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Change Management Software Implementation Tips
It’s here, you’ve taken off the proverbial plastic wrap and your new piece of software is ready to improve operations, boost efficiency, and enable sales. So how do you successfully introduce it to your employees and what change management strategies will help them adapt? These tips will help ensure change management software implementation success after your shiny new system is ready for deployment.
Have a Clear and Structured Pathway
Change management is the process organisations use to introduce change, support employees and implement change in an evolving environment. A good change management plan is crucial for a successful software rollout.
Ensure your plan provides clearly defined direction to ensure a smooth transition, and takes into consideration all aspects of the project. Take into consideration what the new software will accomplish and demonstrate reasons for the technology change, consider who it will effect, the hurdles that may arise, and the procedures and processes that will change. Step or pace out the plan; smaller wins are easier to measure and accomplish. Highlight your people, resources and goals. Create a change management team, identify who is best equipped for the project and get their input and involvement. Know your end user and plan for resistance. This will help mitigate the risk of user adoption issues and avoid complications.
Stakeholders and senior leadership are the driving force behind any organisation. These are the people that you want on board, leading the project rollout. Not only do they have a vested interest, they will genuinely want the project to succeed. Employees will follow their leaders’ example, so get them all onside early on. Have the software introduction come from the top. Leaders that introduce the software to staff, host a training session or plan a big reveal are more likely to drive successful adoption organisation-wide.
Within larger companies, staggering the rollout by division or group will help to identify and fix bugs early on before affecting other divisions. Find people who want the new software and roll it out to them first, then enlist their support as a super user to get others onboard.
Champions and Super Users
In bridging the gap between the implementation project team and end users, super users are essential to the successful implementation of a new platform. Where possible recruit senior staff, as they are role models to employees and their input has more weight. Accept volunteer champions; some people have a natural technical inclination and will be willing to help out as go-to-gurus. Make certain each division or department has a super user to ensure the rollout is successful in their respective area. Offer early software training to champions, to allow the system’s intricacies to become more transparent and gain end user assurance. If management, senior staff and super users have confidence in the software, it will trickle down.
Super users will require a tailored training program that is more in-depth than end users. These higher level administrators will have the authority to do more with the new software and in turn will require more training to face different challenges than end users.
Prepare for the Angry Mob
Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone all the time, otherwise we wouldn’t grow and evolve. Instead, take the time to understand why it is harder for some to adapt to change and adjust your tactics to break down the barriers to get them onside. If your employees are stressed, overwhelmed, have a lack of trust for your current programs or just don’t like anything new, you will need to prepare for how to effectively handle and diffuse an angry mob. Luckily, we live in a time where pitch forks are not commonly used in an office environment and we have ways to equip people for change.
Training is a must. Educating employees on why the software was deployed, including the business problem(s) it rectifies, and what the new software can accomplish, will help get employees onboard with an understanding of why the implementation is taking place. Make sure human resources is a part of your change management team; they have a deep understanding of effective training techniques and the dynamic of the office in general. After training, avoid frustration by having dedicated go-to people (ideally your super users) who can assist struggling staff.
Your newly chosen software solution was chosen for the numerous benefits it offers, so demonstrate this to your organisation. Envision the outcome together and get the mob onside by giving them a “what’s in it for me” moment. In times of change the WIIFM is very efficient and successful strategy. People subconsciously make decisions based that will benefit them (or the people closest to them). By using WIIFM, you appeal to them psychologically and will gain support through giving the people something they want.
360 Degree Communication and Feedback
People are at the centre of change management. Keep employees in the loop to maintain a good relationship and encourage two-way conversations. Communicate software changes or updates before they occur and gather real-time feedback with a dedicated mailbox, Microsoft Teams channel, help line, or Yammer group etc. Use, collate and report on both the good and bad feedback, and notify staff that their communication was received and is being actioned. Frustrated employees will feel respected if their complaints are acknowledged. Keep the dialogue open and follow up after the issue has been resolved to ensure it’s still running smoothly.
As the project owner, receiving negative feedback can be challenging as it’s easy to take it personally. However, any communication is good communication – it means the solution is being adopted and employees are taking an active interest in ensuring the software meets business requirements. Listen to the feedback, gather as much detail as you can and ask for examples to use in your reporting, and get their input on what they would do to fix the issue. Stay positive and remember that teething issues are common in rollouts and will soon be a thing of the past.
Once the rollout is complete, keep the communication flowing for a period of time to ensure that things are on the right track and no issues arise.
Grace Period and Training
Be patient and provide a grace period for the change management plan to take effect. People need time to adjust, train and become familiar with the new software. It’s a good idea to have employees attend multiple training sessions and book out time in their calendar to get to know the new software. Have one-on-one training available for users who are finding it challenging to master the new software or for those who haven’t made time to learn the system.
Reward and Celebrate Milestones
Improve morale and decrease negativity toward change by rewarding the staff directly responsible for the success of the project. Don’t forget the end users who have had to learn and use the new software; they too should be praised for participation. Keep the positivity alive by celebrating the little wins and milestones. Here are a few simple reward ideas to generate engagement:
- Wall of fame
- CEO for the day
- VIP meet-n-greet
- Indoor food truck
- Travelling trophy
- Coffee shop vouchers
- Time off coupons
Even small rewards can motivate people to go that extra mile. So, satisfy their dopamine-seeking brain by offering a reward for change management software implementation wins.
Collect, Analyse and Report on Objectives
From the outset have defined objectives and regularly collect data to report on those goals. When your people understand the project goals and how their contributions matter, they will be more motivated to achieve the desired results. The way you collect your data should relate to what you are going to do with it. Surveys, feedback, interviews or testing summaries are great ways to gather intelligence on how your software is integrating. Keep the desired result in mind when gathering intel, but be flexible if things aren’t going to plan.
Stay on track and flag any problem areas by reporting on your progress in conjunction with your change management plan. Create a log, this will be a clear indicator of how the software roll out is progressing. Information can expire quickly, so collect and use data promptly.
Reporting on the successes of the project with tangible outcomes and improvements can be used to emphasise the rollout’s success. Where possible report on any time savings, procedural improvements, or issues that have been solved in order to reinforce the project’s purpose.
People are the centre of change management software implementation success, which can be achieved by having a clear change management plan that engages your staff. Recruit leaders to introduce and champion the new software. Remember to give staff the “what’s in it for me” moment, create a feedback loop and trigger your employees’ “feel good” hormones with rewards to diffuse any negativity. Napoleon Hill summed it up saying, “patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success”.
Luke is an experienced Marketing Manager and host of the Information Transformation Podcast. He has a keen interest in developing engaging content to inform people about the changing landscape of the information management industry.
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