“Your staff will love it!”

You remember the words distinctly. You’d just signed the contract for the new software. You shook hands with the sales team as they entered the lift. As the doors closed, this was the last thing you heard. Five innocent words.

You walked back to your office, certain that your staff would indeed love their new software – as promised.

Why wouldn’t they? You had done your homework. You weren’t going to make the decision to change software providers lightly.

All of the available products promised to make life easier, to help your team work more efficiently, to give you back time “to work on your business, not in it”. That was the phrase they used.

Of all the solutions available, one seemed to offer more. You booked a demo.

As you sat through the demo you became excited with the prospect of announcing this new software to your team.

You even prepared your pitch to the team:

“It is intuitive. This new solution will do everything at the press of a button.

The onboarding team will migrate all your data from our incumbent solution.

“Once you have your logins, watch some training videos and attend some webinars, you will be up and running as if you have been using the system for ever.

You will love it!”

They didn’t.

So, what went wrong?

Humans aren’t programmed for change

As much as your team might complain about your incumbent platform, it is familiar.

Learning new software takes time. Time isn’t something your team has to spare. They have deadlines to meet, documents to get out to clients, reviews to be done and while they continue to get frustrated with the current solution, at least they know its limitations.

It is the unknown that will make or break the adoption of new software.

One of the main reasons firms fail to migrate to better and more efficient software is that they overlook the advantages of including their staff in the decision making, of taking them on the upgrade journey.

How to make upgrades less painful

To make the transition to new software smoother and more successful, identify and implement the following key points.

  1. Assess available training

Ask if training is available prior to adopting the system. This will provide your team with further opportunities to evaluate the system, whilst learning its features and functions.

How long will it take for your staff to learn? What support is available and what ongoing training is provided?

Set aside time in the first month for your staff to learn the software. This is paramount to a successful transition. Your staff will be stressed about the change. Don’t ask them to find time. Find it for them.

  1. Identify the impact

Note the differences between your current and proposed solutions.  Work with your team to identify what impact these differences will have on your staff and internal processes. Are there workarounds available?

You will need time to see how the new product works in your organisation. This can’t be ignored, rushed or overlooked.

  1. Be realistic

Set realistic goals for implementing the software. Accept that efficiency gains won’t be immediately obvious. Your team is working with new software. Mistakes will happen. You need to invest the time in your team to adjust, understand and embrace the system.

Work with your new provider, especially on any of the pain points your team is encountering. In the majority of situations, it is understanding how to customise the new product to meet your needs.

  1. Implement a strategy

Your new solution will have capabilities your incumbent doesn’t. They might be inbuilt template designs, automated email protocols, and greater SoA design flexibility or report generation. Agree in advance how you want to use these capabilities.

Nominate one person to take the transition lead, to review and update all the information relevant to transition.

Review all the information regarding transition, ensure it is correct and take the time to lay the foundations of the software. This will not only set you and your team up for success down the track but will give you the opportunity to get everything up to date.

  1. Set milestones

Adopt a list of the key features that will help drive efficiencies in your business. Schedule completion dates for implementing these features. Schedule completion dates for customising. Schedule regular meetings with your CSM to help you stay on track and moving forward.

More often than not we start using new business products because we are told to. We never understand their full capabilities and we only use 10% of their features. As a result, we can feel we’ve been forced to learn something new and don’t feel it has made much difference to how we work.

Adopting and implementing new products can be rewarding and fulfilling for your team. It simply requires a little extra work in advance. Take your team on the journey, invest the time to train them, acknowledge there may be challenges along the way, and show them how this change will help them run a more efficient business.

Done right, your team will embrace change.