Software tools for companies are readily available, and for many entrepreneurs, conducting business without supporting technology is unthinkable. Tools such as project management, inventory management, payment processing, cybersecurity, and customer relationship management simplify daily functions and make work more smooth.
Introducing a new software package is a different experience from a software replacement rollout. Whether you are keeping up with the latest technology, meeting regulatory requirements, or enhancing performance, software replacement is a necessary step, but it can be challenging for users to adapt. Keeping these ten best practices from CRM Consulting in mind can make the process easier.
Before launching a rollout, you should create a strategy that covers:
The plan helps all stakeholders see the big picture and may help you identify trouble spots ahead of time. Infinite Technology Solutions can help with hardware design and deployment, among other services for small businesses.
If users don’t know the reason for the replacement, they may resist buy-in — why change something that’s working? Educate users on why the rollout is necessary. Explain other options you explored and why this one is the best fit. The more informative and transparent you are, the more users accept change.
Some users look forward to changes and easily accommodate them. Enlisting the help of early adopters can make your rollout easier. They can advocate for the new package while assisting others who need time to adapt.
Training is critical. You can hold coaching sessions or incorporate them into your staff meetings—plan extra time for questions. To get employee buy-in during (and after) training sessions, tout the benefits of using the software, such as saving users time or being more straightforward to use than previous versions.
Also, work in a grace period. Rarely do users pick up the new software without any hiccups or questions – we’re all human, after all – so let everyone know that there’s an allowance for a learning curve. Better yet, make establishing the length of the grace period a collaborative decision. Ask your group the length of time they consider an acceptable term to get the platform down pat.
Your vendor should have a team to support your company before, during, and after the rollout process. Leverage their expertise if you run into snags. Staying proactive is ideal; avoiding problems is more accessible than solving them.
The chances are that your software rollout will take longer than anticipated. Build extra time into the schedule for everyone, including IT administrators, staff, customers, and management. Understand that issues may very well arise – and often do – such as snafus or bugs in the software or the systems that run it. Not everyone learns the same way or at the same pace, so be patient with others and the process.
Moving important content to the new system ensures that everyone has to adopt it. However, don’t migrate everything without ample warning, or you risk frustrating late adopters. This points back to the grace period discussed earlier. It’s important to communicate this deadline with all users to clear the expectations. Put this deadline in writing by including it in the Rollout Plan.
Incentives may help motivate reluctant users. Knowing your staff before trying a reward system helps so that you can determine what drives them — according to The Happiness Study, only 42% of employees are satisfied with the recognition they receive from their employer.
One great way to reward employees is to reimburse them for continuing education. This could be especially beneficial if you have someone interested in IT, perhaps the same person assisting you with our software rollout. Taking online classes toward a college-level degree allows employees to continue working their regular schedules. As the employer, you’ll be glad to know that remote learning is very affordable.
The sky’s the limit to getting creative with rewarding employees. A few other benefits include recognizing employees by a point system. They accumulate points as they meet goals and are gifted with fun prizes like restaurant gift cards or tickets to a sports event when they reach “x” number of points. All rewards aren’t monetary; recognize employees with a coveted parking spot, or post about them on social media or the company intranet.
Make sure your users know training doesn’t end with the last formal session. Some may have ongoing questions or issues. Let them know they have continued support as long as necessary. Many reinforce their ongoing corporate training with gamification, which augments traditional activity (i.e., procedural manuals, training checklists, etc.) with elements like points and badges. Gamification is to make training more fun while accelerating and incentivizing otherwise tedious tasks.
Once your rollout is live, collect data on how people are using it:
These analytics can help you determine training practices, improve user experience and boost employee engagement and satisfaction.
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Replacement software rollouts can be arduous, but they’re often necessary. You can make the process less painful by emphasizing communication, conducting a thorough training process, and building plenty of time into your rollout schedule. Above all, make sure to implement and maintain IT security practices. A wisely administered rollout empowers you and your team to adopt new technology efficiently while meeting the ultimate goal of serving your customers well.
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