The ancient philosopher Confucius once said, "If a craftsman wants to do good work, he must first sharpen his tools."
That is, if you have a poor tool, it's going to take longer to do a task well—if you can do it at all.
Yet, if you have a good tool, you won't be able to do a task well either—unless you bring the best out of the tool by understanding its purpose, facets, and function.
In Confucius's era, a misunderstood or misused tool was a blunt knife.
For today's workers, far more often, it's software.
Product enablement is how 21st-century employers can empower workers to sharpen their tools. There are multiple stages where improving software product skills pays dividends in improved work quality and timeliness.
Effective product enablement grants employees the skills and knowledge they need to use workplace software. That, in turn, improves work quality, employee retention, and revenue growth.
But what does that mean in practice? This guide has the answers. Read on, and discover the answers to six frequently asked questions about product enablement.
What is Product Enablement?
Product enablement is an educational process. It empowers employees in different departments in a company with product knowledge.
Product enablement programs can also teach employees skills that boost their efficacy in their roles.
Great product enablement education goes in-depth. It helps an employee dive deep into the structure and functionality of a product.
This lets them get the most out of that product, and it empowers them to consider the product from a user experience perspective. As a result, they can better collaborate with other teams to:
- Improve the product through development
- Use the product to complete tasks efficiently
- Take advantage of all product features
- Apply the product's functions in creative ways
- Help customers troubleshoot problems with the product
The specific goals of product enablement will vary, depending on the employee's role. So, the product enablement process should be tailored to each department's needs and existing workflows.
Product Enablement: Purpose and Results
The purpose of product enablement is to teach employees how to use software products efficiently and to their full extent. This has positive results—ranging from improved data-driven decision-making to increased employee retention.
Many companies struggle to teach new hires to use software tools when onboarding. This is a factor in poor employee retention rates.
A study published in Pharmaceutical Education showed employees who participate in a structured onboarding process were 69% more likely to stay employed at that workplace than those who don't.
Studies likewise show similar barriers to using analytics software effectively.
In a survey conducted by MasterCard, employees cited four barriers to using analytics well. 45% of workers said they lacked the skills to interpret and apply analytics in the context of their work.
Communication, creative problem solving, and customer service skills can also be enhanced through product enablement.
What is the Difference Between Product and Customer Enablement?
Product enablement and customer enablement are similar processes, but they use kindred means to different ends. When you compare the two, you note more differences than likenesses.
The key difference, though, is product enablement seeks to improve an employee's facility with a software product, while customer enablement aims to improve the user's experience.
Product vs Customer Enablement: Comparison Overview
Product enablement differs from customer enablement in key ways. It is for a different user. As such, the educational materials work with different, evidence-based assumptions about the user's experience.
Both types of enablement serve a company's bottom line. But, they get there via different routes.
Customer enablement is also called client enablement.
Customer enablement is a process that provides clients with the tools, resources, and guidance they need to use a software product successfully. These resources may be in any format, including:
- Live guidance from customer support
- Written instructions
- Video tutorials
- Audio explanations
- Interactive tutorials
- Content library/support hub with FAQ answers
In contrast, product enablement is a similar process aimed at employees. For example, one subtype of product enablement is sales enablement.
Sales enablement is the flip side of customer enablement. It is the process through which sales teams gain the knowledge, training, and guidance to close deals—typically, deals that sell the software product as a service to clients.
Customers and clients benefit most directly from customer enablement. Product enablement directly benefits employees.
Product enablement beneficiaries can be from any department. But, certain product enablement systems are designed for certain categories of employees (like marketing teams).
Both enablement processes aim to train product users through an organized procedure. This ensures users get all the information they need. Ideally, the procedures have been shown in research to improve information retention.
Guidde offers a platform that streamlines enablement procedures. It lets software developers and employers alike create training content. With Guidde's process, enablement content you create with the platform will be:
- Easily searchable
- Intuitively located
We specifically designed our platform so the user can instantly apply the information they've just learned. The tutorial process integrates seamlessly with an array of different workflows.
