June 8, 2021

How to Successfully Implement Software Within Your Organization

Software can help improve collaboration, streamline workflows, and more. Here are 4 tips for efficient internal adoption
TECHNOLOGY & TRENDS

Software can help teams become more efficient, inform key business decisions, and improve collaboration. This is particularly true for global or dispersed teams, as it can facilitate asynchronous communication and ensure the right people have access to the data they need.

For real estate teams, central repositories can also ensure data integrity, as all employees have access to a single, web-based location. What’s more, these types of systems can enable permissions at the user or team level, as well as show detailed audit logs for activity tracking. Taken together, it’s clear that data management tools and automation can help you streamline workflows and ensure data accuracy.

When it comes to property tax teams, some of the key benefits of implementing software include:  

  • Ability to accurately measure sales and marketing activities
  • Improve forecasting and budgeting
  • Reduce risk with in-depth insights and analytics
  • Eliminate repetitive, manual daily tasks

As beneficial as software can be, however, implementing technology within your organization can be challenging, too.  

Challenges to internal software implementation

Regardless of the size of your company, challenges will inherently arise during the implementation process. Some of the major barriers to adoption include the following:

  • Resistance to change. Employees may be apprehensive of altering existing work processes, which may slow them down or cause them to make mistakes at first. Sometimes this resistance is simply due to replacing a method they feel comfortable using.
  • Fear of reduced job security. If the software being implemented automates certain tasks or functions, it can lead to employees feeling concern they might be “automated out of a job.”  
  • Perception that software doesn’t address their pain points. This may occur if employees feel they weren’t involved in the decision-making process.  
  • Lack of time and resources. Employees may feel they don’t have time to learn a new software, even if the software may reduce their workload in the long run.  

On top of this, additional barriers to adoption include insufficient training and incorrect set-up. If you’re looking to implement software within your team or department, effective communication and team alignment is key.

So how can you maximize your chances of success when introducing technology to your team? Below are four tips to help with your next software implementation.  

Engage Your Team and Listen to Feedback

It’s essential to include team members in the decision process when choosing a software. Engage with your team to learn their pain points and software needs. Listen carefully to what they struggle with and come up with solutions together. As well, make sure to keep them in the loop at every stage of the software selection process to address any concerns they have. Be sure to highlight advantages and how the technology will ultimately benefit them.  

During the adoption process, make sure to catalogue suggestions on an ongoing basis. This will help you create a positive feedback loop, where you’re able to provide regular, transparent updates on how the team is progressing through training on the new tool. Research shows that, when team members feel heard, they’re more likely to be open to new technology or processes.  

Remember that behind every new implementation are real end users with their own experiences and opinions. As a result, when issues inevitably arise during the early stages of an implementation, let your team know their feedback is welcome.

By engaging with your team during the selection and implementation process, you can better understand and proactively eliminate barriers to adoption. At the same time, you can also generate beneficial suggestions and use cases to improve how your new software is used.  

Choose the Right Vendor

The vendor you select can have a huge impact on user adoption. Understanding the vendor’s experience in the market, their level and type of support, and other key factors will play a critical role in the success of your software implementation. We’ve expanded on each point below.  

Level and type of support

As your team learns the new technology, they’ll invariably have questions. It’s important to understand how the vendor you select engages with your team, and how your team wants to interact with support:  

  • Does the vendor come on-site to help set up the tool or provide lunch-and-learns?  
  • Are they a remote team, offering live chat?  
  • Is support only available to certain plans or tiers, or only by phone?

These kinds of questions are important to ask, as barriers to receiving support from the vendor can lead to challenges in initial uptake.  

How well the vendor understands your specific pain points

The most effective way to onboard team members and get them excited about using a new tool is by finding a vendor that understands their challenges and current processes. Having an external vendor that can speak to the objectives and obstacles your team is facing can greatly accelerate new tool implementation. This means working with professionals who not only know about their own technology, but also understand the needs of your business and have had hands-on experience in your industry.  

The vendor’s credibility in the market

Particularly for members of your team that may be more skeptical of new technology, it can be helpful if the vendor has an easy-to-find website/digital presence or appropriate sales material.  

If the vendor is well-known in the market, this can lend reassurance to your team. But they don’t need to be a Fortune 100 company for your team to feel comfortable. Provided the company has accessible resources and background material, this can help your team members understand and be open to new software.  

Lead by Example

Software implementations work best when employees have colleagues and resources, they can rely on to help them learn and use new tools. As such, ensuring you have “evangelists” within your department – people who are skilled at using and teaching the software – will help with adoption.  

Find evangelists within the department who can demonstrate the technology to others and encourage team members to try it out. When known and trusted early adopters can articulate the benefits, team members are more willing to listen and participate.  

Upper management should partake in early adoption as well. Senior leaders can model the target uses of the software, speak to the perceived benefits, and provide their own experiences using the tool that others can learn from.  

Plan Training that Works for your Team

Of course, it’s beneficial to provide advance notice of a software implementation. Schedule training sessions at multiple times so staff members have options of when they wish to participate. You can also offer recorded training videos for team members that may not be able to attend any of the live training sessions, or even connect them 1:1 with one of your internal product evangelists. This combination of in-person training, recorded videos, and 1:1 support can help break down learning barriers.  

Additionally, setting training deadlines can help encourage team members to take action. Break up the implementation into smaller tasks and discrete training modules so the overall change doesn’t feel daunting. When team members are completing training tasks on the same schedule as one another, it can help them jointly manage their workload and answer each other’s questions.  

Bonus tip: Ensure ongoing, accessible support

To get the most value from your new software, you need to provide ongoing support to help your team embrace working in new ways. The implementation process doesn’t end the day a new tool is introduced; rather, it continues as your business learns to adapt, incorporate, and enjoy the technology. This includes working with a vendor that is approachable, accessible, and capable of answering questions and providing guidance even after the initial implementation is complete.

Ultimately, since it is a shared process between leaders, vendors, and staff, the implementation process is most successful when unique perspectives, experiences, and skillsets are considered. Introducing a new tool is about more than just the technology; having a people-first approach throughout the process will go a long way.

This article was originally published in March 2019.


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