Think About Your Team Before Considering a New Software Solution
June 24, 2011
We’ve all been there—someone decides to implement a software solution that they think will make everyone’s life simpler. Sometimes it does.
However, internal adoption is often met with frustration. We’ve struggled with it ourselves. It’s easy to envision the benefits of a software service, the trick is getting your team to see it too, then live it, and if possible, love it.
We’ve asked ourselves—and recommend you ask—these questions when considering bringing a new software solution into your company to prevent chronic pains in the neck later.
Does it solve old problems without creating new ones?
No software is perfect. Each has its challenges. Its important to understand the challenges your team struggles with the most. With your current software, your team complains about Problems A, B and C. Software X seems to fix these things. So you get it. Everyone is thrilled that they don’t have to deal with problems A, B and C anymore. Unfortunately, Software X presents Problems D, E and F. What good is trading one set of ills for a new and improved set of ills? Do this enough times, and you’ll condition your team to expect the worst from any software solution you present, and will likely reject them before you get it in the door. Take note of how the benefits are achieved and think about old hurdles and how to clear new ones before springing the software on your team.
What’s in it for them?
It’s better to inspire workers with incentive than to drag them kicking and screaming into a situation they’ve all learned to dread. When a decision maker is blinded by a shiny new software they may think they’re leading the victory parade, but to their team it can feel more like a death march.
More and more, teams are being promised “new and better” without delivery. Resistance to new solutions is not a resistance to your intentions—it’s a reluctance to trust another software solution that is supposed to solve their problems. You have to give them a reason to trust you—reason to want to adopt the new solution—a benefit that outweighs the risk they feel they are taking. Listing features and benefits is not enough. They’ve heard it all before. What is your team is really asking for? Ease of use? A seamless fit with daily operations? Talk to these points to show your team that you are with them.
Where does it live?
Chances are, your IT staff has better things to do than constantly update and troubleshoot your team’s software. This usually happens with software you buy, install and maintain. Some software companies are great about making sure their customers know when a new version of a product is available and how to install it. Of course, this is usually at a cost. And of course, everyone should probably be trained on it as well. Furthermore, versioning can cause misunderstanding, confusion and inconsistency for your team.
Another option is a subscription-based system which leaves all the work—updates, hosting, maintenance—to the provider. This means no matter who on your team is using the system, they are using the latest version. Some companies deliver updates and tutorials directly to your users. In these cases, accessing the software can be as easy as visiting Facebook…or whatever sites they’re supposed to be visiting.
Is it easy to use? Do YOU know how to use it?
Regardless of the system—whether it’s intuitive, complicated or clumsy—you should know how to use it. If you can’t figure it out, chances are your team won’t either. There are few things as annoying as being asked the same thing every day: “How do I do this again?” If it’s coming from your more capable team members, you know there’s a serious glitch in the matrix. Software systems that promise to make life easier for your company should be held responsible for delivering on that promise. Sadly, truly intuitive software is not nearly as popular as their deceptively simple-seeming, yet totally clumsy contemporaries.
Does the software provider provide a launch plan and adoption support?
In the end, you don’t have to be an expert. You won’t always have the answer to questions that may come up. It’s important to have the support of the company behind your new service. This can include a launch plan—rather than just springing it on your company—and a support staff that you can contact for those questions that only they can answer.