Bottom Line (ROI)
Client enablement increases customer loyalty. Depending on what study you read, it will cost a company anywhere from five to twenty-five times more resources to earn a new customer than you'll pay to keep a loyal customer.
Keeping your customers happy shores up your bottom line. If you sell a software subscription, it helps maintain—and grow—your revenue.
Product enablement increases your workers' efficacy. It saves them time. It also gets you the most out of your investment in the software product.
How do You Create an Enablement Plan?
Enablement plans can vary significantly depending on the company's needs. But, to create enablement plans, most organizations broadly follow these eight steps.
First, define the product enablement goals for your team. What do team members need to be able to do with the product? What knowledge gaps are preventing them from doing that correctly?
Assess User Experience
Then, assess different user experiences of a software product. Conduct an observational study, run a focus group, or use surveys to gather data about how users engage with the software.
When a user runs into a problem, how do they try to solve it? What seems intuitive, and what do they miss? How do different employees' roles and backgrounds impact their experiences and software-learning strategies?
Use the goals and user experience data to develop a roadmap. This roadmap may be called a product enablement charter. It articulates the challenges impeding different employee users from reaching enablement goals.
Then, it articulates a plan to give employee users the different resources and knowledge sets they need to reach those goals.
The plan must acknowledge the skills gap between different employees, and allow employees at all different skill levels to get the information they need.
Address Skills Gaps in Roadmap
One way to do this is to embed the knowledge in the software. The software can offer tutorials for tools as the user seeks to use them, without wasting the time of users who don't need those tools with the information.
This fits into the Knowledge-on-Demand paradigm.
As you develop the roadmap, it's critical to get all stakeholders on board.
Get Stakeholders' Investment
This means getting users in different departments to be equally invested in using the product successfully. Address how it will positively impact their workflow and production goals.
Effective communication with stakeholders breaks down information silos. This lets you integrate horizontal information transfer into your enablement plan.
You can plan on—and facilitate—easy communication of data relevant to using the product successfully.
Shape Roadmap With Customer Journey
As the enablement plan becomes more detailed, turn to your customer's journey. What is the customer's journey to—and with—your product? What are their touchpoints?
See how each employee plays a role in facilitating the customer's journey. Let that role, and its impact on the customer, shape your enablement plan.
Finally, once the enablement roadmap is set, you can begin to execute it. Executing this plan successfully is your enablement strategy.
What are the Differences Between Product Engagement and Enablement?
Product enablement is a process. Product engagement is a set of metrics.
Product engagement metrics give you quantifiable information on how users are interacting with a product. These metrics include:
- Frequency of interaction over time (per tool/page)
- User flows (user's "physical" path in the software)
- Rate of adoption of core events (meaningful use of application features)
- Percentage of returning active users (daily, weekly, monthly)
- Quick ratio (quotient of new account adoption divided by dropped accounts)
Understanding these metrics can help you develop better product enablement content or procedures.
Product engagement is information. Product enablement is a process you cultivate with that information.
What Skills and Resources do You Need to Empower Product Enablement?
As you develop and improve your product enablement, you'll find several skills and resources will come in handy.
All of these skills and resources will help you better understand what users need to learn to succeed with the software, or they'll enable you to give them that information. These include:
- Tutorial content creation
- Content organization
- UX data gathering strategies and tools
- Presentable, organized user experience data
- Accurate analysis of UX data
- Content usability, appeal improvement
Share Knowledge With Guidde
Product enablement is a complex, iterative process. And, it looks different for every organization. At Guidde, we give you the tools and information to empower your users to thrive.
Our product adoption solutions streamline informative content creation, organization, and publishing. And, once users engage with your enablement content, you get analytics feedback to further improve.
Ready to improve product adoption? Get started with Guidde's enablement solutions.