You have carefully chosen a new software system and spent time doing so. All those little pain points will go away. It will change your business for the better and pay for itself in no time at all.
You spoke to your staff early and involved them — invited relevant personnel to demos and discovery meetings. You got buy-in. Or, at least you thought you did. Just as it comes to signing on the dotted line and committing money, you realise that there are significant pockets of resistance to it. What do you do?
First of all, listen to them, don’t ignore them. Your people might be right. After all, they are the ones who know all the practical aspects of your operational processes.
Is it that they don’t believe the software will be configured to take care of all the little exceptions? You know, for client X who likes (and pays) for things to be done their way? That by the time you have bent your processes “just a little bit” to fit the software, there won’t be any time savings at all?
Or is there just a significant but vocal few who are finding it more difficult to imagine that, given things have been done in a certain way “forever”, there could be a better way of doing them?
For any new system to be a success, you do need them. And especially if it’s a new Project Information Management (PIM) system or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. It would be best if you had their full buy-in to use it and feed it data.
What’s in it for them?
Consider, how have the benefits been explained? Has it been from the company’s viewpoint? Has it been about making the business more efficient by standardising the processes? More sustainable by giving a better overview and reporting of operations to top management?
In your mind, you have no doubts about being able to pay more salaries and bonuses if the software helps your company to grow. But it could be more of a leap for them. There is a time delay between putting efforts into making a new system work and seeing the reward from it — no instant gratification.
So explain instead about what pain points it will solve for them, how it will make their lives easier. If there are no such benefits, then maybe you need a rethink for why and how the software will change your world.
Involve, train and communicate
Appoint champions. Involve them fully in all demo’s, the project and User Acceptance Testing (UAT). They will be your best agents in communicating progress and the benefits to the rest of the teams.
Provide training, don’t stint on the cost! But be careful. The very employees who shout most about needing training can often be the ones who do not show up on the day – they suddenly have a “client emergency” to deal with or similar. Make it clear that attendance is a three-line whip. Inform your clients yourself if necessary that your team might be slightly less responsive during this time. It ought to be positive for them too that you are such a progressive supplier in adopting sexy new software.
In general, communicate, communicate, communicate! Make it usual and expected, take the fear of the unknown away.
Overcoming change resistance is never easy. What further strategies do you employ?