Get Higher User Acceptance in New Software Implementation Process
It is not the CEO who needs to like the latest business management software. It’s the users who have to adapt to the changes in their workflow and get used to new software.
Every time a business undertakes the process of improving their technology, they need to convince all users to accept the change. Generating user acceptance in the new software implementation process is the key to quick and efficient adjustment to the new system.
The faster users adapt to working with the new software solution, the less time gets wasted in the transformation process.
To generate user acceptance, you have to take some additional steps before introducing the new tool to your team.
Take the necessary measures to make software implementation a smooth process for your team and win the users’ trust and confidence in new technologies.
1. Outline an implementation plan
Before you start inserting any data or customizing settings, set a clear plan about how and when to do it.
(If you’re one step behind and still searching for a new tool, use the guide to finding the right software.)
Consider problems that might arise when releasing new software in the entire company and create a roadmap to avoid these. Begin your implementation plan with configuring software and move on to data import, training and testing.
When aligning sales, marketing and accounting into an integrated system, it is practical to work with one group at a time. Focus on adjusting the new software to all departments at an allotted time, considering their requirements and necessary data to be inserted.
You might even want to create a KPI dashboard to gain a quick overview of the implementation process.
Use the following points as a guideline for compiling your personal software implementation plan.
2. Organize admin training sessions
Colleagues in your IT department who are going to carry out all the pre-launch measures need to have a thorough overview of the new software’s features, capacities, and reconfigurability.
Ask for admin training sessions from the software provider and prepare your team members to integrate the new tool to your company.
Admin training session should include:
- Overview of all software features
- List of tasks that can be implemented with the new solution
- Step-by-step guide of implementing important tasks with the new software
- List of initial implementation steps you need to take, eg. inserting data
- Case studies of similar use cases
- Guide to finding settings and customizing the tool for your needs
- Guide to importing and exporting data
- Guide to building integrations with third party apps
- Contact information for help and advice
After attending one to three training sessions (depending on the software complexity) the implementation team should have all the information they need throughout the implementation process.
3. Outline all software use cases inside your company
You can never overdo planning and research.
Consider all your departments and think about the software functionalities they’re going to use. Request managers’ help to list every team’s work activities and determine whether the new tool affects their current work process.
Introduce the new software tool to department managers (team leaders in a smaller company) and ask what concerns they have regarding any new technology.
Eliminate all the fears and problems they may have and enable increased user acceptance of using and configuring the new software according to your team’s requirements.
In companies with over 100 employees, it is best not to notify the entire team at this phase as lower level workers may be upset about big changes. Only introduce the new software to the entire company when it’s ready to be worked with.
Now that you’ve received some further guidelines from team managers, it is time to start shaping the software according to your company’s requirements.
4. Configure all settings
Every comprehensive software solution includes customizable settings. Meaning that you can organize your software site according to your needs, adding new categories or hiding unimportant features.
Language settings, notifications, security, categories, tags – all these small settings need to be configured before inviting users to work with new tools.
If you plan to use the software for invoicing automation or other activities that require document templates, create or import these to the system. Ask for managers’ assistance to ensure that all templates have correct information and design.
5. Import data
Whether you previously used another software solution or simple Excel spreadsheets for storing and managing your business data, it’s necessary to import files and information to the new solution before introducing it to users.
(Read why you shouldn’t use a spreadsheet for some business activities and find an alternative to Excel instead.)
You will increase user acceptance by presenting a system with familiar numbers, names, and further information already present.
Your team members will feel more confident and comfortable seeing their previous work data already imported and present, and will quickly understand how the new software solution functions around their data.
Data import can be a one-time job when you use professional services automation. This way, software will automatically synchronize your data between multiple tools and sources.
6. Outline clear process design
If you have cross-functional teams in your company, they need to share information and work together on multiple projects.
Understand how one department’s processes are affected by other user groups and determine how it’s best to integrate the shared work and data. Can users access the same tools, projects, and information in the new software system?
You may need to build integrations with some of your currently used tools to enable quick data flow. The new company-wide software solution can act as an intermediary, forwarding information from one department or team to another.
7. Build integrations with third party apps
To establish company-wide data flow, build integrations between your new and existing software tools. This helps to avoid double data entry, enhances information sharing inside your company and enables users to keep utilizing their favorite applications and tools.
Use application programming interfaces (APIs) or web services (XML) to have your IT team or a software company build and configure integrations for internal use. Popular integrated tools include time trackers, calendar apps and email automation services.
Build integrations as a side project to the main software implementation process as it might otherwise delay the overall operation.
8. Set user access rights
Everyone’s work requires access to certain data. To store all your company data in one software solution and avoid everyone viewing all the information, set up access rights for departments or for every user.
The more comprehensive the software, the more you need to consider aspects of information distribution. You may want to block access to some software features for team members who don’t need them for their work.
Employees and colleagues will be less confused seeing only the features they’re used to employing in their daily work.
