Implementing new software is an exciting and productive task, but it’s also a big transition. How disruptive or seamless the transition is depends on the method an organization uses to integrate software functionality with business processes. To facilitate the process, here are five key steps:
1. Choose the right software
Before even implementing a new software, it is important to ensure that the system meets your functional and business needs. This is a great point to audit and assess any business processes that are dictated by your legacy software. You don’t want to continue an outdated business processes when you may have a better option available with your new software. Of course, new software should be intuitive, configurable, mobile-friendly – and perhaps most importantly – easy to learn, since the pace of user adoption is heavily affected by the design of software. All these factors should narrow down the options, which should accelerate the implementation process in addition to enhancing business processes. For a more in-depth look at the best practices for software selection, check out our guide.
2. Communicate the change, and what it implies for operations
Of course, after purchasing a new solution, the change must be communicated throughout the organization. How will it simplify business processes? Will it add any new ones? In order to understand the day-to-day implications of a new software solution, staff teams must understand how the new system will be used with current process, or how those processes might be changed. Additionally, staff must understand the expectations for the use of software with current (and new) business processes.
3. Train and provide resources for users
Beyond understanding how the system will augment and transform processes, staff need to understand how the features, integrations, and devices required for each specific role impact their workflow. While general training will provide an understanding of the system, there should be resources to support users throughout the implementation process. As a part of this, various departments will have to work through their own processes with the new system, but usage by organization leaders facilitates adoption and integration into daily workflows.
4. Adoption by leadership
To ensure the momentum from training is not lost, executives should be actively using the software to demonstrate its value to other users. Leadership adoption is crucial to the successful adoption of new software. When Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s CEO, wanted to encourage his staff to adopt Chatter (a new internal social network), he required that any communication to him be sent via the new system and even held a company-wide meeting using the new system. More than adoption by leadership, strategies like these effectively translate the new system’s functionality into everyday business processes.
5. Reinforce the new processes
After implementing a new system, it is crucial to ensure staff users are correctly utilizing all its features, including continuing to provide support resources. To manage this, metrics must be established to measure and report usage – by tracking logins and monitoring data quality, for instance. Comparing KPIs before and after implementation can similarly provide insight into how the software is (or is not) helping staff achieve performance goals. If the software selection and implementation processes were carefully executed, the new system should empower staff to exceed performance expectations.