Changes to your organization’s technology stack are inevitable. Some employees beg for new tools to save time, or hope to adopt modern systems to replace under-performing ones. Others don’t see the point of introducing another tool. Below are 7 tips for a successful new tool implementation.
Avoid additional change fatigue
Tolerance for change isn’t what it used to be. Employees’ willingness to support enterprise change collapsed to merely 38% in 2022, compared with a healthy 74% in 2016.
This means: most of your staff have change fatigue. They don’t want a “new initiative.” To them, a new initiative means more time down the drain as they figure out the “new” way to do their job. Some will drag their feet but reluctantly comply. Others will pretend to go along but revert to old habits when no one’s looking.
Timing is everything. Is this implementation absolutely necessary right now or can it wait for a better time? Would it be better to wait until after you’ve gained more buy-in? Before introducing a new tool, assess what else is going on and decide where this project falls on the priority list. Don’t overload people with change.
Employees are more receptive to what peers have to say. Find champions to help you overcome resistance, encourage adoption, and lead a successful new tool implementation. Start with the people who pushed for the new tool, were happy about its selection, or quickly adopted it. Ask consultants who were involved with selection to help you identify champions.
Champions help staff get set up with the tool and help teams develop new templates and processes. They serve as a coach—answering questions, suggesting best practices, and reminding people how to use the tool for its intended purpose.
Get leaders on board
Leaders can’t opt out. There can’t be any exceptions. Any dismissive language about the tool or their slow adoption will sabotage efforts. To ensure a successful new tool implementation, make them agents of change:
- Listen to their needs/wants
- Answer their questions—address obstacles, challenges, timelines, etc.
- Identify the problems, point out solutions, and draw comparisons between tools without making judgments
- Weave implementation into their strategic goals
Work out any kinks before an extensive roll-out
In large or dispersed organizations, test the tool with a small group of representatives from all departments. Ask them to work through different use cases and protocols to make sure the tool works as planned. Use early adopters to make adjustments before rolling the tool out to a larger, and perhaps not as receptive, group.
Repeatedly paint a picture of the tool’s impact
Staff need to know why a tool was chosen, how it was chosen, and who was involved in that decision. This level of transparency will make people more receptive to the implementation you’re “selling” them.
Paint a positive and specific picture of what it will look like for them on the other side. Explain why the status quo no longer works. Acknowledge the discomfort caused by a change like this, but repeatedly explain why it’s worth it.
Make the change about them and their job. Be specific about how it will make their job easier. Give them details and examples to make it resonate. For example, describe how a four-hour task will now take 30 minutes. Ask them to imagine what they can do with that freed up time.
Expect people to tune you out. It will take a while for this information to land and sink in. It is impossible to over-communicate. Once you think it’s redundant, it’s probably just starting to land.
Give people plenty of training
You can’t introduce a tool and assume staff will know the best way to use it. Offer initial and ongoing training. Set up a channel where they can share hacks, tips, and tricks.
Give champions the time and financial support to develop their expertise through online training, articles, and vendor resources. Ask champions to stay informed about tool updates so they can share useful information with their colleagues.
Develop guidelines and ground rules
For complex tools, like an association management system (AMS), ask the group of departmental representatives who developed requirements, reviewed RFPs, and made the selection to stay together. They can help develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) and share information with colleagues about new practices, updates, and training.
For simpler tools, like project management tools, a team of super-users can decide and document how to use the tool. They determine where it falls within your communications hierarchy, for example, when to use Slack versus email.
A successful new tool implementation requires a thoughtful and intentional approach. One that centers staffs’ needs and concerns throughout the process. These seven tips will ensure that new tools are given a fair chance to improve productivity, collaboration, and communication.
Want to make sure your new tool implementation is successful? Contact our team.