9 Reasons Why Your New Software Implementation Is Failing
By the end of this 10 minute read you will hopefully have an overview why your software implementation could be failing and what to do about it. If you are an executive, a manager, a team lead, or provide IT support in your company – it can be a struggle to get your team onboard and effectively using new tools and technology. Do not fall into despair, read our suggestions based on Scoro’s own experience, our customer’s experience and research.
IMPLEMENTING NEW TECHNOLOGY can increase your team’s productivity, boost sales and help you make better decisions. Being in control with business management software is a necessity for every company. Although, software in itself will not (yet!) do the job for you. You still have to know how to use it and configure it.
The thorough implementation process is crucial for every new technology your team begins using. Let’s look at three scenarios where things might go wrong – and what to do about it.
SCENARIO 1: THE TEAM IS NOT FULLY USING NEW SOFTWARE
You have started using new software a while ago, but it is not (properly and regularly) used by all of the team members.
1. THE DECISION WAS MADE TOO HASTILY
Not enough research. Doing research does not mean only asking quotes, comparing prices and reading reviews. While the price and suggestions are important, you should base your decision on what you need – features, support, the level of customisation. Do not go for the cheapest or best-suggested solution. What if paying 200£ a month more for better software could help you make 10% more revenue?
When you picked your top candidates in theory, did you also take them on a test-drive? Software providers usually have at least 2-week testing periods.
The decision-maker has ignored the input and feedback from team members. The business software implementation is always difficult because it affects a lot of people – team members, managers and executives. They all have slightly different needs and roles using the software. You might have done thorough research and picked the solution you thought was the best. If you forgot to ask your team’s feedback before making the decision, do it now – it will at least give you a better understanding of how to move forward.
2. INEFFECTIVE PROJECT TEAMS
Involve the right people. In some cases, instead of choosing the best people – executives assign software implementation projects to whoever is available. Underestimating the complexity and importance of this project is a huge step towards failure. The key stakeholders can be the CEO, managers, team leads and technical support.
Assign responsibility. Who will take care of the configuration? Who will conduct the training? Who is responsible for overseeing the whole project and assessing the outcome? Remember, that like with any other project, there can only be one project manager.
Have realistic and clear goals. According to Pemeco Consulting, the core team not having enough time is one of the main reasons why ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software implementation fails. The adaption can take from a few weeks up to a few years (depending on the size of your company and the complexity of the software). Also without a clear definition of success, the end becomes a moving target.
3. CORRECT CONFIGURATION
Customisation. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. That is why in general, software providers have options like API (Application Programming Interface), customisable features, settings and integrations. For example, some of the opportunities could include:
- Setting up new custom fields, bookmarks, categories, time zone, business information, etc.
- Adding integrations with your current tools or new applications.
- Organising your custom dashboards, tracking and reports.
- Designing PDF templates (contracts, invoices, order confirmations, quotes)
Make sure you are aware of all the options and use as much of them as possible. Choosing the standard solution will not help you get the most out your the software.
Transferring data. Every new software comes as a blank sheet. You have to import all the data from your current tools. Make sure you are not just doubling the workload. When people have trouble adapting to new software, they might go back to their “old habits” – using the old system to get the work done and filling some data into the new system for the manager to see. To avoid that, check that all the data is correct, organised and easily understandable.
Scoro’s Onboarding Manager Elvita Verbale points out a common mistake in data transfer:
“If needed, spend those few hours on fixing the data – it pays off later. It happens too often that every team member has their own spreadsheets, which tend to be messy and the data is very scattered. Usually, people do not want to spend time cleaning up the data before the transfer. But that is a big mistake – you will not get the most out of the new software if the data is messy or incomplete.”
Testing. Inadequate testing was the reason behind Hershey’s drastic ERP failure – their quarterly revenue dropped by 19%. They eagerly wanted to reach an unrealistic goal, thus cut the testing time in half. Are you making a similar mistake? Did you test if your software has been configured properly and is ready to be used by the team? Make sure the tools you provide can be taken into immediate use.
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4. INSUFFICIENT OR INADEQUATE TRAINING
Introduction meeting. Hopefully, you informed the team about possible changes in company-wide software and asked for their input. Did you also make a public announcement, when the final decision was made? The introduction meeting should include:
- Inviting everyone to use the new software and conducting the first overview.
- Explaining the need and the benefits of this new technology.
- Introducing the onboarding program and expected time frame.
Onboarding program. A lot of software providers have an onboarding program, where they teach you how to get the most of it and help you with the first steps. It might seem like an unnecessary cost, but be assured – it is most definitely worth the investment. The cost of not properly using a great tool is likely much higher. If you did not have a well-organised onboarding program – it is highly possible, that your people simply do not know how to use this new tool.
