Five Key Steps for Successful Software Adoption
The software adoption process can be quite tricky for many organizations to navigate. Whether you’re looking to implement a new CRM system, timesheet tracker, marketing hub, or something else, you need to make sure that you set your company up for success before you implement the new software. Unfortunately, many organizations tend to skip the pre-launch and go straight to the launch, and as a result, they end up running into trouble; their user adoption rates are too low, so there’s very little ROI and a lot of resistance to the new software being implemented.
At ProServeIT, we’ve seen our customers struggle with software adoption quite a bit. So, we’ve put together the following blog to help you get started off on the right foot. In this blog, we’ll show you the five key steps we recommend for successful software adoption in your organization!
Software Adoption: Following the Right Path
Before we dive in to the five key steps, let’s take a look at the path to adoption. Any software adoption rates you see are going to be varied, depending on your employees’ willingness to learn a new tool and embrace a new technology. We’ve seen the following path develop with several of our customers:
Let’s take a closer look at each of the groups on this graph.
Innovators are your technology enthusiasts. They’re the ones who are always looking at new technology and how it can benefit them, and they’re eager to dive in to understand how that technology works and how it can improve things in your organization.
Early adopters are the users who want to try new software. They, like innovators, are going to be a driving force in influencing others in the organization to adopt the new software that you’re trying to implement.
This group often takes a more practical approach to new software – they’re waiting for others to vet it first before jumping in and using it. The early majority is going to need a little bit of encouragement in using this new software. They’re more concerned with “What’s in it for me?”, and will want to know how this new software is going to improve their lives.
The late majority users are going to need a big push to adopt new software. Typically, they’ll only adopt the new software when it becomes a major part of your business operations and they won’t be able to complete their day-to-day activities without it.
These users will openly balk at changing their habits – they’re often set in their ways and they’re uncomfortable using new tools. They will use the old software as long as possible – they prefer old, familiar technology. You’ll most likely need to force them to switch over to the new software by eliminating that old technology altogether.
Why Understanding These User Types is Important for Your Successful Software Adoption
The reason it’s important to understand these various user types is because it’s going to help you plan out and execute a successful adoption of the new software that you want to implement.
If you know that your organization is made up mostly of late adopters or laggards, you’ll need to rely very heavily on innovators and early adopters to provide the motivation to switch. Innovators and early adopters are like your internal champions – they’ll advocate to their fellow workers about how great the new technology is, and how easy it will make their lives.
Alternatively, by building enough momentum with those innovators and early adopters, you’ll be able to influence the early majority to also adopt your new software. Once they’ve bought in, you’ll have a majority within the organization – most of your employees will have adopted the new software. This means you’ll have a solid base for convincing those late adopters and laggards to switch.
A word of advice: if you do find that you have a lot of “Late Majority” or “Laggards” in your organization, there may be a reason they’re so hesitant to adopt this new technology. So, be patient with them, be understanding, and above all, be open to their own experiences. There could be a good reason why they’re hesitant to adopt the new technology you want to implement, and once you find out that reason, you might be able to bring them around to your way of thinking.
Five Steps for Successful Software Adoption
Of course, you want your software adoption to be successful. After all, you’ve spent time and money on picking this new software that you want to integrate into your organization. So, how do you make your software adoption a success?
By following these five steps, you’ll be able to create clear expectations, a shared understanding of why the new software is necessary, and how it’s going to help improve your employees’ lives in the future.
Let’s take a look at them:
1. Ensure Your Support Teams Are Part of the Process
There’s not much use in switching to a new software if you don’t let your support teams know about it. You may think this is self-explanatory, but at ProServeIT, we’ve seen the aftereffects of implementing a new software in your organization without bringing in the appropriate support teams. If your sales team wants to adopt a new CRM, your IT department needs to be a part of that conversation from the beginning, so that they’re aware of what’s happening and can provide their expert advise on the best way of managing access, ensuring that the new software will be compatible with your current IT environment, and more.