9. Set up a control center
There will always arise some small problems when users start to work with a new comprehensive software solution. Thereby it’s important that someone is always ready to answer people’s questions and help in case of small issues.
A control center has control over everyone’s access rights and monitors whether the software features and data flow function properly. It can quickly identify any problematic departments and offer further assistance to users.
If you have an IT department, that’s where to establish the control centre. Several months after the new software implementation process you can decrease the number of people engaged in this project.
10. Launch specific pilot groups
Launch the software system to a specific pilot group to obtain feedback and determine whether every feature and functionality is configured and working as required.
Ask users to insert data and test the integrated tools, ensuring that data exchange between the new and current tools functions without problem.
Ask for pilot group’s feedback to make additional changes and adjustments to the new software.
If you discover any serious issues during the pilot project, slow down the implementation process and give your IT team enough time to remedy the problem.
11. Create a cutover plan
A cutover plan outlines fixed dates for the final steps of software implementation process and transactions from the old system. It includes the training plan, making the announcement to the team and testing the level of user acceptance.
What exactly is a cutover plan? – Find out here.
What dates to include to your cutover plan:
- Dates for announcing the new software to the entire company
- Dates for user training sessions
- Date for new software go-live
- Date for last transaction from the old system
- Date for closing the old system
It is highly important to set a date for closing the old software system, otherwise users might continue using outdated tools with no support.
When compiling a cutover plan, you should also consider how to support the users of new software in the go-live phase and during the first few weeks. Develop a user onboarding plan that includes support materials and on-site help.
12. Create a getting started guide
To avoid anxiety and help new users adapt quickly to the new software, create a step-by-step getting started guide to distribute among employees.
Include the login details and instructions for setting up a new account.
Create separate chapters for each department depending on their specific use case. Outline the key functions of the new solution and describe how the current work processes change.
Explain how certain work processes are going to be implemented with new tools and add a comparison with the currently used software. Lead users through their work process and show how to implement tasks with new tools by creating an illustrated step-by-step guide.
Also, include detailed information about troubleshooting and reporting problems. Assuring that help is right at hand increases user acceptance and boost employees’ confidence to work with new tools.
13. Make the announcement
Only after you’ve ensured that the new software is completely ready to be used, established a support team and created all the necessary help materials, is it time to make the announcement.
Gather everyone together and invite employees on board with the new software. Distribute the getting started guides and hand over everyone’s login details or instructions for creating a new account.
Ask everyone to attend a training session to learn more about the new software and its functionalities.
14. Organize multiple training sessions
Thorough training sessions help to augment user acceptance and prepare the team to work with new tools.
Complex software solutions usually include a training by the service provider. If you feel like someone in your company is better informed to instruct a training session, ask them to train new users.
It is highly important that EVERYONE in the company attends a training session and takes part in the learning process. Otherwise, you might end up with low software usage rate and wasted resources.
The employee training session should include:
- Log-in guide
- Overview of all the features
- List of tasks that can be implemented with the new solution
- Step-by-step guide to implementing all important tasks with new tools
- Guide to finding data and information
- Guide to finding the help centre
- Information about further support
- A case study of the software implementation process in a similar company (to encourage users to start working with new tools)
- The Value that each user will obtain from using the new software, this will vary from user to user so be specificity. This will highly increase individual user adoption rate.
Encourage everyone to ask questions throughout the training session, it is easier to understand new information at once rather than ask several unrelated questions later. Some users may also require a more one-on-one approach to ensure they fully understand what is expected of them. Remember, in front of a large group, some employees hate speaking up if they’re confused, to avoid embarrassment.
After the meeting/training ask everyone to read through getting started guide and announce the date for new software go-live. Also, inform your team about shutting down the old system.
It’s finally the day for your new software go-live. Hopefully you’ve taken necessary measures and the entire software implementation process by the team will transition smoothly.
If you have over 50 users starting with new solution, provide on-site guidance. Otherwise, offer personal help to all users. If you’ve previously created a control center to manage the new software, ask them to be ready for answering users’ questions.
Create a sense of community and tell your team how valued their efforts are. Present benefits that overweigh the initial difficulties.
16. Request and evaluate feedback
Did you achieve overall user acceptance for the new software?
Create an online survey to get everyone’s feedback. Ask department managers and team leaders for their opinion on how the team’s adapting to new tools.
Determine whether all processes are running smoothly and ensure that company-wide data flow enables everyone to access their required information.
Asking for user feedback gives your team members and employees the opportunity to express possible problems and concerns. If needed, you can assign further support or organize more training sessions to get everything up and running.
As you can see, there are many small steps to be taken for increasing the trust and readiness to adopt new technology. By following this guide and creating an implementation plan for your company, you’re one step closer to high user acceptance.
Do not expect everyone to approve the new software at once. It takes months for users to get used to unfamiliar tools and incorporate them into personal workflow processes. Provide consistent support for up to 3 months after the implementation process and be patient for everyone to adopt the new software.