Tom and I were talking the other day, and we were thinking, “Ya know, it’s amazing how complicated simple software can be…”
You start thinking about how different features should look and work, how they might be helpful or useful for your team, and how users might use them in their daily work.
Personally, when I think of a practical and useful software solution, I think of my awesome pair of croc flip flops. They are super comfortable, they are easy to slip on, and I wear them as often as possible—even when I probably shouldn’t.
Software should be just that: comfortable, easy, and the tool that you can’t live without each day to do your job.
Sure, as a professional you likely understand how a software solution is supposed to work, but getting your team on board is a whole different story…
Getting team members on board with software adoption is often a challenge because people are already accustomed to using one, or multiple tools, or working a particular way. Therefore, when it’s time to make a change or adopt new software, it can be a huge challenge. Even when companies offer software to their employees, they often think it’s optional.
Tom and I know this challenge all too well…
8 Tips for Driving Successful Software Adoption
Making the switch is hard! So, we put together this guide to help managers get their teams to adopt new software—and actually use it—to drive out a successful software adoption.
#1 – Involve your team from the beginning.
If your company decided to adopt new software, or if you are thinking about it, have a plan of attack before you tell a soul. Adopting new software sends people immediately into a panic. Their first thought is that the new software will be too difficult to learn, or it will disrupt their comfort levels, or even replace their jobs.
As a result, it is incredibly important to have a plan and involve your team regarding the decision to adopt new software from the beginning. Give team members a chance to offer feedback, suggestions, and recommendations. Remind them that their thoughts and opinions are valuable. Even if you already decided to use a particular type of software, asking for software recommendations will prevent morale from tanking.
Key Takeaway: Team buy-in is important, so involve your team from the beginning.
#2 – Choose software that is easy to use.
Most people within a company who select software are “power users”. So, they choose software based on what they think is easy to use, intuitive, and easy to implement. However, it’s also important to consider how other team members will respond to or adapt to the new software. What’s easy for you may not be easy for another team member.
For example, offering periodic training sessions, documentation, weekly webinars, and blog posts are all examples of helpful resources that team members can access if and when they need help or guidance.
Furthermore, you might select software that is easy to use and implement but also has advanced “power user” features. Gmail is a great example. It is relatively easy to apply and for everyone to use at the drop of a hat, but there are also more advanced features available that you can use as you learn more about the software and use it.
Key Takeaway: Even if you select software that is truly easy to use and learn for everyone, it’s still essential to provide the right resources that users can refer to at their convenience.
#3 – Explain the key benefits of the software.
When communicating with your team that the company is adopting new software, be sure to explain the reason for the change as well as the benefits. Focus on what the software can do and HOW it can help them with their jobs.
For example, let’s say your company decided to adopt file-sharing software, such as Dropbox, Box or even Google Drive. You could communicate to your team that file sharing is vital for security and protecting key documents. It also prevents multiple document versions floating around, or "living" on an employee’s local hard drive. Therefore, if an employee takes a vacation, his or her team members can still access the necessary files.
Files stored in the cloud are also backed up on a daily basis, which prevents file loss or damage in the event of a power failure or other disaster.
Key Takeaway: Make it a point to communicate these benefits to your team. If they understand the reason for the switch, and how they will benefit from it, this will likely reduce frustration later down the line.
#4 – Communicate during every stage of implementation.
Team members often feel out of the loop during the implementation phase of the new software. Similar to what we mentioned in the first point, it’s essential to communicate with team members to keep them informed during each stage.
Key Takeaway: Include a communication plan in your new software adoption and implementation plan. Each implementation phase should detail how each phase will be communicated to team members.
#5 – Don’t skip out on training.
Once it is time for new team members to begin using the new software, schedule a formal training session. Ensuring that your team members use the software really comes down to you, and making sure your team knows how to use it.
As we mentioned above, don’t make assumptions that the new software is obvious and that every team member will quickly pick it up and start using it every day. Be sure to schedule training and provide resources.
Multiple training sessions may be necessary, depending on the type of software and who will be using it. The first training session should be a general, high-level overview. Then, training can be broken into individual sessions for each role or department, such as for sales team members, account managers, project managers, and so on. When rolling out your new software, be sure to consider how each role and department will use it.
Key Takeaway: Thorough training sessions will also increase the likelihood that team members will use it.
#6 – You lead, and they will follow.
Ensuring that your team uses the software really begins with YOU. As a manager, it’s necessary for you to use the new software every day yourself. If you expect your team to use it, then you need to commit to using it as well.
If you have trouble using it every day or you don’t use it enough, then consider choosing another type of software.
Key Takeaway: If YOU can’t use it every day, how can you expect your team to do the same? You can’t… Lead by example!
#7 – Be patient and nurture your team.
Although you might be eager and excited about adopting new software, it’s important to remember that rolling out new software takes time! There’s no way around it…
Yes, you need some guidelines to create some urgency for teams to learn the tool. For example, part of your plan could be to include learning milestones for team members to master and use certain features of the tool by a specific date or month.
Regardless of whether you provide training, resources, and support, there will also be some level of frustration and fear. Moreover, some team members will require more hand-holding than others. After all, no software implementation plan is perfect. So, make time to provide support to your team along the way.
Remember, it takes roughly 21 days to create or change a habit. So, do not expect your entire team to adapt to using a new tool in one day or even in a week. It’s not going to happen.
Key Takeaway: Different people will require different levels of hand holding. Be available, be present, and answer questions.
#8. Collect feedback along the way.
Once the awkward and initial adoption phase is over, be sure to ask team members for feedback. Ask them for general feedback on the tool, ideas on how to improve processes, pain points and so on. Be open to iteration.
Tips for Taking Action and Key Takeaways
Finally, it’s important to remember that software is a tool to help you solve a problem—not a solution within itself. Successful software adoption is also a process. It involves making a decision about adopting a particular tool, weighing the pros and cons, considering how it will help the productivity of your team and your business as a whole, and then forming a communication plan and implementation plan. Take adoption seriously!
Although we outlined eight tips above to drive successful software adoption, it’s also important to do your part to help everyone use it. Empower everyone to take ownership and hold others accountable.
Rindle is a tool that is easy to learn, adopt, understand, and implement. In our experience, team members find it helpful and enjoy using it. So, if you are looking for a type of software to help your team manage projects, and cause fewer headaches, give Rindle a try today.