You find an amazing software that will dramatically improve your processes. You asked the supplier for a presentation of the product and right away start a free trial period.
Your eager employees can get started. But suddenly something changes and it turns out they’re not so eager. They resist approaching the new program, and when they finally do, they start complaining about it.
Susan in sales doesn’t think the new software will be useful… and her negativity affects those around her who would otherwise be open to the system.
Neil refuses to learn how to plan activities with the new software… and, in doing so, diminishes both his productivity and the effectiveness of those whose work relies on him.
These and other situations ultimately derail the new installation – through no fault of the tool itself. People don’t like change, and starting to use new software can be perceived as an unwelcome disruption. To succeed you need to carefully plan the most critical phase of software adoption: organizational change.
Following these tips will help you to have every employee on board and minimize interruptions so you can actually use the software you’ve purchased to do more with your company.
1. Talk it Up in Advance
Communicate as soon as possible that you’re investigating a new software for your company and outline the benefits and impact for all. A lot of people don’t like surprises. If you spring your new software on your staff all at once, you will naturally get some resistance. Involve key stakeholders and your team, explain why you want the software, and get their input on the features they want in the product. If employees can’t find a compelling reason to use the new software, you can almost guarantee low adoption rates.
2. Engage a champion (or a few)
Negativity can spread easily in the workplace. Find a few people who will be naturally comfortable with the new software and encourage them to advocate on its behalf. Show your champions the clear advantages and intended outcomes of the new solution so that they can easily vocalize and demonstrate their support. Make sure your full senior leadership team is behind the change and will function as champions themselves. Seeing the enthusiasm of others will help convert slower-moving employees who might be hesitant. Examples of advocates are your project managers since they will spend the most hands-on time with the tool. Get them to share their experience learning the new program and offer help to employees who are struggling.
The champions can also help the organization find bugs and correct them. They can choose set up options they know would work best for employees, eliminating a confusing array of choices that can slow adoption when the product is released.
3. Build a roll-out plan
Once you’ve decided upon a new piece of technology, use the information you’ve gathered about organizational benefits, pain points and involved stakeholders to create a roll-out plan. The plan could involve any or all of the following elements:
- Key dates – When will the roll-out of the new software be? When will you turn off your current tool?
- Deployment tiers – Will you roll out the new tool to all users at once? Or will it make more sense to on board specific groups individually so that each group can receive specialized training?
- Training opportunities – What types of training will you need? Does everybody need the same training or do you need to identify different groups of employees that require more training than others? How will you account for different learning styles?
4. Hold training events
You can’t expect your team to jump on using new software without some help. If the software company offers training – online or off – take advantage of it and schedule a few sessions with your team. Because “familiarity with and interest in digital technology varies widely” among employees, your training efforts should reflect those differences. Some employees might prefer an online training session; others might need a bit more handholding and support in the form of a personal coach.
Be conscious that most people don’t like going through huge manuals to understand how to work, they prefer someone showing them how to use the tool and clarifying their doubts. If possible use training events, skill your champions to encourage dialogue and answer questions, reinforce the tool’s benefits, and demonstrate its everyday practical application in your team’s workflow.
5. Don’t Force Adoption, but Be Firm about the Transition
You never want to make your team feel like you are forcing them to adopt the new software, but you don’t want to make it optional either. If you sense resistance among your staff, spend some one-on-one time to understand their objections, then do your best to allay their worries. Explain again the benefits, both to the company and to the employee.
6. Move important content to the tool
You might have to slightly nudge your employees towards using the tool because if they can’t find a reason to use the software, they might as well keep on working with what they are used to. One way to convey value is to make important information and content your employees need to do their jobs only available via the new tool. This is a bold step that runs the risk of frustrating your employees; you need to let them know that it is in the organization’s best interest to switch to the new tool. Also, they need to understand the consequences of not using the tool with significant examples. If you communicate your reasons effectively and express how the new tool will benefit the organization overall, you increase the chances of them understanding the change.
7. Keep an Eye on Things
You should pay attention to how your team is using the new software for a few months. Watch how they use it, and make sure they’re leveraging all the great features that you paid for. If they have questions while using it, be available with an answer.
As soon as reasonably possible, try to make the use of the software part of the routine of the way you work.
For instance, you can start asking for figures or weekly updates that are easy to collect using the new software so people get familiar with using the new tool. Of course, employees could still provide the information without using the new system, but it would be more cumbersome and time-consuming.
8. Get Feedback
Who better to ask than your team for feedback on the new software? You may get suggestions for new features or uses, as well as complaints that you can handle. Employees who feel that their concerns are heard and respected will ultimately be happier and more engaged with the roll-out than those who feel they aren’t valued throughout the adoption process.
Implementing new software isn’t easy – it can actually be a pain for you and stressful for some people involved in the process. Getting your employees on board from the beginning helps to build positive habits and ensures that your new software becomes a successful part of your workflow. By planning ahead, opening the communication lines, and providing plenty of training resources, the transition will be a success!