Potential Pitfalls in Software Adoption – And How to Avoid Them
There is a multitude of problems that companies are hoping to solve by purchasing a new software solution. However, the real problems mostly start after a software decision has been made within that company. This five-minute read will help you gain insights about the motivations behind choosing a new software solution and the potential problems you could be facing during the project. Finally, we’ll offer a helping hand in cruising around the potential issues to maximize the benefit promised during sales phases.
New software solutions are purchased mostly because of existing problems and goals that have been set to solve them. These are amongst the lines of:
- Legacy systems and backlogs becoming overwhelming and too complex.
- Cost needs to be cut, and economies of scale effects (the more users, the more distributed the expenses are) are believed to make packages cheaper than custom-developing a solution.
- Information Security (IS) functions can be freed up because the IS responsibility is in the hands of the software provider.
- There is a huge desire for standardization on all levels of hierarchy, especially among those that want to keep growing-they need to see their processes in a standardized and more transparent flow.
- Peer pressure or bravado in comparison to other firms in the same realm as my own – we want to be the ones with the best ‘best practices’, best ‘change approach’ and to be on the frontlines of social influence in our competition.
For most projects, the issues start with users not seeing a need for change and then trying their best to resist such changes. To quote a very relevant article on this topic:
“Behind every enterprise software purchase sits the quietly powerful contingent of people who can make it a failure. These people aren’t angry or malicious. They don’t have plans to destroy the project. They simply don’t understand what to do with the recently purchased product; they have no motivation to use it, or they have loyalty to a competitor’s solution.” – Nick Ismail
In this one sentence, the main pitfall (= user resistance) and its connected issues become very clear – surely we have all had this aforementioned thought at some point – so now it is the time to propose a couple of ways to avoid project failure.
As an executive or project manager, the most important way to avoid resistance from your team is to give them a clear understanding of the strategic relevance and value of the new solution. Equally important is to clear out any uncertainty upfront: Why are we choosing this solution? Why is it better than the last one? How will I need to change in order to work with this system?
As can be foreseen, there will be people that might have positive associations with the ‘old way’ of doing things. These people are the ones who will need convincing in order to adopt the new software solution.
In adopting a new software solution, you will most likely be facing the following ‘Moments of Truth’ that will either end in satisfaction or resistance (with the goal, of course, being satisfied team members!):
- Change in the relationship: your team is wondering about the WHY and is asking for a clear roadmap for the change from the current solution to the next. This is the point where they either actively try the new solution or block it off (which makes everything much more complicated in the long-run). It is now your role to communicate proactively in order to avoid the second ‘moment of truth’ and skip to the third and final one.
- Crisis: your team is trying to be active, but is facing some difficulties and frustration in seeing the benefit of the new solution. This frustration may not be directly visible, but with varying log-ins and lack of activity, you can piece together that there is an acute need for even more communication (which is the key to overcome the crisis and move to #3:)
- Unexpected delight: although you have seen the benefit and strategic relevance the entire time, the team now also sees it (wonderful news!). Through communication and training, you have gotten to this point, and now would be the time to give somehow reward the team for their patience and openness to the new solution. This does not have to be monetary either: everybody likes a good pat on the back, a thank-you coffee and a note of appreciation for their diligence!
Overall, it cannot be said enough: (online AND offline) communication and involvement of your team is the key to success in any software adoption. The process might be painstakingly long and tedious, but a successful project closing will be well worth the effort in the end. Good luck!