5 practical tips from AbbVie on driving internal report adoption

10min read

Driving the internal adoption of reports is not easy. It doesn't matter how awesome you believe the solution to be. Your team will probably need more time (and push) to adopt it.

There are plenty of things that need to fall into place when adopting the new reporting way. It depends on getting sponsors and finding early adopters, gaining trust and credibility, promoting awareness, and more.

Like many of you, Tyler Snyder, Senior Financial Data Analyst at AbbVie also went through that process. He learned a lot on the journey and revealed to us the five myths he used to believe when he first set out to achieve adoption of the new way of doing reports.

AbbVie Customer Story - 19:12

How can 10 people impact internal reporting adoption

Tyler has worked for AbbVie for over 3 years when they realized the amount of data they had exceeded Excel's reporting capabilities. That's when they started to look for a sustainable alternative that would solve the problem in the long run.

They found the solution in Microsoft's Power BI with Zebra BI's custom visuals. It not only solved the original problem but it also became a sustainable point where other people would find answers to different questions. However, aside from its immediate benefits, it quickly caused other problems as well.

Trust and credibility have to be the baseline if reports are going to be adopted.

Tyler Snyder
Senior Financial Data Analyst at AbbVie

This experience led Tyler to learn that the rest of the team was not so excited about the new way of doing reporting. He quickly understood the importance of finding those early adopters who would help him drive change. He illustrates it with an example: if there are 10 people in the room, two are going to go with you, one will not want to have any part in it and you have to convince the remaining seven that this is the right way.

Adoption will not occur immediately (and it does not have to). There will be a long process of reiteration and report evolution over time. Tyler busted 5 myths about report adoption during this process at AbbVie. Everybody on the same path can benefit from them (and the lessons he learned).

Myth #1: Awareness equals Adoption

Tyler believed that presenting the new reporting approach to 100 people would result in them being as excited and eager to adopt it as he was.

The harsh reality was far from it. He quickly realized that awareness and adoption are two different things. The first one is more about branding the new ideas. The second one is a much more individualized process which results in the actual usage of new tools. Adoption should focus on multiplying your actions.

During his experience, Tyler quickly realized that convincing as many as one or two people was already a huge win. Effectively it means doubling your impact. He warns against unrealistic goals such as going from 0 to 1,000 users in weeks or months. Instead, the focus should be on the compounding and multiplying effect.

With time, it hopefully spreads on its own and it goes beyond your reach. You start with one or two people who then multiply to four, these four to eight, and so on.

Tyler Snyder
Senior Financial Data Analyst at AbbVie

Meanwhile, awareness will help you find advocates and sponsors for your ideas. When you present them to your audience, one or two people will likely reach out after. Tyler advises harnessing them and discovering how to work together to turn the ideas into something tangible.

Myth #2: The most important reporting KPI is the number of users

In many companies, the number of users is still an indication of a successful report.

However, Tyler warns that as with reporting in general, the context is crucial when defining your KPIs. For example, you can have almost everyone at your company looking at a certain report. But this can just tell you how many people need to see specific information presented in the report. It doesn't necessarily mean the report was good and contributed to making actual decisions.

Knowing your goals is essential before you start with your reporting adoption path. You can only have three active users, but if they use the report to make actionable decisions that are valuable to the company, you have knocked down your goal.

It's always about action and impact. As a result, the number of users is not as important as making sure the right people see the right information to create a positive impact on a company.

Myth #3: If I keep promoting how my reports solve other’s problems, I’ll eventually win them over

The enthusiasm you feel about new tools & ways of doing reports can do you more harm than good. You believe everyone will be as excited as you are when you show them your own report with your specifics and don't let them ask questions.

However, for most people just showing them a new tool can be quite intimidating. It represents a completely new way of solving their problems and they are perfectly fine with what they're used to.

To succeed during this process, Tyler recommends to lower your expectations. Instead of marveling at your reports, ask the others if they also meet their problems. It's always better to let them talk and hear their thoughts. Based on their feedback, you can understand their needs better which helps you create further reports more tailored to their needs. By doing so, you set a stage for them and let them become a part of shaping the output. As a result, they will be more invested in it and will adopt it faster.

Getting their feedback early, getting their buy-in, if they can help shape it, you’ll be in a good spot for it to be utilized when it gets to the endpoint.

Tyler Snyder
Senior Financial Data Analyst at AbbVie

Myth #4: There is a perfect idea out there to solve the adoption problem

Tyler learned that there is no magical pill that will solve all your problems. Instead of searching for that one perfect idea focus on the problem statement.

Ask yourself what is the problem you're looking to solve. You need to know what you're trying to accomplish before you even open Power BI. The impact should be defined before the action even begins. Build harmony around that by collaborating with colleagues to understand their perspectives.

The difference here is that you don't bet everything on just that one idea that will magically change everything. Instead, you're setting up the stage for everybody else to participate and come forth with their ideas/needs. The more ideas you spark, the better the adoption outcome will work for you.

This will help you get harmony around the problem and as a result, it will be easier to get the buy-in. The ideas will arise organically across the organization and you'll get different viewpoints on the problems which is always a good thing.

Myth #5: Others taking credit for your ideas is bad

Don't let the fear of not getting enough credit hold you back from introducing a change. If you don't say anything, there will be no credit given anyway.

As the old saying goes: 'The most sincere form of flattering is imitation' and that holds true here.

When you share your ideas with others, they will help you refine them, and make them better and more impactful. Additionally, involving others from the start increases the likelihood they will want to pursue the idea. By sharing the idea, you will find a way to expand it and get that compounding effect when the idea just spreads through the company.

If you’re looking to add true value to your organization, if it’s just one idea, find the value of executing it because that is going to be more difficult than the ideas themselves.

Tyler Snyder
Senior Financial Data Analyst at AbbVie

How to educate the higher levels about using new tools

Any organizational change in a large company takes a lot of patience. The best way to teach higher levels is to teach them without them even knowing you're teaching them. They just know they have a problem and they come to you to figure out a solution for it.

Tyler shared his own experience. When the top management approached him with their problem, he built a Power BI report with Zebra BI inside. This is when he got the first tangible traction for the new way of reporting. By showing the capabilities he simultaneously showed how powerful Power BI dashboards can be with interactive custom visualizations.

Doing so he showed the higher levels the way to solve their problem. Zebra BI and Power BI were just the means in the process. When getting the internal buy-in you shouldn't center the conversation around the tool but rather around the problem they asked you to solve. Through that, you spark their interest also for the tool and it’s a win-win situation for both.

The 4-step adoption path from AbbVie

If you’re starting with a change in your company and you’re looking to get traction, here is Tyler’s path that worked for him at AbbVie:

  1. Start with the mission statement: What is the message that you’re trying to get out there, what is that problem? Even if it’s not perfect right away, write it down and share it.
  2. Promote awareness around that mission statement. Get your ideas out and share them.
  3. Bring people together which will be the side-effect of sharing ideas as people who share the same thinking will reach out to you. They are the ones who will potentially help you get the attention of higher levels in the company. They can also be analysts like you and will help advocate for your solution.
  4. Once you have a group of people, you repeat the process and go back to the mission statement and make it even better. This means you have a group of people sharing these ideas and you have a larger group that you bring together, review the mission statement, and repeat the process.

Keep deepening your understanding of your problem. If there is a place to start, start there. It will start small but, hopefully, the compounding effect of multiplying yourself will take off.

Tyler Snyder
Senior Financial Data Analyst at AbbVie

Ready to apply the adoption path from AbbVie at your company?

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