Implementing new enterprise-level software across your organization involves several layers of planning. There’s no be all end all method to an implementation but when done well, the process for an IT admin can feel seamless.To better understand the do’s and dont’s, we're launching a series outlining best practices and tips for a successful company-wide shift. Part III: software implementation and onboarding.Check out the first two posts of the series: common mistakes and choosing new software.
Forty percent of employees who receive poor job training leave within their first year, according to Go2HR. Sixty eight percent say training and development is the most important workplace policy. In 2016, $6.2 billion was spent on application software training, a 3.5 percent increase from 2011. With that number on the rise as a result of business process improvement and customer demand, a focused software implementation approach makes all the difference.
Come up with a new software training strategy
Identify who your power users are and focus the training around what they will ask of the application software. Otherwise, you’ll spend a considerable amount of time training people on things they may only have to do once a year. At which point, their best option is not learning it at all. There are a countless number of ways to educate employees on a new piece of software. What learning method works best for your users?
IBM uses behavior data to send out training materials to employees when they actually need it. For example, when a new employee schedules their first meeting, material on how to conduct one is automatically sent to them. You could set up a similar trigger for when employees go to use new software for the first time.New Balance set up screen recorded walkthroughs and one on one’s with a trainer for 30-60 minutes for new phone software. The better you understand how your employees learn best, the easier implementation becomes.
Make sure IT and business goals are aligned
Fifty five percent of respondents reported they had an IT project fail in a 2016 Innotas annual report. That number was up 32 percent from the year before. For a long time there’s been a gap between what IT is doing and what the business is trying to achieve.Fortunately, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. According to a recent Pulse of Profession report, the numbers for IT project success are increasing. Benefits realization management, which is just a fancy way of saying measuring how projects add true value to a business, is one way to ensure greater success rates.
“Digital convergence is collapsing the gap between business and IT. For so many years, we talked about how to better align IT with strategic business goals, and now it's just a fact of life. That forces IT to emphasize planning and prioritization, which helps them succeed with the projects that are truly important," - Patrick Tickle, CPO at Planview
Always start with an advocacy group
(ICYMI in our first two posts.)Make sure you have a good point of contact with those who will actually be using the enterprise software everyday. The power users in the advocacy group should be people known to voice their opinions and think things through.
“I had a coworker who chose and implemented a crappy cloud software solution at my last job. She was a power user and seemed relatively smart, but wasn't the type of person to get abrasive and ask the right questions to challenge people and make things better. It failed in the long run,” - Marketing Manager, SMB Company
Get people in your enterprise excited about the change
Express the advantages of the new software and get others excited to use it. This is where stakeholders bought in early on can help. Some companies run internal marketing campaigns to get people excited. For example, if you’re rolling out a new digital asset management system, you could put up signage throughout the office with quirky headlines about the new process. Get advocacy group members to be departmental cheerleaders for the new application.
Not everyone will immediately take to the software you present and sometime you have to lead the proverbial horse to water. Companies with engaged employees, though, outperform those without by up to 202 percent, according to a Dale Carnegie study.
Train the trainers
For bigger rollouts, call for backup. This is where department heads, team leads, and advocacy groups can help. Teach department heads and let them train their teams on specifics, while you focus on the stuff that applies to everyone. The earlier you start training, the more confident stakeholders are in correcting issues that may come up. As a result, IT and support personnel will no longer have to toil away at an influx of support tickets.
Be open to change throughout the process
Implementing new enterprise software across an organization is only an enormous task if you’re closed off to change. Expect the strategy to evolve as you go through implementation phases.
“All too often, organizations look only at the IT technology to unify, streamline and simplify business operations. While processes and systems require deep analysis, the people factor needs as much careful consideration and strategic planning as the rest,” - Akhilesh Tiwari, Global Head at Tata Consultancy Services.
Come up with a testing strategy for the enterprise software
The solution you land on will only cause more problems if the IT project manager and a team of power users aren't testing out various use cases. IT should also plan on testing the security of the system by attempting to break it and discover bugs as quickly as possible. In addition to usability and security, the stakeholder group should also look at performance and stability.
This testing should be well thought out, organized, and assigned to various owners so that each person involved is clear on what their role is in the testing. With regular check-ins and detailed follow up, the project manager should be able to arrive at a solid conclusion.For extra security, automated enterprise software testing should be used along with manual testing to attack any bugs that creep in.
Another aspect of the strategy is understanding how the new application software is being used once it’s rolled out. A reporting and analytics arm allows admins to show value that comes from the use of an application.
- Understand how your end users are using the software.
- Watch how well it’s doing to solve their problems.
- Talk to users to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
“The opportunity is not to use analytics to control but to give employees meaningful data about the way they’re operating within an organization so that they themselves can do things to improve their working lives and their performance,” - Jon Ingham, HR Consultant at Strategic Dynamics Consultancy Services Ltd.
The first time through won’t be perfect. But with outreach and proactive support you’ll quickly refine a process that makes change (and the momentum it builds) easier. Your job in this process, after all, is to help your coworkers do theirs better.