In choosing a title for this blog, I REALLY wanted to call it, “It’s Usability, Stupid.” But I recently had my two young nephews here, and they told me that “stupid” is a bad word and I should not say it… so there you go.
James Carville coined the phrase “it’s the Economy, Stupid” in 1992 to guide Bill Clinton’s presidential race. The blunt phrase aptly captured that there is one thing that trumps all in presidential elections.
And so it is with implementing and adopting eTMF solutions. Vendors focus on features because that is one way that customers compare systems. It is kind of like new features on a car where the latest version of lane tracking becomes a differentiator – vendors are eager to add a new feature that another vendor does not have.
But here is the thing: Features do not matter if users are not using the software. A new feature used by one user provides little value if a sizable percentage of users are not using the system at all. It is the 80-20 rule in action. In every software system, 80 percent of the users are using 20 percent of the features and capabilities — or are avoiding the system altogether because it is a pain in the posterior (another nod to my nephews).
With software, great design and usability is the single most important factor in determining return on investment (ROI), because fast and effective adoption drives value. So, in every way, “It’s usability, stupid.”
What does that mean in practical terms? It means that when choosing an eTMF solution, trying it first is an essential step in the selection process. Insist on a period when you can work with the tool, using it every day for a few weeks to create new artifacts, route items for approval and do quality checks. Include the CRAs and get them excited about the application. Choose a system that is easy to get started with and easy to adapt to your needs. Avoid the products that require months of work to implement.
Then you need to focus on evangelism during the rollout. Identify the leaders who are adopting the new solution quickly and recognize them enthusiastically and publicly. Identify the laggards and reach out to them quietly and privately to identify the obstacles they are encountering. This is a critical time for investment in activities that will encourage use and prevent frustration.
Of course, the starting point has to be an eTMF system with a great design and user experience baked in — that goes without saying. But it also goes without saying that some solutions available sport a real retro feel… a cool thing in a car but with software — not so much. 🙂
At Agatha we make sure that every application we build is easy to use so you can focus on your work, not using the application. Want to learn more? Sign up for a trial and we can get you set up.
Ken is the general manager of North American Operations for Agatha.