4 Smart Ways to Maximise the Return from Your Systems Spend

4 Smart Ways to Maximise the Return from Your Systems Spend

Whether it's a system you've only just implemented or a system that's been in place for some time, you might sometimes feel like you're not seeing the level of return from your systems spend that you'd hoped for.

Have you heard any of these before?

  • "It's capable of doing a lot more

than we're using it for"

  • "I don't know how to use it"
  • "We don't see the benefit in it"
  • His work consulting for EY
  • "I tried doing it that way, but gave up and moved back to the way I was doing it before"

I have…

Remember when Microsoft Teams was first released and people didn't believe that it would replace Skype? People didn't understand.

Then you had all of this new capability.

  • What's a channel?
  • What do I use it for?
  • What's a group chat?
  • What on earth is 'praise?'

People would still revert to e-mail for the majority of internal communications.

People would post new threads in a channel instead of replying to the previous conversation (the horror).

And this wasn't just one company. Several companies I was working with were facing the same issues.

Some got close to ditching it altogether…

Then I saw a post online.

"Company replaces all internal communications with Microsoft Teams"

This gave me hope.

It took a while, and slowly but surely we got there, following the below steps:

  • Sell the Benefits
  • Write the Playbook
  • Embed the Process
  • Connect & Collaborate

I'll provide some specific examples of how we put the above into action at the end of this article.

For now, here are the steps in more detail with ways you can put them into action straight away.

1. Sell the Benefits

Unfortunately, just because the business understood the benefits at the time that the solution was procured, doesn't mean they'll still be remembered further down the line.

As a result, you have to continuously sell internally until the solution is deeply rooted as part of everyone’s day to day before you start seeing a true return.

This process of selling internally requires buy in from the whole business, so it's just as important to sell to the junior team that'll be using the solution, as it is to sell to the senior team that will be supporting the adoption of the solution.

Start with mapping the business case for the solution. Here's some examples:

1. Supports our expense reduction initiatives

2. Consolidates and speeds up our budgeting & planning

3. Cuts down on low-level admin, reducing the need to hire unnecessarily

4. Gives us strategic insight on how to move the business forward

Then map what that means to the individual:

1. Makes your life easier, should free up your time to do 'xyz'

2. Gives you insight that you wouldn't otherwise have on how to direct the business

3. Saves you having to chase 'xyz' every five minutes

4. Makes you less accountable as it becomes everyone's shared responsibility

Then build the above into your day to day communications:

  • ‘If you used the solution instead of doing things this way you could have saved a tonne of time’
  • ‘If you’d help me get xyz on board with this I can get you your reports in days instead of weeks’
  • ‘If everyone uses this it will make life easier because of xyz’
  • 'If we don't increase the adoption of the solution, we'll have spent a tonne of money, and potentially face new hires next quarter as well…'

I wouldn't suggest the last one is your go-to as people tend to react better to positive affirmations as opposed to negative ones.

Always go back to the business case.

Always iterate the benefit to the individual.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

2. Write the Playbook

People have short attention spans. And with a new generation of 'Googlers' who can find information in 5 seconds from their phone, the need for people to retain information isn't the same as it once was either.

As a result, you might want to provide an easy to use resource that people can rely on when adopting new systems.

It's also uncommon for solution providers to provide company specific documentation for the solution you procure, so you may have to go the extra mile and document how you expect the business to use the solution.

Playbooks don't have to be complicated though.

They're essentially instructions that take system capability and marry that with company process. This ensures that everyone using the system is 100% clear on its intended usage. In other words, it's a company-specific 'How To'.

There's a simple formula for structuring your playbook:

  • Old process
  • New process
  • Advantages of new process

You also don't need to write up everything. Just where there's been a big process change, or where something is potentially complex and needs some explanation.

Write your playbook

Make it accessible

Keep pointing people towards it

3. Embed the Process

So you've sold the benefits. You've created your playbook that you're pointing people towards. What's the next step? Giving people no option but to use the solution.

This is where the process of embedding starts. And sometimes you've got to use a bit of tough love.

  • Somebody still sending you Excel reports when you've requested they use your BI tool to create a dashboard? Refuse to accept the report.
  • Somebody still sending you e-mail when you've requested the thread be updated in Teams/Slack? Copy the e-mail over, then send a polite response suggesting they follow suit next time around.
  • Somebody still using the old Excel template to submit budgets when you've setup a shared budgeting & planning tool? Refuse to approve the budget.

If you've followed steps one and two, this should be a lot easier and you might not need to go to the above extremes. But sometimes needs must…

Be ruthless

Don't make exceptions

Don't be afraid of the tough love

4. Connect and Collaborate

Maximising your return doesn't just happen when people finally start using the solution. Your usage of a solution will evolve over time, so it's important to get feedback from the team on how they're using it, as well as continue to find ways to take your usage of the solution to the next level.

This is the time to connect with your peers and collaborate so you start to see consistent improvements over time.

Can you setup a survey or a poll to see what's going well and what's not?

Can you setup a teams or slack channel and share ideas on the following:

  • Configuration ideas for how more process can be covered in the solution
  • Success stories of how use of the solution has led to tangible improvements
  • Release updates so people are aware of new and upcoming capability

Always seek feedback

Always be looking for improvements

Always look for ways to drive the next level of adoption

How did we do it?

So how did we achieve maximum return from our use of Microsoft Teams?

We sold the benefits - As a high growth organisation, everyone was struggling with e-mail fatigue, and it was stopping us getting work done. What was the message to our seniors? "Productivity improvements to support business growth ambitions". What was the message to staff members? "A better work life balance with more time focusing on the stuff that mattered "

We wrote a playbook - This served as instructions for what mode of communication was best suited for what purpose. Something quick and urgent would be a call, something quick and less urgent would be an instant message, a project chat would be a channel, and only when the subject matter was complex and relevant to an individual would e-mail be used. This was laid out in a simple matrix that everyone could understand. If you're wanting cheat sheet for effective communications, click here.

We embedded the process - Anybody sending e-mails for updates or quick requests would be directed to the appropriate channel to the point where responses weren't given if people were communicating with the wrong medium. Anyone trying to organise meetings for non-urgent work without a defined agenda would have the meeting denied. It seems cut-through, but it worked.

We setup a feedback loop - We started building in channels for 'praise' to drive further adoption and communication. We started setting up specific channels for client projects and communications. We instilled a culture that was always looking for new and innovative ways to simplify our workflow, and improve our communications.


Hopefully, there's some nuggets there that you can use to maximise the return from your systems spend.

Get in Touch

Wanting some one-to-one guidance on how to leverage technology to support your ambitions, or just want help demystifying the complex world of software and systems?

There are 3 Ways to Contact Me

1. Send me an e-mail at adam@adamshilton.com

2. Use the contact form on my homepage

3. Connect with me on LinkedIn, and send me a message


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©2022 by Adam Shilton. Privacy Policy - Terms of Use

©2022 by Adam Shilton. Privacy Policy - Terms of Use