Your company has purchased new software, and now you need to integrate it into your daily workflow. What's the secret to implementing it successfully? As a follow-up to our recent Considerations & Costs in Software Decisions presentation, we'll guide you through the next step: how to get that software up and running across your office. You'll pick up some valuable tips on everything from the importance of communication and flexibility during this process to dealing with reluctant team members. We'll show you how to take the fear and uncertainty out of software implementation and make it a seamless transition.
This webinar is sister to Considerations & Costs in Software Decisions. It's recommended but not required to watch that one first.
Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)
- Unavoidable Truths
- Common Failures
- Where to Start
- How to Implement
- Key to Implementation
0:00 – 3:56: Intro/TOC
Software implementation doesn't have a step-by-step plan that works for every office. Implementation really comes down to how it's managed, and the effort put into it.
3:57 – 19:39: Unavoidable Truths
- You will not have 100% approval ... ever.
- Software is not magic.
- The industry and software will update and change.
- Implementation requires a leader.
Managing implementation without full support (4:21)
Implementation requires a mentally strong leader. You are juggling:
- Personalities of your team members
- Emotional reactions to change
- Enforcing a new process
- Dealing with pushback
Remind yourself: It's OK that not everyone is on board.
Coaching through change (5:23)
Communicate. Accept and embrace disagreements.
Interacting with your team: Recognize your role not only as the coach but just as much a part of the team. (5:48)
Celebrate achievements. Don't forget to take time to celebrate the accomplishments. (6:06)
Software is not magic. (6:26)
Software is a tool. Tools help solve problems, and their success is based on using them effectively.
There is an assumption (sometimes unknowingly) placed on software that it is supposed to:
- Be easy to use "right out of the box"
- Know how to install and save files properly without additional setup
- Be so intuitive that anyone can use it without learning
- Be flawless – no bugs and should have every possible feature
- Allow for full customization
- Run well – should never crash
- Solve all your problems – all frustrations will go away
Do you have a software that achieves all this?
The software will change. (10:20)
- There will be updates.
- There will be new software that affects your current software.
- There will be changes to your industry.
You cannot live in the past, or you'll stay behind everyone.
Implementation requires a leader – not necessarily a manager. (14:55)
Message to boss/owner/manager:
The responsibility starts with you. Part of your job is recognizing that this role may not fit you. It's fine if it doesn't – you just need to choose someone who can be the leader you need to affect the change you want.
This delegation won't exclude you from the process; it just changes your role.
Change is hard. (16:22)
Navigating through change requires a strong leader because that leader needs to inspire belief and confidence in the team to embrace something new.
Key traits of a leader in a time of change:
- Mentally strong
- Strong communicator
- Interactive with the team
- Stays calm in chaos
- Problem solver
19:40 – 34:33: Common Failures
Learning from failures (20:00):
Failure to research and test the software properly
- See Krystal's previous webinar Considerations & Costs in Software Decisions.
- You cannot do a job correctly if you don't have the proper tools.
- "If you don't have the time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? – John Wooden
Expectation that software will/should solve "the problem":
- "Why isn't this toilet wiping?"
- When software fails to solve the problem, we fixate on the one thing it couldn't do vs. all the things it can do.
- The advancement of software has altered our experience from "This is so helpful" to "I cannot believe it doesn't do X, Y, and Z."
- Solution: Keep in mind that you solve your own problems and that this tool (software) is to help you achieve that. Don't forget about all the other benefits you get.
Lack of follow-up on the team's usage:
- Many times, an employee will say "it didn't work" and the manager just decides not to use the software anymore.
- Solution: A strong leader will take the time to work with the employee to help investigate what's happening. There are many factors at play with resistance to change, different perspectives, different learning curves, etc. Not to say, "Don't trust what your employee has to say." Your leader needs to be engaged with the process so an informed decision can be made for the solution.
Learning from failures (26:19):
- Communication and ineffective meetings:
- Communication far exceeds just software implementation.
- Communication is the most important skill you will ever develop.
- Acknowledge it's an everyday struggle – especially during change.
- Moods and personalities can affect how people speak or interpret.
- Body language.
- Deciphering technological messages (emails, texts, IMs).
- No one likes meetings, but they are necessary.
There is no simple solution. It takes constant effort into improving your communication skills and learning from each meeting how to be more efficient.
More learning from common failures (27:59)
Being rigid: "It has to be done this way because it's our way."
- Most common when someone cannot get over one feature the software does not have or because the fear of change and lack of knowledge.
- Being confined to a "set" way only inhibits your creativity, mind, learning, and growth.
- Life is about adapting. Nothing stays the same.
- Solution: If you find yourself saying these things, take a deeper look at what is holding you back. You adapt constantly in your life – why is this situation an issue?
Are you really saying you would never consider something that could improve "your way"?
"Waiting for the right time" (29:45)
- There will never be a right time. There are always project, deadlines, and other things that pop up. Changes don't happen without action.
- Solution: Recognize this is an unrealistic expectation. Come prepared and jump in. Believe in yourself to overcome and work through the inevitable situations you couldn't foresee. There will always be bumps in the road. When those happen. Regroup and find a solution.
