Increase Adoption by Customizing for Workflow


One of the questions I kept asking people at the Enterprise 2.0 conference was, “How do you actually get people to use your product?” Honestly, it’s hard to tell the difference among collaboration products, many are so similar. And even if a tool is great, success depends on adoption across an entire organization.

Chris Yeh, vice president of marketing for PBworks, says their success comes through customization. While we geeks love to talk about the intricacies of applications and are completely comfortable with terms and tools such as wikis, workspaces and collaboration environments, this isn’t the case for others that aren’t so ingrained in the culture. Nor does it need to be.

The trick for adoption, in PBworks’ case, is to customize to actual workflow. Most of PBworks’ clients for its workspaces are ad agencies and law firms. They like to see information laid out in the way they do their work.

For example, for a law firm, PBworks will customize a front page that just has a few buttons that direct lawyers and their employees to the elements they need to work on a project. So instead of seeing “wikis” and “workspaces,” they’ll see buttons such as “case binder” or “deadline for a filing.” It may be slight to a geek, but if you want the product to actually be effective, simple changes in formatting and even labeling are critical for adoption.

While PBworks and many of the other tools at Enterprise 2.0 are defined as “social,” Yeh says he doesn’t see it that way for his clients. It’s simply a tool to get their job done better.