Complete Guide to Getting Started With New Software
Failing at new software implementation can be both expensive and disappointing.
Moving your company from one software solution to the next can take weeks or even months and involve many stakeholders. As you fail to make the change, you’ll have lost hundreds of hours and tons of resources. But that’s not the only risk.
Along the way, you need to convince even the most skeptical team members to go through the changes, import all your business data, and make the new platform feel secure and reliable.
Starting to use new software is like moving to a new home. And if you’ve ever moved with a large family, you know how stressful it can be. Getting used to new online tools and business apps as a team can be a highly emotional process for many people. In fact, during the new software implementation process, teams go through a cycle of various feelings, from anxiety to happiness, from guilt to acceptance.
The below image illustrates how starting to use new software makes most people feel.
In this article, we’re going to look into all the different stages of new software implementation and share some helpful tips and hacks to help you make it through as a team.
New software onboarding funnel
A typical business software implementation process has five stages, each with different stakeholders, actions and, well, emotions.
Your job as the team leader is to guide your team through the funnel with as little friction as possible, ensuring that everything’s working smoothly.
It is also important that you keep the number of stakeholders in each stage at the minimum possible level to accelerate the process while not missing any important aspects.
We’re going to walk through each of these new software implementation stages and see how you can succeed:
- The initial decision – That’s when the management or team decides to start using new software.
- Informing the team – As you decide to use a new business app, it’s important to inform the entire team right from the beginning.
- Preparation and imports – In this stage, you’ll be preparing the new system for moving over with the entire team. That’s where the most difficult work happens.
- Moving to the new system – Now that you’ve set up the new software platform and made it “inhabitable” for your team, it’s time to make the Big Move.
- Success – As experience has shown, this stage isn’t always an immediate success. Look at this last implementation phase as the time for smoothing out the rough corners and fixing any issues that might come up.
Stage 1: The decision
In the first stage of software, someone makes the decision to start using a new business app or software solution. While the initial decision usually comes from the team lead, this could also be made together as a team (we often see this with small businesses).
Key stakeholders: Team lead / CEO, managers, and team leaders depending on the company’s size.
If you’re planning to start using a new software tool that’s implemented across the entire company, make sure to weigh in every team’s opinion.
Key actions: Ask your team members or team leaders for their opinion on the new business app. Do they like it? What are their main concerns? Do they expect their team to start using the new tool?
Already in the Decision phase, you need to get everyone’s buy-in, so that they’ll help you throughout the new software implementation process.
Key problems & solutions:
- Moving forward too quickly
Many companies underestimate the importance of making the right software purchasing decision. However, if you think about it, there’s a lot at stake. What if you go through all the four stages of software onboarding but never reach the Success stage as your team’s struggling to use the new tool? Take your time and consult all the different stakeholders across your company to see whether the business app is a good fit for all future users.
- Ignoring future users’ feedback
If you’re planning to use a software solution that affects multiple teams’ daily work, make sure to ask every team lead whether the new tool answers to all their requirements.
- Getting everyone’s acceptance
Essentially, your goal in the Decision phase should be getting every team representative’s acceptance. You don’t need to ask every person in the company, especially if the new system will have hundreds of users. Getting the buy-in of team leads is sufficient at this stage.
Stage 2: Informing the team
Once you’ve made the decision to start using a new business tool, it’s time to make the official announcement and try to convince every team member to jump onboard. You can either make the announcement via email or gather your team together and have an open discussion about everyone’s expectations and possible concerns.
Key stakeholders: All team members supposed to use the new software in the future.
Key actions: Team meeting where you announce the news / sending an informative email. Asking people to express their concern and introducing the “battle plan” for the upcoming weeks.
Key problems & solutions:
- Scaring off your team
One of the key problems in this software implementation stage is shocking the team members to the extent they become averse to your plan to use a new business tool. According to Scoro‘s Onboarding Manager Elvita Verbele, you can ensure a higher acceptance rate when following these three best practices:
Explain the benefits – When you are informing your team about the new tool, start by explaining their benefits for using it. For example, they may have to spend ZERO time on reporting or track their leads and bonuses in real time. Every software has different benefits and you should always start with those that are the most relevant to your team.
Believe in the new tool yourself – The management team should believe in the new system beforehand. All managers should be on the same page – if there is at least one leader who’s against the system, the entire project might be endangered.
Ask what your team actually needs – You should always ask your team what they’d like to improve in the existing processes or achieve with the new tool. This could also be a little risky as some team members might start to dream about a tool that would automate their most complex work and tasks completed. Make sure not to raise the expectations too high.
- Sharing too many details
You might reach the opposite effect of confusing your team when sharing too much information. In this case, some employees might become too hands-on with the project before it’s the right time. When entering the third stage in your onboarding funnel, you should keep the software implementation team limited to up to three people. By having fewer contributors to the Preparations & Import stage, you can get everything up and running more quickly.
- Giving your team access too early
As you make the announcement, many team members might ask for access to the new tool – just to look around and see whether they like the product. However, it’s a two-way street. Letting people in the new system early on means that they’ll see an unconfigured tool that might make no sense at all. If you really want to invite your team to explore the new business app from early on, insert some data into the system beforehand.
Stage 3: Preparations & Imports
Stage 3 is arguably the most important phase of new software implementation. That’s when you set up the new system, insert your data, integrate the new tool with your existing apps, and ensure that your business data is synced and organized.
The Preparations & Imports stage is also the most technical in its nature, meaning that you might need some help from the software vendor.
Key stakeholders: Management, team leads, technical support (try to limit the team to 1-3 people at this stage, only including people who set up the new system)
Key actions: In this phase, you need to prepare the new software solution for the arrival of the rest of your team. In the perfect scenario, you’ll be able to import all your data and have the system running like a well-oiled machine by the time other users log in.