Implementation with part of the team and not everyone (30:50)
Biggest and most common failure.
- You are not saving money. You are not saving time. You cannot expect a team to use it if you only give it to a few team members first. This causes more confusion and undermines your decision.
- Lesson learned: Implementing our project management software. Employees would become confused about which platform they should be working in. Some employees felt left out – why were they not included? And she quickly realized that she kept needing to add "one more person," which resulted in repeated training sessions, repeated conversations, misunderstandings on procedures, and a lot of wasted time.
- Solution: Keep your team together through the experience – it will encourage team building, unity, and your decision.
Not setting a cut-off date (33:50)
- You must rip off the Band-Aid to move forward. If you keep a crutch, you will always use that crutch.
- Solution: Set a date. Communicate it to the team. Put it in a calendar that everyone shared. Remind the team. Stick to the date.
34:34 – 36:29: Where to Start
Implementation of software is not as difficult as it may seem. It's about action and managing the personalities of your team members.
Successful implementation starts at the trial process. (35:00)
See Krystal's previous webinar Considerations & Costs in Software Decisions.
Overlooking the importance of finding the right tool for the job will of course result in a failed attempt to implement. You can't expect the incorrect tool to work.
During the trial, you will gather information about:
- Needs and wants
- Time savings
This information will help you make the correct decision on the software you will use, and your findings will help outline the plan of implementation.
Stop thinking about money. (35:47)
Once you've purchased the software, shift your focus to supporting your decision and encouraging your team to use it.
It's not the ROI and transition costs/time.
36:30 – 40:16: How to Implement
Implementation doesn't require acronyms or a complex process.
Create a plan. (37:00)
- You already did the work. It's now about prioritizing the information and putting it together.
- Create short-to-the-point lessons.
- Create space and time for questions and discussions.
Schedule effective meetings. (37:38)
- Schedule all the meetings for the next 4 weeks. (Meet once a week.)
- Use the "to-the-point lessons" as the agenda.
Set a cut-off date. (39:10)
- Communicate this date to your team – multiple times.
- Stick to the date, no matter what.
You just have to do it – it's the hardest part of the entire process.
You can plan until you're blue in the face, but nothing will ever come of it if you don't act.
Use the software, and work through the experiences together. Remind your team you're all in this together and that you'll address issues as they come up. The more security and safety you offer, the more your team will trust you.
40:17 – end: Key to Implementation
The keys to implementation (40:17)
- Understand your team
Role of leadership (40:26)
The tone set will dictate how your team will respond.
Constant effort to manage, enforce, and encourage implementation.
- Multiple personalities and emotions
- Reactions and resistance to change
- Strike a balance between being stern and flexible.
- It's a constant process. There is no "end" to enforcing implementation.
- Adapting as updates are released and continue to provide a calm direction to the team.
- Goes a long way in motivating the team.
- Communication, communication, communication.
- Offer additional time and support for employees having a difficult time.
Communication is a two-way process: speaking and listening.
- Be in the conversation.
- Stop thinking of your response while they are talking.
- Non-verbal actions – looking at the speaker, nodding along, restating what you've heard.
- Embrace disagreements.
- Disagreements do not equal conflict.
- View them as opportunities for discussion and learning.
- Different perspectives can broaden the horizon.
- Their perspective and experiences are just as valid as your own.
- "If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking." –George S. Patton
- Handle the situation with respect. Acknowledge the courage it takes to disagree.
- Be open minded, and allow yourself to accept different ideas.
- Ask questions.
- Avoid further misunderstandings by asking questions if you don't understand.
- Keep your questions on topic.
- Be clear and direct.
- Lose the fluff.
- Don't hesitate to start the conversation.
- Speak up if you feel a situation or topic needs to be discussed to make the situation better.
- Leading your team through implementation includes the responsibility for initiating these conversations.
- Helps your team/employees feel comfortable talking to you in the future.
- Use meetings effectively.
- Have a clear objective for each meeting.
- Steer clear of "status meetings."
"Whatever you do in life, surround yourself with smart people who'll argue with you." –John Wooden
Understanding your team (49:20)
Information isn't one size fits all. Each team is built on different strengths, personalities, and experiences.
Team dynamics (50:05):
Strategize how each person can help.
- The more team support you can build, the bigger effect.
- Encourage your team to recognize strengths in others.
Recognize ahead of time who will have issues, or more trouble in adapting.
- It's hard to ask for help.
- Give you a better chance to offer more help and time.
- Offer more opportunities of communication and support. Do they need one-on-one training?
- Create an opportunity to foster the evolution of an employee's potential.
- Encourage employees to push themselves.
"The main ingredient to stardom is the rest of the team." –John Wooden
Keep everyone on the same page and engaged in the implementation.
- Keep it uniform.
- Use training to reduce time and cost.
- Answer repetitive questions.
- Reduce chances of mistakes.
- Maintain consistency.
Learn and grow.
- See inefficiencies and solve problems more quickly.
- As software and times change, updates become easier to implement.
Adapting to new software is inevitable. (54:07)
We are constantly doing it. It always seems difficult at first because it's just new.
Software implementation is like anything else we've adapted to. Tractors are helpful, but you learn how to do it first.
"Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be." – John Wooden