According to Scoro’s Onboarding Manager Elvita, not listening to onboarding experts is a crucial mistake:
“Sometimes we have customers who want to rearrange or shorten the onboarding process. Customer commitment is great, but taking full control and wanting to dictate the whole process is not so good. If this happens, the project might fail already in the onboarding process. If we somehow manage to get them onboard, they might fail later. I suggest to trust the specialists – they have a much better experience.”
Doing one generic training. As mentioned before, software is used differently based on roles and departments. Use cases differ between administrative and user roles, or between Marketing and Finance departments. If you have organized the same generic training for all of them – again, people might not know how to use the tool properly.
Scoro’s Onboarding Manager Elvita also emphasizes the importance of managerial engagement:
“It’s a must for the team leaders or managers to participate in the training and to support the people who are doing the training. If the team is doing the training alone, they might not listen, or they might start dismissing what they do not like. If the team leader is present, he/she knows the process and can say – yes, you should use it in that way.”
Too much information. Your team can be overwhelmed by all the new information. Do not scare them off by sharing all the details at once. Keep in mind that software onboarding has multiple stages. Divide the information into easily understandable emails, guides & meetings.
SCENARIO 2: USERS DO NOT SEE THE BENEFITS OF USING THE SOFTWARE
You started using new software a while ago, but your team is still not seeing the benefits.
1. THE BENEFITS WERE LEFT UNEXPLAINED
Start with “why”. As conscientious and loyal team members, your staff could just be filling in the blanks, not fully comprehending the potential and benefits of a software tool. They also might be confused about the need to start using new software – why is the new system better than the old one?
Show some tricks. In every software solution, there are multiple shortcuts and relevant functionalities to make your team more efficient. Take the time to write down and introduce some key points on how your staff could get the most out of the new software.
Identify the slackers and the naysayers. Maybe the person complaining about the software just sees it as an extra task and has not taken the time to thoroughly learn all the tips and tricks. Or they are just not very tech-savvy and change takes a lot more time for them. There is also a group of people, who are sceptical about all new things. Identifying these types and giving extra support can make a big difference.
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Have patience and confidence. Adapting to a new software solution is rarely described as quick and convenient. As the implementation process can take several weeks to a few months, do not jump to rash conclusions.
- Does the management team believe that you have chosen the right solution? If so, stay persistent. Explain the benefits, ask for feedback, send out informational emails, and repeat.
- Is the management team also having doubts? If so, do not let it show to the team. Ask for feedback and assess the situation. Maybe you have skipped some important steps? Maybe there is some simple hack to apply?
3. NOT FOLLOWING UP
Informal feedback. The onboarding program was finalised and teams started using the new tool. You might have celebrated the success too early and forgot to follow up. Sending a brief email asking for honest feedback is a simple way to uncover any issues before they escalate.
Formal inspection. The unfortunate fact is that people lie, sometimes also to themselves. Our actions and habits will reveal the truth. You could send out a questionnaire asking employees to describe their software usage behaviour or conduct a randomised check within the software.
SCENARIO 3: NEW HIRES ARE HAVING TROUBLE USING SOFTWARE
You hired a new team member a while ago, but they are still not comfortable using software & tools.
1. EMPLOYEE ONBOARDING VS SOFTWARE ONBOARDING
Doing the software onboarding again and again. Thinking that once the software onboarding is done, that’s the end of it? Unfortunately no – you have to go through it again each time you have a new team member. Remember, that software training is a separate but integral part of the employee onboarding program. Depending on the complexity of the software, learning it might take up to 50% of the new hire’s time.
Proper materials. Hopefully, you still have the software onboarding materials from the implementation process. Do not archive them just yet – adjust and add them to the new hire information package.
2. UNDERESTIMATING THE LEARNING CURVE
First time using this kind of a tool. Have you ever assumed that your new hire has used similar software before and is ready to jump in? Even if they have previous experience – the configuration and your business processes are different.
Time and support. Although using company-wide software might seem very obvious to you and the rest of the team, remember how was it like at the beginning. Take the time to explain the benefits, give some tips and follow up. The more support you provide in the first months, the better the new hire will perform later on.
When software implementation is starting to fail, the first and most common reason that comes to mind – it’s just bad software. Sometimes that truly is the case. It might also happen that the software itself is not that bad, but it is not the most suitable solution for you. Or maybe there are another 9 reasons where things might have gone downhill.
To properly assess the situation and make the best decision on how to move forward – learn to recognize all the various reasons why the new software implementation is not successful. Usually, it is a mix of different factors.
HOW TO MOVE ON? Name three reasons from this post which apply to you. Ask for feedback from team members – do they agree with these reasons? The key to successful problem-solving is identifying the core problem.