing an app is only the beginning. You then need to think about how to get employees excited to actually use it in their everyday work. 

Reach out to your marketing department and ask them to help you create a brochure or one-pager that touts the benefits of the new app. Create a branding strategy for the app — as you would for an external product launch — to generate enthusiasm. 

For example, our client Connecticut Water branded the Perillon system internally as OnTRAK. This not only creates a memorable impression on employees, but it also lets them know what to expect from the new app. 

4. Identify your champions

​Along the same lines, identify ‘champions’ who can help promote the app internally. Champions are end users who are excited about the app's potential and will help get others excited about it too. 

So — how do you identify your champions? Look for the employees who eagerly attend training, raise their hand and ask questions, and step in to show their fellow employees how to use the app. They’re often natural leaders, and the ‘go to’ person in their department when someone has questions or needs help. 

​Once you’ve identified these employees, reach out and invite them to help you promote the app. For example, you could ask if they'd be willing to send an email to colleagues on launch day with some words of encouragement. Or, you might provide them with extra training so they can share their knowledge with the rest of their team.

Your takeaway

As with any new technology, getting employees to adopt a new app takes time. You can't expect your team to get on board overnight. However, by following these four tips — keeping it simple, making sure employees have access to devices and data, creating buzz for your launch, and identifying champions who can help promote the new app — you can ensure success. 

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