Here’s a list of tasks businesses usually complete during the Preparations phase:
- Setting up new custom fields, categories, time zone, business information, etc.
- Importing the business data from your currently used tools
- Setting up integrations between your new and existing tools
- Designing PDF templates (contracts, invoices, order confirmations, quotes)
- Setting up KPI’s on dashboard or dashboards
- Setting up the processes and workflows
- Reviewing the security settings
Key problems & solutions:
- Running into technical problems
It happens all the time… You may discover the new software does not sync with some other tools you’d like to use, it turns out some features don’t work as you thought they would, there are not enough customization options in the system.
If you run into technical problems during the software implementation phase, drop an email to your contact person in the software company.
For example, in Scoro we have a dedicated account manager and onboarding specialist helping each customer get started with the new management system.
- Data import is complex and time-consuming
Often, the third stage of software onboarding may make you scream “AARGHHH” and put your patience to the test. If you’ve ever struggled with spreadsheets and formatting your business data you know what we’re talking about.
Scoro‘s Onboarding Manager Elvita suggests: “You should try to understand how many spreadsheets and tools your team is actually using (you might not even know about all of them). When you have this information, see what needs to be imported into the new system and what can be left out. At Scoro, our onboarding team always helps businesses with mapping their data.”
- Forgetting about some important aspects
As you’re trying to move on with the new software as quickly as possible, it’s easy to overlook some key activities and set-up requirements. To keep this from happening, create a checklist with all the required imports and adjustments to the new system.
Stage 4: Moving to the new system
Now that your new business software is up and running (and tested), it’s time to invite the rest of the team onboard.
Usually, you can send invites by adding new users to the system. Look for the “Invite New Users” or “Invite Your Team” call-to-actions inside the admin panel.
Key stakeholders: Your entire team
Key actions: TTT – testing, training, and testing again. After you’ve invited your team to explore the new software, ask them to write down all the questions that arise. Then, organize a 1-2 hour training to ensure everyone knows how to use the new business app.
Key problems & solutions:
- Poor communication
The invitation to new software should not come as a surprise. All team members should be informed beforehand that there’s a big change coming.
- Ignoring the necessity of a training
While the new tool might look simple and straightforward to you, it doesn’t mean that everyone’s feeling the same way about it. Our experience shows that companies that organize one or more employee trainings have an over 70% higher new user acceptance rate. According to Scoro’s Onboarding team:
“When we’re doing team training for Scoro’s users, we can solve the questions/issues right away. We are also showing the new users all the tips and tricks on how to use the system in a more effective way. In the long term, team training ends up saving you tens of hours of time that you’d otherwise spend on troubleshooting and learning on your own.”
- Mixing the training for admins and users
It’s a best practice to keep Admin and Employee training separately. This way, you can avoid confusing lower-level employees that only use several features.
Stage 5: Success
Congratulations, you made it! Your team’s now fully onboard and using the new software to its full capacity. Or are they? Often, inviting your team to use the new software can initiate a series of issues.
To get through the initial mess and second-guessing, you must fully give up your old tools and ensure every team member’s capable of completing their work in the new system.
Key stakeholders: Management + your entire team
Key actions: Following up with your team and uncovering (and eliminating) any possible issues with the new software. To do that, you could ask the team leads to send out emails asking for honest feedback on the new system.
Scoro’s Onboarding Manager Elvita suggests that you ask your team three questions, doing it in a less or more informal way:
- How is it going with the new tool? Have they started to use it on a daily basis?
- Can team members already see the benefits of the new tool? What are the things that are now easier than before (every small detail is important)? What are the things that are still confusing?
- Do you need additional training? If there’s still some confusion about the new system, maybe an additional training for a meeting with the team lead would help.
Key problems & solutions:
- Failing to give up the old software
The number one thing we see standing between project teams and their new software are the remnants of the old toolset. The easiest way to move your team into a new software system and make sure they’re truly using it is to close up the old system. While this might seem like a harsh move in the first place, you’ll thank yourself for it later.
- Not following up on the usage the new business apps
The new software implementation process does not end with sending the invites to your team. You also need to confirm that everyone’s happy with the new system and able to get their work done.
- Old habits die hard
If people are used to using specific tools in their work, it might take some time to get used to the new system.
- Waiting for instant results
The team leaders should provide a clear 6-months vision of how the new tool will improve everyone’s work and help to increase results. It is crucial that the management shows their belief and trust in the new software.
“Mostly, employees think in short-term and if we look at it in the short term, then yes – it might be a little more challenging to start using the new system. However, if managers stay true to their plan, the old habits will gradually change and your team will become a lot more efficient in their work.“
- Teams do not adopt the new system
That’s probably one of the highest risks of implementing new software – your team just doesn’t want to start using the new system and enter data into it.
At Scoro, we’ve also seen team quitting at first and later coming back and pushing through the difficulties of the first few months. The key to a higher new software adoption rate is to make sure the new system is well set up and that all your team members have gone through training. You should keep trying for at least a couple of months before you raise up your hands and give up. Grit is the key here.
Getting your team onboard and using the new software does not happen overnight. You’ll reach the goal through a series of small steps and alterations.
If you’re about to start using a new business management tool, keep in mind these 10 best practices:
- Don’t forget to ask for your team’s opinion and get their buy-in.
- Explain the benefits of moving your work into a new system.
- Don’t engage the entire team immediately.
- Set up the new software before inviting the rest of your team.
- Import your data from the old tools and address all possible issues.
- Only after the new software is ready to be used, invite all team members.
- Organize training for both team members and managers.
- Once you’ve moved to the new software, give up the old tools.
- Keep asking for your team’s feedback and solve all issues.
- Don’t give up on the new tool too quickly. It takes time to get used to new software.