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Posted 14 May 2024 by
Florent Verbeke
Supply Chain & Operations Professional

7 Tips From a Top Pharma Company on Sustaining User Adoption in Planning  

Most of us have a grandparent or parent, or maybe even a partner, we’ve shepherded through adopting new technology—and continuing to use it as it (and their needs) evolves. Maybe it was setting up their WiFi, showing them how to send an email or text message, use an app or a new operating system. You’ve had to convince them that not only could they pick up the “new trick,” but that doing so would result in a net positive in their day-to-day lives. We’re living in the future, where opting into tech and adapting as it changes is vital for long-term success, particularly for pharmaceutical companies like yours and the people that power them. Thus, achieving sustained user adoption for your company’s advanced planning systems (APS) is a must—and can be even simpler than getting that reluctant relative on WhatsApp. We’re going to show you how with seven helpful tips from one of our partners.  

Tip 1: Accept it is a process that takes time

The first tip is all about the method—how do you go about sustaining user adoption in planning at your pharmaceutical company? First, you must acknowledge it’s going to take time and will require multiple steps to get there. Define your approach and plan ahead. Beginning your planning excellence transformation requires a thorough evaluation of your full end-to-end (E2E) process, including:

  • Prioritizing your process evaluation over areas already subject to continuous improvement.
  • Establishing a solid baseline with a survey.
  • Capturing detailed insights into process adherence, training needs and workarounds, as well as ambiguities within the current processes.

To obtain a thorough understanding of the survey results, shadow a diverse set of participating planners—based in different regions, from different seniority positions—at a 1:1 level. Then, you can devise an action plan that prioritizes retraining and process fine-tuning. System enhancement or process redesign needs that are captured along the way can be handed over to the appropriate teams, guiding the implementation of technological and procedural improvements. The plan then can be put into action. But plan execution is not the final step, but rather marks the beginning of an iterative cycle.  It’s essential to continuously reassess process adherence to ensure that the initiatives implemented are delivering their intended outcomes and allowing for ongoing adjustments.  

Tip 2: Focus on process over system  

Coming out of a full APS implementation, we assume that the investment focused on the right capabilities and technologies. This doesn’t need to be redone, but the adoption journey continues long after go-live. The value of the investment will only be captured working through this adoption track. Shifting your focus toward process adherence from system functionalities aligns the technology with the needs and workflows of the APS users.

In practical terms, this means holding effective training sessions with a weekly or monthly process cadence (depending on the planning process in scope) and showing how to avoid common mistakes. These sessions not only familiarize users with the system but also integrate it into their daily routines, helping to ensure that users can utilize the APS to its full potential. In short, attune the tool to your process needs and not the other way around.

Wondering which framework we used for Top Pharma Company? You can download here for free.

Tip 3: Establish ownership & engagement  

It is when the standard process isn’t made known or is difficult to follow due to issues and exceptions that ownership can become unclear. And there are a few reasons for that:

  • Insufficient training, as it wasn’t part of the standard process flow.
  • Lack of properly designed process for the situation, as it wasn’t considered during process design.
  • Planner unfamiliarity: If the situation is unusual, the stakeholders involved may rely on gut feeling, attempt to follow the standard process or try to push ownership onto someone else.

To avoid such situations, it’s important to define ownership and escalation processes for exceptional events and ensure they are as detailed—if not more detailed—than the standard process.

Tip 4: Engage on an individual level   

Oftentimes, a more personal approach is best. Consider using 1:1 meetings to understand the unique perspectives and challenges faced by different users of your APS. This personalized approach allows for a deeper dive into the users’ diverse experiences. Segmenting them into categories such as star users and novice users allows for tailored support and training that meets their specific needs; star users can provide insights into advanced features and best practices, while novice users may highlight usability issues or training gaps.

Moreover, 1:1 meetings create a safe space in which users feel valued and heard, encouraging them to express concerns and provide honest feedback. Open communication is a must for identifying and addressing issues that could jeopardize user adoption and for making continuous improvements.  

Tip 5: Ensure management buy-in  

Securing management buy-in cannot be overlooked nor its importance overstated in the successful adoption and sustained use of an APS within an organization. It’s the key to driving assessments of current processes and systems, as well as for allocating resources for implementation and ongoing improvements. To achieve this, you want to employ strategies that effectively convey the relevance and significance of the APS initiative to stakeholders at all levels.  

Demonstrating how the APS aligns with broader organizational goals and how it can address specific pain points is also important. Highlight the tangible benefits—such as increased efficiency, reduced costs or improved decision-making capabilities—to help make a compelling case. Leadership endorsement plays a pivotal role in fostering a culture that values continuous improvement. Those in leadership positions can champion the initiative, setting a precedent from the top down. It’s also crucial to emphasize the significance of behavioral and process execution enhancements that an APS can bring about, showcasing them as critical factors for your organization gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace.  

Tip 6: Optimize training materials  

Consolidating and optimizing existing training materials should absolutely be a part of sustaining user adoption of your APS. By doing so, you can create a streamlined, focused and more accessible learning experience for all users. This process involves simplifying the materials and ensuring that they are up-to-date and relevant to users’ daily tasks and challenges. 

Take advantage of learning management systems (LMS) for efficient training delivery and customization. An LMS provides a flexible and scalable platform for delivering training that can be modified to meet the specific needs of different user groups within your organization. It allows for the creation of tailored learning paths that can include a mix of “A Day in the Life of” and “A Month in the Life of” scenarios, which are far more engaging and effective than traditional “rules of engagement” style training. Using an LMS to optimize training materials ensures that users are both well-informed about how to use the APS effectively and more likely to embrace and utilize the system to its full potential. 

Tip 7: Lessons learned  

Showing your company’s dynamism and adaptability, as well as commitment to ongoing improvement, is pivotal to sustaining user adoption of APS systems. That’s why you should share any lessons learned within your organization. Companies need to foster an environment in which learning from both the highs and lows is encouraged. Emphasizing adaptability ensures that the organization remains agile, ready to pivot to new strategies when necessary.  

Further, taking a targeted approach can yield significant benefits. It allows for a deeper, more thorough understanding and optimization of each process, which means that interventions will be more effective and manageable. Thus, resources are used efficiently and improvements are impactful and sustainable. 

In conclusion  

We would advise you to consider sustaining user adoption as one of your business-as-usual processes and to embed it is part of your way of working to ensure ongoing value realization. If you take on board the top pharma company’s seven tips outlined in this post—from emphasizing methodology and process over system functionalities to optimizing training materials—you can significantly enhance user adoption rates for your APS. Remember: user adoption is not just about introducing new technologies or processes; it’s about developing a dynamic culture that centers learning, ownership and adaptability.

The success of technology adoption hinges not just on the tools we select but on how we orchestrate this change.


The path toward successful and sustained user adoption can be like helping anyone embrace a new technology—it requires patience, understanding and clearly demonstrating value. For your pharma company, it’s a path that’ll never end, as long as you keep striving for planning excellence. 

Ready to transform your planning processes? Reach out directly to our experts here and let’s start optimizing your strategy together.

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