Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.
Upgrades! If You Buy it…Will They Use it? | Extraordinary Business
Challenges with getting your team to adopt your new software solutions
After investing the lion’s share of cash and time to source, customize and implement the latest, greatest be-all-to-end-all solution for your company, you find that your people still aren’t using it, or at least, aren’t using it to a level where you can see a return on your investment. You don’t get it. You stand there, scratching your head, not knowing whether to scream, have one-on-one counseling, provide additional training, or just let it go.
Having done a number of CRM and Business Management installations, this is a challenge that many business leaders face when doing a software implementation. Sure – it is a good idea. If used, the solution will probably enable you to run your business more efficiently, give you some idea of predicting leads, project expenses, managing productivity and other business critical analytics. Unfortunately, this struggle is a typical change management issue, wherein different groups of people will approach change in different ways.
The challenge, at times, is that change management often takes a combination of commitment, time and money. It is not an overnight process, and typically, you can’t manage or watch over everyone’s key-strokes to make sure that people are doing the right things.
Here are a few things that you can do in order to increase the likelihood of success:
- Plan – Don’t just do it. You will end up with a big mess and costly cleanup. Plan out the steps, the budget, the resources, the timeline. It may only be 80% accurate, but typically, leaving it completely up to chance will be 80% wrong. Although it might work out, eventually…maybe…
- Make the benefits clear – not just for the company or from your experience, but from theirs. Even if you, personally, have great buy in from your employees, showing them how your solution will make their jobs better or easier, or achieve their goals will help to get them on board
- Get them on board from the start – have them involved with the purchasing process, from determining what features would be necessary, helpful and/or nice to have, to participating in trial runs and choosing among the top three, for example.
- Make training accessible – ensure that they aren’t “thrown to the wolves” when it comes to learning the new solution. Understand that people have different aptitudes for IT. Your fast learners will probably be bored to death with an ongoing blow-by-blow of how things work, while your slower people will require hand-holding. Make training accessible, though videos and/or documentation. Your vendor should assist with this.
- Customize the solution – use terms and processes that the team is familiar with so that the learning curve isn’t so great. You probably don’t want to overly disrupt a ship that isn’t sinking! A key consideration when purchasing your solution: don’t adapt the business to the solution; make sure that the solution fits the way you do business. I.E., don’t use a restaurant POS to run a retail outlet.
- Listen to them! – The suggestions that come from the users are the ones that will be of most value to you. By making it clear that you aren’t looking for complaints, but are rather looking for solutions on how to make things better, you will maximize their communications
- Set clear, consistent expectations with your team – throughout the process of purchasing, installing, customizing, testing and implementation, ensure that you clearly articulate your expectations with the software and the team. Expectations include what the software will do and how you expect your team to use it. This should include a timeframe, adaptation rates (I expect 80% compliance by…), responses to non-compliance all based on quantifiable outcomes. Your team should agree that these are reasonable expectations and be held to them.
- Be transparent and consistent – show the team success and challenges faced with the new solution. Involve them in celebrations (reaching goals/expectations) and challenges (process re-engineering, expectations not being met)
Unfortunately, there hasn’t been a single secret sauce to getting teams to adapt to a new solution. Different people have different personalities, preferences and abilities. Some will adapt right away, others will resist until you drag them out the front door. Never the less, if you have chosen your solution wisely, gotten your team on board and stick through the difficult challenges, your solution could move you just a little bit closer to building an extraordinary business.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is an Atlanta, Georgia based Operations Management and Business Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders. We help business leaders CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses. We support our clients with financial management, product and service production and delivery, outsourced services management, sales & marketing and business growth. We provide them with a number of flexible solutions to help them reach their goals.
Join us for a 30-minute complimentary Coffee & a Consult, to learn more about Aepiphanni and how we might help you move your company from existing to extraordinary.