Have you ever had a difficult software adoption process in your job? Maybe things didn’t go as smoothly or simply got forgotten or dropped half-way through? I think most of us have experienced bumpy software adoption processes at some point. However, the great thing about these bumpy processes is that they are valuable learning experiences.
Here at Rentman we help thousands of companies of all different sizes get started with their planning software. Our position in this process has provided us with unique insights into the learning experiences of companies who have been through software adoption firsthand and their recommendations for success.
We want to share these best practices with you — whether you are getting started with planning, accounting, HR or CRM software. This guide will help you execute a smoother software adoption process right from the beginning.
Get everyone onboard
Overall, change can be hard for anyone. In fact, when confronted with change, many people already think “what's in it for me?”. Your team will be much more motivated to adopt a new software into their daily work if they understand the benefits this brings them.
Don’t just focus on how it benefits the business overall but how it will make your employees daily lives easier:
- Will this new software save your warehouse crew time prepping?
- Will this new software help invoicing and on-time payments?
- If more time and money are saved this could mean more parties or beer for the team!
We recommend consulting a change management model like the ADKAR model. This model is a tool to help with your overall plan of implementing a new software but also a tool to help equip your leaders while they facilitate change and support your employees throughout the change.
Elect a Project Leader
Oftentimes, projects that involve multiple departments can benefit from nominating a specific person or team to lead the project. This person or team is responsible to help coordinate and delegate responsibilities between departments and keep everyone up to speed on the project and timelines.
Don’t elect just anyone as a project leader. Coordination and delegation require special skills so make sure to choose leaders carefully. Some essential skills of someone who is good at leading this process are:
- Ability to easily deal with change
- Great communication skills
- Good decision maker
- Technologically competent
- Ideally someone who was involved in the evaluation process or someone who will use it daily
Start preparing your data
With any new software, there is data that will need to be put in place. This could be employee data, inventory data, accounting data, etc. Make sure to clean up and prepare your data for your new software and assign team members to assist in the process.
Most of the time, your new software provider can provide useful resources like import templates and formatting guidelines to help you with the data import or setup.
When preparing for this step, make sure you have the following points covered.
- Who is responsible for preparing and importing data into the new software?
- What data can be transferred? Where do you store data that can’t be used in the new system?
- If you import from spreadsheets, is the formatting in line with that required from the software? For example, some software can use Yes/No or 0/1 to indicate certain settings during an import.
- Is all your current data up-to-date or is this something you need to do first? For example, do you need to do an inventory count to update the inventory?
Pro Tip: Choose a start date for your new software and save yourself extra work by only importing data needed from that date onwards. This helps especially when you switch from one software to another so you don’t have to pay for both for an extended period.
Make a plan with timing and communication
Making a detailed plan for how everyone will be trained and start using the new software is essential for a smooth transition. This plan includes timelines for implementing data, training team members, and start dates for when everyone will begin fully using the software. Within this timeline is also a plan for how each step should be communicated to the team.
Here are a couple of important points to include in your plan:
Data Implementation Deadline
All data should be in the new software before everyone can start their training. Set a deadline so everyone knows when they should be prepared.
After all data is in place, you need to train everyone who will use the new software on the best workflows for them. Depending on the size of your company, you might hold training sessions with the whole company or per department.
Give your team enough time after training to start practicing using the software. This is the perfect time for them to put their training to use and ensure they understand how to use the software in different scenarios. There will inevitably be a lot of questions so make sure to communicate where resources and help can be found to reduce frustrations during the process.
Go-live date for the new Software
Choose a date everyone will work fully in the new software and leave behind the old software or processes. This is an important step so that everyone has a date to work towards. It’s also a great time to celebrate with pizza 🍕 to congratulate everyone on their hard work.
Even if implementation went smoothly and everyone started working with the new platform, you still need to ensure that everyone is happy and the new software is bringing the promised benefits. Schedule a set evaluation period once you go-live and a meeting at the end to ensure everyone’s concerns are heard and attended to.
Software is here to help
Of course, a lot of the best practices mentioned above have to be adapted/implemented by your own business. However, don’t forget your software provider should also support you through your testing and implementation. If you need help estimating timelines, answering questions, or just finding new solutions, make sure to reach out to your software provider.
At Rentman, we like to view ourselves as consultants. We will help you through the whole process and give advice where we can on how to make things easier or smoother — all of this is included in your software fees. While services might differ across providers, the majority of established software providers will have various ways in which they can help. Make sure to check if this support is included or can be added for a fee.