The most important component that will determine the success or failure of a new software installation is getting your staff on board with the project. This is so critical to success that I felt it deserved its own post. I have seen software installations literally come apart at the seams because the staff refused to going along with it. Unfortunately it forced the business owners to throw in the towel and they often didn’t recoup all of their investment. The good news is that this can be avoided with a little bit of planning and communication beforehand.
First, let your staff know that you are thinking about switching to new software as soon as you have made the decision to start looking. If nothing else, it gives them time to get used to the idea. Explain to them why you believe it is the right move for your company (be specific) and invite their feedback, questions, and concerns. If you wait to tell them until you have already chosen new software, you may have missed blind spots that they could have helped you see that would have changed your mind.
Second, invite them into the process of evaluating how new software can help you reach your business goals. They are the experts at their job and can help you create your list of “must haves”. This also gives them some ownership in the process, which makes them more invested in its success.
The instances where I’ve seen software installations come completely unraveled are where the staff resented the fact that they were not consulted about the change in the first place. So they complained about every little thing and made mountains out of mole hills until the owners threw up their hands in defeat. This could have been avoided by inviting them into the process from the beginning.
It’s A Team Effort
Third, as you look at the various options that are out there, have your staff (ideally your department heads/team leads) evaluate the software with you. But do your salesperson a favor and designate a single point of contact that compiles everyone’s questions/concerns and sends it to them once or twice a week.
Don’t overwhelm them by having everyone in the company bombard them with questions and comments.
Once you have decided on a particular software package, explain to your staff why you chose that particular option and help them see how their feedback made it happen.
Dealing with Stragglers
Even after all of the above you may still have an employee or two that refuses to get on board. Maybe you went with a different option than what they wanted, maybe they’re afraid for their job, or are just resistant to change in general. Whatever the reason, try and understand specifically what they are concerned about. Then, ask for their help in making this a success. Software installation is a huge project and everyone involved is critical to its success.
If that doesn’t work, you may have to put your foot down and explain that while you understand and appreciate their concerns, you believe this is the best move for the business. At the end of the day a company is not a democracy. You’re the boss and you have to decide what’s best for the business. People are counting on you to lead them.
This person may no longer be in the right role, or a good fit for your company. They might be better suited for a different team or it may be time to part ways. Whatever the case, you may have to make some hard decisions. It’s an unfortunate part of leadership that never becomes easy.
The good news is that by involving your staff and communicating regularly, it will greatly reduce the chances of these kinds of situations considerably.
Next – How to Find the Right Software