New software can revolutionise the way a business operates, increasing productivity and streamlining processes. But if the implementation of new software isn’t well planned for or accepted by staff, then the entire exercise becomes redundant and all the great benefits your business could enjoy goes out the window!
Being a SaaS (Software as a Service) company, we understand what businesses have to do in order to successfully implement new software. And it’s a big project! However the benefits of getting the right software into your business are well worth the effort.
So here’s our recommendations when implementing new software into your organisation:
Appoint a Champion
Have one central person or small team to oversee the entire process of this change; from planning and scoping out the needs of the business, researching potential suppliers, presenting recommendations, and finally, selecting and implementing the new software. Champions need to understand software and be able to communicate well in order to understand the different needs and challenges of every level and department of your business.
Your IT department should be engaged with very early on in the process as they are a pivotal element to the success of software implementation within a business. Ensure they are on board and kept in the loop. One of their main concerns will revolve around the security of data, so ensure that your Champions have gathered information on the security features of the new software.
Find out the challenges of every department or area of the business that will be impacted by the new software. What problems are they having with the current processes in place? What do they need from this software?
Often companies will issue a Request for Quote (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP) where software vendors confirm the features available with their software. While this is an efficient method of comparing vendors, it’s important to ask the right questions. Instead of asking whether a software provider has a particular feature you’re after, ask them how they would solve a problem or tackle a particular scenario. You’ll get a better understanding of how their software works and how it can be applied to your business.
Communicate with transparency
To get maximum buy-in, staff need to feel involved in the process. With any form of change, if people feel that they are being kept in the dark, they will become resistant. Ensure that the employees who will be directly affected by the new software understand the reason behind implementing it and how it will benefit both them and the company.
Revisit your current processes
Implementing new software is a good time to revisit your current processes and determine whether they are as effective as they could be. Are your current processes convoluted? Do you have some unnecessary red tape that stalls efficiency? Automating processes that are already ineffective is pointless, so use this as an opportunity to re-think how you currently do things.
Once the software has been implemented, it is crucial to have an engagement strategy to help encourage staff to use it. Training will be vital in the initial roll out of the software, and ongoing training (whether formal or informal) may be required. It’s a good idea to appoint “super-users” of the software in each department of the business so that there is a go-to person for questions or concerns. Some software, like Vault for example, has an online community that users can connect to and stay informed.
Once all staff are trained, there may be some teething issues as everyone adjusts to a new way of working. Expect and allow for these by monitoring how people are using the software, any problems they are encountering, and how the software is performing.
Successful implementation is a marathon, not a race. Some people will embrace the more efficient way of working as the result of the new software and some people will cling to the comfort of the old. However that resistance to change will gradually diminish if your business keeps up a strong engagement strategy in the planning, implementation and follow up process.