Getting Your Team Ready for New Software: A Game Plan for Business Leaders

21-Sep 2022
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Chelsea Williams COPYWRITER

Long-term vision is hard to maintain in times of upheaval. Amidst global uncertainty and rising inflation, you may feel it’s hard to look beyond today when it comes to your business.  

But a hyper-fixation on short-term fixes alone is unproductive if you’re looking to maximize efficiency, increase profitability and scale.

New software can serve as a bridge, solving today’s problems and building sustainable processes that carry your business forward. Implementing it can be intimidating for your employees, though.

In this article, we’ll cover the major reason software adoption can be challenging for those who aren’t involved in the decision to commit and suggest a step-by-step strategy for getting everyone on the same page. 

The Problem: Leadership on an Island 

Even in a small- to medium-sized business, the nature of a leadership hierarchy can create distance. Leaders may be removed from the day-to-day and thereby unconscious of how their decisions impact the entire team. 

When you’re not part of the water-cooler conversations, there’s a risk that office politics could drive how a new platform is received. Your team could have their own ideas about why you’re investing, and they may feel they don’t play an important enough role to impact its implementation.

Unchecked sentiment can directly impact how efficiently the whole team uses a new system and, ultimately, how sizable a return you’ll see. 

The Solution: Unite via Open Communication

Being intentional about including more people in the early stages post-purchase can greatly alter the trajectory of your software rollout.

Step 1: Clarify Why You’re Committing to a New Platform

Adopting software will likely bring big changes for your entire organization. While you wouldn’t want to allow just anyone to impact whether or not you go with a certain platform, it’s important to keep them all in the loop after you’ve decided to move forward. 

Accelo’s VP of Client Success, Robert Germain, recommends making a concerted effort to connect with the people who will be using the new tech every day before it’s go time. 

“Adopting technology for the purposes of streamlining how your business — and your people — operate is a big deal,” he explains. “You have to control the narrative if you want it to go well.”

While there’s no need to bring every person you’ve hired into leadership conversations, they shouldn’t feel ignored or 100% out of the loop. Transparency about why you and your colleagues decided that now was the time, and that this solution was the answer, can go a long way in alleviating their worries or frustrations. 

Plus, aligning every team member’s experience of the software with your business goals from the get-go can make them more motivated to learn how to use it.

Step 2: Disseminate the Truth About Its Benefits

As you get ready to dive into platform setup, data migration and team training, it’s key to keep people focused on those greater reasons for the shift. Robert says they should have the sense that they’re part of something larger than just their jobs, and this requires careful dissemination of the truth about what they’ll be expected to do.

While you may be tempted to delegate the nitty-gritty conversations to your managers, he recommends having your initial communication come from decision makers. 

“If it’s not coming from the top, the rollout period is inevitably harder because you leave room for assumptions,” he points out.

Each department and team will have different priorities and concerns, but they should get the same message about the benefits of your move towards digital transformation — and it should be a truthful one.

Preempt problems by answering questions upfront: 

  • How much work will be involved?
  • When will you expect the business to be fully operating in this new system?
  • What efficiencies will this software allow for?

This can be achieved in a few company-wide meetings or through a series of Q&A sessions.

But good communication is not solely about practicalities. Your team wants to know that you understand their hesitations. Seize the opportunity to turn potentially uncomfortable moments into open and honest discourse about their upcoming experience.

Robert advises addressing the unspoken hesitations by saying something like the following: 

"Although this might be harder, take longer than what you’re doing now and feel like it’s taking your eye off the ball, this will allow you to have an impact on the future finances and stability of the business.”

Highlighting how much more successful you could all be with the help of this software can remind everyone that they’re part of a larger mission.

Step 3: Make Software Rollout as Simple as Possible

Once you’ve informed your team of the plans and they feel fully supported, an organized approach will make rollout straightforward.

Following a project management plan is just as important for internal change as it is for completing client work. If you’re adopting software that’s more robust than an out-of-the-box app, you should expect to dedicate a significant amount of time on the front end. You’ll be less overwhelmed if you expect that you may need to adjust workflows to get the most out of your investment.

It’s easiest to keep track of implementation progress if you have one point person. However, it’s not necessary to pay the average implementation specialist salary of over $76,000 to make it work. Instead, Robert suggests assigning a “champion” who can keep internal processes and culture in mind while communicating with the software platform’s implementation experts.

As long as you’re forthright about your goals and expectations and demonstrate respect for everyone’s role, software implementation can be painless.

 

Take it from Tony Bradberry, Managing Director of B2B marketing agency Grey Matter. In 2021, he worked with Accelo’s Professional Services team and alled his experience the “smoothest and easiest” implementation he’s ever been a part of. Read his Accelo adoption story.

 

Your ability to successfully implement the advice above can depend on how much support you get from your chosen platform. With Accelo’s Professional Services team on your side, every person in your organization can stay in the loop and achieve platform literacy. Schedule a demo to find out more.

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