2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
We can’t stress this enough: communication is important in any relationship. Nobody, even your innovators and early adopters, appreciates change when it’s sprung on them! Communication, therefore, is the most important step for making your software adoption successful. And we’re not just talking about sending out a few sporadic emails a few days before the new technology is implemented… we’re talking about a solid communications plan that starts a few months before!
Need some help? Here are a few ways you can introduce your intentions:
- Hosting Lunch & Learns or Town Hall Meetings to help your employees understand why the changes are happening and give them a platform to get their questions answered.
- Announce the changes that will be taking place at weekly team meetings, starting a few months before implementation. Tell your employees why you’re introducing the new software, and how it’s going to make their jobs easier.
- Create FAQ sheets or one-pagers and send them to your employees.
Remember – communication works two ways. It’s not enough just to tell your employees that you’re doing this… in order to get real buy-in from your employees, help them feel like they’re part of the decision-making process! Give them a chance to give you their feedback and tell you what concerns they have regarding the implementation of new software before you switch over.
Also, be sure to carefully consider the language you’re using when introducing the new software to your organization. Using language like “game-changer”, or “the new way of doing things”, for instance, could put people on their guard and get defensive. We encourage you to use language that helps them recognize the benefits of this new software. “A new tool that will make your job easier”, or “a new tool that will simplify your process”, for example.
3. Find Internal Champions
Remember how we said that your innovators and early adopters are like your internal champions? Well, they are! So, identify who your innovators and early adopters are and set them up to champion this new software to your other users!
Innovators and early adopters are the ones who will get the most excited about new software being implemented in your organization. Once you’ve set them up as your internal champions, and gotten them “on your side”, so to speak, they’ll be more than happy to not only adopt the new software in their own daily tasks, but their enthusiasm for the new software can be used to encourage even the most reluctant employees to give the new software a try.
One important point to consider is to ensure that your champions clearly understand why you decided to go with the software you did. By letting your champions know that you evaluated other tools on the market and what ultimately decided you to go with the software you chose, your champions can pass on that information as part of their discussion with other employees in your organization.
4. Hold Training Events
Training events are a good way to train your employees on the new software you’ve chosen to adopt. You can use these events to your advantage in the following ways:
- It’s a less formal place to showcase and demonstrate the new software, which encourages more dialogue around implementation.
- Use these events to answer your employees’ most pertinent questions and walk them through the solution they’re looking for.
- You can reinforce the new software’s benefits by showing the software (not telling users about it), and you demonstrating the practical applications that will make a difference for your users.
Ensure that at least a few of your internal champions are sitting in on each training event so that your employees know who they can go to when they have questions or concerns about the tool.
5. Market Internally
If you really want to ensure that you’re going to be successful with your software adoption, come up with a marketing plan and a promotional strategy for your internal end-users! Just as you’d market a new product or solution to your customers, getting this sort of strategy together for an internal launch can help generate excitement around the new software adoption, and can help those late adopters and laggards get on board with the change without too many complaints.
Posters, product giveaways, and even contests can provide you with a cohesive way to market this new software and help you to build that momentum you need to launch this project.
Software Adoption: Less Stress, More Success!
A new software implementation can be stressful and difficult on your employees. Their routines are changing, new habits need to be formed, and, if they’re responsible for the implementation, they’re going to need to work out the kinks as they go along. Remember, it’s hard to understand just how much stress this new change will cause unless you yourself have lived through a less-than-stellar software adoption.
At ProServeIT, we’ve helped several customers with new software adoption needs. We’ve got a lot of experience not only helping you to select the right technology for your business, at a time when you need it the most, but we’re also quite adept at explaining the benefits and features of that technology. Get in touch with us today. We’ll be happy to put together a plan to make sure you get the maximum ROI from this new technology, and ensure your software adoption is a success!